The phrase crazy days call for crazy ways is one of my favourites. Yet as much as I love it, I don’t actually know how or where I first encountered it. Quite possibly it was from an old piece of footage repeated on the television.
It’s memorable partly for its rhyme, of course. But also for its enduring truth. The phrase was dreamed up by management guru Tom Peters, whose books I have since read, and greatly enjoyed. Peters is not one for the dull, dry style of many business authors. This guy can write – lighting up each page like a firework.
Anyway, Peter’s phrase has stayed with me a long time and, I believe, has been one of the guiding forces that’s helped me save money over the years. Why? Because we have been living through crazy times. And it’s made me apply Tom Peters’ logic to my outlook on finance in general. If we are living in crazy times, we need equally unexpected solutions to our problems.
In this post I’d like to highlight a few of the basics that see me through the months and years without money burning a hole n my pocket –and more importantly, with a credit card bill that’s settled in full at each month end, no question – and no interest due. Without further ado here’s a small sample of my savings tactics that will hopefully leave you feeling like this.
Every single day is a savings day, and there are no days off!
Never, ever even think about going into a retail establishment of any kind without aiming for a good deal. If the place is dear, just walk out. Get into the habit of deal-seeking like a maniac. You get better at this the more you practise it, and believe me, it pays off over the long term.
There are prices I simply-will-not-pay. You know the ones – the exorbitant cup of coffee at the cafe by the motorway, which seems to be a good quid or so dearer than its non-motorway counterpart. By investing in a flask, and taking it with you on long car journeys, you will never need to pay over the steep line for coffee again! Admittedly, you may look slightly un-hip sitting there with your flask in your car, in the car park, in the rain. But hey – a saving’s a saving!
When is a saving not a saving? And what to do when it isn’t…
Not a trick question. With the UK’s funding for lending scheme, it meant banks suddenly had access to loads of cheap cash. This meant they no longer needed so much cash from the public in terms of savings deposits. So what happened? Interest rates on savings, across the board, travelled south. I mean can you believe that once upon a time (in the late 1980s/1990s) your interest rates were in double figures. No, do not adjust your screen. You got an interest rate above ten per cent.
Admittedly, inflation was running pretty high then too. But interest rates were higher. Not so much these days, with savings not matching inflation and the best my local bank can offer me is about 2.25%! Essentially what this means is that my bank could provide me a decent interest rate on a loan for example, but not so much on a savings account – for savings there’s been something akin to a flat lining of interest rates across the board.
So, what to do? Well, if you want your money to work for you and outperform the inflation rate, the problem is that the only way to do this involves risk. You could put it into a stocks and shares account – but as the small print always says – these products can diminish as well as gain in value.
I’d suggest revamping your existing savings accounts, credit cards, loans, mortgages, anything that you are paying a fee for or interest on really. And don’t use these ‘money saving’ type search sites. Yes, they give you the brand who provides the lowest rate etc but that’s all they do. They don’t take into account that each person is different, that each person has different circumstances.
Organisations such as Moneyfacts (my personal go to site for such information) research all of these avenues and provide information on which account or loan etc is the best, not just the cheapest. They do this research, so you don’t have to. They pick out the best of the best for such matters and Moneyfacts even hand out ‘merit badges’ of sorts, for example, to the providers that they have deemed worthy of your business. Don’t let an attractive introductory rate or a ‘quick fix’ put you in a worse position further down the line than you already were.
This is a type of saving where the gains are small and long-term but difficult to quantify. For instance, in my household we used to heat stuff in the oven all the time. Ovenable southern fries and so on. It was only when utilities bills started to rocket that I put my foot down. The oven is now strictly reserved for roasting chicken and turkey, plus making the occasional pizza. What this means is savings. However because it’s become the normal way of life in my household, it’s a saving we’re no longer really aware of. Microsaving doesn’t mean microwaving though.
You can apply the microsaving idea to quite a lot of things – from fuel consumption to expenditure on a range of life’s necessities. The trick, however, is to save money while still enjoying life – after all, you only live once! So by all means make the most of limited resources, but don’t ever go hungry or wear socks with holes in them!
What are your crazy days money saving tactics?
I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments…