The internet is full of ways to help you save money – some are good and some not so good. But one thing they seem to always have in common is that they require you to live in a different way, switch to worse products or suddenly change how you think.
I know that turning the heating off and wearing a jumper could save me a bunch of cash (and maybe save the planet) but I just don’t want to have to wear a sweater in the comfort of my own home. That’s not very homely! Unless I’m wearing it in front of a roaring log fire at Christmas. With a reindeer on it.
I know that by threatening to leave I can convince Vodafone/BT/Eon/Thames Water/Admiral to lower my bills, but I don’t want to spend half my life on hold or arguing with someone in an overseas call centre who can barely speak English.
I know that if I move into a hut in the middle of a forest, eat only nuts and become a hermit I could reduce my expenses to zero, but I don’t want to do that either! I enjoy my life, so what I want to do is save money without sacrificing anything or creating a load more work. What I want is passive saving (maybe I can start a new blog? smartpassivesaving.com).
Here are my favourite passive money saving tips:
1. Save money by getting a cashback credit card
Seriously, if you don’t use a cashback credit card then get one! You just use it instead of your debit card or whatever other credit card you are currently using. Nothing changes in your life but you get money back from all your purchases. I have used mine for literally everything, from paying my taxes to paying monthly rent on office space.
You get 5% back on your first three months and then tiered cashback up to 1.25% an all purchases thereafter. If you spend £1,500 a month that works out as £209 saved a year. Plus you get to show off in bars by paying for drinks with your Platimun Amex! Once you have signed up the only effort needed is to remember pick the silver card instead of the green card out of your wallet whenever you buy something.
Make sure you set up a direct debit each month to pay off the card in full, there should be an option to do that on the credit card signup form. If you don’t then forgetting to pay off one month could mean that the interest payments dwarf any cashback gain. In fact the only reason not to get one is if you have large credit card bills that roll over each month. In that case you would be better off switching to a credit card with a much cheaper APR, or free introductory offer.
Money Saving Expert has a very good page on cashback credit cards.
The internet is full of online shops and for most everyday purchases (and some big purchases) I really can’t be bothered scour around the web trying to track down the best deal. Invisible Hand does all that for you – just shop as you normally do and if there is a better deal then Invisible Hand will unobtrusively tell you. Check out the picture below. A really brilliant plugin.
Oh look, I can save by buying this iPad from eBay rather than Amazon.
3. Save time and money by setting up all your utilities on direct debit
Most people pay their utility bills when they receive them, but most people don’t realise those cheeky companies add fees on if you don’t use direct debit! If they don’t add a fee they may apply a discount when you sign up to direct debit and you can save somewhere between £50-£70 a year. It’s a double whammy saving you time as well as money. Once they’re set up you can forget about them and won’t need to go through the process of paying them manually every few months.
Data is expensive. Do you ever find yourself getting charged for going over your allowance? Or would you like to downgrade your plan to help save you money? The Onavo Extend app for Android or iOS is brilliant: it monitors your internet traffic and cuts out all the bits you don’t need, plus it runs totally in the background. Just download it, forget about it and watch your bills shrinks. If you want to check out how much you’re saving you can open up the app and take a look. How much it reduces your usage depends a lot on your browsing habits but on average it will cut your usage by half. That’s right half! So if you’re on a 2gb plan and you use it all, with Onavo Extend installed you might only use 1gb
The first time I got a gym membership was when I was 16. I signed up to my local leisure centre on a 12 month contract paying £240 upfront, convinced I would go every day. I’m sure you know how this story ends, I went about 6 times over the whole year. That’s a whopping £40 a visit! I was working at Waitrose at the time on £4.56 an hour, what an awful way to spend my money. If only I had known about pay as u gym back then.
The average monthly gym membership is £43 and a massive 67% of people with memberships never use them. If this is sounding all too familiar then sign up to pay as u gym. There are plenty of gyms on there, in fact the gym from my story above is on there, and most range from £4-£8 a visit. You get the flexibility of no contracts, you only pay for what you use and you have a much larger choice of gyms that you can pop into compared to a normal membership. Win win win.
Got any easy, passive ways to save money? I’d love to hear about them.