It’s easy to overspend without realising it, whether you’re in the habit of getting takeaways too frequently or ordering on ASOS too often. And for some, living under lockdown for much of this year has also meant spending more too.
According to a survey of more than 2,000 adults by the financial services firm Legal and General and CEBR, an economics consultancy, Brits spent almost £250m ($334.4m) extra a week on food, alcohol, entertainment and indoor hobbies during the first coronavirus lockdown.
On average, shoppers spent £104 per week on food and isolation activities, an increase of five% compared with before lockdown began on 23 March.
However, this year has also been problematic for our bank accounts. Whether it’s because of redundancy, income loss or furlough with less pay, many people are struggling financially. So how can we cut back on our spending without it making too much of an impact on our lives?
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Comfort spending is something many people have indulged in this year, to make up for the fact we’ve had to spend longer at home, away from friends and unable to socialise in person.
Stress shopping is a real problem. In a recent Credit Karma survey, more than a third (35%) of respondents said they’ve made impulse purchases to deal with stress from the coronavirus pandemic. Among those who said they’d bought things on impulse purchases, nearly half (45%) said they’re stress spending at least once a week, and 17% are making impulse buys daily.
It can be easier said than done, but enforcing a bit of self-restraint can save you some serious cash. If you tend to spend hours online shopping, deleting apps like ASOS (ASC.L) or Amazon (AMZN) from your phone can help, or blocking certain websites. Before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it.
With many of us eating out less and being at home more at the moment, it means our supermarket shopping is costing more. It can help to try the “supermarket downshift method” — a challenge based on the premise that supermarkets stock several different price levels of their staple products.
With the only real difference between the products being the price tag, you may save yourself a lot of money without noticing a change in quality. Opting for the lesser-known labels and own-brand products instead of branded ones can lead to significant savings.
Lots of us overindulged in food and drink this year. According to 2,254 interviews with UK residents by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI, 48% reported putting on weight and 29% said they drank more alcohol than they normally would.
Joining a gym may be the obvious option to get healthier and fitter, but memberships can be costly, particularly if you don’t end up going very often. There are many cheaper ways to get fit, such as walking, running, online exercise videos, and apps.
Many office workers are continuing to work from home and will do so in the future, at least for part of the time. Although working remotely comes with challenges, cutting back on your commute can also save you money on rail or bus tickets and fuel.
If you don’t work from home and can’t avoid driving, there are ways to make your car more fuel efficient which will save you money in the long-run. Keeping your tyres inflated, decluttering the car and keeping the air-con to a minimum will all help. If you use public transport, it can be worth skipping a bus trip a couple of times a week to walk instead.
Some supermarket deals may be legitimate, but it’s important to be wary of all discounts and multibuy deals. In 2019, Which? tracked the pricing and offers of 450 products available at Asda (WMT), Iceland, Morrisons (MRW.L), Ocado (OCDO.L), Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), Tesco (TSCO.L) and Waitrose.
While most of the deals monitored did represent good value, there were 65 instances across the year of supermarkets using misleading discounts that didn’t represent the bargains they claimed. In particular, be wary of “was/now” discounts that suggest you’re getting a good deal on a product, or items that are always “on offer” — and use a sense of urgency to draw you in.
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