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It's easier to make money than to save money. Don't think so? You definitely put a lot of time and effort into working and getting paid each month, but then all the deductions start:
It can really add up, and before you know it, your bank account is significantly lighter than it had been just a few moments before. So let's talk about how you can save money.
Know your salary
That sounds easy enough, doesn't it? But it's much more than just knowing you make however much a year. You should be sure to check your pay stub at the end of each month to see your total income and what goes into your taxes, pension, etc. What you have at the end (your net income) is what you've got to keep in mind when structuring your savings and expenditure.
Stick to a budget
The simplest way to ensure you aren't overspending is by knowing your limits. Setting and stringently following a budget that fits your needs will help you effectively see your expenditure and save smartly. We've outlined just how you can go about making a budget in our post how to make a budget.
Use loyalty cards
Now by this, I don't mean credit cards. Many stores have their own 'advantage' or 'loyalty' cards where you can collect points that can be later used for future purchases and may come with other perks like free home delivery for online purchases or special discounts for members. Shops like Debenhams, Boots, Superdrug, Costa, Starbucks, and many more have these cards that you can easily sign up for with no strings attached.
Nectar is also a very good points-based system that allows you to get rewards back from many different shops and stores like Argos, eBay, Sainsbury's, etc. There are occasionally even specials or deals where you can gain extra points. It's very useful, and the fact that you can use it in many stores allows for a good buildup of points.
Apply for tax relief
Taking into account the current tax year (unless you have unclaimed tax refunds from past years while you've been in the UK), you can look into getting tax relief and an adjusted tax code by claiming back payments made on things like a stethoscope, scrubs you had to pay for, GMC annual fee, exam fees, indemnity fees, etc. This has been explained in detail in our post how to claim tax relief.
Pay attention to what you're paying for
If you've not noticed it already, the price tags for many items in the grocery stores are listed with extra information that could help you save a little. Don't be quick to purchase something just because on first glance it appears less expensive. You'll need to take into account the cost per weight, be it grams, kilograms, etc.
Use your NHS ID
There are free sites like HealthService Discounts that will inform you of many deals and discounts you can get by simply showing your NHS ID, but don't let this or any other website limit you. Many places will give you some sort of a discount if you mention you work for the NHS. Every discount adds up! You can even find discounts on national bus services, renting cars, and buying appliances with your ID.
Apply for a railcard
If you've got the bug to travel, and love the rails, it is imperative you have a railcard that can get you the benefit of saving money with each ticket you purchase. There are many different types, such as ones just for those under the age of 30, or even for those who travel in pairs. Check out the National Railcard website to see what offer works best for you.
Plan before you buy
Spontaneous shopping is a real issue sometimes. You see something nice, the price seems great, you reeeeaaallyy want it....but do you need it? Now I'm not saying to not splurge every once in a while, but making smart fiscal decisions play a huge role in saving money in the long run. Unfortunately we can sometimes get caught up in the spending race because we see what someone else has and then we think about wanting it too, even if it wouldn't be a smart buy at that particular time. That being said, you can always save up for a large purchase rather than buying something on the spur of the moment.
Another piece of advice would be to make a list before you go out shopping for groceries, toiletries, etc. This way you don't waver from what you need, and you'll be able to purchase everything you need without forgetting anything. Also, don't shop while you're hungry. You'll end up buying anything that looks good, even if it isn't good for you.
Limit eating out
We all like to get some takeaway every once in a while or even go out on the town for a special dinner, but cooking at home is the ticket to decreasing costs in the long run. Plan meals as much as possible and bulk cook over the weekend or whatever days you have off. If you're not a fan of cooking too far ahead, just invest in a slow cooker which will let you put all the ingredients to a perfect meal in a pot that you just have to set a timer to and forget about.
Reassess your phone plan
In this day of wifi availability and internet-based calling services, the need for elaborate phone plans have gone down sharply. If you don't feel you absolutely need a monthly plan, why not opt for a simple pay-as-you-go service that often times can save you more money in the long run? You may just find that you'll be spending considerably less that you had been before, especially since you can still use data, text, and make calls on a topped up service.
Personally, I don't use a fixed service plan and hardly spend £10 in 3 months. How do I manage that?
- My home has wifi, so I don't use my data.
- My hospital has wifi, so I don't use my data.
- Any cafe, restaurant, most shopping stores and malls all have free wifi, so I don't use my data.
- Majority of my family and friends have some sort of net based messaging and calling service, so I don't spend anything calling them when I use wifi.
We use GIFGAFF with no contract (it runs on O2 network) and from experience, it comes with a very good network coverage. ORDER YOUR SIM here to get £5 credit.
Be smart in sending money home
The conventional ways of sending money via direct bank transfers are a thing of the past. That takes longer time, bad conversion rate and maybe hidden charges. There are two companies that I have used to send money home from the UK with the utmost confidence and good rates and transparent charges.
Give INSTAREM a try, which provides the best current conversion rate in the market with a very minimum charge to transfer money.
There is also TRANSFERWISE which comes with a borderless debit card as a cherry on top to simplify life when you travel the world.
Improving your Credit Score is the target
You shouldn't make money the main focus of your UK journey. Money comes and goes, but the important thing is to be smart about how you save and utilize the money you have when you have it. With it comes the growth towards building a good credit score and ultimately laying the foundation for financial security. Speaking of which, look into understanding your credit score to make certain you're doing just that.