Ideas to help you build a financial buffer for when the unexpected happens
When your incomings are just about covering your monthly spending, saving can feel like an impossible stretch. But even the smallest amount set aside on a regular schedule can soon add up and give you a reassuring financial cushion for unexpected costs or help you achieve a future goal.
Having a buffer to fall back on can give you a feeling of security and being in better control of your life. It means that if something challenging was to happen, whether it’s an emergency boiler replacement or losing a job, you’ve got a pot to cover or at least help towards it, taking some of the stress out of the situation.
Here are our tips for saving, even when it doesn’t seem like there’s enough to spare.
Something (however small) is better than nothing
Most of us would love to have enough leftover at the end of the month to squirrel away a decent chunk of money. In reality, many of us don’t, so we think it’s not worth doing until we can save something significant. However, any amount is a good amount.
Let’s say you can spare £20 per month. At first, saving this amount might feel a bit pointless. But when you add up all the £20’s you’d be able to save over 6 months or a year or longer, you start to see their worth. Plus, once you’ve started to see your savings grow, you might be motivated to cut costs elsewhere so you can boost your monthly amount and save even more.
Save directly from your pay packet
At GWCU, we have a Savings@Work scheme, where if you work for one of our Money@Work partners, you can arrange to pay a certain amount into a Salary Savings account directly from your monthly wages. It means your saving is done before you’ve even seen the money in your bank account, and is an easy way to get into a healthy saving habit.
If you don’t work for one of our partners, you can set up your own version of this by arranging a monthly standing order into a savings account for the day after your regular payday. It means your money will be safely stashed away before you’ve had a chance to spend it.
Switch up your spending to make saving possible
When there’s very little or even nothing to spare on a regular basis, it’s likely that the only way to make saving possible is to change your spending habits elsewhere. And if money is very tight, it’s even more important to build up a little extra in savings so that you can meet any unexpected costs a little easier.
You might be able to make significant savings on your bills by switching suppliers for broadband, phone, energy and insurance. Comparison sites like Go Compare and Compare the Market can help you see how you could be paying less. Always look into the tariffs you’re being offered and ask if there are any more affordable ones. Any savings you make on those bills could be going directly into your savings account.
A little creativity can help to free up money in your everyday shopping too. It might mean finding a cheaper supermarket to shop in, shopping around for the cheapest fuel, or catching the bus instead of paying for parking. Even small changes can make a difference across the month.
Budget, budget, budget
At GWCU, we’re huge believers in the power of budgeting. The process of making a budget gives you a really clear picture of where and how you’re spending, and makes you become more aware of all those little extra outgoings it’s easy to overlook. You can make your own simple version or use an online budgeting tool to make sure you’re covering everything.
Of course, once you’ve made a budget, it’s important to stick to it. This can be challenging at first, especially if it’s a new way of managing your money, but day by day the habit becomes second nature.
There are now some brilliant apps available that can help you budget by organising your money into spending pots. Hyperjar is one that’s easy to use and has a kids version too, to get your family into healthy budgeting habits from a young age. There’s also Emma, which tracks your spending and shows you where you could be spending less and saving more. More apps are becoming available, each with their own pros and cons and charges, so it’s best to shop around to find out which one would work for you.
Combine your bigger debts into a more manageable monthly amount
If you’re paying off various debts each month, chances are some of your monthly income is disappearing into interest payments. Consider consolidating higher cost debts into a lower cost loan that can be spread over a longer period and split into more manageable amounts. As a fair lender, GWCU is committed to making this possible.
By paying less each month in costly interest, you’ll free up more money for your savings.
Choose your way to save
Whether you’re putting money aside to cover the unexpected or want to get ahead with the costs of Christmas, GWCU has a range of savings options that make it easy to build your financial buffer. Take a look at our savings accounts and start putting money aside today.