Luxury PurchasesA few years ago, any mention of the word ‘saving’ and I would have groaned in disgust. Mostly because I was rubbish at it, I was in a bit of debt and I didn’t see the point of having money sat in the bank doing nothing.

A lot has changed – and now that I am older I can definitely see the benefits of putting money away. I’ll admit, I’m still not amazing at saving – however I have made a lot of progress!

Last year I opened up a Help To Buy ISA and I now put the maximum in each month (£200). It isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it is reassuring to know that one day I will get a nice chunk from the government towards a property. I’ve set up the payment so that it goes out on the day I get paid – so I don’t miss the money.

I am also quite good at budgeting when it comes to making big purchases – such as holidays or the MacBook Pro I recently bought. Rather than get myself into debt with high interest credit cards or store credit – I follow a few simple steps to make sure that I am able to save up the money quickly – and that I manage my finances well throughout the rest of the month.

Six tips to savings success:

Have a goal in mind for saving 

When saving for a big purchase like a holiday – make a note of how much you think you will need to save. I include absolutely everything in my plans…such as flights, visas, hotels, attractions, transfers, getting around, food and spending money. I like to look at a ‘worst case scenario’ so that it is a bonus if I have money left over. Once I have my savings goal, I work out how much that will mean I need to save each month and then plan my budgeting around it.

Know what is going in and out

Probably the most important step, make sure you keep tabs of exactly how much money is coming in each month and how much is going out. I have a spreadsheet set up where I put in my salary and then all of my bills, ISA payments, subscriptions, hair appointments etc. I make sure I budget for all recurring costs so that I know exactly how much I have left to ‘play with’ each month. I then write a list of everything I have coming up that month, such as drinks with friends or date nights out. I put a rough figure next to each item on the list so I have an idea of how much will be coming out of my budget. I use this handy ‘to-do’ list pad to keep me organised.

Give yourself an ‘allowance’ each week

I’ve only recently started doing this, but when I know how much money I have left over each month, I divide it by four to give me an ‘allowance’ each week. On a Monday, I will go to the cash point and draw this money out and I know that this is all I will have to spend until the following Monday. It’s a great way of keeping track of the little purchases that are so easily forgettable such as coffee and lunches. I know that once I run out of cash, I can’t draw out any more for the rest of the week – and so far it’s been a really effective way of managing my money and ensuring I don’t dip into my savings.

Set up ‘save the change’ on your bank account

Some bank accounts have a ‘save the change’ option – where you are able to round up your purchases to the nearest pound and distribute the pennies into a savings account. It’s a great way of building up some extra cash – and I don’t touch it so it all goes towards my ‘big purchase’ fund. If your bank account doesn’t support this – there are apps you can download to set this up.

Use a ‘smash only’ piggy bank 

An oldie, but a goodie! Do you ever come home after a night out with lots of spare change from buying a round of drinks? Buy a ‘smash only’ piggy bank, like this one here, and whenever you have coins available put them in. This is even better if you can stick to £1 and £2 coins – although it takes more discipline! I used to use this method at uni and within a couple of months I had saved over £100 without really thinking about it.

Develop a minimalist way of thinking

I used to impulse buy all the time, especially clothes – and I ended up with a massive wardrobe but nothing to wear. A month ago, I had a go at creating a ‘capsule wardrobe‘ and I haven’t looked back. Now I no longer hunt for clothes as I know that I love every piece in my closet – and I only plan for seasonal changes. It also means I can budget for my wardrobe every quarter and invest in timeless pieces. When I go to buy anything now I ask myself ‘do I really need this?’ and ‘how will this item give me value’? It seems a little dramatic, but it really helps me from splurging and keeps me on track with my savings goals.

So there we have it – my top tips for savings success! I am currently saving for a big holiday to New York and Canada in September and trying to spread the costs by booking various parts of the holiday month by month. Do you have any tips for saving? Let me know in the comments.