AS joyful as the festive season is, there's no denying the strain it puts on our bank accounts and wallets.
And that's probably why January has many of us counting our pennies ensuring we have enough dosh in our pocket until payday comes around.
But luckily, there are some easy ways to save a fortune without barely even noticing and budgeting experts at thinkmoney have shared them with Fabulous.
You don't have to miss out on the things you love either – so start the new year the right way with a savings goal in mind.
Jonny Sabinsky, Head of Communications at thinkmoney said: "If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that we always need a safety net during hard or unexpected times. Don’t fall back into the trap of living paycheck to paycheck.”
Keep an eye on those small purchases
It’s easy to treat yourself to a coffee on the way to work if that's your guilty pleasure.
But before you know it, the daily habit has actually cost you loads.
Take a look at these ‘habits’ and see what you can save. By cutting a coffee and one lunch meal deal per week, for example,you could save around £27 over the month.
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Know your supermarket times
Supermarket reduced sections could help you save hundreds each month, as it's where you can pick up food and drinks at a fraction of their normal cost.
Check what you can freeze as plenty of meats, meat alternatives and fish can be frozen for weeks or months to come, along with ready meals for when you can't be bothered cooking.
According to thinkmoney, each supermarket has a different time for when the reduced items become available.
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Asda and Sainsbury's slash their prices at around 7pm each day, while M&S and Co-op usually wait until around 8 pm.
The experts recommend you start shopping in the evening to figure out when other supermarkets reduce items as some don’t have set times.
Go meat-free & save up to 50% on meals
Reducing your meat intake can be good for your wallet, as well as the environment.
In fact, bulking up your meals with veggies and skipping meat entirely can slash the price of some meals in half.
For example, thinkmoney priced up a beef stir fry and a vegetable katsu stir fry, with the vegetarian option coming in at roughly £7 – that's £5.50 cheaper than the meat version.
The same can be said for a lentil curry, saving you £4.50 compared to using chicken.
While meat-free alternatives aren’t always cheaper, some options can certainly help you save money during your weekly shop – so get creative with your cooking.
Skip the big brands
You can save hundreds each month by avoiding big brands during your shops, as you tend to pay a premium for the name – with very little difference in taste.
For instance, Coco Pops can cost £2.89 in Asda but the own brand (which is actually bigger) costs around £1.40 – that's less than half the amount.
Test it out and start using a few own-brand products to see which ones you can switch to, this will help you to start saving money.
Review your subscriptions
Subscriptions also seem like a great idea to start with, but we sometimes forget that we continue paying for them.
Over the past year and a half, thinkmoney discovered that Brits had been spending an extra £20 per month on their subscriptions to keep them entertained.
So it might be time to review those additional subscriptions and see if you really need them.
Keep track of what you use, and don’t use, over the next week and be harsh. Cut those subscriptions you don’t need to start saving the pennies.
Round up your spends
If you round up everything you purchase, you can be saving loads without any real effort.
Based on one purchase per day, if you add 50p you every purchase, you can save up to £15 per month, or nearly £4 each week.
But why stop at just 50p when you can double it and put aside an additional £1 each time.
Not only will it help you realise just how many purchases you're making, but you'll be bulking up your savings account in no time.
Skip date nights and choose lunch time instead
We get it, you don't want to avoid eating out all the time but treating yourself to a restaurant meal (or three) can put a dent in your finances.
Instead, why not try a lunch reservation instead as thinkmoney’s recent research revealed that dining out during lunchtime is the cheapest option, rather than dinner.
This is due to Happy Hours and set menus which are available are many venues.
Alternatively, Sunday is often cheaper and a good time to meet with friends or family.
If you are set to meet family and friends over the festive period, opt for those times to meet them if possible.
Don’t fall for discounts when shopping
It's easy to assume that bagging discounted items means you're saving money, but you're probably spending more on stuff you just don't need.
Plus just because something is labelled as discounted, doesn't mean that it is as sometimes prices can be increased just to be reduced again.
This often happens around Christmas time when retailers raise their prices so that you think you're getting a deal when really it's 'reduced' to the original price.
To help you along the way, there are tools you can use to check the price history of a product and check if you’re really grabbing a festive bargain -for example, Camel Camel Camel for Amazon and PriceSpy.
The experts say to be aware of how much discount is actually being given when you spot an offer, as sales and discounts can be deceiving.
The offer sign doesn’t always mean it’s a good deal as it might just be 10p cheaper than the original price.
Don’t forget your supermarket loyalty cards
Regardless of where you shop for your weekly groceries, be sure to remember your loyalty cards.
These are, essentially, a card for a particular retailer where you can gain credit by using the card during every transaction.
However, if you were to use loyalty cards for Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and even M&S, you could save up to £400 annually on your groceries through discounts and rewards.
And the best part is that you don't need to do anything extra to snap up the deals.
In other money-saving news, savvy parents reveal their nifty tricks on how to save £4K a year in childcare costs – and it’s so easy.
And this woman saved £8k in a year using simple tricks – it’s so easy and has made Christmas cheaper – here’s how you can too.
Meanwhile, my partner and I never have takeaways or buy brands and we’ve saved £20k in 10 months – here’s my top tips.
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