Money Advice Service

Ever wondered where your money has mysteriously disappeared to by the end of the month? Well… there’s a good chance you’ve eaten it.

Heading to the coffee shop, nipping out for a sandwich at lunch, grabbing a chocolate bar when paying for petrol - it all adds up. But with a bit of planning, you might save a few pounds a day, which by the end of the year, you’re looking at a whole holiday or savings buffer if anything ever went wrong and you needed few extra quid.

Set a goal because it’s official – we know that people who set a goal save faster and up to £550 a year more than people who don’t. Here’s how you do it.

Big tip

Cook a bit extra for dinner the night before, then take in the leftovers for a hassle-free lunch.

What should you do with your extra money? Now that you’ve saved a few quid, we’ve a few ideas that will get you saving. Try them out here.

How long it’ll take: 15 mins

Equipment needed:

    • Insulated mug or flask, For hot drinks on the go
    • Bags and boxes, To put your food in
    • Shopping list, To add stuff for your packed lunches

    1. DIY lunch

    Yeah, yeah take a packed lunch to work. Heard it all before? Don’t spend much anyway? Well here’s some ‘real talk’ for you – even a £3.50 meal deal mounts up. That’s £875 a year, before you’ve set a foot in a fancy sandwich shop. That is legitimately the cost of a holiday.

    2. Swap your coffee

    Another oldie but a goodie. That coffee on the way to work might only cost £2.50. Small change right? But it adds up to an eye-watering £625 a year.

    Get yourself an insulated coffee mug or flask, spend a couple of minutes making your own coffee before you leave, and save enough for a weekend away.

    3. Watch out on water

    If you often find yourself buying bottles of water? Consider forking out on a cheap refillable water bottle. Top up from the tap, replace it in your bag, and roll on the savings. If you like your water chilly, keep a bunch of bottles in the bottom of your fridge, or invest in an insulated bottle.

    If you’re a fan of the fizzy stuff, a 1.5L bottle you keep at the bottom of the fridge is a lot cheaper (especially if it’s on offer) than forking out for a can or two a day (as long as your colleagues don’t nick it!).

    Think about how much you’re spending on lunch - If you do need to buy lunch on the run, avoid those fancy burrito and burger joints which can cost £5 - £10 for a quick lunch. Make the most of the supermarket instead.

    Buy in bulk - Ok, so we’ve convinced you to take in packed lunches right? Well now maximise your money saving ways by buying in bulk. It’s all in the maths – a packet of crisps might cost around 50p in your local shop, but step into the supermarket and a pack of six will cost just £1. The same goes for chocolate bars, fruit, cans of fizzy drinks etc.

    Scarred by the memories of soggy sandwiches? Make the most of the office microwave and kettle and widen your options. Pinterest is packed full of inspiration – from wraps to rolls, pasta to pittas, soup and salads.

    Break your expensive breakfast habit - How often do you eat breakfast on the run, adding a quick croissant in the coffee shop, or buying a pick-me-up bacon sarnie when the thought of all those meetings is getting a bit much? Get organised, and keep supplies like a box of cereal and some milk at the office, or keep a breakfast bar in your bag and watch the savings stack up.

    Save on snacks - If your children clamour for snacks every time you step outside the front door, get prepared to save a small fortune. Carry snacks (remember, in multipacks!) such as bars of chocolates, raisins, crisps etc. Anything to avoid calling into an expensive café.

    At school, if your kids are in Reception, Year One and Year Two, they get free school dinners (although the rules are different in Northern Ireland). If they’re older, you’re facing – on average - £437 a year on lunch. That’s per child! Ouch!

    If you receive income-based benefits or tax credits, check if your children are eligible for free school meals. If not, it’s cheaper for them to take in a packed lunch.

    This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.