Saturday, 9 January 2016

Stopping Shopping: 5 Ways to Save Money This Weekend

I'm now 9 days into my 4 month shopping ban and so far it's been absolutely fine. January is always a tight month anyway, especially if you get paid before Christmas and then if feels like there are fifteen years until the next payday.

It's been a quiet week socially, I've been getting stuck into coursework and a few wedding scripts but last night we did go to the cinema to see The Hateful Eight, which is only £4.99 at our amazing local cinema Peckham Plex.

My boyfriend is great at meal planning so we had something home-cooked for lunch and dinner every day this week except Friday where I bought Chicken Katsu Curry from my local favourite place. One lunch out a week is a massive reduction and I didn't have coffee or croissants from Pret at all.

I've also been thinking a lot about how I got on with the shopping ban the first time round, and how much I liked finding quick ways to save more or small changes that had a big impact. So here are some ways to save money asap:

1. Review your direct debits

If you have online banking you can see all your monthly direct debits in one place and it's worth checking to see what you're automatically paying for each month and whether you could cancel anything. Obviously don't cancel your electricity or phone bill but it might be worth shopping around for a cheaper rate. It's 2016 so you might be paying for a bunch of digital subscriptions too; Netflix, Spotify, Patreon, Podcasts, club membership etc. Consider whether you still need these or could possibly cancel for a few months. Oh and by the way, if you watch all your TV on streaming services rather than live, you don't need a TV licence so you could save around £12 a month.

I've had a look at my direct debits and realised I'm still paying £2.99 a month for insurance for my iPod, which I rarely use now. Not only that I've had it over 10 years so that insurance has cost me over £350! Cancelling asap!

2. Read for free (or less)

Last year I spent around *whispers* £650 on books which is quite excessive even for an avid reader like me but there are lots of ways to save money here. Join your library, you'll need some ID and proof of address but you can start borrowing straight away. Take part in #TBR20 and commit to reading 20 books you already own before you buy anything new. Switch to a subscription for your favourite magazines. It's a bit more up front but you can save around 30-50% off the cover price by paying in advance. Or why not start a magazine swap, if you and a friend read the same ones, buy a couple each and swap halfway through the month.

3. Plan a 'Use it up week'

If you're like me you'll have all sorts of stuff in your cupboards and freezer but still look around and say "there's nothing to eat". I write a quick list of all the things I can see and plan a few meals that need no additions or just some fresh fruit and veg.

I also recommend a rummage in the reduced bit of the supermarket, especially if you have a freezer. There's often a lot of fish or less popular veg at very low prices. Last week I bought two celeriac for 2p each on a Sunday afternoon and we've since had Celeriac and Celery soup, roast lamb with root mash and the rest was chopped and frozen for later.

4. Switch up your social life

I love meeting up with friends for a catch up at the weekend which usually means food and then probably a bunch of drinks too. But if the whether is nice I love taking a long walk instead, grabbing coffee or a juice along the way while we have a big chat. If the weather is grotty head for a free museum or gallery. Could you host dinner instead of going out, or have a board game night with snacks? Lord knows we've got plenty of booze leftover from Christmas to use up!

5. Get decluttering

OK so while this might not save you money, it will potentially create more space in your home which means less to maintain, tidy, clean etc and more time to spend on the things you really enjoy. Having lots of stuff around makes me feel a bit weighed down so I'm a huge fan of the quick clearout, and the power it has to make you feel productive. Challenge yourself to fill a bag this weekend and take it along to a charity shop.

Not sure where to start? I suggest clothes you don't like anymore, books you'll never read again, and DVDs, anything you got for Christmas that you immediately thought "WTF am I supposed to do with this?"

I want to say a massive thanks to everyone who's been so encouraging about the shopping ban, and inspired to make some changes too. If you've got suggestions for how to save money quickly be sure to let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.


  1. I'm totally up for swapping and lending books once you've got through your #TBR20. x

  2. Such a good list! I am really quite skint after Xmas, definitely need to think hard about a spending ban of my own...!

  3. I'm doing all of these and more as part of my ~not quite~ shopping ban this year! I think it's something everyone should do at the start of the year x

  4. Really great advice as usual, Holly! I always spend a lot on books and records, which to some extent I justify because I love to support independent record stores and bookstores. However, I am trying to be more mindful of my spending in other areas and you have given some great tips. Cheers and happy 2016 to you! -Bonnie in the USA

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