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As I’ve mentioned before, I spent quite a few years being fairly hopeless with all things financial. But I’ve spent even more years learning and honing my skills on saving money. Some of the advice I’ve had over the years has been incredibly simple but came as a complete revelation to me each time I heard it.

Today I’m sharing the top 8 simple bits of money advice I’ve ever received in the hope that some of it will resonate with you to make positive changes to your own financial situation.

 

Have an emergency fund

A stash of money that is easily accessible but never touched, for those ‘oh shit’ moments. Your car breaks down, the boiler blows up, you’re made redundant…

 

If any of those things happen, you know you’ve got your stash so you don’t need to panic.

 

It can be whatever number makes you feel comfortable. Most people go with enough to cover 3-6 months expenses but some people have as much as 2 years expenses saved up.

It depends on what level you need to feel secure.

The most important thing is that you never dip into the money – it’s there for a reason!

 

Life Preserver beach

 

Pay yourself first

Work out how much you could comfortably save while still covering all of your monthly expenses (genuine expenses – not meals out, clothes shopping or Ebay impulse purchases!)

As soon as you receive your monthly salary, automatically transfer a portion of it into some form of savings and forget about it.

 

Don’t even give yourself the opportunity to think about spending it – lock it away quick sharp.

 

Do this every single month and your nest egg will flourish.

 

Piggy Bank

 

Every time you want to commit to a big purchase – wait a week

This is such a good trick. It can be so easy to just hand over your credit card and then wince about it when the statement comes in a month later.

 

Think it over instead of impulsively spending, 9 times out of 10 it will lose its shine in a week.

 

If you still want it after that, go for it.

 

Clothes Rail

 

Pay into a pension

For U.S readers you should be all about 401Ks or Roth IRAs.

In the UK, if your company has a personal pension scheme – pay as much as you can into it.

The general rule of thumb is;

Take your age when you open your pension and halve it, that is the percentage of your pre-tax salary you need to pay into your pension.

So if you’re 22, you need to pay 11% of your salary before tax. This includes any employer match, so if your company pays 4% you will need to contribute 7%.

The average person hasn’t saved anywhere near enough for retirement and if you are planning to rely on the state pension you might be in for a severe disappointment.

I’ve also heard a lot of people say they have jobs they just won’t retire from.

Without being a complete Debbie downer, you may not have a choice. If you have health problems you may not be able to work.

 

Paying into a pension nets you FREE MONEY! I cannot stress this enough, you get a tax break for contributing to your pension – do it now!

 

It may seem boring in your 20s but if you sort it out early in life, you will never have to worry about it again.

 

Beach Chairs

 

Review and negotiate on all of your utilities regularly

Whenever a contract is coming up for renewal, look to see if you could save by switching or negotiating.

Approx 45% of people in the UK are on the standard variable tariff that their energy supplier offers – you could save hundreds of ££££ by switching.

Utilities you should be checking regularly;

  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • TV
  • Internet
  • Mobile

Join the Money Saving Expert Cheap Energy Club and for everything else, Uswitch is a great place to start.

 

Electric Outlet

 

If you’re in the UK – use your ISA or lose that tax protection forever

Once you’ve got your emergency fund, you’re paying into your pension and have started putting a little away for savings – the next logical step is an ISA.

I only started with a stocks and shares ISA for the first time a couple of years ago and it was much easier to set up a portfolio than expected.

If you are completely risk averse, use a cash ISA – you won’t make as much on returns but your money will be completely safe.

 

ISAs are tax protected funds – we pay enough tax, so make sure your savings are stashed away from the tax man.

 

I set up my ISA with Charles Stanley Direct because the fees are some of the best on the market. If you’re just starting out I’ve found that the Monevator blog is a fantastic resource.

 

Financial Times

 

Only buy or rent the space you actually need to live in

I really wish I’d realised this at a younger age!

We bought a 4 bed house when we were 25 and 30, because “you buy the biggest you can afford”.

What a load of hogwash. I was just working my way out of my terrible with money phase and I don’t know why we thought a massive mortgage was a good idea.

 

The more you buy, the bigger the loan = the longer you are stuck paying it off.

 

We are planning on downsizing this year and I cannot wait to have smaller bills, less council tax and not as much garden to slog away in.

If you are renting, always only rent the space you need right now. It’s easy to move on if you outgrow the space.

If you’re buying a house, consider what you’ll need over the next 5 years. Selling up and buying somewhere new costs a fair bit so staying put for at least 5 years is advisable.

 

Green Door House

 

You can afford anything, but you can’t afford everything

It’s a simple as that…

I’ve been saying something like this in a roundabout way for years but it wasn’t until I came across the inspiring Paula Pant that I heard it so eloquently and simply put.

 

Beyond basic needs – food, water, shelter and clothing – you do not NEED anything else.

 

Take the money you spend on the above from your salary and whatever is left is your disposable income.

You choose where your money is spent and if you want to blow it all on a vintage furby collection then good for you.

But don’t then complain that you can’t do something else.

I lose track of the times I hear “I can’t afford it” every week and yet somehow the people complaining always have money for the latest tech or brunch out 3 times a week.

Either save more or earn more (ideally both!) – those are your options.

 

Do you have any more tips on how to save money? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

 

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The Top 8 Simple Money Saving Tips I've ever received.

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2 Responses

  1. Carmel Montgomery

    These are great tips. We bought more house than we need right now knowing we wanted to buy our forever home, and expected to have another child. With the housing market the way it is in our area, where some of our friends bought starter homes and now can’t afford to upgrade because of the housing boom, we feel like we made a good choice. And it’s really just enough house. Finances are a bit different in the US but a lot of the advice is the same. You are lucky you don’t have to deal with medical insurance…it’s one of our bigger expenses right now and can be very frustrating for saving money. That being said, we still save as much as we can.
    Carmel Montgomery recently posted..BRING IT ON, 2017My Profile

    Reply
    • Maddie

      Thanks Carmel 😀 I agree, a certain amount of future proofing when buying is definitely needed – I think we just tried to plan too far into the future. We are incredibly lucky to have a social healthcare system, I never appreciated it really until we saw what some other countries have to deal with.

      Reply

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