We’ve all heard the phrase “money doesn’t grow on trees” but sometimes it would be really handy if it did. Do you find yourself stretching the last few pounds to the end of the month, worrying if your MOT will reveal unexpected car repairs and dreading the big food shop in case it comes to more than you’ve budgeted? These are all common worries for a lot of individuals and families across the UK, especially following the recent developments of Covid-19 and the ongoing effects on people’s incomes and job security.

There’s no shame in being a bit strapped for cash from time to time, but there are a couple of techniques you can try implementing into everyday life to make your money go that little bit further.

Quick tips to Stretch your Cash

  • Shop in cheaper supermarkets
  • Transfer money out of your account after payday not before payday
  • Buy small coffees instead of medium or large sizes

Cheaper Supermarkets

Your weekly food shop is a necessity and forms part of your essential expenditure, so it needs to be budgeted into your priority funds, rather than coming out of your disposable income because you need to eat to stay alive. While you’re probably already familiar with buying cheaper foods, like supermarket own brands instead of big labels, some supermarkets are cheaper for certain items than others. It may take a little while to work out where you should do your bulk shop to make the most of your cash, but shopping across 2 supermarkets could help you save between 10-40% on your weekly food shop bill.

Another thing to think about – if you’ve got the freezer space – is buying frozen foods instead of fresh foods. Frozen fruit and veg is much cheaper than fresh and will last months, instead of days. This means you will waste less food as you won’t have to throw away vegetables that have started to sprout mould. Frozen fruit and veg doesn’t need long to defrost – unlike meats which you may have to put in the fridge the day before – and often you can chuck the frozen veg straight into your pan so there’s no wait time to start cooking.

If you are organised, it may also be worth freezing raw meat if you’re not going to use it. We can all be guilty of forgetting to use foods, but generally as a rule of thumb with raw meat: if it’s still in date, it can be frozen. Make sure you label the date you froze it as it won’t last forever, but it can be handy to have some meat and veg in the freezer for the odd occasion you don’t manage to restock the shelves in time for supper, or if an emergency expense means your weekly shop is a little smaller than usual from time to time.

Timely Money Transfers

A lot of people tend to transfer any remaining funds into their savings account at the end of the month. This is great because any savings – no matter how small – are good to have! But doing a full budget at the start of the month, and transferring your allocated money into your savings account straightaway will increase the amount you save as you’ll be less likely to spend it throughout the month without realising.

If something urgent comes up mid-month, you can always withdraw the funds again, but commonly, “out of sight, out of mind” applies to financial spending. Plus, when you see your savings start to grow, it acts as encouragement and motivation to keep saving and you resist the temptation of using your savings for impulse purchases.

Buying Smaller

Obviously, buying less things will make your money go further, but it’s not always practical to simply not buy something. However, if you buy a smaller version of it, you may save a few pence or even a few pounds here and there which will quickly add up.

For example, if you usually buy a large latte, it will probably cost around £3.50. However, a small latte may only be £2.50. If you saved a pound every time you bought a coffee, you’ll quickly see the difference.

You can also adapt this mindset to various daily routines. If you’re used to buying lunch at work, why not make your sandwich or salad at home, and just buy the fruit or drink instead. It means you won’t need to commit to bringing a full packed lunch immediately, but if you saved £2 a day on work lunches, that’s around £40 a month which adds up to almost £500 over the whole year. Imagine what you could do with £500 in your savings account? You’d be prepared for almost any unexpected emergency expense, and Christmas shopping would certainly be less stressful.

Whatever your motivation for trying to make your money stretch further, the biggest difference you’ll see will most likely come from the tiny day to day changes.

Borrowing money should be your last resort

If your essential expenditure has always been a large chunk of your income, you might be used to taking out credit to cover everyday expenses but borrowing money should always be your last resort. Where possible, you should try to budget even on a low income to accommodate any unexpected payments, or have a fool-proof budget at the start of the month which allows for a small portion of your income to go towards unexpected expenses.

Sometimes, it’s just simply not possible to get by without a little financial aid, but just remember that borrowing should always be a considered decision and you should only apply for credit if you’ve studied your finances and you know you can afford to meet the repayments. If, even just on occasion, you can use your own money to pay for sudden expenses, rather than borrowing, you’ll be better off the following month for not having to repay interest, and you’ll break the habitual cycle of relying on credit from month to month. It may mean a few less takeaways or maybe forgoing that new outfit, but your bank will thank you for it – and so will you further down the line!