The Heptathlon of Finance

By Leeds Credit Union

The recent heatwave might have been a bit much but if it's a choice between a hot summer and another cold, wet winter, we know which we'd prefer.

However, despite its brilliance, summer can also be expensive, especially if you have children. Finding the money to pay for holidays, days out or even just summer clothes can be easier said than done, so we've prepared seven handy tips to help your money go further.

Keep track of your outgoings

If you don't know where your money goes today, how can you begin to plan for tomorrow?

One of the easiest ways to improve your finances is to track your spending with a good, old fashioned spreadsheet. As well as showing where your money goes, it will also help you identify areas in which you can start making savings and ensure you don't have more money going out than you have coming in.

Stop smoking

While this won't apply to everyone, the Office for National Statistics estimates there are more than six million smokers in the UK and, if you fall into that category, you are literally burning your money. If you are a heavy smoker who favours premium brand cigarettes, you could be spending upwards of £3,500 every year.

While quitting smoking is notoriously difficult, the financial and health benefits are enormous and, today, local stop smoking services are easily available across the country. Find out what's available near you here and your wallet will be heavier in no time.

Don't buy lunch

Research suggests an incredible 75% of Brits who work away from home buy their lunch from a supermarket or cafe everyday, at an average cost of £1,288 a year (approximately £25.00 per working week). However, for the sake of five minutes in the morning before work, you could make your own lunch ahead of time and save a significant amount of money. 

For example, the ingredients for a week's worth of ham salad sandwiches with fruit only come to around £6.00, a saving of £19 per week. Even greater savings can be made by using own brand products.

Speaking of food…

Reduce food waste

According to recycling charity WRAP, almost three quarters of the food thrown away by households in the UK is edible, so make an effort to ensure all yours gets used. Regularly eating leftovers is another quick way to boost your bottom line.

When it comes to food safety, remember that eating items which are past their 'best before' dates is fine but items past their 'use by' dates should be discarded. 

Switch energy suppliers

While many people can't face the prospect of shopping around for cheaper electricity, Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) estimates that switching to a better energy and gas deal could save the average household around £300 per year.

Comparison sites such as uswitch or moneysupermarket are almost guaranteed to find you better deals on your household bills so grab a recent utility bill and find out how much you could save.

Don't go mad on payday

Approximately 20% of people spend more than half their monthly wage within 48 hours of getting paid. While treating yourself every once in a while is perfectly reasonable, splurging on new items every month like clockwork is asking for trouble, especially if you're shopping online.

Always stop before making a purchase and ask yourself: 'do I really need it?' If the answer is 'no', then walk away. Prioritising your most important outgoings will give you a clear picture of how much disposable income you really have and stop you from being too impulsive next time payday comes around.

Walk or cycle

As well as being good for your health, walking or cycling whenever possible helps reduce your fuel bills, wear and tear on your vehicle and public transport tickets. 

If walking or cycling isn't an option, joining a car-share scheme can reduce your fuel bills by as much as £1,000 per year.

Need a leg up this summer?

At Leeds Credit Union, our tailored loans can help you get summer-ready whatever your plans. With loans available from £250 to £20,000 and rates starting at just 3.9% APR, you can find out more or make an application here.