Flush on the first Friday, but on the bones of your arse come Monday? You’re not alone. Allow Quidco’s Vix Leyton to offer a few tips on staying in the black.
Payday: my monthly chance to have a clean financial sheet. A fresh month + a buoyant bank account = the ability to make better decisions so I’m not left eating beans on toast on payday eve (again).
Yet payday eve is still sometimes viewed through the bottom of the tin. For all my big talk of putting any spare cash into a savings scheme, I still don’t nail it.
I’m not alone. Research we conducted at Quidco has revealed that one in 10 British women routinely spend the majority of their wages within the first seven days. Almost half, like me, pledge to stick to a budget, only to fail dismally.
My favourite approach for this is virtuously (smugly) shuttling money into another account… before shamefully shuttling it over tenner by tenner as I get more and more broke. Like I’ve sent it on a mini-break.
In the current economic climate, saving is bloody hard. The reality, as summed up by Legal and General’s Deadline to the breadline report in 2014, suggests that the average Brit would last just 29 days on their savings if their income was taken away, with 17 per cent of those surveyed admitting they frequently turn to credit cards to bridge the payday gap.
“I am done running myself ragged, accidentally overspending on things that I’ve attended out of politeness, and it’s a liberating, tiny revolution for one.”
Like with most things, balance and moderation are key when it comes to those little rewards that make you feel as though your month of slog was worth it. Providing you’re in a comfortable financial position (I realise that, sadly, a lot of people are not), there are many sneaky little ways to have a little bit of what you fancy without getting into debt. Here are just a few lessons I’ve learned while trying to live like a sensible, solvent grown up.
My Cineworld Unlimited card and me – a love story
I took it out when I was 18, ostentatiously and pretentiously because I was studying media and films and wanted to immerse myself into cinema (but secretly so I could watch blockbusters such as Love Actually and Harry Potter until my eyes bled).
It’s the one direct debit my cursor has never hovered over when I’ve been making surgical cuts to my budget to account for everything from redundancy back in 2009 to affording to finance a hypoallergenic cat last year.
It’s the closest to a free night out you can get and the more you use it, the better value it becomes. With cinema prices the way they are, you only need to see one and a half films a month to make it work for you. In my time as a member I’ve done everything from three-film cinema days (with optional smuggled in contraband gin in a tin – for Man Up, Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road, if you’re asking) to seeing Kung Fu Panda brutally hungover at 9am on a Saturday.
As a route to cheap, endless entertainment, I cannot recommend it enough. It also means you can see movies you wouldn’t fork out full ticket price for, and uncover some hidden gems (I’m going to reference Man Up again. Watch Man Up, It’s amazing).
Make vouchers and loyalty schemes work harder for you
If the bottom of your handbag looks like mine, it’s easy to say no to shops that foist loyalty cards on you – but that might be folly. I absolutely clean up on loyalty. It’s how I ended up working at Quidco.
My dad is a bargain hunter extraordinaire, and I am a chip off the old Del Boy block. I use one card every time I buy a cheap miso soup in a particular lunchtime haunt of mine: eight misos later, I can have a decadent high-end item for free – victory for the consumer, and an extra-smug charge for gaming it.
As shoppers we have all caught on to when a deal isn’t a deal so, contrary to the name, don’t be loyal and don’t let loyalty schemes guide your hand. Informed purchasing is the way forward: interrogate introductory offers to make sure the discount you are getting is real, and that you can’t buy cheaper elsewhere. Stack deals where you can. Be savvy to points deals – how much are those points actually worth for the extras you have to buy to gain them?
I’ve declared my interest in this already, but cashback is a real winner if you like free money. With thousands of retailers on site, if you want to buy it, chances are there is a retailer happy to incentivise you to buy it through them. Shops online and on the high street want your business; cashback works by taking money they’re willing to spend on advertising and giving it back to you. With cashback offered on everything from supermarket essentials to holidays and financial products, it’s another way to boost that treats budget – or save towards something more significant.
When deciding what you can afford to do, get used to saying no to anything you feel less than enthusiastic about. I’m nearly 32, and this is probably the first year of my life where I’ve actually started weighing up the toll – physically and financially – of attending drinks and parties and events out of duty, rather than genuine will to be there.
I’ve also stopped looking at evenings as time to be filled, treating those nights in as something to cherish. I am done running myself ragged, accidentally overspending on things that I’ve attended out of politeness, and it’s a liberating, tiny revolution for one.
“Shops online and on the high street want your business; cashback works by taking money they’re willing to spend on advertising and giving it back to you.”
I’m also working on avoiding bowing to pressure (my own, a lot of the time) to match better-off friends pound for pound, on anything from rounds of drinks to flashy birthday gifts, all the while gritting my teeth and saying goodbye to my haircut or silently deciding I’ll walk to work, rather than get the tube.
If you’re too short to play, speak out. For all you know, your friend might be doing exactly the same thing as you, and will welcome a night in, or a venue change to somewhere where you can use your Tastecard. This means that all your disposable income is centred on the things you actually want to do. The more you say no, the easier it gets – promise.
DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT RESORT TO CREDIT CARDS – particularly if you have money in your current account
A mistake I’ve made in the past – and one that was highlighted in our research – using credit cards to make ends meet is probably one of the most toxic false economies you can fall into. Left unchecked, it can lead to months more scrimping and saving to correct the damage. It’s also a sneaky shortcut around doing the boring, sensible thing of, to quote Mama Leyton, cutting your cloth accordingly.
It’s not a fix; it’s kicking the can down the road. Credit cards and catalogues are a very expensive panacea for not having what you want immediately. Saying no to yourself is sometimes as important as saying no to others. If you really want whatever it is that has you itching to use plastic, give it a couple of hours. If you still want it, make a proper strategy to acquire it: shop around, get the best price, use vouchers, sell something on eBay… there are ways and means that won’t put you on the back foot for the month to come.
Quidco is a rewards site offering members cashback at more than 4300 retailers, online and in store. It’s free to join, and you can get cashback on everything from everyday essentials to travel and utilities. The average member earns £280 a year. Visit www.quidco.com to start earning money fast.3913 Views
Vix is a financial PR and ginabler who lives and works in East London. As a result she long ago lost sight of whether riding a unicycle while wearing a monocle is par for the course on a normal day.