Do you ever feel that payday is just that bit too far away and you have hardly any cash left?
Yes, I know what you mean.
It’s so tempting to reach for the credit card, just to cover you,until your paycheck comes in.
I’ve been there too, and was tired of being in ever increasing debt, so I’m here today to share with you some of the things I heard of, and tried and tested on my way to debt freedom. Also, I am so excited to welcome the ideas of some of the UK Money Bloggers, to give their take on penny pinching your way to the end of the month.
It is possible to get out of the debt and credit loop. It doesn’t matter how small your actions, every little counts.
So here is my approach to pinch a penny at the end of the month:
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ways to pinch a penny like a pro
Eat leftover food
Have you got anything left over this week, that you could heat up again, for your lunch, or your evening meal?
Lots of homemade dinners can be reheated. Maybe add extra frozen vegetables that you have had hiding in the freezer.
Fiona gives us a great food hack to save the pennies :
Use lentils, pulses and soya mince to bulk out meals such as shepherds pie or spaghetti bolognese. They cost next to nothing, are totally nutritious and will save money AND make meals go further.
Source: Fiona from Misspennymoney.com
Make do with what you have and use it up
Look in your fridge first -
is there anything that can be made into lunches, or an evening meal with a bit of adapting?
Write it down and also the use by date, so you can work out which order, you can use them in.
Empty out your pantry
My pantry is amazing - whatever time of year it is, it always has a surprise for me.
Seriously, take a look and see what meals you can make up with the contents.
Really be strict with yourself, and make a meal plan, based on what you have in both your pantry, cupboards and your fridge and your freezer.
You might surprise yourself.
Simon has tried and tested this too:
Run down your freezer and your food cupboards. You might need to get a bit creative with your meals but it's surprising how much food ends up getting forgotten about at the bottom of the freezer and the back of the cupboard! You might be able to stretch out another week until your next big shop.
Source: Simon from penniesforthepiggybank.com
Cut back on luxuries and penny pinch like an expert
Eating in sounds boring, but you can make it an end of the month novelty. Maybe a box set night of your favourite series?
Katie from student skint suggests that we try and :
Cut back on the luxuries and do whatever you can at home to save money. The likelihood is you've already indulged in the luxuries so one week or two weeks without won't be too bad.
Cook a nice meal instead of dining out, watch Netflix or a DVD instead of going to the cinema, do your own hair and nails for an event instead of visiting the salon etc.
Source: Katie from studentskint.com
Date night in / family night in
Plan a date night or family night into next month’s plan and buy the ingredients every week, so you have them by the end of the month.
Shopping for example, popcorn one week, chilli ingredients the next week.
When we were penny pinching at the end of the month, it became a proud moment for me, if I had managed to get this treat squeezed out of our cash for the month.
Party at home to save pennies
Birthdays are always expensive right?
Why not have the birthday party at home?
I know it sounds stressful but the amount on your credit card for the expensive birthday party out will keep you up at night many more nights.
Be good to yourself and take some of the financial strain out of this. You could again purchase items for the party throughout the month, just adding it to your grocery bill.
You could even make a birthday cake at home. Shop bought birthday cakes look fabulous, but in reality do they really ever get eaten?
Jane, over at shoestringcottage, recommends we try making chocolate cake :
You can see her full instagram post here.
She comes up with a solution on how to make it for a vegan member of the family. Big win!
Here also, is a link to loads of her favourite frugal recipes, to inspire you during skint days. They are awesome!
Source: Jane from shoestringcottage.com
Stash your loyalty points for days when you need to penny pinch
For me, this would definitely be my coffee loyalty points, so I can have a small extra treat at the end of the month. It's worth collecting the stickers, or scanning your app every time you make a purchase.
If you keep your loyalty points or stickers until this point in the month, you may be able to get a free coffee, even though you are skint. It used to give me the pick up I needed to carry on with determination not to spend too much.
Emma over at www.emmadrew.info suggests using your loyalty points/vouchers to get you through a tough time. It could be you have some from the grocery store or supermarket, stashed away and it's surprising how they add up.
Michelle has come up with a great money saving idea!
Make sure you have all the money saving apps downloaded on your phone to ensure you get the best deals on your essentials. With some of them, you can also get freebies!
Source: Michelle from timeandpence.com
Ibotta - free US Cashback app
⭐ One of my top recommendations for money saving apps is Ibotta
This free app is similar to Checkout 51. You can also earn cashback on your online shopping as well, not just in-store purchases.
Whether you’re shopping for groceries, pet food, clothing, or electronics, you’ll get paid for buying things you were going to buy anyway!
You can transfer your earnings to your PayPal account and get paid through PayPal instantly. Their program has already paid out over $600 million in cash rewards to its 35 million users.
Be honest with yourself
Sara Williams, over at debtcamel says:
Be honest with yourself - is this a one off problem or do you have it most months?
If it happens too often, then could you budget better in the first week or two after you are paid or is there really too little money to last?
If there is too little money too last, talk to a good debt adviser, there is a list here with options for all sorts of different situations:
Don't keep staggering on with your debts and bills getting worse every month.
I Need money now - More Creative Ways to Penny Pinch
- 1Simon from Money Savvy Daddy says it’s easy to become a penny pincher right now : Limit daily entertainment to no more than 1 hr a day (this includes TV, social media, app games, reading fiction etc) Cancel “time wasting subscriptions” such as Netflix, Sky, Amazon prime video.This will save both money & time. Actively use the time you free up to make extra money or review your outgoings & spending (budgeting & spending diary) to see where you can make ongoing savings. Source: Simon from MoneySavvyDaddy.com
- 2Catherine says to survive with less stress from paycheck to paycheck, you could try to identify triggers to your spending. Bring awareness to the emotion when you feel triggered to make an impulse purchase. It could be that you’re trying to make decisions when you are tired or hungry? Or when you’re too busy and feeling rushed. Take a look at your diary and find a time that would work best for you to make those decisions. Source: Catherine from the themoneypanel.co.uk
- 3Claire has launched this to get you going on your penny pinching : Try a 'no spend challenge' January is the perfect time to recover from the Christmas over spending. You can do it for the entire month or maybe just a week, either way you can save a lot of money by completely cutting your spending down to essentials only. Source: Claire from dailydealsblog.co.uk
I Need Money - Long Term Ways to Save Money On Food
Batch cook to pinch a penny
A lot of cheap meals can be made in large amounts and then frozen in freezer bags or boxes.
You can use them to save money on your lunch or even for a family dinner.
If you batch cook in the first week after your paycheck, you can freeze the meals and use them at the end of the month, to alleviate the last few days before your next paycheck.
Ideas for freezer meals include:
Chilli, shepherd’s pie, curry, stir fry, stews, chilli, potato hash, corn beef hash, soup.
Buy cheap heavy duty freezer bags, or plastic tubs of the correct size for the portions you are planning to freeze as one lump.
I bought enough to store 3 types of meal, so I could rotate what I was eating and I achieved enough variety for healthy living also.
Freeze bags of vegetables on the day you buy them
In the majority of supermarkets, you can’t just buy one onion, right?
So instead of throwing away the other onions, you could chop them all and freeze the rest!
It’s a big win for your budget, as you won’t need to spend those extra pennies the next week, on these vegetables.
The vegetables can just be steamed, by placing in a bowl covered with cling film (with air holes punched in) in the microwave for approximately a minute.
Finely chopped vegetables like peppers can be added to a stir-fry, straight from frozen!
Shop local to save extra cash on food
I go and give myself a strict budget of £10, and I am able to buy the vegetables and fruit needed for the week’s consumption.
I very rarely shop at the supermarket for fruit and vegetables now, since the market’s fruit and vegetables taster far better, they are cheaper, and I can buy exactly what I want.
I think supermarkets are so wasteful in terms of selling some of their fruit and vegetables in bulk, covering them with unnecessary packaging, and keeping their fruit fresh by using preservatives.
Shop at budget supermarkets
Budget supermarkets, for example, Aldi and Lidl in the UK, offer great quality brand alternatives. Most of their food is fabulous.
My total bill at present, at the most, doesn’t exceed £45 most weeks. This is including other items such as cleaning products also.
Stretch your paycheck to the max!
Are you looking for quick, creative ideas for how to save even more money on expenses each month?
Here are some frugal ideas for cutting expenses to the bone, that you might not have already thought of.
Some are easier to achieve than others - some may need a structured plan to help you on your way to success.
You may be skeptical about how we could ever save this amount per year, but this is tried and tested.
It's a brilliant feeling to have more and more money a month to spend in the way that you chose, rather than feel that it has already slipped through your finger.
Learn to live on one income
This was the hardest way we have learnt to save money on a tight budget, but it really works.
People who try Dave Ramsey's approach will testify to this time and time again.
See my post about how Dave Ramsey's cash envelope system works and my approach to it. For us, this happened quite by chance.
Mr Budget became unwell and needed rest time completely from working, so we learned to adapt to living off one wage only.
The advantage is that when he started working again, we had learned how to manage on a tight budget, so we were able to use his income for debt repayments and holidays.
Now our plan is to build up our savings pot fast and then overpay mortgage finally.
Rent out your spare room
This is the ultimate thing if you agree that you could live with someone else in your house. You can save much more money because you can get up to £7500 tax free on a lodger's income for a year.
So that's a massive increase in disposable income every month!
I earned over £500 a month letting out two of my spare rooms. Read my article on how I rented out my spare room, when I had my first house and my tips and tricks for success.
Pin me for reading later!
Side hustle to earn the extra pennies you need
- 1Charlotte over at Looking After Your Pennies recommends : Have a declutter and list stuff you don't want on Facebook. You can get quick sales sometimes and your house is a bit tidier. Double win!Source: Charlotte at lookingafteryourpennies.com
- 2Ruth wants you to open your mind to new ways of making money, extra to your income. Consider starting a side hustle to earn some extra money. The internet has given us so many legitimate and exciting ways to supplement our incomes, from selling unwanted items on marketplace sites such as eBay, to offering a service such as logo design or blog writing, and a hundred and one things in between. A side hustle can boost your earnings, but also teach you valuable and transferable skills and allow you to pursue an interest or even a career that you're passionate about. Source: Ruth at RuthMakesMoney.com
- 3Faith has a little-known penny pinching technique for January : "If money is tight until the end of January, check if you've built up a balance on your gas and electricity bills. If your direct debit was set too high, ask for a refund to tide you over." Source: Faith over at muchmorewithless.co.uk
Eat breakfast at home and meal plan for lunch
It really shocked me when I added up the potential amount my husband and I were spending on eating out.
The money was trickling away, and we hardly noticed it!
This was our average spend a few years ago, before we got tougher with our budget:
M £4 £3.50 = £7.50
T £4 £3.50 = £7.50
W £4 £3.50 = £7.50
T £4 £3.50 = £7.50
F £4 £3.50 = £7.50
Total per person = £37.50 x 4 = £150
Total per couple = £300 a month £3600 a year!
The amazing thing is that by cutting out buying breakfast on the run and packing our own lunch, we have saved the grand total of £3600!
To put this in perspective, this is almost two week holidays for us in Lanzarote.
Now, I budget for a certain amount every month, to allow me to treat myself to breakfast. I feel it's really important to balance saving money, with a little of what you fancy!
Buy a whole cooked chicken or a joint of meat and spread it over 3 days for your lunch
Nowadays Mr Budget has perfected the art of the Sunday dinner - I have to say it is amazing.
One advantage of having this, is that we can buy a joint of meat or a chicken to roast. This then reduces our grocery bill, because we use the cooked leftovers to make packed lunches after. Here are two examples underneath:
Cooked Chicken (Aldi) £2.99
This pays for 2 x dinner on Sunday + 5 x lunches total
So price per meal would be: £2.99/ 7 = 43p approx
Cooked Roast Beef Joint (Aldi) £6.00
This pays for 2 x dinner on Sunday + 5 x lunches total
So price per meal would be: £6/ 7 = 86p approx
The beef is more expensive, but provides with variety, as we believe that variety keeps us motivated to reduce our household bills and keep them low.
Look at how much you would spend on a lunch - it really is amazing how cheap this is in comparison!
I estimate that my total spend on my homemade lunches is (chicken) 43p + 2p for bread
75p for fruit - so total = £1.20
Over a working week I am only spending £1.20 x 5 = £6 The same as buying only 1 and a bit lunches from my local sandwich shop!
Create a monthly budget
Making a monthly budget is the single greatest thing I have ever done - it's amazing what we've achieved, especially in 2019 as a result.
We managed to pay off our last loan £15,000 and save £4,000. Also we have an emergency fund of £1000 and sinking funds for regular expenses like tax of over £2000.
As I went through my journey, I have developed a budget planner that covers everything I needed to achieve all this.
Before you create a monthly budget, first you will want to download my FREE blank budget sheet by filling in the pink box below.
Emma, who runs the moneywhisperer, agrees that the envelope budgeting system is a great option for people who frequently find themselves short at the end of the month. Divide your monthly budget up by the number of weeks in the month and separate it out so you know how much you have to spend each week. This way you always have an envelope left for the final week of the month.
Source: Emma at themoneywhisperer.co.uk
Mr Budget managed to do this four years ago - the main reason being his health.
Here is what we have saved as a result:
20 cigarettes every day = £12 x 7 = £84 per week = £336 per month
Per year, as a result we have saved £4032!
I'm not saying he found this easy, but he was incredibly well supported by the NHS stop smoking service.
He took a pill called Champix, which is supposed to block the nicotene-craving part of your brain.
The support from the nurse was brilliant because he could describe any issues he was having, but also it gave him motivation to go on.
Again, if you picture this in terms of treats - it's another holiday, or a second hand car, or a hefty chunk of debt paid off!!
Walk as much as you can
Mr. Budget and I started walking into our local town, when we were trying to hammer our debt. It really does make a difference and saves you having to fill your car up when you have no money to pay.
At the time, Mr Budget was recovering from a period of ill-health, and it really became one of the things that speeded up his recovery.
You just have to remember not to buy overly heavy things until your next paycheck, as they are incredibly heavy to carry home.
When we realised the health benefits as well as that it helped us get through to pay day, we started walking to town every weekend. As a result both of us were fitter and lost weight, but we also saved on average £40 a month. This was equal to an expensive week’s worth of grocery shopping for us.
Re-use and recycle
I now use a microfibre cloth to take off my makeup. It's as effective as eye makeup remover.
The best thing is, there are no harmful chemicals for my sensitive skin. Already I have saved about £60 on throw away eye makeup remover wipes.
See my post on beauty products I recommend for sensitive skin, eczema and eye eczema. It's great if you are looking to save money on beauty products in general.
Kyle, from financial wolves, is focused on sustainablility also:
Make sure you are saving energy costs. By cutting down on energy, you save money instantly while also saving precious natural resources.
Source Kyle from financialwolves.com
My present coffee maker is hideous for being a plastic monster. So I have invested in reusable Tassimo pods for my machine. It gives me peace of mind that I am not throwing a piece of plastic away every time I use it, and is also a lot cheaper.
Here is an amazing video guide to reusable pods.
If you don't want to make your own, you can find them for approx £5 on sites like ebay.
Amount saved using reusable pods.
Costa Cappucino 8 pack - £5.50
Coffee - Aldi filter coffee Columbian £2.65 (enough to fill at least 50 pods)
Coffee pods - 2.65/50 = 0.053p per pod. x 8 = 42p
Milk pods - approx 1p each x 8 = = 8p
Total = 50p
That's a saving of £5 every time I have 8 coffees!Per year = 8 coffees a week *52 = £416 saving just on coffee
Pinch pennies on wine or drinks
If you drink wine, buy a wine box
To reduce our grocery bill further, we have shopped around and have found wineboxes that we both enjoy. These can last us up to two weeks
So to summarise, we managed to slash our wine budget in half. To keep things realistic, this is just a representation of what you can save. What we did, was to treat ourselves to one really good, cheap bottle of wine every month, to keep us motivated to save money on our tight budget.
Buy a bottle of wine at weekend, not individual glasses
A massive money saver over time is to share a bottle, rather than buying individual glasses of wine.
Money Spent Comparison
Wine by Glass Per Night Per Month Per Year Bottle Per Month Per Year
6 x 250ml = £3.50 x 6 = £21 £84 £1008 £25 £100 £1200
As you can see, a saving of £192 on wine is enough to buy your wine boxes for nearly a year, based on the figures above!
As 2020 comes around, I am even more excited to pinch the pennies and achieve my goals!
What action are you going to take to minimise the stress of the last few days of the month in January?
How are you going to pinch the pennies but create a balance between money and living life to the fullest for you and your family?
Strap in - it's going to be more fun than you imagine!