Spice up your savings relationship

Elle Tucker

Have you fallen out of love with saving? It can be a difficult relationship to keep going and it’s easy to get tired of the same old saving strategies.

We keep hearing messages about giving up that daily flat white, cancelling Netflix subscriptions and putting every spare penny into an ISA. But that can leave you feeling like your relationship with your savings is a bit one-sided.

So, what can you do to spice it up?

Here are our top eight unconventional tips to put the spark back into saving.

1. Think of your purchases as hours worked

Instead of thinking how much money you’ll have left in your account after a purchase, think of the cost in terms of how long you will have to work to pay it off.

If you’re thinking over whether to buy that new outfit for the weekend but realise it would take you ten hours’ work to cover the cost, it may well put you off the pricey purchase.

2. Audit the gifts you give

Do you end up buying gifts for everyone? Your neighbour who had a baby. Your child’s teacher who’s leaving. Your daughter’s boyfriend’s mum who just moved into a new house. This all adds up.

You might fall in love with savings a bit more when you put the money away instead. We’re not saying don’t buy gifts – just buy only the really important gifts instead.

Another good tip is to come to an arrangement with family and friends so that you don’t spend too much on each other. Instead, opt for home-made gifts, or offer your services, such as babysitting or gardening as a cost-effective but thoughtful alternative.

And think ahead. Those people who buy their Christmas presents at a big discount in the January sales may have the right idea after all.

3. Reward your saving

It can be all too easy to spend, but saving’s tricky – it takes dedication. So try rewarding your efforts!

It may seem counterproductive to spend when your aim is to save, but as an article from Woman’s Day magazine explains, it can really help.

“When saving money feels like deprivation, you’re going to break your own rules. Instead of thinking about what you are missing, save to reward yourself. Every time you put another thousand bucks in the savings account, for example, treat yourself and your spouse to a night on the town.”*

4. Where you can, buy nearly new instead

These days, buying second hand has come back into fashion. It’s an antidote to ‘disposable’ clothes and a more sustainable option too. And it’s not just about clothing either – sites like eBay, Gumtree, Facebook and Shpock can offer great deals on all sorts of nearly new items.

Even Amazon has second-hand products for sale, so you can buy cheaper from established stockists not just from car boot sales and charity shops.

Not only that, you can sell anything you don’t need on sites like these to bring in extra money to save as well.

You can read about another online tip – cashback sites – in our article Seven ideas for a fresh financial start in 2019.

5. Go back to carrying cash

Paying with your credit or debit card – especially using contactless – is becoming the norm for many. Card payments actually overtook cash as the UK’s number one payment method in 2017 because of how easy it is.

But carrying cash could be a great way to curb the spending, as Woman’s Day explains: “Force yourself to carry cash rather than plastic so you have to count out the bills each time you hit the register. This will also limit your spending potential because you can only spend what you’ve got in your wallet.”

So parking the plastic could have a positive impact on your bank balance.

6. Push the envelope

The envelope system is one of the oldest tricks in the book, a bit of a retro classic hack.

The idea is that you work out how much you spend on particular expenses each month. For example, if you spend £200 a month on food, you withdraw the £200 in cash and put it in an envelope marked ‘food shop’.

You repeat the process for all of your expenses, and, as the budgeting blog, Wise Bread** explains, it makes your budgeting more ‘real’.

“One of the envelope system’s best benefits is how real it is – how tactile, how tangible. Let’s say it’s the 20th of the month and you’re wondering how much you have left in your clothing budget. Just look inside the envelope marked ‘clothing’ and count the cash. It couldn’t be simpler.”

7. Spend less than you make

This tip seems obvious but can be difficult, according to a recent Psychology Today article***. “The main reason people are not able to save money is that they do not have control over their spending. If you want to form a saving habit, you must consistently spend less than you make.

“Research has shown that people with a strong saving habit are frugal and find spending money to be painful. Cultivating a saving mindset and habit requires abandoning a spending mindset.”

It can help to focus on what it is you’re saving for – like the four savers we spoke to in our article Could 2019 be your best savings year yet?

8. Get familiar – see more of your savings…

Like any relationship, don’t neglect your savings – cherish them and think carefully about where you put them.

Whatever you’re saving for – life events, retirement, study, travel – keeping track of your savings and watching them grow means you get to know what you’ve got and helps you get into a good habit. Nurture that.

These eight tips could help you fall in love with saving all over again. Let 2019 be the year to get your finances sorted and help you save more for the future you want.


Elle Tucker is a freelance journalist writing on behalf of Standard Life.

Standard Life is not responsible for any arrangements/plans entered into on the basis of this article.

*10 Unconventional Money Saving Tips, Woman’s Day, June 2008

**A Comprehensive Guide to the Envelope System, Matt Bell, Wise Bread, September 2011

***4 Steps to Cultivate the Habit of Saving Money, Utpal Dholakia, Psychology Today, March 2018