Thrifting. It’s a subtle art but one that makes a big difference to the average spend. It seems harder than ever to save the pennies where you can right now. With so many of us feeling the financial pinch, thrifting is something I’ve had to focus on quite robustly. The cost of living continues to affect us all, but things can feel particularly tough if, like me, you’re on the self-employed end of the spectrum.
In this post, I’m going to explore some thrifting and saving hacks that help me try and save money where possible. Hopefully, you’ll be able to share your own thrifting tips in the comments too.
What is thrifting?
Thrifting is basically the not-so-subtle art of saving money. I’m notoriously conscious about my finances, given that I’m self-employed and there are no guarantees when it comes to my income. It’s become a real mission in recent years to keep an eye on the pennies. However, I’ve learned a lot about living frugally, and with the cost of living skyrocketing in the UK, I’ll be using more thrifting hacks than ever before.
Saving money, generating some side income and thrifting tips are always going to be relevant. So, if you’ve got any additional thrifting tips to share, feel free to get in touch and I’ll share them here too.
In this post, I’m going to dip my toe into the thrifting water with some more general tips. After that, I’ll focus on specific money-saving areas such as shopping, clothes and bills in the coming few posts. For me, thrifting isn’t about being mean or tight-fisted. It’s about preservation and being more sensible with our spending. I know I was wasting a lot of money on things I didn’t need before, so becoming more thrift-focused can only be a good thing.
Simple thrifting hacks
These tips will hopefully give you a starting point for giving thrifting more of a focus. Some are more obvious than others, but with everything, exercise your own judgement. It’s also important to point out that if you’re struggling with your finances and need immediate help then you should get in touch with support services if you can. In the UK, these include the Money Advice Service, a statutory body that can assist with issues around debt and any other kind of financial hardship.
Step 1: Inventory
Your first action should be to evaluate your current financial status. Try to ask yourself some questions about how much you’re currently spending, and on what. 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 can replicate something similar to that. You don’t need to go into the nuts and bolts down to the last pack of sweets you bought, but if it helps you gauge your overall monthly spending, try and round out your weekly purchases.
Once you’ve done that, examine your list. After you’ve accounted for the non-negotiables like bills, what are you regularly buying that you don’t actually need? There are bound to be certain things in there that could be trimmed out of the equation. Sort those items into an inventory of ‘additional spending’ and you’ve now got a starting point for ideas of where cuts could be made.
Step 2: The non-negotiables
How non-negotiable are your non-negotiables? For example, 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, there are usually ways you can maybe 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 excuses either. Once, I simply 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. You may need to do some haggling, but it’s worth a try.
Rinse and repeat this technique 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
Next, you need to assess your current income. Be realistic. What have you actually got in the pot? How much money is regularly 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 could live without.
Netflix? Now TV? Phone contract? All of these things are additional luxuries, not necessities. Of course, 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 perhaps make some sacrifices. For example, do you really need a phone contract that’s squeezing £30+ a month out of you? Maybe you could haggle that down too, or at the very least, explore other options.
It’s not a modern move, I know, but 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
Step 4: Make a plan
Now you’ve got more of a handle on your income and expenditure, you can think more frugally. Grab a pen and paper back out and create a plan for the month ahead. If 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. By that, I mean don’t set yourself unrealistic goals that you can’t meet.
Try something achievable like 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
You need to literally see it. Any money that you save, substitute or don’t spend, put into a jar. I’m a huge believer in the power of actually seeing tangible 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 of having a jar full of cash is also pretty amazing as well.
Once you’ve accumulated some cash at the end of the month, put it into a new savings account and leave it alone. Before you know it, you’ll have a small rainy day fund sitting there thanks to the thrifting efforts you’re making.
Step 6: Research alternatives
It’s important to regularly scan the market for thrifting opportunities. Can you switch supermarkets to lower your weekly food spend? Are the petrol stations near you all priced similarly, or can you make savings elsewhere? Charity shops can be a fantastic resource for clothes, household items and books – when was the last time you used one?
There are lots more community-focused projects to get involved with as well, such as local food clubs that offer reduced-price food parcels. Take some time to research alternative ways of living more cost-effectively and you might be surprised at the savings you make.
How will you start thrifting?
These are just the basic, most simple thrifting hacks to give us a starting point for a new, low-spend lifestyle. Don’t forget to share your own money-saving ideas in the comments below. If you’ve found this useful then please give it a share – it might help someone else start to get started with thrifting and