It's time for a budget overhaul. Here are some cost-effective and fool-proof ways to revitalise your diminished bank account after the Christmas period
Aside from the irrational resolutions like eating'more greens and pretending we're overjoyed at being in the gym at 6 am, there are two goals that we can set ourselves that are highly achievable: saving more and spending less. Yes, it can be easier said than done, and it will require a small amount of commitment, education, willpower, and a dash of mental trickery. So rather than setting yourself the task of completing difficult resolutions this new year, why not set yourself one challenge to save more money? Your mind, body, and bank account will thank you for it.
Despite the fact that most of us believe that we're worse off than before, we're still spending an average of €493 on gifts at Christmas. Although this number has dropped by almost 18% from last year's €600 per person. On top of that, we spend over €200 on food and grub for the few days of celebrations.
Maybe it's deep-rooted in our human nature that we're givers, but there is both a joy and a pain of giving over Christmas. Seeing our loved ones happy and content fills us with all kinds of special and warm feels, but while they're unwrapping gifts, you're doubtfully wondering how you'll afford next week's food bill.
But it's a new month and it's time to transform your old pennies into shiny new notes and inject some needed confidence back into your cash flow. Here are a few easy and cost-effective things you can do immediately that will help you on your saving journey.
Shop around for fruit and veg
Finding local farmers markets are a brilliant way to cut the cost of fruit and veg, and you're almost guaranteed to find fresher and organic produce too. Buying from local markets and farmers also means you're cutting the need for production and packaging, meaning that you're doing your bit for the environment, too #Winning. It can be more difficult to find these markets in busy metropolitan cities, but here's a handy directory to find country-wide farmers markets near you.
Make your own lunch
Break out the lunchbox and start bringing your own lunch to work. Although your €4 morning coffee might seem harmless, it can quickly add up. As can the daily €10 salads. But with fruit and veg from 49c in Aldi and fresh fish and meat from €2.89 you could make your weeks supply of (healthy) lunches for under €10. Treat yourself every now and then to your favourite lunchtime oasis as a reward for your new found savings.
Go that extra mile for your morning caffeine fix
If you work in the city centre then you have the luxury of having plenty of coffee choices. We tend to go to the nearest - and often more expensive - cafes for our fixes. But more often than not local barista's provide cheaper (and fair trade) coffee that tastes just as good as larger chain-store coffee shops. Here are some of our favourite cheaper alternative coffee hideouts around the city.
Be smart with your phone and internet at home
You have the latest smartphone with super-fast wifi, and you only spend an hour or so in the evening watching tv, so does it make sense to pay for a fancy broadband and tv package? Packages can cost an average of €480 a year but by researching what best suits you and your tv/internet usage you could make big savings. Switcher.ie lets you compare the best broadband and tv providers based on your area.
Match your bad habits with good ones
Save €1 for every €1 you spend on alcohol this month (or this year if you're feeling up to the challenge). This is by no means a long-term or effective form of saving, but it's an interesting way to see how much you actually spend each month on alcohol and compare it to how much you could be saving. You can also try this with your smoking habits/monthly bills too.
Ditch your gym membership
Getting out into nature is the best form of exercise. Besides, do you really use it that often, anyway? Unless you're truly getting your €250+ value out of your annual membership (i.e using the equipment/taking advantage of classes etc), perhaps you might want to consider joining a specific club for yoga/pilates/strength training/swimming.
Do a spring clean
You would surprise yourself with the amount of unused and perfectly sell-able goods you have lying around your house. Why not start with your wardrobe? There are lots of free apps and websites like Depop that help you de-clutter and get some extra cash.
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