How to improve your finances in just one month
It’s that time of year when we all start feeling the pinch. The period between October half term and Christmas always seems to be an expensive time. Particularly this year, when we are still suffering the financial consequences of the pandemic, the cut in Universal Credit, and so many rising prices.
However, there are little things that we can all do every day that will help us to make or save money and improve our finances. Just little things, that will each make only a little difference. But they can all add up and help us to boost our finances bit by bit.
In this article we look at 31 ways to make or save money. You could try doing one each day for the next month, or just pick out a few that appeal to you. Either way, we hope that they help to lift your spirits and boost your finances.
31 ways to make and save money
1. Collect loose change
Set up a jar, bowl or money box for loose change. Start by searching your home thoroughly for any loose change, perhaps anything up to and including 10p coins. Check bags, purses, pockets, and then any other places where change tends to accumulate. Put it all into your loose change jar, and keep this going for the rest of the month.
2. Don’t pay full price
Try to avoid paying full price for anything where possible. If there are things you need to buy, see if you can get them either at sale price or maybe second hand instead of brand new.
3. Ditch the credit cards
Either destroy your credit cards or put them away in a safe place so you are not tempted to use them on impulse. It is all too easy to get into the habit of using credit cards as if they were money, but they are debt.
4. Save energy
Take action to reduce the amount of energy you use in your home. For example, turn the thermostat down 1 degree, shower for 1 minute less, and turn everything off when finished with. All these small steps can make a difference to your energy bills. See our recent article How to save money on energy bills this winter for more information.
5. Cancel what you don’t use
Make sure that you are using everything you are paying for. It is easy to lose track and end up paying for memberships and subscriptions for things that you don’t want or need any more. So check that you are not paying for anything like gyms, sports or social clubs, slimming clubs, magazine subscriptions, cosmetics boxes, beer or wine clubs, or snack boxes. Cancel your membership and payment if you are no longer using the products or services.
6. Sell online
If you have good quality items in your home that you don’t want or need, have a go at selling them online, for example on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Perhaps just start with one or two items to see how you get on, and if it goes well you may be able to make some good money from selling other items.
7. Manage your direct debits
Check direct debits to see if any could be spread over a longer repayment period to reduce the payments. Another thing worth checking is to see if you can move the dates of any of your direct debits. For example, if there are some at the beginning of the month that you could move to the end of the month, after your next payday, that could give your finances a bit of breathing space.
8. Plan your food shopping
You can save money on food shopping by planning your meals carefully. Start by including ingredients that you already have so that you don’t have to buy everything from scratch. Then make a list of everything else to ensure you only buy what you need.
9. Get a better deal
It is always worth checking that you are getting the best deal from your supplier, for example phone/broadband, energy, mortgage, insurance. You may also want to look around different suppliers to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. Companies such as Uswitch and Compare the Market can be helpful in this process.
10. Pay off your smallest debt
If you have a few debts, this can really eat into your disposable income, and can also drag you down. It takes time to pay off debts, but one realistic goal is to try and pay off your smallest debt as soon as possible. Do whatever it takes to do this, and you will feel so much more positive that at least one debt has gone. You could then start paying the money you were paying on that debt into your next smallest debt; and so on until you gradually start to see a difference.
11. Rent out your driveway
If you live in a town or city and have a driveway, you may want to consider renting it out as a parking space. You can make good money from doing this, and can choose when you do and don’t want people to use your driveway. Find out more from websites such as Just Park, Your Parking Space or Park on My Drive.
12. Make money from online surveys
Many businesses use online surveys to get customer feedback and some of these are paid opportunities. You can sign up to a reputable online survey website to be considered for paid survey work. Some of the most popular online survey sites are Swagbucks, i-Say and Branded Surveys.
13. Don’t waste food
In the UK, almost 7 million tonnes of food is wasted per year which works out at around £300 per person. One easy way to save money is not to waste food. Use everything that you have rather than throwing anything away. As part of this, today why not try making a meal using only ingredients that you have already had in your home for over a week.
14. Watch free films
It is easy to get into the habit of ordering on demand films, but the cost can quickly spiral out of control. So for this month, when watching a film at home, either use free cinema channels or bring out old DVDs rather than paying for on demand movies.
15. Reduce interest on credit card balances
If you are paying off credit card balances you may find that most of your monthly payment goes into the interest rather than reducing the balance itself. Which means that the balance is never going to go down. See if you can either transfer your credit card balance to another card with lower or even 0% interest, or consider taking out a personal loan to pay off all your credit cards and be left with one manageable monthly payment.
16. Sell specialist items
If you have any kind of niche items in your home, perhaps that have been handed down through the family, you may be able to sell these for a good price if you don’t want them. There are specialist online sellers – and also some High Street dealers – that may be interested in purchasing items such as stamp or coin collections, old books, antique items, musical or photographic equipment, and jewellery
17. Cash in foreign currency
It may be a while since you have travelled anywhere abroad either on holiday or for business, but there may still be foreign currency hanging around. So have a good look and if you come across any large denomination holiday currency you will be able to exchange it at a bank, Post Office or travel agent. The same applies to any unused travellers cheques.
18. Batch cook
When cooking meals such as lasagne, curry, chili, pasta bake, pies and casseroles, get into the habit of making double quantities. It actually doesn’t cost twice as much to make double, as many of the ingredients will stretch a little further. But it does mean that you then have an extra meal either to freeze for future use or perhaps to swap with a friend.
19. Don’t forget those gift vouchers
An estimated £97.7 million was lost on unused gift and shopping vouchers during the 2020 lockdown. Many of us have gift vouchers lying around that haven’t been used, and perhaps we’ve even forgotten about. If so, dig them out and put them to good use. Either use them to buy things that you need or you can sell them online on websites such as Card Yard or Zapper.
20. Pay less for transport
For every journey you plan to make, ask yourself whether the journey is essential and/or whether you could do it in a different way. For example could you combine various errands into one, car share with others, walk or cycle. It’s always worth thinking about whether there is a cheaper alternative.
21. Benefit from your loyalty cards
Most of us have a variety of supermarket and store loyalty cards, and don’t really use them for much. But it’s worth checking whether any have points that could the cost of your shopping bills, or special offers that will get you a discount.
22. Put spare space to to good use
If you have spare space in your home, you may want to consider renting it out temporarily. Websites such as AirBnB provide opportunities for you to accept paid visitors to your accommodation. Another option is to rent out a garage or shed as storage space via a website such as Stashbee.
23. Have nights out at home
We all love a great night out, but it can cost a small fortune. So now and again why not host a night in? Instead of a night out at the pub or restaurant invite friends round to your place and get everyone to bring their own food and drink. A great night, but at a fraction of the cost of a night out.
24. Car booty
If you’ve never done a car boot sale before, why not give it a go? Or if you don’t want to brave the elements, there are plenty of indoor table top sales around too. They’re a great opportunity to declutter your home and make some money all at the same time. So check around locally, or browse through car boot websites such as Car Boot Junction or Car Boot Sales.
25. Get cash back
It sounds too good to be true, but cashback websites enable you to get money back on what you spend online. All you need to do is sign up for a cashback site such as Quidco or Topcashback. Membership is usually free, though some cashback sites offer paid membership with greater benefits. Then when buying something online you go via the cashback site and will get a portion of your spending paid back into your cashback account.
26. It’s a gift
If you have unwanted gifts in your home, don’t let them go to waste. First of all try to return them to the store either for cash or a credit note. If it’s too late to do this, have a go at selling them either online or locally. As a last resort, you can always use them as Christmas gifts. Just make sure you don’t give them back to the person that originally gave them to you!
27. Earn from your skills
See if you have any skills or experience that you could advertise locally. Many people are looking for help with different aspects of their lives and would be happy to pay. For example child or pet care, admin work, computer maintenance, cooking, cleaning, garden clearing, decorating, odd jobs.
28. Be in it to win it
Every now and then why not have a go at entering a competition? Keep your eyes open for competitions on websites and in newspapers or magazines you read anyway. There are also lists of competitions on sites such as Competition Finder or Prize Finder. Not forgetting the National Lottery of course. Chances of winning anything major are fairly slim, but it’s nice to have a go from time to time. And you never know . . . someone has got to win!
29. Only use cash
If you are going out either shopping or socialising, decide how much you plan to spend and only take that amount of cash with you. This is a helpful discipline because once it’s gone it’s gone. So you can have a good shop, or great night out, and know that you are not overspending.
30. Get crafty
If you are in any way crafty it could be worth having a go at making something and selling it locally, for example at local fairs. Any type of arts and crafts, poetry writing, song recording, jewellery or accessory creating, jam making, cake baking … all could be worth a try.
31. Change your change
Last but not least, at the end of the month it’s time to take all the cash from your loose change jar to a bank or Coinstar machine and exchange it for notes or shopping vouchers. Even if it’s just a few pounds, it’s worth more in your pocket than taking up space in a jar. And takes very little effort to do. Once you’ve done it, start filling it again to see how much you can raise next month!
We hope that this article has given you plenty of ideas as to how to make and save money over the coming month, and will help you to start improving your finances.
Good luck, and remember to check back here soon for more financial and lifestyle tips from Loans 2 Go.