Free Money Tips & Guidance

Spend less on what you don't care about, enjoy more of what you do.

As a Personal Finance Coach, I simplify money management and demystify financial topics to help individuals maximise their finances.

Most of the things we want to do and achieve in life have financial costs attached. I help clients to enjoy more of what they truly value and empower them with the right knowledge and support to accelerate towards their life goals.

Choosing to invest in your financial education could be the best decision you make. The knowledge you’ll typically gain stands to save and earn you exponentially more in return. This insight will also remain with you for your lifetime and can be passed on to benefit future generations.

Below, I share some of my favourite money mantras and money-saving tips & strategies that everyone can benefit from.

Click on any heading with a + sign to read more.

Essential Money Mantras

Start Now (click to expand)

If you only take one piece of advice from this page please let it be this: start acting today. When it comes to personal finance and your eventual financial independence, time plays an instrumental role. After all, no one ever got to their chosen retirement age and said ‘I really wish I’d started saving and investing later!’ Unfortunately, everyone inevitably always says ‘I really wish I’d started sooner!’.

The more time you have on your side the more you can put your money to work for you, and the less you have to compensate later in life trying to make up for lost time and past decisions. This is doubly important if you have any desires of early retirement before the current state pension age of 66 (soon to increase to 67 and likely to continue to slowly rise). But don’t we all?

Far too frequently people don’t start to seriously consider their savings, pension and other investments until well into their 40s or 50s, when retirement no longer seems such a distant reality. However, when investing for your retirement, allowing your money time to grow and taking advantage of compounding interest is fundamental. When people start late they have to try to make up for lost time – something which can’t always be done – and often have to make big sacrifices in the prime of their life, or delay retirement further to allow them more time to get there. This moment of realisation can be a shock to the system, worrying and stressful.

The earlier you start the more you can let time and your money work for you. If I knew back then what I knew now, I’d have invested a lot more in my early 20s too! My goal is to make sure more people are informed about the huge benefits of looking after and taking responsibility for your finances as early as possible.

If you’re relatively late to the game, don’t be put off; it’s never too late to make real positive difference to your situation.

Establish Clear Life Goals

Failing to create well-defined life goals to aspire to and work towards is one guaranteed way to ensure slow financial progress. Financial and life goals are almost always intrinsically linked: most of the things we want to do and achieve in life have a financial cost attached. Whether it’s to see more of the world, have an early or lavish retirement, or to provide the best possible start in life for our children; all of these require a good financial strategy and proper management of your money.

Without a clear direction in mind, making good or bad financial choices has little measurable consequence, so we are less driven to make the best, well-informed financial decisions. Instead, we are more likely to bumble along, living payday to payday until, one day, we realise or are told we’re way behind where we could and should be and then have to scramble to try to make up for lost time. Sadly, an impossible task as time plays such a huge part in growing the assets that will reward you later in life.

Having a clear goal in mind can also help you in situations when you might otherwise be tempted to go against your real values. Buying that new, German executive car might not sound so appealing when you understand the maths that mean it could delay your early retirement plans by five years or more (an entirely feasible scenario!). While buying those designer shoes or that expensive gadget might not sound so appealing when stacked against that romantic trip to Paris you’ve been saving for.

Need some help establishing and prioritising your financial goals, or just want to understand the possibilities? Get in touch.

Investing is for Everyone

Investing isn’t just for the rich. However, it is crucial to building long-term wealth. The great news is that it’s nowhere near as scary and inaccessible as many believe. Investing is open to everyone and, with a little financial education, it’s very easy to put in place the basics that can set you up for later life. When it comes to investing, getting started is so much more important than fussing over getting it perfect as asset growth can only happen with time. Start today; refine later.

Many of us are already investing without much thought to what we’re invested in and its performance, or even realising it’s invested at all: our pensions. Do you know where the money taken from your monthly salary is going, what it’s invested in and how it’s performing?

One of the most valuable lessons I teach clients is explaining how investing works – getting rid of the fear factor – and providing guidance on simple yet highly effective ways to get started – thereby removing perpetual delays due to analysis paralysis.

If you’d like to learn more about investing and making your money grow and work for you, get in touch.

Watch out for Lifestyle Inflation!

This is the big one; the one that determines whether we follow the herd and let our posessions define our worth, or whether we go against the grain and take our path to wealth and financial freedom into our own hands.

We’ve all likely experienced this scenario: you or someone you know gets the fantastic news that they’ve just landed that well-earned promotion or pay raise – at last, recognition for all of that hard work! As a reward for a job well done, before the first increased monthly wage payment has even hit our bank account, we have often already decided we’re getting that new house, extension, SUV, laptop, 4K OLED TV, iPad and/or mobile phone. Six months later, with new monthly financial commitments, we’re suddenly no better off than we were previously. Instead, we’re often even more completely dependent on our now-larger salary and working longer hours with additional stress to continue to fuel this lifestyle we’ve created.

But are the things we own what we really value? Do they align with our life goals  or are they actually severely hampering them?

Another all-too-common scenario you might recognise: a friend or neighbour gets a new car or the latest gadget and is proudly showing it off. Suddenly, you feel like you’re missing out or, worse still, you might feel slightly inferior about your status and what your possessions say about you. You’ll likely have heard of this as the ‘keeping up with the Jones’. But does anyone else really care? Should you? The truth is, people are usually too wrapped up in their own life that they don’t take any notice of others, so why bother trying to impress anyone else? Once again, focus on what you truly value and don’t be lead on by what others are doing.

If you’d like to discuss financial strategies to focus more on what you truly value and feel more confident about your financial future, get in touch.

Mind the Monthlies

These days it’s so easy to sign up to monthly payment comitments with little regard, especially as most of us have a fixed monthly income. This is no coincidence: companies prefer you to take out a monthly payment plan because a) it makes the annual cost seem much more palatable when it’s broken down into 12 or more small chunks and b) they often don’t have to ask for a yearly renewal, as most turn into a ‘rolling contract’, which might prompt you to revaluating the value of continuing the service. With a monthly payment schedule, they can continue to bill you every month in the hope you never cancel.

It’s all too easy to take on multiple monthly payments without considering what they all add up to or cost us over a year or even a decade. That £40 monthly phone contract might sound reasonable, but over the cost of a typical 24 –month contract, that’s not too far short of £1,000. Over a decade, it’s £4,800! Invested, that money could be worth many times more come retirement. Is always having the latest high-end phone really that high on your list of life priorities? Only you can decide.

I’d urge you to review and really consider the value you get out of each of your monthly subscription and membership payments. Dropping just one or two seemingly insignificant payments could add up to an extra holiday a year.

Unused Gym Memberships

That well-intentioned gym membership… do you use it enough to justify it? If not, get in touch to cancel it if you’re out of contract. You can always rejoin later if you change your mind. Alternatively, it’s easy to do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) from your own living room or jog and cycle outside for occasional workouts.

Entertainment

Do you have Netflix, Prime and a Sky/Virgin TV subscription? Do you really use and get full value out of them all? If you’re outside of your minimum contract, could you reduce your paid TV package bundle and/or phone up to haggle for a better price? Be prepared with information on competitors deals if you’re trying to haggle on price or threatening to leave them for a competing service.

Subscriptions

If there are any services you’re subscribed to that you no longer get full use out of, like that magazine that comes through the door that you never quite find the time to read or subscription box services that often give you items you don’t want or need, consider cancelling and putting that monthly saving towards something that matters to you.

Warning: If you plan to end any Direct Debits, get in touch with the company you have a contract with first and ask them to end it. Never just cancel via your bank or you could end up with a cancellation fee if one exists in your contract and/or risk receiving a missed payment mark on your credit history.

Switch Off From Marketing

Take it from someone who started their career in the field: marketing, in essence, boils down to brands tempting you to part with your hard-earned cash for their benefit.

Exchanging money for goods and services is a vital part of modern life and we’d never survive or get anywhere without it, but we must choose to be selective. If you find sales and the latest product releases from your favourite brands irresistible, the easiest step is to just switch off. Here’s how:

  • Unsubscribe from all but essential email newsletters
  • Unfollow brands on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • Install an ad-blocking extension on your web browser
  • Avoid visiting stores other than for planned purchases that are budgeted for

The above tips can also help you in other positive ways, including freeing up valuable free time for something more productive and reducing screen time.

Practice Gratitude & Learn from Minimalism

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; feeling appreciation for what you have in life and remembering your core values. I’ve found that by reflecting on what I have and how fortunate I am to live a first-world lifestyle and everything that goes with it, I am able to better stave off the desire to continually spend on ultimately frivolous purchases. Crucially, learning to appreciate what we have makes us much less prone to marketing campaigns telling us we absolutely must have ‘product x’ to be happy.

Minimalism is simply the conscious act of aiming to own fewer possessions. It relies somewhat on the concept of gratitude, reducing the feeling of need to accumulate ‘stuff’. There are various degrees of minimalism, from being more selective in what and how much we purchase to reducing your home to all but only essential items. While I wouldn’t recommend the latter to most, and it’s not something I aim towards myself, I think we can all benefit from a little decluttering of our homes and our lives.

Have a ‘spring clean’ and take a more ruthless approach than you might normally have in the past. Removing what we don’t really need around our home can have a multitude of benefits:

  • A decluttered home means fewer distractions and less time spent tidying and cleaning in future
  • The act of clearing out junk is good for our mindset and rewards us with a huge feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment
  • It allows us to see where we might be wasting money e.g. impulse sale purchases that were never used/worn
  • Some items we choose to lose can be sold to pay off debt or put towards savings
  • Other items we may recycle by giving away for free or to charity so that others might benefit
  • It can save on costs of additional storage or the premature temptation to extend or upgrade to a bigger home just to hoard more stuff

So consider having a clearout – possibly starting with one room or even one storage space (cupboard, wardrobe, drawer unit) at a time – and be completely honest with yourself about what is really useful or brings joy to your life, and consider freeing yourself of anything that doesn’t. Briefly evaluate each item and ask ‘when was the last time I used it?’ and ‘does it spark joy?’ and make your decision.

Feeling proud and accomplished, you’ll be extra motivated to think twice about the next pretty-but-useless trinket you see on sale!

Keep an Emergency Fund

What is an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is essential for dealing with life’s unplanned events: from an emergency car repair to a sudden failure of an essential appliance, such as a washing machine or fridge freezer, or an unexpected job loss.

The Benefits of an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund not only gives you invaluable peace of mind and helps to avoid added financial stress in, well, an emergency; it could also save you a lot of money when you find yourself in a sticky situation. Without an emergency fund, a common way of dealing with emergency expenses is to put them on a high-interest credit card. This can also limit your options if you need to hire a tradesman urgenntly, as many sole traders don’t accept credit card as a form of payment. Taking out a bank loan is another common rooute in a financial emergency, but loans under £7,500 don’t carry such a competitive interest rate and the last thing you need in an already stressful situation is to be worrying if you’ll be approved and if you’ll qualify for the advertised rate.

Another common last resort in a financial emergency is to borrow money from friends or family; but no matter how well intentioned the lender, being in debt to someone can put a serious strain on the relationship. For this reason, borrowing money from family or friends is something I always recommend avoiding.

First Step

If you don’t have an emergency fund at all, as a first step I recommend getting to  £1,000 as soon as possible, with the possible exception of those trying to pay off small amounts high-interest debt. Having a clear and, hopefully, achievable target like £1,000 can really focus you and help set in place good practices and habits for the next step…

The Full Monty

Once you have reached £1,000 and paid off any high-interest debt, the next step is to grow this to six month’s living expenses (please note this is not the same as six month’s salary). This is essentially to cover you if you lose your job or are unable to work, or for major emergency expenses such as a leaking roof, car engine failure or a replacement boiler.

Keep it Accessible

Always remember the golden rule: Emergency funds are only to be used in an emergency. Once you have built up your fund, you can start a new separate savings pot for more exciting things like a holiday or home improvements fund.

However, emergency funds should be kept in an accessible account so that, should you need to withdraw the funds quickly, there is no penalty to be paid or hold on your money. I’d recommend an easy-access savings account for this. I’d strongly advise against keeping it in your current account or a savings account under the same online banking login as your current account, as seeing this money sitting there every time you log in will always be tempting.

In Case of Emergency: Break Glass

If you do have a genuine emergency situation – and I don’t mean that must-have leather jacket goes on sale kind of emergency – now is the time to take only what you need from the fund. The key is to prioritise topping back up the emergency fund as soon as possible, so it’s there for you the next time you might need it.

Need Help?

If you’d like to discuss saving or debt repayment strategies tailored to your personal circumstances, please get in touch.

Never Stop Learning

I’m a firm believer in continually improving one’s knowledge and skills in a wide range of areas. In fact, the foundation of financial coaching is developing people’s awareness and knowledge around areas of finance that can benefit their lives. Choosing to invest in your financial education could be the best decision you ever make: the knowledge you’ll typically gain stands to save and earn you considerably more in return. This insight will also remain with you for your lifetime and can be passed on to benefit future generations.

As someone who commutes by car and on foot, I find audiobooks are a perfect way to cram in learning while on the go and for that I use Audible.

Here is my current essential reading list, some of which are related to finance and some of which cover wider topics.

Atomic Habits
Simple, effective techniques to break bad habits and form good ones.

7 Habits of Highly Effective people
Seven essential principles to benefit all areas of your life and your relationships.

The Millionaire Next Door
The lifestyles of the rich aren’t always what the media likes to portray.

The Automatic Millionaire
Learn about the ‘latte factor’ and how saving for the future really can be easy.

The Richest Man in Babylon
This book teaches the solid principles of money.

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age
Sound principles of engagement that can be used at work or at home.

Eat That Frog
One for the procrastinators.

The $100 Startup
For anyone who has ever had an interest in starting their own business.

Start you free Audible trial >

Easy Money-Saving Tips Anyone Can Use

Personal Finance Coaching offers so much more than simple money-saving techniques. However, for anyone looking to become more intentional with their spending, ensuring their money is directed to areas of their life that really matter, employing just some of these tips can quickly add up to significant amounts. For those paying off overbearing debt or struggling to pay bills, they could free up much-needed funds to bring potentially life-changing results.

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Save £100s on Gas & Electricity (click to expand)

I put this one at the top of the list as it’s the one I find clients rarely pay much attention to, not realising the savings potential available.

If you’ve been with the same big-name supplier for years, there’s a good chance you’re overpaying for your gas and electricity. Depending on your usage levels, this could amount to hundreds of pounds per year.

Comparing energy supplier is easy. A recent bill or annual statement will show your estimated or historic annual usage and plugging these details into a comparison website will quickly reveal which suppliers could save you money. Once you sign up to the new supplier, they will do the rest and complete the switch or you.

> Compare Suppliers Today

Review Your Mobile Contract

If your mobile contract is coming to an end soon, ask yourself “do I really need a new handset or is the one I have now perfectly fine?” What if you performed a factory reset – after you’ve backed up all your data, of course – and got rid of all the bloat accumulated over the last year or two?

Or, worse still, perhaps your  contract has already ended and you’re still using your old handset while paying the original monthly price…

In both of these scenarios, I’d recommend either moving to a monthly SIM-only contract, with no long-term commitment, or switching to a PAYG provider.

For the latter, I recommend SMARTY. Why? It’s simple. Firstly, there’s no contract. Secondly, and crucially, most of us overestimate our data usage or give ourselves too much data headroom and pay through the nose 12 months of the year for it ‘just in case’. With SMARTY, you choose a data plan that suits you, but for every 1GB you don’t use, SMARTY refund you £1.25 the next month. Better yet, if one month you need more data than you estimated, you can purchase extra data as and when you need it at the standard rate of just £1.25 per GB.

SMARTY operate on the Three network so have the same wide coverage as Three do. If you’re not a fan of Three’s service, then I would recommend GiffGaff (powered by O2) for their affordable plans; however, sadly there are no refunds for unused data with GiffGaff and that’s why they place second on my list.

> Join SMARTY today and never pay for unused data again

Compare Car & Home Insurance (in advance)

Comparison websites for car, home and travel insurance have been around for many years and provide an easy one-stop-shop for comparing quotes from a wide range of insurers in one place.

What’s more, once your details are entered, you should be able to go back year after year and only make small adjustments to the information to reflect any changes in your circumstances. This really takes the hassle out of comparing multiple providers directly.

There are multiple comparison websites to quickly and easily comparing car insurance, including Confused, Compare the Market, Go Compare, Money Supermarket and more. Confused are who I have consistently had the best experience with over the years, but yours may differ.

Other tips to keep costs low, regardless of which comparison service you go with:

  • Get a quote well in advance (at least 14 days before your renewal date). Leaving it to the day before your renewal can lead to less quotes as they know you don’t have much time to shop around
  • Try adjusting your voluntary excess as it may result in a significantly cheaper quote. You can self-insure for the extra by putting money in an easy-access savings account and never touching it unless the worst happens (see ‘Keeping an Emergency Fund’, above).
  • Don’t assume it will be cheaper to get add-ons like breakdown cover with your chosen insurance provider. Often it’s better to get these via dedicated providers, especially via cashback sites such as Quidco
  • Always pay annually if you’re in a position to. Monthly payments for car insurance can attract interest rates of 20% or more, adding significantly to the total cost of your premium

It’s always important to be completely honest when inputting your details into any insurance or comparison website. Providing incorrect details in an attempt to get a cheaper quote can invalidate your cover, and insurance fraud is a serious crime with potentially serious consequences.

> Get an insurance comparison now

Reduce Your Monthly Mortgage Payment

If you’re on a SVR (standard variable rate) mortgage but have no plans to move home in the next few years, you may wish to consider whether switching to a fixed-term deal could be right for you. At the time of writing, mortgage interest rates are currently at, or near, all-time lows, so now might be a good time to secure locking in those rates with a 2-, 3- 5- or even 10-year fix if you know you plan to stay put in your current property. A fixed-term agreement gives you the peace of mind that your rates won’t unexpectedly rise if interest rates do.

When recently shopping for a new mortgage deal, I used Habito. They’re ‘whole of market’, meaning they compare many different lenders to try and find you the best deal. Because they operate wholly online, it’s extremely convenient for consumers while also enabling them to offer a fee-free service, claiming their costs from the lender instead of you (or both). When I remortgaged I was able to find a deal through Habito where not only was the interest rate highly competitive, but the lender paid my legal fees and gave me £500 cashback on completion. All while I paid zero fees to Habito themselves.

One final note – while it may be tempting to lengthen the total term of your mortgage to lower the monthly repayment amount, bear in mind that you’ll pay more interest in the long run and it will be later in life before your home is fully paid off. If you stand to save money with a fixed-term deal, yet you were comfortable with your previously higher payments, you might even consider shortening the length of your term to keep payments similar to previous, saving interest in the long term and meaning your home would be paid off earlier. To discuss early debt-repayment and early retirement strategies, get in touch.

> Compare mortgages for free with Habito

Rent / House Hacking

Perhaps you don’t own a home yet and so the previous tip on mortgages didn’t apply to you. Well, this one could be for you instead.

Or perhaps you do own a home and you haven’t considered how it could potentially earn you income. Read on.

Renters

If you’re saving to buy a home and you currently rent and live alone, I’d urge you to reconsider your current strategy. Yes, having your own space is highly desirable for most, but it’s also likely seriously eating into your saving potential, meaning you could be prolonging your ability to purchase by two or three times more than necessary.

If you’re in this position I’d recommend becoming a lodger or sharing a rented space with like-minded individuals that you can get on with. Not only will you split the rent, but council tax and all household bills. The more people you share with, the bigger the savings potential.

SpareRoom.co.uk is an excellent resource for finding a flat to rent or room to share. Gumtree is another option.

Still Living with Parents / Guardians

If you still live in your family home in harmony with your parents or guardians, don’t be too hasty in moving out if they’re happy to have you there. Yes, renting a place of your own gives you some freedoms and can teach you about independent living and give you a greater idea about the true costs of home-ownership, but it will also slow down your rate of savings significantly.

If continuing to stay at home is appealing to you, I’d recommend sitting down and having an honest conversation with your parents or guardians. Explain that, if they too were happy with the situation, you’ll use the money to save for a deposit on your first home and won’t just be spending it frivolously.

Definitely offer to pay your share of the bills – if you don’t already – as this can help ease the burden and also teach you greater responsibility. You might even ask if they’ll consider sharing how much bills and other living costs are so that you have a much better understanding of how to plan your monthly budget when it comes time to purchase a home in your price range.

Home Owners

If you own your own home and have a spare bedroom, have you considered letting it out to earn additional income? There are essentially two main options:

Take in a Lodger

Consider renting your spare room out to a lodger. The UK government’s Rent a Room Scheme lets you earn up to a threshold of £7,500 per year tax-free from letting out furnished accommodation in your home. You’ll need to check with your mortgage lender and home insurer about whether this is possible in your current agreements, though home insurance can be easily switched if necessary.

SpareRoom.co.uk is an excellent resource to list your room for rent. Gumtree is another option.

Short-term lets for tourists

AirBnB is a service that let’s individual travellers rent a room (or an entire property) on a short-term basis from a landlord, as opposed to staying in a hotel or traditional B&B. Whether your home is in a desirable location for travellers i.e. whether near airport transport links and in the vicinity tourist attractions, will largely determine the viability of using AirB&B.

Save £1,000s on Food

Give Value Supermarkets a Try

Judging by their continued growth, it seems no-frills value supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl are becoming ever more popular. If you’ve not yet given them a serious try, what could it hurt? I’ll be completely honest here – just a few years ago I bought a fair share of my weekly meals from M&S, with daily essentials and household products coming from Tesco and ASDA. Now, I do almost all of my shopping at Aldi, with an occasional visit to Tesco or ASDA. As a result, I’m happy to report that my monthly grocery bill has halved. I can honestly say I don’t feel any less satisfied with the food I eat and the money I’ve saved has been redirected to my holiday fund!

Switch to Own-brand Products

Most of the household cleaning products and over-the-counter drugs I buy now are supermarket own brand. When purchasing paracetamol, ibuprofen, bleach, oven cleaner and a multitude of other items, I just don’t feel the big brand products make any real difference to justify the – often significant – additional cost. When you think about it, supermarkets can’t possibly own manufacturing facilities for all of their own-brand product ranges, so they outsource it to existing manufacturers i.e. the big brands themselves or a likely-supplier to at least one of the big brands.

When it comes to food, try substituting several items for supermarket brands at a time and seeing how you get on. For example, I’ve found that I’m a big fan of Tesco’s Finest English Breakfast Tea, ASDA’s Extra Special Super Seeded bread and Aldi’s Authentic Greek Yogurt and Corn Flakes; but when it comes to instant coffee I’m still a sucker for Nescafés Azera (always purchased on offer, of course!). Try some brand-swap experiments for yourself and remember to keep an open and fair mind.

Yes, none of these individual savings are ever going to blow your socks off; but what I found is that they all add up to a sizeable saving over the period of a month, and potentially hundreds of pounds over the course of a year. In my case, changing my supermarket habits saved me over £1,000 per year that I now allocate to something significantly more exciting and memorable. I’m a family of one; if there are two or more in your family this could potentially mean even bigger savings for you.

Meal Planning & Batch Cooking

Planning your daily meals can really help to reduce food- and money-waste by ensuring you don’t often over-buy food. I like to use a digital shopping list – my personal preference being Google’s Keep website and mobile app – as I will always have it with me, I can add to it while I’m on the go and I can clear and reuse lists at the touch of the screen. If you share shopping responsibilities with another, you can also share the shopping list between your accounts!

Batch cooking meals and freezing them as individual servings for lunches and dinners can really save on both total preparation time and money, as well as making for a healthier diet. If you do a few different batches in a short frame of time and rotate the meals it can help to reduce the feeling of boredom through repetition. Always having pre-prepared meals that can be reheated in minutes will really help to cut down on ’emergency’ calls to the local takeaway too.

Take Stock of How Often You Eat Out

There’s no denying the influence the internet has had on how frequently most of us now eat out and the part it has played in the dawn of the foodie. Restaurant reviews on sites like Trip Advisor and Facebook mean service is kept highly consistent and we’re also constantly bombarded with restaurant recommendations as people share photos of their meals on Instagram. What’s more, modern lifestyles often prioritise convenience above other factors, including cost. This effect can go beyond just dinner time too, as going out for lunch every day when we’re working can really add up if it’s a regular habit.

If you are a big fan of dining out you may want to count the number of times you do this per month – including work lunches out – and add up the cost. You could be in for a surprise. If experiencing different food and restaurants all-year-round is something you really value and not just to be enjoyed on special ocassionas and while you’re on holiday, then it might not be something you need or want to cut back on. However, if you’re in debt or struggling to live within your means, read on.

Obviously the meal planning and batch cooking advice above is just as relevant here, as having pre-prepared meals at the ready can really make impulse decisions to dine out or order in a takeaway seem like much less of a convenience (or at least more difficult to justify!).

When you do treat yourself to a planned meal out, for those on a limited budget there are some strategies to help enjoy the dining out experience without breaking the bank:

  • Stick to affordable restaurants. This one is stating the obvious somewhat, but there’s a little tapas restaurant near me that I adore, and when I go to a fancier place and spend 2-3x as much, I have never once come away feeling the experience was 200-300% better!
  • Avoid alcohol. It’s no secret that the mark-up on alcohol in restaurants is significant. If you can enjoy a glass of wine before heading out or wait until you return home instead, the savings are big. If you live in a metropolitan area it may be possible to find restaurants that offer a BYOB service, but do take any ‘corkage’ fees into consideration.
  • Stick to the main course only. Personally, I’ve found that when I visit a restaurant that serves generously-sized main courses I just end up feeling overindulged if I also have a starter or dessert in addition. In these restaurants, I will often prefer to stick to a main course only. If you like to sample lots of different dishes as part of the experience but you’re on a budget, consider a tapas-style restaurant or sharing dishes if you’re with a close and willing(!) companion.

Get Money Back When You Shop

Many websites and blogs – including this one – earn ‘referral commissions’ when they refer purchases and subscriptions to other online businesses. With consumer cashback websites such as Quidco, some or all of the comission cashback is paid directly to you.

To earn cachback from online retailers, simply register an account with Quidco and search their list of partners to see if brands you shop with are there. Be sure to click on the reatailer’s link via Quidco every time before you check out (this is the important bit!) and the sale should track. It can take a weeks for the retailer to eventually pay out, but over the years I have earned over £1,000 in cashback against planned purchases.

Warning: Although earning cashback on products you were going to buy already is a nice little bonus, please never let the draw of cashback at your favourite store be an excuse to justify otherwise unnecessary or unplanned purchases.

> Earn cashback on your purchases

Transparency Disclosure: For transparency, I prefer to disclose that some of the above links are affiliate links, meaning I earn a very small commission if you go on to complete a purchase after clicking. However, I will strictly only ever recommend products and services I believe in and do or would use myself, even if that service doesn’t pay any commission.

Generic Guidence: The information on this page is generic information intended for guidence only. It is not financial advice personalised to your individual needs and should not be treated as such.

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Charlie

Pharmaceuticals Manager
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Jordan helped me to establish my goals and review my shopping habits. With his invaluable guidance, I have learned to spend less in areas that weren’t bringing me joy and save that money towards a place of my own instead. He always has your best interests at heart.

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Freelance Videographer, DJ
Glasgow, Scotland

Jordan has helped us as self-employed freelancers, showing us great investment options and helping us with short- and long-term financial goal setting. He is extremely knowledgeable, patient and went to great lengths to give us the best advice possible. We cannot thank him enough!

Kerry

College Lecturer
Dumfries, Scotland

Jordan helped me put together a plan to save for a deposit on my first home and develop a confident and healthy relationship with money. I have learned how to manage my money and put it in the right place to build towards my financial goals.