While the very worst-off of us will struggle, most of us can find something to build a savings buffer. It’s about growing good habits, so creating a daily routine of saving a little cash is fourth on the Quids in! Finance 5-A-Day.
It’s the mindset that matters to start with, we can look at working towards goals later on. There are lots of schemes to help. There are things we can do on our own, savings clubs to join, or accounts designed to keep us going.
“I set a goal and looked at gas and electric companies. I found I could get a cheaper rate without even switching my supplier and got £150 cash back,” supersaver Becky told Quids in!. She said she never believed she could do it but things fell into place.
“I had to change my mindset. I wanted to be able to help my children but the truth was that on paper, I didn’t have enough money to start saving.” Becky decided to save a bit first, then build a budget around what was left after. Every saving or windfall went into the pot. For some of us, the money for one less cigarette, coffee out or takeaway could go into the jar.
PENNY A DAY
The Penny A Day Challenge helps ease those of us on lower incomes into the habit. We start saving one penny and increase the amount by a penny a day. In the first week, that’s 1p + 2p + 3p + 4p + 5p + 6p + 7p, so 28p in total.
Sounds easy. We might start again next week but the key to saving hundreds, though, is to keep going. After a couple of months, we’re looking at 50p plus per day. By then we’ll be thinking about it from the start of the day. ‘Maybe I could read a free paper instead of buying one and I’ll put that money into the jar’. And so it grows.
Savings clubs are another idea so long as the money is safe. Setting goals like having a hundred quid set aside for Christmas, holidays or a new sofa will keep us keen. Put a ‘totaliser’ on the fridge, (like the old Blue Peter appeals used to have), colouring in the level we’ve reached.
HELP TO SAVE
Help to Save is a scheme for Tax Credit and Universal Credit (UC) claimants on less than £543 a month. It’s also for people in the forces or their family. It’s a bit complex but savers can put away up to £50 a month and the government adds an unbeatable bonus of up to £1,200.
Banks don’t offer much interest on savings these days but they’re safe. They also put ready cash out of easy reach. Credit unions keen to attract savers from their local area often reward regular savers with access to loans for emergencies. For the digital-minded, apps and widgets can divert the change from everyday purchases to a savings account. Schemes like Lloyds Bank’s ‘Save the Change’, Monzo’s ‘Coin Jars’ or the Moneybox App automate our savings habit. There are loads more, so shop around.
Savings might not always be the most pressing issue. Expensive debts are usually best paid off first. But if there’s any way to get into the savings habit, we’ll soon have something to fall back on. As Becky reports, achieving a savings target is a cause for celebration. “The
day I reached my goal I actually did a bit of a victory song and dance. I called the credit union and got them to tell me what I had in the bank so I could hear it.”