This week our Savings Product Manager Jon Sweeting will be providing some insightful blogs on practical ways to save money and the importance of savings... Take a read below...
Part 3: Importance of savings and my role
This week I offered some of my top-tips for practical ways to save money. Today I would like to discuss the importance of savings and part of my role within the savings team at Harpenden Building Society.
The importance of saving
The cost-of-living crisis is showing little sign of slowing down. In modern times, things have rarely been as financially tough as they are right now. In these uncertain times, it has never been more crucial to understand the importance of savings. There are several reasons you should be saving your pennies right now besides having enough to keep the wheels turning during some difficult times.
It’s essential to try and build a safety net for an emergency. The only thing we can fully expect, is the unexpected. Essential items in my world have a habit of detecting financial distress and using this as an optimum time to break, fail or fall apart. This could be anything from your car breaking down and needing often expensive repairs, to unforeseen circumstances causing somebody in your home to lose their job. In such situations, having savings in place can smooth the financial shock, but most importantly reduce or eliminate the need for further, often expensive borrowing at the last minute.
The more savings you have put away, the more secure you will feel as you have that financial safety net as described above. There are often some non-monetary advantages of savings including a better mindset and becoming more content. Savings can feel like a lifeline in uncertain times and times have rarely been as uncertain as they are right now.
Regularly saving money lessens the financial burden on your finances when purchasing a big-ticket holiday or a new car. Opening a savings account can not only help you to gradually build up the funds for a big purchase but can also help you by adding interest to the savings.
Lack of, or even perceived lack of money is a precursor to poor mental health and is a leading cause of stress. The knowledge of having a safety net to fall back on will help both manage and reduce stress levels and help manage both your mental health, and those of your nearest and dearest.
Something to leave behind
We don’t want to think about our mortality, but two things in life are guaranteed; death and taxes! If you have a family that you will be leaving behind when your time eventually comes, wouldn’t you like something to leave to them, so they don’t have to struggle and have something positive to help them in little in their grief? While inheritance tax might take some of it away from you, what’s left could help your family come to terms with things in a bit more comfort.
My role at Harpenden Building Society:
I have worked for Harpenden Building Society for nearly 12 months having previously worked for another Building Society for 10 years. Although it feels like I have become part of the furniture here, I am often faced with a curveball and have to ask my fantastic and ever patient colleagues the best way to do something- only for me to then do it my own way!
The Building Society sector for me is addictive. From my second week at my previous employer I was hooked. Having worked in Financial Services for over 20 years, it is the multi-faceted requirements of the role especially in comparatively smaller organisation which I enjoy the most. This affords me the opportunity to get involved in elements of Financial Services that I simply wouldn’t be involved if I were with a larger organisation. Does this mean I’m a jack of all trades? I prefer a good all-rounder!
Primarily, my role is to prudently and diligently manage the Harpenden Building Society savings book so that we offer fair value to all our Members and that the book remains commercially viable. We want to ensure that our loyal and existing members get a fair rate of return for entrusting us with their savings, whilst also ensuring that we have the products and proposition to be attractive both new and our future Members. As all things in life and nicely connected to my earlier blog this week, balance is always key.
One of the most exciting elements of my role is the design and implementation of brand new products. It’s great to identify a potential customer need, then design and implement a solution. One of the great things about working in a smaller organisation is that we can generally get things done quicker than some of our larger competitors, and see the fruits of our labour. One thing I am immensely proud that we achieved this year was the launch of our first ever Online Platform where customers can apply for a new account from the comfort of their own home. This meant that we were able to attract a much larger audience than previously.
Recently we have been working on some other big-ticket items and have more up or sleeve for next year. Stay tuned for more to come!
Practical Ways to Save Money– Part 2
Take advantage of your retirement savings plan.
If you are employed, make sure you have spoken to your employer regarding their pension scheme. If you haven’t you could be missing out! One of the best features of using a pension to save for retirement is tax relief. When you pay into your pension, some of the money that would have gone to the government as tax goes towards your pension instead. This can help reduce the amount of tax you pay and be used to help boost your savings for the future.
Lower your mobile and broadband bills.
If you have been with your current provider for a number of years, you could be on an old and unpalatable contract. Providers are always fighting for their market share, so if you are out of contract then shop around- there are some great deals out there for new customers.
Skip the coffee shop.
A bitter pill to swallow- I get it! I’m not saying cut out coffee completely… I wouldn’t function without it, just try to lower your coffee spending. Instead of spending £3-£5 on that daily latte, you can save money by just making your coffee at home. As I said before, no-one will begrudge you the occasional trip to the coffee shop (especially on a rainy Monday) but doing this in moderation will start to make a material impact on your spending.
Use cash-back apps and coupons.
Nothing beats a good old-fashioned 20% off coupon when you’re buying something. But did you know there are plenty of cash-back apps out there to help your savings go even further? Get onto a search engine and have a look at some deals out there.
Sell items you don’t need or that doesn’t bring you joy anymore!
You’d be surprised at how much clutter you have in your home and/or wardrobe (that you don’t even use or think about). The cash you can make on those things can be the difference between living payday to payday or not. Have a look at some buying and selling groups- not only can this be used for selling, but also purchasing items at a fraction of the cost when bought new.
Learn the power of “no” (or “not now”).
We live in a world of instant gratification- a lot of us are guilty of this- me included! Food from our favourite restaurants can be at our door in an hour or less. The show you want to binge is right there at the ready. The ads on social media say you need this, that and the other. Right now. We’re a couple clicks away from satisfying our desires for nearly anything!
But if you can delay some gratification by using the magic of “no” (or “not now”)—YOU WILL SAVE MONEY. It’s a huge mindset shift to build better spending habits overall. And it’s another way to become a more content person. Savings with a side of mental and emotional health? Yes, please.
Practical Ways to Save Money- Part 1
We all understand the importance of saving! It is a healthy habit to both learn and maintain- however we also understand the importance of treating ourselves to the occasional indulgence, whether that be some new clothes, a new piece of tech or my own savings nemesis- going out for a curry.. the spicier the better.
In a cost of living crisis and in a world that often seems like it is going mad, no one should begrudge anyone for having a little treat every now and then, however with anything in life, balance is key and everything should be done in moderation.
With that in mind, I have showcased below some top-tips for practical was to save money, so we can all exercise some fiscal responsibility but be able to treat ourselves guilt free!
Say goodbye to debt
Monthly debt payments can be a burden on anyone’s finances. So if you are becoming concerned about debt commitments, it might be time to reduce, or even get rid of that debt. An efficient way to pay off debt is with the debt snowball method. This is where you pay off your debts in order from smallest to largest. This can sound a bit odd, right? Don’t worry—it’s more about behavior change than numbers. Once your income is freed up, you can finally use it to make progress towards your savings goals.
Cut down on your grocery budget
Even after I budget, I’m often shocked to find out how much I’m actually spending at the supermarket each month. It’s so easy to lose track when you’re walking through the aisle’s (especially if you shop when hungry) but those little extra purchases add up and often end up blowing the budget every single month.
Save money on groceries by planning out your meals each week and taking a good look at what you already have in the house before you head to the supermarket- It’s shocking how many times I have stocked up on things I already have! If you genuinely can’t resist temptation whilst food shopping then consider home delivery or pick-up! That way the whiff of those freshly bakes donuts will have little to no impact! .
Cancel automatic subscriptions and memberships you don’t use
I bet that you haven’t checked your standing orders or direct debits recently that you’re paying for multiple subscriptions like Netflix, gym memberships, or Amazon Prime. It’s time to cancel any subscriptions you don’t use regularly. And make sure you turn off auto-renew when you make a purchase. If you cancel it and decide you can’t go without it, subscribe again—but only if it fits into your new and improved budget.
Spend extra or unexpected income wisely
If you get a work bonus, inheritance or tax refund, put it to good use. If you’ve still got debt in your life, you’ll be better off using those funds to pay off those loans or the make a dent in the balance on your credit card instead of stashing that money away. If you’re debt-free, you those funds to build up your emergency fund and keep this separate from your main bank account.
Reduce energy costs
Did you know that you can save money on your electric bill just by making a few tweaks at home? Start with some simple things like taking shorter showers, fixing leaky pipes, and only boiling the kettle with the amount of water you need for that cup of tea!
While new, energy-efficient appliances are a great way to save money on your electric bill, they’re expensive! But if you work it into your monthly budget, you can save up and pay cash for those improvements over time.
Pack lunch (and eat at home)
I’m incredibly guilty of this! If you think about it, take an average ‘meal deal’ cost of £3.50 and multiply that by an average ‘full time’ 21 working days a month, that’s just over £70. Multiply that by 12 months and it’s nearly £900 a year. You can save quite a bit of money just by packing a lunch… just remember not to eat it by 10.30am!
A lot of times you can buy a solid week’s worth of groceries for the same price as two dinner meals out. Instead, prepare your food at home and watch your savings pile up month after month… and trust me, your kids will enjoy a picnic in the park or in the back of the Cortina Estate (giving my age away a bit!) just as much as a pub lunch!