6 ways to Stop Wasting Money

Do you find yourself looking down into an empty wallet whilst trying to pay for groceries wondering how could you have run out of money for the week…again?? Well then you’re in luck because today I’m going to give you a few ideas on how you can stop wasting money so you have the cash there for the important things!  and hey you could even end up never having to look at an empty purse ever again! So let’s begin! 

  1. Set Goals: Get out a good ole fashioned notebook and pen and jot down financial goals you have for yourself. Saving for a new car? Saving up for an emergency fund? Once you have clear goals set in place and a system in order to reach those goals I.e. Saving €20 a week for 4months then all of a sudden you understand the worth of €20. Instead of paying for a dominoes mega deal with cookies (lush btw) you could buy a cheaper frozen pizza and that’s your €20 saved for that week.
  2. Meal Plan: Yes I’m at it again. Meal planning is by far thee most dramatic change you’ll see in your spending if you put it into practice. Forever I had loaves of bread go out of date, that I hadn’t even opened yet. I’ve found the best way to not let food go mouldy is simply planning ahead and knowing that you WILL use it. If you know your menu for the week ahead then you don’t even have to think about what you need to buy at the shops, you have a specific list on hand and that will help you avoid buying food that ultimately you don’t need and will end up being wasted.
  3. Ice Ice Baby: In addition to meal planning, I also like to plan how much I am going to cook. Sometimes if I’m going to be making a stew or soup or anything I know can be easily frozen I’ll purposefully buy enough so I can eat half and freeze the other half of the meal. It means next week I have one less day to worry about! My next big spend will hopefully be on a bigger freezer, that way I can try going pro with freezer meals (there are some amazing Pinterest posts on learning how to cook in bulk and live off freezer meals for up to whole a month!).
  4. Cable TV: Now this one would be a lot easier for me to commit to if Impractical Jokers wasn’t on TV (It’s a monday night tradition). Other than that I could very easily give up cable TV, and eventually one of these days I’ll convince my husband. There are other great alternatives out there like Netflix (I literally watched the whole of season 6 PLL in two days, I’m a real binge watcher). You could be saving up to €1000 a year depending how much you pay for your cable monthly and also you’ll be watching less TV and focussing on using your time doing something probably more productive so it’s a win win!
  5. Gym Memberships: Now this really depends on personal situation. If you use the gym like more than twice a week then yes a gym probably is worth the money you’re paying for it. If you go once a week or more like once a month, is spending up to nearly €100 a month really worth it? Well the answer is no, it isn’t worth it. You don’t need fancy tech machines to be able to exercise, and if you’re only going once a week you’re probably not even really making the most of the expensive heavy weight machines. Buy a bicycle instead, or go jogging, walk up mountains, walk the dog, do home yoga with YouTube videos. It’s easy to exercise without a gym, in fact it’s very easy. So if you’re wasting money on a gym membership, go cancel it…like now…I wasted €90 for two months gym membership (I went once….and that was the day I signed up #neveragain).
  6. Haircuts: Now I know hairdressers need to make a living but seriously €50 to give me a trim? eh no. Hairdressing is a skill and I’m not saying don’t get your hair cut, all I’m saying is that if you get your hair cut like every three months like you’re apparently supposed to then that money really adds up fast. So why not use groupon to find half price haircuts or there’s always students who need to practice and may even be doing them for free. In between cuts try to keep your hair healthy and condition the ends well to avoid really bad split ends, you could see your amount of visits to the hairdressers decreasing by just doing some basic good hair care.

Now there’s 6 simple ways to cut back on wasted money! But by far the best way to stop wasting money is by tracking it. Learn where all your money is going to! A tenner here and there really adds up so take control and make the most of what you have. If you want to be at peace with your income you have to learn how to live within your means and be content with that! 

Hopefully these tips have given you a few ideas to think about and also all you budgeting enthusiasts if you want to hear more tips and tricks that I’ve learnt along the way then you can Subscribe Here! You’ll be updated when a new blog post is out so you’ll be the first to take a sneak peak and also a few more surprises will be coming along you way for you special dedicated followers! 

Happy Budgeting! 

  

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4 Things to do at the Start of EVERY Month!

1460886981634-1So it’s 2016, big whoop, ‘New Year, New Me’ drama. I can change my life around any day of the year anyways. Oh hang on a minute we’re already a quarter way through the year? Isn’t it like still January? Well apparently not.

That’s how the start of this year basically went for me and to be honest how most years begin for me. One minute you’re getting confused over 2015 and 2016, and the next minute your confused as to why you’re writing April instead of January. Time flies and it’s not necessarily because we’re having fun. Time is one of our biggest resources, forget money or possessions. What we do with our time is the hands down biggest factor in our lives. That’s why I’m not going to let the year run by me. Every month counts, heck, every day counts and that’s why I’m taking charge. Starting with being aware of every month, and making the most of it. That’s why I have this helpful list of 4 things to do each month to make the month easier, more enjoyful and more meaningful.

  1. Budget. What’s the point in trying to be stress free and more mindful for a month if you’re still worried about paying bills? Sit down and go over your budget, and for those who are still too scared to make one here’s a Link to were you can find help to make your first budget! The key is review your budget at the start of every month. Make sure things are on track and all the bills are getting paid (and that your savings is building up too of course). Once you’ve reviewed it, forget about it. Don’t let the constant worry of money and where it’s going keep you down. Chin up from that calculator and go look at a tree or something super melodramatic.
  2. Deep cleaning time! Clutter free = stress free. Clutter is my biggest fear. Okay spiders are, or wrists (long story) but that’s not the point. Clutter makes our lives look messy, and when our homes are messy we get distracted waaaayy too easily. Spending time at the start of the month giving our homes, cars, desks, you name it, a good clear out can make the rest of your month so much easier. And by deep cleaning, I mean the fridge, oven, pantry, drawers, wardrobes and all those places that just gather mess, not just the dirty dishes from last night.
  3. Set a new goal at the start of each month. Now this is were your month can become a lot more interesting and enjoyable. If you have a new goal each month, imagine the sense of achievment you’ll have. There’s plenty of goals you could choose from; You could aim for beginning a new exercise regime; try saving 1000 bucks(Here’s how you can save 1000 bucks here!); drinking more water; reading a book; or you can go totally mad like my husband and I because we’d tried going Meat free for a month! (See how we went veggie here!) Whatever it is you choose, make the most of it for each month and in a years time look back and see just how far you’ve come. Imagine 12 big accomplishments in a year!
  4. Me time. At the start of every month, check your calendar, fill in those important dates and make sure your up to date with everything. Next though, schedule in some ‘me-time’ or a ‘do nothing’ day or a ‘stop day’. Ideally you want to have one day a week where you can just relax, whether that’s going for a stroll, watching Netflix all day or just simply slowing everything down. Nowadays we’re constantly bringing stress into our lives and just even the idea of having a day planned where we can just rest is immediately reassuring. If you’re worrying that you’re not going to get every thing done then rest assured cause those who do set aside resting time have increased productivity and are more proud of their accomplishments, so more time spent on a job doesn’t mean better results. So rest up, you can only do you’re best work when you’re at your best!

Are you all set to make the most of your time? What goal are you going to set for this month? What do you like to do in your ‘me time’? Let me know below!

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5 Simple Steps to Easy Meal Planning! 

5 Simple Steps to Easy Meal Planning? Really? Yes I know what you’re thinking, ‘Meal Planning‘ and ‘Easy‘ don’t belong in the same sentence. But guess what? It does now. Meal planning is definitely something that takes a little bit of time and a bit of dedication, but after doing it for a couple of weeks, you honestly won’t even know how you ever made it through the week without it. This is also one of the easiest ways to save money. All of a sudden you’re not going to and from the shops 4 times a week, you have cupboards full of food that is ready to be made into a meal and wasting food because it went out of date tends to not happen, like ever. 

Food is one of those things that everybody needs, and you’re always going to have to spend money on it. So why not take control of that, otherwise you could be wasting hundreds every year on wasted food and take outs. Not only that but without a properly planned diet bad eating habits become your worst enemy. Alas, not all is lost, I’ve given you 5 Simple Steps to get you Meal Planning like a Pro

  1. Make a list of all the meals you love and other recipes you’d like to try. Gather as many ideas as you can so you have a great go-to list of dinner ideas. Scour through recipe books and if you’re cooking for a family then get the family together and share ideas. Including your family in the process can help make meal planning a breeze and placing your meal plan somewhere for everyone to see in the home is a must! My husband and I leave our weekly meal plan on the fridge so at a glance we can see what we’re going to be eating that night, which makes meal times something to really look forward to, instead of dreading the thought of trying to come up with something to eat.
  2. List the ingredients for each meal. This part is optional, but for those who want to be super organised and often forget ingredients whilst shopping this can really help. Maybe write down all the ingredients you need for each meal on flash cards, on your phone or anywhere that is convinient for you. This will help when it comes to creating your shopping list because you already know all the ingredients you need for each meal, hence forgeting something whilst shopping will be a thing of the past!
  3. Work out how far ahead you want your meal plan to be. Are you planning a week at a time? 2 weeks? 5 days? Whatever your time scale, work it out. I like to work week by week, simply because fresh food doesn’t last that long, but if you’re into monthly shopping and like to prepare in bulk and freeze a lot of your meals then that’s fine too! Everyone is different and so it may take a couple of go’s before you get it figured out, which is completely fine! 
  4. Now pick the same number of meals to match the number of days you’re shopping for. And remember if you don’t want to, you don’t necessarily have to assign a meal for a specific day. I like to pick 7meals for 7days and then be able to pick freely which meal I’m in the mood for or go in the order of which ingredients go out of date first, that way I’m cutting back on the amount of food I’d be wasting through the week too! Sometimes after  I shop and I know the use by dates of the veggies and meat etc I will assign a meal to a night then. 
  5. Now create your shopping list! The first few times I was doing grocery shopping I found myself going up and down the aisles multiple times because I kept forgetting things on the list that where in the same area as each other . Now I try to keep dairy food together on my list, canned food listed together and meat listed together and so on and so on. Don’t forget to take into consideration enough food for the week for lunches or breakfast too (Of course if you want to make a plan for breakfast lunch and dinner then go ahead! The more planning the better!)

And there you have it! That’s how easy meal planning is. And if you’re like me then obviously you have to have a stack of great stationary to help out with all your organisation. Personally I use a range of stationary from Kikki.K.

Amazing Dinner Planner and handy perforated ‘to buy’ section:   

Meal Planner for Pros:
 Shopping List for the Super Organiser: 

I know, cute stationary right? Anyways back to the main point, don’t be afraid of meal planning. Once you start you’ll never go back, and once you get the hang of it, planning your meals out becomes an ease. Let me know how you plan your meals out in the comments! 🙂 

How to stop living Paycheck to Paycheck! 

how to stop living paycheck to paycheck

Budgets….bluergh!

Who needs one of those?….Wellll if we’re honest we all do actually, in some form at least. We live in a world where money seems to be ‘the be all and end all‘, but wouldn’t it be great if it didn’t have to be?

One way you can stop worrying about money so much is by having a Budget. It takes the stress out of bills/debts or savings because you know you already have everything accounted for and so you can spend time on the more important things.

I’m going to share with you how my husband and I personally manage all of our expenses and how you can too! (Bear in mind this is super easy to do! the hard part is STICKING TO IT!)

So here’s a step by step guide to help you start your budgeting adventure:

1. Work out your Monthly Expenses

That’s right, go grab a pen and paper, and sit down with your spouse (if applicable) and together work out every bill that needs to be paid in a month e.g. Rent, Car Insurance, Pet Insurance, Electricity, Mobile Phones, Internet, TV etc.

2. Other Miscellaneous Payments

Now include in your Monthly Expenses anything else you need to spend money on during the month that aren’t necessarily ‘Bills’ but still something you must spend money on, such as Groceries, Petrol, Clothes.

3. Add up all the Monthly Expenses

Okay so here’s the scary part, total up all of the amounts you’ve written down and minus it from how much you earn in a month. Hopefully, you’ll find that you have some extra money left over. If not, then changes need to be made.

Start by cutting back on unnecessary expenses. Clothing is something I’ve tried to work on dramatically, after feeling the urge to purge my wardrobes I decided to invest in a book. That doesn’t sound too amazing until I tell you I purchased ‘The life-changing magic of tidying up’ by Marie Kondo. No, I didn’t need a book to tell me how to purge my wardrobes but I did need a system and I had heard good reviews about this book. It’s safe to say that it got me motivated. I’ve dramatically cut down the number of clothing items I own. It’s still not perfect but it’s 100% better. If you want to save money, in the case of clothes and material possessions I definitely suggest first clearing and sorting through what you already own. This process lends itself to appreciation and it quantifies in your mind just how much stuff you already have. Now when I purchase an item I try to remember what I already own and where this purchase would live in my house. I’m a big believer in trying to buy second hand first. Not only do you give items a second lease of life but in the case of clothing, you also reduce your impact in the fast fashion industry. Save money, save your time, save the planet…okay that last one is a stretch but every little helps.

Transport can be another area where money goes to die. Between petrol, insurance, tax, road safety tests, breakdowns, car washes, and those little green pine trees you hang from the rearview mirror, they cost a lot. Yes, you can walk more and use public transport, but if you already own a car you’re going to have to pay for a car anyway and also pay for bus tickets etc. You can at least focus on keeping your car well maintained and hopefully cut down on unexpected breakdowns.

Food is another area where you can cut expenses. For example, I used to buy a lot more food than I needed every time I’d go grocery shopping for me and my husband. A lot of it went to waste. So to make changes I cut back and started meal planning, so now I know what and how much to buy. I even make extra portions some nights so I can freeze it and reheat it next week.

What can also make a big difference is doing one big shop a week instead of loads of smaller trips- saves money on food and petrol, so it’s a win-win. Some might call this lazy but I’ve started to do my grocery shopping online. I didn’t think it would make a big difference but it really has. Some months during the year I go meat-free, I’ve been trying to make more conscious decisions regarding my consumption of meat. Buying my shop online has made me very aware of the food I’m buying, it feels less impulsive and more purposeful and planned. I don’t get tempted by cheap meat offers, I just search for organic or free range and that’s all I allow myself to see and buy. Choosing meat-free alternatives saves you a lot of money and you get to experiment with some new recipes. If you are anything like me I tend to eat the same meals over and over again so sometimes change is very welcome.

You might even want to consider getting a side job or turning your hobby into a small business. A little bit of money on the side can be very helpful to get your savings started, or if you have to save for something in a shorter period of time. I’ve enjoyed working part-time from home as a virtual assistant, let me know if you want to know more about running your own virtual assistant business below and I can write a post or we can chat.

4. Save, Save, Save!

So once you have your monthly expenses equal less than your total income then you’re on the right track! All you have to do now is work out a system that makes you save as much as that extra cash as you can! This will help you stop living paycheck to paycheck and build up a healthy amount of savings for those unexpected bills.

What sort of a System should I use?

You need to find a system that works for YOU. My biggest piece of advice is to set yourself a very attainable goal at first, you’ll fall in love with the feeling of accomplishment and hopefully, stick to your saving routine.

Here’s how we stopped living Paycheck to Paycheck!

My system is actually very simple, I’m not a big fan of categorizing absolutely everything but Monzo has been a very big help. (Monzo is an online back that both my husband and I use. There are probably very similar bank accounts but that’s just what we use.) Monzo lets you make loads of different money pots, we have one for rent, food, petrol, emergency fund etc. As soon as we get paid, we move whatever money needs to go into each category, the rest we leave in our main account pot.

The game for the rest of the month is too see how much we can save, instead of racing to spend our money. Since we have separated out the money we need for the month, including our savings, the money left in our current account is quite low, but just enough so we don’t feel like we’re completely broke.

In effect, we pretend as if we are living paycheck to paycheck although, in reality, we are building up a separate savings account without really even realizing it!

This is what works for us because some weeks we need to spend more and others less which of course is normal! A budget shouldn’t feel restraining, and if it does, then you may have to go over your expenses again and work out if they are a ‘need‘ or a ‘want‘.

A budget should give you peace of mind that you have all the money you need to cover your bills and should help you get on track to build up some healthy savings.

But remember money isn’t everything

It’s true! Money isn’t everything! This should simply help you take debts and bills off your mind so you can go enjoy life a little less stress-free! Rethinking your view on possessions can really help you if you’re struggling to stop spending. Even if you have all the latest gadgets or the most fashion-forward clothes, that won’t result in happiness but understanding that money is just money can make you focus on the more important things. Budgeting can help you learn to live within your means and help you understand the real worth of money and help it go a lot further even when you’re living on less.

What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to saving? Share in the comments below!