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Seven ways to re-build your savings in time for Christmas

Written by: Simon Ripton
If your savings pot looks depleted, panic not. Adopting a few manageable changes to your spending can help get your finances and savings back on track.

With a couple of months before the Christmas season gets into full swing, now’s the time to try these simple tips.

  1. Make manageable targets

Remember that ‘don’t live beyond your means’ applies to savings too. Be realistic with how much you earn and work out how much you can put away each month without having to scrimp. If it’s unrealistic, chances are you won’t keep it up. Complete a budget planner (basically, make a list of what money you have coming in and what you have going out each week or month depending on when you are paid). Start slow at first, saving as little as £10 a month/ week and then build it up gradually at a steady pace. Adding £10 extra each time you are paid  is a good first step, and whether you’re a student or a parent this should feel achievable.

  1. Out of sight, out of mind

The simplest methods are often the best. As soon as your pay cheque comes through immediately put what you want to save into a separate account. This simple step will give you a better idea of how much you have available to spend and removes much of the temptation to avoid saving. Look into setting up a standing order with your bank to make this even easier.

  1. Trade contactless for cash

Tapping your card may save you queuing time but it can increase the overall amount you spend. As you’re spending ‘virtual money’ you’re less likely to keep track of how much you’re spending. We’re spending more and more via contactless, £9.27bn in the first six months of 2016. Instead, take out the cash you need for the week ahead of time, it may be old-fashioned but it’s an effective way to avoid overspending.

  1. Kick the habit

Dipping into your hard earned savings can seem tempting when money is tight, especially if you have an easy access savings account. To help counter your spending surplus and break out of this topping-up routine, have a small amount in your current account as a buffer. If you have to use it you can but if you don’t, it can go into savings at the end of the month. Think of it as your own overdraft.

  1. Consider credit

Remember too that there are alternatives to dipping into your savings when you need to pay for bigger ticket items such as furniture, technology and holidays. There’s a historic tendency to view purchasing such items on credit as bad for your personal finances. This simply isn’t true. If you use an interest-free credit card, interest free finance or deferred finance you can manage the monthly repayments and avoid losing out on interest earned on your savings. Just make sure you keep track of when the interest-free period ends.

  1. Rein in your receipts

Brits love food, in an average week we spend £59 on it and we’re always after a good bargain but food-related spending has been increasing. Doing one weekly shop and planning ahead will save you money, especially if you’re cooking for more than one. Top-up shopping, as it’s known, or visiting the convenience shop every day can be easier but it’s costly. Even if it’s dinner for one, cooking in bulk at the weekend and freezing could be a much cheaper option than grabbing a ready meal on your way home.

  1. Treat yourself

Got your eye on that certain something in a shop? Saving is about controlling your spending but also rewarding yourself when you’ve reached a goal. Set a target and once you get to it, allow yourself a little treat. If you’ve saved £500, give yourself a reward of £50. Saving is difficult and it’s important to have an extra motivation.

Simon Ripton is head of direct to consumer at Ikano Bank

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