Friday, 20 September 2013

Wedding Series #3 How We're Saving Up

I know money can be a slightly sensitive subject and I don't profess to be any kind of expert but I've really enjoyed reading about how other brides-to-be have saved up and budgeted for their weddings, and I thought it might be vaguely interesting to talk about how we're doing it. A lot of the methods we've used aren't wedding specific so anyone wanting to save/make a little extra money can keep reading're not getting away with it that easily ;)

We're about half-way to saving for our wedding and honeymoon, with 9 months to go...eeek! Typically it's me that does the wheeling and dealing (slightly overstating it..) with money, Adam is cheap to keep and he tends to just float along not worrying about it.  I wouldn't say I worry about money either but I quite enjoy the little thrill of making a little extra cash or vouchers unexpectedly, and it makes me feel a bit less guilty for all the stuff I buy because it's offset slightly.

For ease of reading I'll split it into two sections:  Spending Less and Earning More

Spending Less

Individual Savings Account -ISA
Not the most exciting way of making money but it's effective and kills two birds with one stone - saving money and making money from the interest.  I've made sure that every month since we got engaged, as soon as we've been paid I squirrel a big chunk of money away into an ISA - I find we don't miss it so much if it was never in the equation.  Everyone in the UK has a personal tax-free allowance of £5760, per year, and if you shop around you should be able to find an account paying interest of 2-3%, which might not sound a lot but I think getting get a couple of hundred extra pounds per year just by having your savings in an account is pretty super duper!
I'm also less likely to fritter money away if it's in a separate bank account that isn't quite as easy to plunge into as my current account.

Food Shopping
I've always been a big fan of Aldi as I think a lot of their produce is really good quality.  Since we've been saving up though we've made a more concerted effort to buy as much of our shopping from there as possible, rather than paying crazy Tesco prices, just for convenience.
Aldi's fruit and veg is really good, and I love the offers they do, particularly the super 6, where fruit and veg is massively reduced.  Some things will always have to be the proper brand - crisps, beans, yoghurts etc, but there's no good reason I can't get most of my shopping from there. 
Voucher Codes
Having always been tight with money, I undertake a time consuming and relentless mission to locate a voucher code for all online purchases.  This can be somewhat infuriating for hungry family members who just want to ORDERTHEDOMINOS.  But I can't.  Until I've ruled every code in or out. It'd definitely worth doing though, I quite often find a 10/15% off code or free p&p.  It's the little victories!
Good sites for this are: Voucher Codes and Retail Me Not but there are countless similar sites.

Earning More Money

Selling your tat is a really good way of saving up; so far this year we've gotten rid of a load of old computer games, clothes and I even managed to get shut of a spare bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic for almost double the price I paid.  Admittedly it's a bit of a faff having to take pictures, write the descriptions and then coordinate postage, but the Ebay app is brilliant because you can now take a picture and upload it straight from the app.  You have to accept that sometimes you'll make less than you wanted (I still haven't forgotten you, pure silk dress from Monsoon...£10.00..!), but I'd say over time it evens itself out.


There are several cashback sites which you can go through to make your online purchases and receive cashback or gift vouchers.I use topcashback, which has some really generous cashback percentages.  Sometimes these can take a while to show in your account, and I'd always go with the cheaper-on-the-day price, rather than what would be the cheapest with the cashback offer, just because I'm cautious like that, but for barely 30 seconds extra work when making an online purchase it'd definitely worth signing up to a cashback site.  I've made around £50 this year from doing this, and I do sometimes forget to make my purchases through topcashback, so it should be more really.
I've had cashback for my weekly online food shop, beauty and fashion purchases, as well as  home and car insurance - pretty much all companies have some kind of cashback offer on there so don't forget to look!

Shop and Scan
Shop and Scan is a consumer panel where you are rewarded with gift vouchers for providing information about your weekly  shopping habits.  Once accepted you are provided with a barcode scanner and are required to upload this information weekly, as well as providing pictures of your receipts.  I've found the company a bit of a pain in the bum to deal with - on a couple of occasions I've received rather pushy phonecalls, bordering on rude, when I've forgotten to upload my barcodes on a certain week, and I wouldn't say they were particularly generous in terms of points awarded, but It's not a massive chore to do once a week and I've decided to save up the vouchers for a bigger purchase, which keeps me motivated to keep going with it.  For your first upload you are awarded 1000 points (£10), but then it takes on average 6-7 weeks to accumulate each subsequent £10 voucher. You can choose from all manner of vouchers - we went with Amazon because it's a safe bet they'll stock anything we want.
To sign up to shop and scan there is a waiting list, so you need to register first at and then carry on with your life until they decide you are worthy!


Survey Sites
The main 3 sites I am a member of are Valued opinions, Swagbucks and Toluna.
Again, survey sites aren't going to make a huge contribution to your savings, but I like receiving vouchers that I don't feel guilty spending, because it means I don't dip into our actual money for my frivolous little purchases.
I'm quite faddy when it comes to completing these surveys - the end reward seems a long was away so I'm not completely motivated all the time.
Generally you are first asked several qualifying questions to determine if you fall within the target sample, if not you aren't allowed to continue and you aren't compensated for your time on that survey.  This can be quite infuriating when you've already answered 20 questions, to be told, oh actually, you don't qualify, soz. This is very naughty, survey sites- tut.
Of the sites I am a member of Valued Opinions is the most generous - usually £0.50 to £1 per survey.  It's also the quickest to credit your account.  Toluna is pitifully slow with awarding your points, but I have had a couple of £10 vouchers from them in the last year, so if you have the time it's still worth a go.

Mystery Shopping - Market Force, Gapbuster
Now, I've only done this twice, so i'm not an expert, but potentially mystery shopping could be quite a lucrative sideline.  I've been offered jobs paying up to £100, but most are in the region of £10-20.  You are just required to go to the required place, at the required time and make a purchase.  You must then feed back on your experience, usually within the same day.  It's not for the faint hearted, and I'm terrible under pressure, so my heart was beating out of my chest, from the fear they might know I was a mystery shopper.  By law in the UK mystery shoppers must declare themselves as self employed as any income is subject to tax, which is a bit off putting for an occasional £10 profit.  If you're lucky though you can be chosen for panels to review hotels, high end shops, and restaurants. As it was, I went to KFC.  And bought a bucket meal. Different worlds!

Marking for an Exam Board
This is quite specific to teachers really, but if you're a teacher and aren't already marking GCSE/A Level for an exam board I'd definitely recommend it as a nice little income boost.  Most exam boards pay a set fee for each allocation, plus a bonus for timely completion, as well as a higher bonus rate for extra marking.  For two, two-week marking periods (January and June) I tend to end up with around £1600, which makes a massive difference financially and tends to pay for my car insurance and a holiday every year.  Technically Adam could become an assessor too as we're both teachers, but marking to such tight deadlines is so intense that our house would be chaos if we were both doing it!

Sadly our main expenditure aside from bills, is travel to and from work, which there is no avoiding.  Aside from a few measly Tesco Clubcard points on the £55-ish I spend on petrol every week, we haven't worked out how to claw any money back from this - if you have any ideas do let me know!

Hopefully this might have given you some ideas or motivation for saving or making a little extra money, and thank you if you made it all the way to the turned into a bit of a book!


1 comment:

  1. Topcashback is fabulous! I do all my online ordering through there where possible.