Sunday, 3 February 2013

Small Changes Make A Big Difference

There are quite a few ways you could intepret the title of today's blog post and they would all be relevant to most people. First of all you could say a small change can make a big difference, for example if you are trying to lose weight and you decide to make a small change you could always take the stairs rather than the escalator/lift. So making a small change in your habits means that you burn a few more calories a day. Hmm, not sure this would actually make a big difference...

Or the other explanation is that your actual small change, as in, coins in your pocket, can make a big difference to your overall spending. Luckily it's been a while now since we've had to be really careful with money, mainly thanks to the opportunities that have presented themselves from writing this blog! Having said that, old habits die hard and no-one wants to be wasting money on things they don't have to, especially when  making small savings here and there can actually lead to saving enough money to go on, say, a nice holiday or fix your broken down car. It really does all add up and isn't there a saying about if you take care of your pennies then your pounds will take care of themselves?

For quite some years now, I've made a pact with myself that I will never pay full price for anything, if it isn't on sale, if it doesn't have a discount code and/or a free delivery code, then forget it, I'm not paying. The only exception to this is on my birthday where I always make a point of buying exactly what I fancy, special offer or not. We have also decided to buy most of our food at places like Waitrose, though I always get their stuff delivered and there are usually £20 off deals to be had anyway which usually brings the price down to rival one of the cheaper supermarkets.

Anyway, I digress, so I set myself a challenge - to make my small change make a big difference. I was lucky enough to be offered this challenge by Voucher Codes who have a great spending calculator that helps you to figure out just how much money you are wasting  spending. You also have the chance of winning a £200 Argos voucher by taking part. This is how it works:
  1. Select the number of little treats you buy in an average week
  2. Tell us how much you'd like to save in 2013
  3. We'll do the hard work and calculate the small changes you can make to hit your saving resolution
For me, I'm a bit of a latte addict. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I like to start my day with a latte. Now sadly, lattes are not cheap (neither are they free of calories), and though it doesn't seem like much money, it all adds up. I don't really buy snacks when I'm out as it doesn't seem to agree with my heartburn problems so that part of the challenge I could smugly leave blank. For the next part I put in that I have about five take away coffees a week, one takeaway meal, five glasses of wine (ahem!), and no cigarettes as I don't smoke (and think it's a filthy habit but that's another story). I was completely shocked to find out that even this pretty small amount of "vices" added up to £1420! That would easily pay for a week in Center Parcs (off peak), what a waste! How can I be spending all that money on things I don't need, I was in shock. Anyway, I then put in that I wanted to save £900 which I could easily do simply by cutting back a small amount.

Latte Addiction

Anyway, my first decision has been to quit my latte habit. That is a ridiculous amount to spend on coffee and milk, so I have bought my own latte maker. Yes I have to pay for the electricity, milk and coffee to actually make my own, but I suspect this comes to something like 10p a cup which I think I can allow myself. The machine itself was £90 (bought in a sale) and is really easy to use AND makes great coffee. The only thing I do miss  is going to nice coffee shops, though with two little boys in tow, this was always more trouble than it was worth anyway.

Other things I have also done to save money (this might sound weird) is to buy a new car. My old car was really fuel inefficient and because it was 7 years old was costing me a lot in repairs, petrol, and insurance. I've bought a new car which is costing me £104 a month and because it has a smaller engine etc I think I am saving that on fuel and insurance alone, plus I have a shiny red new car that doesn't have random lights on the dashboard that scare me.

scary dashboard lights
What changes could you make in your life to save money? Do you think it's worth it and how much do you think you could save?

This post contains all my own thoughts though I was given a small contribution to my running costs to feature it on my blog.

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