Thrifting. Who doesn’t need to know about the subtle art of thrifting, really? I know I do. You don’t need me to tell you about the pinch most of us are feeling nowadays. Money’s tighter than Mick Hucknall ever dared to mention, especially if, like me, you’re on the self-employed end of the spectrum.
But fear not, today I’m going to be writing about about how I manage to survive on little to no income, and hopefully you’ll be able to share your own thrifting tips in the comments too.
I’m going to dedicate a whole section of my website to writing about thrifting. It’s something that’s never going to stop being useful to know and the way things are going with our money (ditching the 1p and 2p coins, anyone?), we’re going to need to help each other to look after our finances a lot more frequently.
So, if you’ve got any thrifting tips to share, feel free to get in touch and I’ll share them here.
This week, I’m going to dip my toe into the thrifting water with some general tips, and focus on specific money-saving areas such as shopping, clothes and bills in the coming few posts. Being thrifty isn’t about being a skinflint, it’s about preservation and being more sensible with our spending.
I know I was wasting a lot of money on things I don’t need before…are you?
Simple Thrifting Hacks
These tips will hopefully give you a starting point for your new life of thrifting. Some are more obvious than others, but with everything, exercise your own judgement.
Step 1: Inventory
What are you currently spending? Grab yourself a pen and paper and do yourself a monthly inventory. If you’ve ever had to go through the tedious process of doing a mortgage application, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Basically, you need to list everything that you have bought in that month, right down to the pack of Polos you just bought in the Co-Op this morning.
Look at your list. Once you’ve accounted for the non-negotiables like bills, what are you buying that you don’t actually need? Sort out an inventory and you’ve now got a starting point.
Step 2: The non-negotiables
How non-negotiable are your non-negotiables? Ok, so your mortgage payment is definitely a non-negotiable (until renewal at least), but what about those bills? At the rate of sounding like Martin Lewis (and I hope I don’t), there are usually ways you can drive some of the costs of your bills down.
Phone and broadband providers hate it when you threaten to leave them, so don’t be afraid to get in touch and say you’re not happy with the amount you’re paying, and ask if there’s anything they can do to help.
You don’t even have to make up any excuses either, I literally told mine that I wasn’t happy paying £70 a month for my TV, broadband and a phone I don’t even use. They were great and helped drop my bill down to just under £40 a month, and gave me an upgrade on all my services.
Rinse and repeat with your gas and electricity providers and remember not to be shy – you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Step 3: Evaluate your resources
Be realistic. What have you actually got in the pot? What’s coming in, and how well are you using your financial resources? Log into your dreaded online banking and cancel a few Direct Debits that you don’t need to be paying.
Netflix? Now TV? Phone contract? All these things are luxuries, not necessities. Now, I’m not saying you need to cut off all sources of fun in your life, but just have a look to see where you could make some sacrifices. Do you really need that phone contract that’s squeezing £30+ a month out of you?
I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t have a phone contract. I had one once when I was about 18 and it stressed me out so much I swore I’d never have one again. I’m now 34 and a happy Pay As You Go advocate. Most places have free Wifi, so I don’t need data bundles. Top up £10, get a load of free credit on top and 500 odd texts, which I don’t even really use anyway. It is possible to live without a phone contract…so do you actually need it?
Step 4: Make a plan
As in Step 1, get your pen and paper back out and create a plan for the month ahead. Now that you’ve worked out what you’re spending, where you’re spending it and how you could make some savings, it’s time to plan forward. See if you can make substitutions in your spending habits that are sustainable – don’t set yourself unrealistic goals!
Try one takeaway-free week to start with and see how you find it. With a plan in hand, you’ll be able to stick to things more consistently.
Step 5: See the money
Like literally, see it. Any money that you save, substitute or don’t spend, put into a jar. I’m a huge believer in actually seeing results – and if you can see the cash you would have wasted mount up in front of your eyes, you’ll have the motivation to keep going. The satisfaction from having a jar full of cash is also pretty amazing as well!
So there you have it, simple thrifting hacks to give us a starting point for our new, low-spend lifestyle. For some further inspiration, check out my friend Rachael’s Easy Money Saving Tips over on her blog, or these awesome 10 Tips from my friend Zoe, and don’t forget to share your own money-saving ideas in the comments below.
If you’ve found this useful then please do give it a share – it might help someone else start to get thrifting and plus, I’d love you loads. Which is always nice, isn’t it?
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.