When I was young and I didn’t want to finish my dinner, my grandmother always said, ‘waste not, want not.’ And obviously, at the age of six, I just wanted to leave the table so I could plait my Barbie’s hair and throw lego at my sister’s face. But now I’m older, I can see that my grandmother made a valid point.
In today’s culture, all we want is more. More beer, more money, more time. But if we learnt to stop wasting what we already have, would we stop being so in need all the time? You see, the more we waste, the tighter our wallet pinches in the end- and if I’m being honest, I’m getting pretty bored of carrying around an empty purse and pretending to myself that I must have ‘brought out the wrong one’.
So how can you stop wasting your money so at the end of the month, you can be left with more of it?
#1 Buy quality
This may seem counterintuitive, I mean, this is an article about saving the pennies, not spending hundreds of them. But it’s sometimes a wiser idea to buy one really good pair of jeans that will last you a year, rather than keep buying shit pairs that split at the crotch and fade in the wash. A good example is a friend of mine who only buys Primark shoes. In a year, she purchases around eight pairs of the same shoes ‘because they’re cheap’. But they also fall apart when it rains and make your feet smell like death meaning that over time you’re actually investing a lot money into items that don’t really give any return. So this is the one instance where it’s totally okay to treat yourself.
This is by far the easiest and most productive way of reducing money waste. Give yourself a budget and stick to it each week. It’s a great way of putting your spending habits into perspective and getting to grips with your money. Plus, it’s a great feeling when you spend less than your budget and at the end of the month, you have leftover cash to save… or spend. For more tips on budgeting, have a look here.
#3 Deal with temptation
I won’t lie, I tend to live by the idea that the only way to get rid of temptation is to give into it. But this advice should be adopted in moderation. Learn some self-control before you’re an overdraft and two maxed out credit cards deep in debt. When you are about to spend money just stop and ask yourself if it’s a good idea. If you are having to ask yourself this question, then the answer is most definitely no. Which leads me onto my next point…
#4 Learn the difference between need and want
I actually got stumped on this point myself because I think deep down, want and need are the same thing to me. My thought process tends to look like this: I want that lipstick… but do I really need it… sorry yes I do, I need it, I NEED IT. NOW.
An easier way to look at it is if you go to Tesco for your weekly shop and look at your basket of food, it’s pretty obvious that you NEED the milk, but you only WANT the Doritos. So maybe they can be removed from the shopping list (to make room for that lipstick…). This point takes practise I think. And a lot of willpower (that I personally don’t have).
#5 Share yo shit
A great way of stopping the waste is to share it. If you make too much food, offer it to your housemate and next time you’re skint, they may do the same back (strong emphasis on ‘may’ here). If you have spare change, give it to a homeless person on the street. I get that this point isn’t really saving you money, but you should pay if forward because one day, you may need someone to share their excess shit with you.
#6 Don’t be conned by a bargain
Bargains in supermarkets are there to help them make money, not help you save. Sainsbury’s is not your mate, Sainsbury’s just wants your cash. All of it. You don’t need three packs of crumpets and when are you realistically going to eat three pots of hummus with a ‘best by’ date that’s today? Just buy what you actually need. Repeat- what you need, not what the supermarket tells you that you need.
#7 Fuck fees
At the start of the month, set aside money so that you can pay off some debt to avoid any late fees because they’re a complete waste of your money. Then, have a good hard look at all of your monthly subscriptions and decide which ones are actually worth it; Do you ever go to the gym? Have you watched Amazon Prime recently? I once got conned into paying monthly insurance in case I had to have a leg amputated, but that was all it covered. So after seven months, I finally cancelled it. I now have £7 more each month and my legs are totally fine.
#8 Cook for yourself
If you add up all the meal deals, the snacks and the treats over a one month period, you could probably buy flights for a holiday. Seriously, walk right past Tesco, say no to Pret and don’t even look at M&S. Learn to cook and make your own food. Then you can treat yourself with all the excess cash.
At first, taking measures to reduce wasting money might be quite painful and you may find yourself torn between the right and wrong thing to do. It will be like the dilemma of saying no to an ex who calls you at 3am for a ‘chat.’ Just say no.