As prices rise, it can be hard to make ends meet, and even harder to save. If you're struggling to live within your means, you're not the only one, but chances are your money could go further with a little tweaking. First, check what you're spending it on, and see if you could do without any of those items, or buy them more cheaply. Then do the same with every new purchase. Check as you spend and your money will grow. Here's how to do it:

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Think before you buy

Each time you reach for your plastic card or pocket purse, pause a moment and ask yourself whether you really need that product. Make this a golden rule for purchases big and small, and it will soon become habit. Never mind what your friends are spending their money on. Yours is your affair, so think carefully before you part with a single dime.

 

Think before you choose

You can often save money on products through deals and discounts, so make a habit of looking out for these. When food-shopping, for instance, some products are cheaper per part in the bigger pack sizes. Again, two-for-one deals will cut your costs by half without reducing the quality. It's also worth comparing prices in different stores. Shop around for the best deal, and you'll save money every time.

 

Think before you turn your heating up

n expenses, such as heating, may be gobbling up your income unnecessarily. You'll want to keep your home warm, but it doesn't need to be baking-hot. Turn the thermostat down a little and put on a sweater, and you'll still be warm. You don't need heating at night or when you're out, so set the timer accordingly. Make a habit of thinking twice before every heating use, whether it's a plug-in heater, an open fire or under-floor heating.

Think before you turn a switch

Extend your new stop-and-check habit to control other domestic energy uses, such as hot water and electric appliances. Consider reducing your washing machine use, for instance, and applying a lower temperature setting. If you can shorten your hot showers or fill the bath tub a little less, that will save money, too. Monitor your use of other appliances, such as kitchen and garden equipment, keeping household costs to the minimum.

 

Think before you click

There are various payment arrangements available for mobile phones, so if you're buying a new package, consider your needs carefully and seek out the most economical option. If you pay as you go, use your phone as little as possible, and avoid its costlier facilities, such as long-distance phone calls and video streaming.

 

Think before you travel

If you drive, you'll be spending money on gas, and if you travel on public transport, you'll be buying tickets. Either way, see if you can cut costs, either by traveling less or by shopping around for cheaper deals. When possible, walk or cycle instead - you'll take care of your money and your health that way.

 

Think before you give

When saving money is key, you need to think before giving any away, however generous you'd like to be. If a particular donation is important to you, put it on hold till you've calculated how much you can safely part with. Remember to allow for those hidden costs, and your savings pot, too, also keeping some aside for emergencies. Whatever is left will be yours to give or keep.

 

Write "save" in big, bold letters in a place where you'll see it daily, like your phone, mirror or table mat. Then say it over till it rings in your ears. It's a little word, but it can do marvels with money.

 

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