Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that over half of 22 to 29-year-olds don’t have any savings and for many of us in our 20s or 30s (even 40s for some), the idea of saving can seem impossible.
So, here are nine simple ways to help you make more of what you have so you can feel confident about your financial future.
1. Round up the pennies
Imagine if every little thing you bought was rounded up to the nearest pound – you’d hardly notice it.
Using a bit of technology, you can now pay for purchases, and then put the difference into a savings pot.
Apps like Tandem and Monzo have this kind of feature: so, for example if you spent £2.74, your account would be debited with £3 and the 26p would be added to your ‘pot’.
A small amount, but savings build up when you use the app every day. You could then take what you save and tip it into a savings account or Individual Savings Account (ISA).
2. Make the most of tax-free saving
Don’t miss out on tax-free allowances. ISAs are a popular way to save, thanks to a combination of simplicity, accessibility and tax efficiency – you don’t normally pay tax on any income and gains on your ISA savings.
“I have an ISA which I save into each month,” says Ruth Macadam, a 24-year-old working in marketing at Standard Life, who is planning to buy her first home in the next few months.
“I also have an e-savings account which I use to transfer money in and out of, either as a buffer for unexpected costs or for savings to go into my ISA. So, I’m always left with my monthly budget to live on once all my direct debits are deducted.”
Some ISAs are designed to help first-time buyers and offer bonuses to help you save towards a property, read our guide to ISAs for more.
If you want to make saving as easy as possible, it makes sense to use an app such as the Standard Life UK app to open and manage an ISA.
Other apps, such as Moneybox, are very simple to use. You can save regularly and – again – round up ‘spare’ pennies from what you’ve bought via your bank account. Plus you get regular updates and motivational emails to keep you going.
3. Saving begins at home
Household bills have to be paid – but do they need to be so big? Why not cut the cost of the services you have already by shopping around for the best deals.
You can find out more about saving money on utilities, broadband – and even check if you could be paying too much council tax by visiting the Money Advice Service. MoneySavingExpert.com does a similar job.
Some banks reward you for paying your bills by direct debit, giving you cashback on every transaction. Paying bigger bills this way can mean the cash you get back really adds up.
You can then save, spend or even donate those extra pounds to charity at the touch of a button.
4. Lost and found – track it down
Did you know the Government estimates there is almost £1bn left forgotten in dormant bank and savings accounts?
Visit www.mylostaccount.org.uk to find out more about tracing any cash that might be yours.
There are also around 1.6 million ‘misplaced’ pension pots worth around £20bn in the UK. With people regularly shifting jobs in their 20s and 30s, it’s easy to lose track of one.
Visit the Government’s Pensions Tracing Service if you think one might be yours. When you know where all your pensions are you have choices about what to do with them. Read Bring your pensions together: we suggest nine things to think about to decide what is right for you.
5. Recycle your clothes – and go ‘greener’ too
Is your wardrobe spilling over with clothes and accessories you no longer use?
Make the most of them by listing them on apps like Vinted, thredUP and Shpock or Facebook marketplace.
Reselling ‘fast fashion’ items instead of letting them end up in landfill is good for the environment too.
6. Claim money you’re entitled to
The number of people putting money into a workplace pension in the UK is growing, with over 10 million now saving this way.
If your employer offers a workplace pension, you save and they will contribute too, so don’t lose out on what you’re entitled to.
Some employers offer matching schemes; the more you pay, the more they pay. And you get a boost thanks to tax relief too – a great way of supercharging your savings.
Even if it seems the future is a long way off, it could make a real difference to when you can afford to stop working or choose to work less. You can read more in What’s so good about a pension?
7. It’s a gift – make the most of it
If you’ve accumulated gift cards from Christmas or a birthday, and you’re not that keen on the shops or brands that they’re for, don’t write them off.
A clever hack that not many people know about is that websites like Cardyard let you sell unwanted gift cards for cash – or buy a discounted gift card to save money.
8. Get snap happy – earn from your talents
Many of us (particularly millennials) have developed quite a talent for photography, thanks to apps like Instagram – and the great quality cameras that are now standard on smartphones.
Make the most of your skills by checking out sites like Alamy, 123RF and Shutterstock, which pay contributors when people download their images.
9. Turn your skills and time into cash
Want to make some more money to save with a bit of a ‘side hustle’? You might be surprised how your skills and time could be put to profitable use.
Online local services marketplaces match up service providers with potential customers. Tasks like cat or house sitting can be surprisingly well paid, so think about what services you might be able to offer in your spare time.
The opportunities can be so varied – Bark.com is even advertising pop culture crash courses where you could put your knowledge of Game of Thrones to good use helping customers develop their small talk skills!
Job done – save more
So if you’re thinking that you don’t have any money to save, why not try some of our suggestions to make the most of what you have.
If you find yourself with a few spare pounds to put aside you’ll want to find the right place to save them depending on your savings goals.
Saving into an ISA or topping up your pension can both be tax-efficient ways to save. Our super-simple guide to Getting to know your pensions from your ISAs might give you a few more ideas.
Elle Tucker is a freelance journalist writing on behalf of Standard Life.
Please remember that the value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than you paid in.
It’s important to note that laws and tax rules may change in the future and your own personal circumstances will have an impact on tax.
The information here is based on our understanding in May 2019 and should not be regarded as financial advice.
Standard Life accepts no responsibility for the information contained in the websites referred to in this article. These are provided for general information only.