With all of us stuck indoors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdowns, it’s hard to see how you can take any major steps to improve your life. Fortunately, it’s possible to start saving money and improving your financial outlook from your own home – simply by following a few key steps.
For residents of Paisley and beyond, here are some of the very best ways to save money and get your bank account in better shape during Scotland’s coronavirus lockdown.
1. Keep online shopping to a minimum
The lure of online shopping could easily draw you in whilst you’re trapped indoors. You could quickly spend your month’s budget with just one click of a button and without actually feeling like you’ve wasted any money at all.
You can help yourself on this front by not saving your payment data, making it harder for you to just click and pay. It also makes sense to put some distance between seeing the item you want and actually purchasing it. If you still decide you really want to make a purchase in 48 hours, go for it – but by thinking in this way you’ll eliminate a lot of unnecessary expenditure.
2. Make the most of free entertainment sources
You can’t go out to the cinema, and you can’t get dinner at a restaurant – but that doesn’t mean you have to resort to expensive takeaways and costly forms of entertainment.
By doing a little research, you could learn to cook your favourite restaurant food at home, and even start to get crafty with new hobbies. Who knows, maybe your homecooked food will be so good that you’ll even end up saving money when the lockdown ends!
3. Review your outgoings
With all the extra time spent at home, you could be reviewing your finances and trimming the fat. From unused subscription services to mobile phone insurance policies that you forgot about years ago, make sure that you aren’t paying over the odds for services that you simply don’t use.
If you can, try to make swaps from paid services like Netflix to the free alternatives provided by the likes of the BBC and ITV.
4. Claim for what you can
So many people are now working from home, but very few of them have a full appreciation of the money they could be claiming from their employer. From utility bills to travel costs and office equipment, there’s a surprising number of deductions you could be making from your tax bill – and you could even end up with a rebate.
Ask your employer what support they’re offering to staff, and remember that even if they don’t subsidise your work gear, the taxman probably will!
5. Shop around
If you want to make good use of your time, use comparison sites and try to find the very best deals on items and services that you already have. By making the switch, you could be saving hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year – and all it takes is the effort required to search for alternatives.
If you wouldn’t pay over the odds to stay with the same car insurer, don’t pay more than you need to for home insurance, broadband, electricity, gas, or any other utility.
6. Pay down debt
If you’re trying to improve your financial situation, you should start by paying off your debts. When the lockdown ends, you’ll thank yourself for eliminating some of your liabilities and simplifying your financial outlook so you can focus on the future.
Of course, many people across Scotland have numerous loans out in their name, and it can be confusing and quite frustrating to have to deal with multiple lenders at the end of each month. By taking out another loan through an online credit broker, you could borrow money in a single chunk to consolidate all of your debts under a single banner. This could make it far easier to pay off what you owe, and may even reduce your overall interest charges.
7. Make a budget and stick to it!
You really can’t overestimate the importance of developing a thorough budget that limits your spending and maximises how much you can save and invest. If you want to achieve financial security, budgeting is the only way to do it.
A budget helps you to work on your long-term priorities. How will you save enough money to buy a car, take a once-in-a-lifetime trip, or put a down payment on a house if you just wander aimlessly without a guide to your money. The answer is to keep track of all your spending, cut the slack, and save as much as possible. It’s the smartest way to reach a state of financial independence.
The bottom line
Scotland’s lockdown has been tough on all of us, but you could come out the other side with more money and a much-improved outlook for the future. By following these steps, you’ll be setting yourself up for financial success and you really can’t put a price on that.