Savvy Spending!

Photo by Bruno Kelzer on Unsplash

Living in London can be very expensive, so it is quite important to know how to be a savvy spender. I’m going to share some of my tips and advice on spending consciously, including mindful spending, zero spend days and different methods I’ve noticed companies use to trap customers. Hopefully, after reading this blog post, you will feel a lot more confident when thinking about your finances and will come to realise that spending and budgeting isn’t as daunting as you might think! 

A savvy spender is someone who spends their money wisely. Rather than just sticking to their budget by avoiding spending on anything else, a savvy spender will make sure that what they do spend money on is worth it and is the best deal. It’s always a good idea to implement some savvy spending habits into your lifestyle because it allows you to truly make the most of your money. A savvy spender won’t get caught out by sneaky marketing tricks designed to make us spend more. Instead, they’ll be switched on to make sure there’s no wasted spend, meaning the money they have can go further.  

To be a savvy spender, you need to make sure everything you purchase is a conscious decision. When you’re acting consciously, you’re able to stop and ask yourself a few questions before you buy, which will make sure you’re a) not buying something you don’t really want or need or b) spending too much money when you could get the same thing for less. In today’s day and age, we are inundated with deals, offers and cleverly curated shops/online stores that are all designed to make us shop emotionally rather than consciously. The key to being a savvy spender is to understand that and be wise to their tricks. 

Mindful spending is not allowing emotions to lead your spending decisions. Taking the time to consider whether you want or need something can add up to hundreds of pounds in savings. Telling yourself ‘No’ when it comes to purchases isn’t boring or tedious, it’s powerful. It isn’t about cutting out all of your spend either. By being mindful about your spending, you can decide what’s important to you. If you enjoy your morning coffee from your local coffee shop, we’re not saying don’t buy it. But by asking yourself ‘Do I need this? Maybe if I woke up 5 minutes earlier, I could make and bring my own’. You’ll start to find that you’ll cut out some unnecessary spending. 

Zero spend days are a challenge to not spend anything for one day. Imagine this, you’ve done your food shop for the week, but you’re tempted for a takeaway after a long day. If you commit to not spending on that day, you might just fight off the urge to splurge on a takeaway. It sounds simple but it’s an effective way to take a step back and appreciate the things that you’ve already paid for and save money. Once you get into the habit of maybe one no-spend-day a week, you’ll realise how easy and rewarding it is. Then you can take it as far as you like. People do no spend weeks, months and sometimes even a whole year where they just spend on essentials. Maybe that could be you but set milestones that work for you. 

There are a variety of different ways brands use scarcity marketing to rush you into a purchase. Some examples include: 

  • Counting down how many hours and minutes you have left to get next day delivery  
  • Alerting you when stocks are low or showing how many of an item are left in stock  
  • Holiday sites telling you how many people ‘favourite’ a hotel 
  • Flash sales and time-limited offers 
  • Limited edition collectibles  

There are lots of ways that supermarkets try to maximise your spend in-store. Look out for these examples on your next trip:  

  • Essential items: Think bread, milk, eggs – these are often stocked further away from the entrance and apart from each other so you need to walk through more of the store to get there and hopefully pick up items you didn’t come in for along the way.  
  • Expensive items: The most profitable or most expensive items often sit in the middle of the shelf directly in your line of sight and popular combinations will be stocked together to encourage you to buy both.  
  • Impulse buys: One you may already know – tills are littered with small purchases to encourage ‘essential’ last minute purchases.  
  • End aisles: We might be used to seeing cheaper deals at the end of aisles but its important to make sure you’re actually bagging yourself a bargain and haven’t just been conditioned to think you will. People are 30% more likely to buy items at the end of an aisle than in the middle! 
  • Sensory overload: Shops use sight, smell, sound and taste against you in a bid to get you to part with your cash. Smells like freshly baked bread can trigger hunger, causing you to pick up more than you came in for and free samples can encourage a purchase you hadn’t intended. slow music can be used to slow you down and encourage more time in store.  

When you’re shopping in store, I would recommend making a shopping list and having a clear budget in mind – and avoid shopping when hungry! 

The same goes for online sites, which have their own ways to encourage spending. Sites will offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount, encouraging you to keep shopping and buy more. Amazon Prime and ASOS Premier delivery can be a great way to save on shipping costs, but these products are designed to keep you shopping more often and can sometimes work out to be more expensive than other places. So always shop around and be careful they don’t end up costing more in the long run. It’s common practice now for sites to offer savings on your first order if you subscribe to their email list. There’s no harm in saving yourself some cash using these in the short term but beware – your inbox will soon fill up with deals and sales which can be hard to say no to. These emails are a double-edged sword. They could save you money if you see a sale or discount code for an item you were already going to buy but they can encourage more spending too. It could be worth unsubscribing when you’ve made your saving to avoid falling into the trap. 

I hope by lifting the curtain on some of these tips and tricks, you’ll feel empowered enough to make informed decisions about your spending – good luck! 

Amani Parvaiz
King’s Student Money Mentor
Part of Money & Housing Advice

The King’s Student Money Mentors blog shares our students’ personal experiences and thoughts on money-related topics. Any reference, opinions or recommendations on a particular company/brand are only the views of the student(s) who wrote the blog post. King’s College London, the Money & Housing Advice service and the Money Mentor project do not share the views in the blogs nor endorse any of the companies mentioned. Readers should conduct their own research before using any companies mentioned in our blog posts. 

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