I'm Emily, a Product Manager here at Tandem looking after our Savings products. Helping people start to save to build up funds to do all the things they love is a real passion of mine - it's definitely more than just a day job!
How to start saving
One of life’s greatest taboos: Saving money. Some people seem to breeze through, stashing the cash with no worries, and for others it's a different story.
One in three Brits has less than £1500 in savings - if that's you, it can feel pretty daunting to even know where to start.
That's why I'm breaking it down into small easy steps over the next few blogs so you can kickstart some smart money habits and feel in control of your financial future.
1) Let’s crunch some numbers and find the quick wins
The first step to kick off your savings journey is to get a clear and accurate picture of your starting point and where your money goes.
You can try different budgeting apps and tools, or you can go old school with pen and paper, but either way jot down everything you're spending for a month or so.
Make three different lists:
- What’s coming in (salary, benefits, other income)
- What’s going out that’s fixed (rent/mortgage, bills, car payments, etc)
- What’s going out that’s variable (food, shopping, social activities)
Hopefully what’s going out is less than what’s coming in and you can see how you can start to put money aside. Don’t panic if that’s not the case! Instead look at your fixed outgoings to see if there’s any easy tweaks to bring your costs down.
A few suggestions:
- Cancel any subscriptions you’re not using any more (I’m looking at that gym you never go to… you know it’s time to say goodbye).
- Switch energy provider.
- Switch phone contract, especially if you’ve had your phone more than two years and can get a SIM-only deal.
- Call up the other companies you have bills with and try to haggle - you’d be surprised what you can get reduced.
I had a scan through of my bills recently and saved myself nearly £250 switching to an annual travelcard instead of monthly – even if you’re already a savings pro you might be surprised where you can cut some corners.
2) Get real with yourself
This is where we start to do some work and you’ll get the most insights.
Go back to your spending for the last month and take a good hard look at where your money is going. Group it up into useful categories (e.g. food shops, transport, eating out). Pretty quickly you’ll see patterns in your spending you didn’t know existed and hopefully you can find a few areas where you can cut back - is it a few too many Ubers? Are you surprised at how much Thursday drinks added up?
This stage isn't about guilt or judgement - it's just about knowing the ins and outs of where your money goes on the little stuff, so you can take steps to start keeping more of it aside for the big stuff.
Pick just one thing where you think you can make a difference. You could implement a few ‘no-spend days’ during the week where you bring lunch in from home. Or you could set yourself a target to use up everything in your fridge before you next go food shopping. The key to staying motivated is to start with something really small so you can smash your goals.
3) Manage money with a mindfulness motto
Building up a savings pot is not just about spending less money – my number one philosophy is that good money management shouldn’t feel restrictive at all. What it’s actually about is making sure everything you DO spend, is for something you really value and is worth parting with your cash for.
Start figuring out what stuff you can stop spending money on without feeling like you’re losing out. Sometimes little tweaks can make a big difference – saying no to social things you’re only pretty meh about or choosing a glass of water at the end of the night instead of one more cocktail.
I like to think of it as mindfulness for money - every purchase you make should be a conscious decision where you can say ‘Spending this money brings real benefit to my life'. I promise you you’ll feel less guilty about spending money, and start to get excited about the savings you can stash for something big down the line.
Saving money can sometimes feel like a long journey but being aware of your starting point and starting to be conscious of your spending is a massive first step.