How to stick to your money diet

Andy Webb 6 June 2022

Even after you've set your mind to spending less, it's easy to give in to an impulse buy. Here are our practical tips on sticking to your budget.

Rising costs mean many of us are having to cut back on our spending. Going without here or there, or shifting down a brand or two is going to be relatively painless.

But, like any food diet, it’s easy to relapse. Maybe you need a little pick-me-up, or you’re just missing something you used to have.

When this happens, the best of intentions go out the window and you end up impulse buying or spend more than you normally would on non-essentials and luxuries. All that work and sacrifice goes down the drain.

So how do you avoid messing up all your good work? I’ve got a few tricks to help.

Plan for some treats

The less you have of something, the more you’re likely to crave it, and then give in and splash out. And often these treats can be costly.

"Choosing some alternative rewards that cost less can still give you the same spending buzz"

But choosing some alternative rewards that cost less can still give you the same spending buzz. So it could be a piece of cake rather than a coat, or an off-peak cinema trip rather than a big meal out.

And if you know when you’re going to be able to spend this cash, you’ve something to look forward to and a reminder not to impulse spend in the meantime.

Compare your priorities

We often spend in isolation. What I mean here is we look at the cost of something and only compare it to prices of similar products. So for example, £3 on a coffee each day might seem inconsequential.

But if instead you work out what the money spent could provide elsewhere, you might end up rethinking your priorities.

Let’s say you need £300 for a holiday, but it looks like that spare cash is going to be needed for massive energy bills. But six months of not buying a coffee could save you the money for your trip. Which is more important?

Takeaway the temptation

Chicken butter curry in cooking dishBatch cooking your favourite takeaway meals at home and then freezing them could help you save some cash

Some of our favourite treats are the ones that require little effort—a takeaway is the perfect example. All you need to do is open your computer, tap a few buttons and in an hour or so food has arrived. But these are so expensive.

Yet the opposite of this isn’t necessarily cooking from scratch. You can prepare for those lazy evenings by batch-cooking in advance and freezing the leftovers.

"Prepare for those lazy evenings by batch-cooking in advance"

All you need to do is remember to defrost a few portions in the morning and then whack them in the oven or microwave when it’s time to eat.

And for the times you forget to do this, put some ready meals in the freezer that can be cooked from frozen. Though not as cheap as doing it yourself, they will be certainly cheaper than a takeaway.

Ignore emails and social media

If you know the ping of your favourite brand’s newsletter appearing in your inbox could make you head to their website, and then in all likelihood buy something, then there’s a very simple solution: unsubscribe.

Remove as many of these messages from your email and social media as you can.

Take a list

Whatever you’re buying, but especially at the supermarket, it’ll really help you avoid extra purchases by taking a list of what you actually need to buy. If it’s not written down, then you don’t buy it.

It can also help direct you straight to the aisles you need, reducing the chances of a meander past special offers or tempting sections like confectionery, alcohol and bakery.

This works online too. Rather than endlessly scrolling, you can search for what you need and only what you need.

Cancel your Amazon Prime

Courier holding Amazon Prime delivery parcelsAmazon Prime's seamless checkout experience could encourage more impulse spending

Many swear by Amazon’s membership scheme as a money saver—and it does sometimes offer extra discounts.

But the “free” (don’t forget you have paid for this already with the £79 annual fee) delivery can actually remove an important barrier when shopping. The extra step at checkout of choosing shipping could be enough to make you think twice.

"'Free' delivery can actually remove an important barrier when shopping"

Plus there’s the added temptation of browsing daily deals which might not be for things you actually need. Instead it’s better to cancel your subscription and only go to the site when it has the lowest price.

Read more: Saving tips for those who struggle to save

Read more: 6 Online shopping tips to save some money

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