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Yoga for your bank balance: How to make your finances stretch

We’ve finessed the Warrior One, Downward Dog and Lizard Pose, but it seems now the sequence we all need to be practising is how to make, say, one month’s salary, stretch over three. 

So, while we’d love to sit in Child’s Pose for the next 15 minutes, we’re going to instead impart some nifty tricks on keeping your finances in shape when things are shaky. Roll out your mats.  

Let’s start with the most mature step first. Set up a safety net fund.

Something that becomes very apparent as you get older is that unexpected expenses lurk around every corner; boilers break, laptops crash, cars need repairs, and you’re the one who needs to sort them out.

Something that will always help is having some money squirrelled away, so if you’re able to put some money aside - no matter how little - then start building up a safety net fund. 

You don’t have to be good with money to do that. For example, Chip’s AI decides how much you can afford to save, and then automatically transfers it into your Chip account. 

If your adjusted budget allows for it, manually save what you would normally spend on transport each week.

Meal planning

To limit shopping trips, meal planning not only sets you up for the week, but also means you aren’t buying anything unnecessary when popping to the shop for ‘one thing’. 

Take inspiration from recipe sites such as MOB kitchen who have a plethora of 3-ingredient, budget, or back-of-the-cupboard meals. You can't go wrong with making a cost-effective curry or soup in bulk.

Manage outgoings

Sit down with a cuppa and scroll through your bank statement for routine payments and see if there are any that you can cancel or pause until things go ‘back to normal’. Perhaps start by reconsidering existing fitness subscriptions and phone bills.

If your provider allows for it, think about switching to a smaller data plan as chances are you’ll be mainly coasting off wifi for the next little while.

Stop yourself from making unnecessary purchases

It can be very tempting to indulge in some online shopping, but before you do that, ask yourself if you really need it. Will you truly be happier with another pair of jogging bottoms? In the words of Marie Kondo, ‘does it spark joy?’ Check your bank balance; can you afford this?

If it’s something that does indeed spark joy, then use price comparison sites like Idealo and Camelcamelcamel to reveal the price history of a given product, telling you if and when it was at a lower price. You can also use a Google Chrome plug-in called Honey that will automatically check for any available promo codes to get you an even lower price. 

If you’re still struggling, give yourself permission to buy it at the end of the month. If you’re still thinking about it by then, chances are it’s a warranted purchase.


Check for available refunds

Check for any available refunds for upcoming bookings, gigs or travel. Do you have a season ticket that you’re not using due to working from home? Have you booked a city break with Ryanair that’s definitely not going ahead? You can get a refund for those bookings and get some much needed money back. 

It’s worth nothing that some companies will only offer you a voucher and a chance to rebook for a later date, so check their T&Cs. 


Try ditching the meat

Depending on the meal, swapping meat for veggie alternatives can save you some money. For example, Chip calculated the costs of a traditional Christmas dinner vs a vegan one, and the latter ended up being £56 cheaper. 

This doesn’t apply to things like fancy meat substitutes from Planet Organic that cost as much as a yellowfin tuna steak, but a meat-free stir fry will certainly work out cheaper. 

A can of chickpeas comes in at just 60p a pop. 

Get thrifty

Have a wardrobe clear out and sell any clothing or accessories you’ve fallen out of love with.

The go-to sites for this are; eBay, Depop (especially for street style brands) and Vestiaire Collective (for high end brands).


Get crafty

If you have a hobby that you’re not too bad at, then why not turn it into a side hustle? If you’re a knitter, cross stitcher, painer, potter or another crafty type, then look into setting up a shop on Etsy. 

Alternatively, if you’re a digital designer, you can look at websites like Everpress or Redbubble that will allow you to sell your designs on t-shirts and various other items - all you have to do is upload your design and they’ll take care of the rest. 

If you really need some money

The Bank of England (BoE) cut the base rate of interest (if you’re not familiar with the base rate, to put it simply, this is the interest rate that all others follow). Bringing rates down to 0.25%, which is a historic low, having only been taken this low once before as a calming measure after the Brexit Referendum in 2016. 

So, chances are it’ll get cheaper to borrow money, and generally this is one of the cheapest times ever to borrow money. So this is an option that’s available to you if you

really need it.

0% interest borrowing

If you’re in a position to get a 0% interest credit card, you can enjoy some short-term free borrowing on new purchases. This can be a good way to get some breathing space.

It’s worth keeping it as an option in your back pocket or as a last resort. But generally, it’s unwise to rely on debt for your day-to-day expenditures (if you are struggling with debt, I’d encourage you to seek help from a charity, like StepChange).

It’s always worth remembering that borrowing is essentially gambling on your future income. You need to be sure you can meet your repayments and keep your credit score in good shape, or your debts could quickly spiral out of control.

Speak to your bank or landlord now 

If you’re worried about not meeting your payments on your mortgage, credit card or other borrowings in the coming months, make sure to speak to your bank now and make arrangements. If you rent the same goes about talking to your landlord. 

Leaving it too late and missing repayments will incur some hefty unnecessary fees, damage your credit score and make it harder for you to access credit in the future.

You are now free to enter into savasana. Namaste.

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