How We Saved £12000 in One Year: 5 Top Tips

July 20, 2018

Have you ever needed to save some cash to do that amazing something? Have you ever wanted to save money quickly so you can just do it, buy it, or even quit your job to travel full time, for example? Well we’ve been there, very recently in fact - only a month ago we both quit our jobs and are now travelling across South East Asia. And we only gave ourselves ONE YEAR to save up the money we needed to make the biggest change to our lives so far. So, you may be wondering, how did we save enough in that short amount of time to support ourselves as we travel the world? Well read on my friend, because these are our tips for doing just that. 




1. Work, Work, Work


Yes, it’s a given, but generating funds unfortunately requires a job or three. This one may seem so obvious, but it’s definitely the most important part of saving money! The more jobs you have the better - between us we had 6 jobs (some regular, some not so) and these multiple incomes allowed us to maximise our time working and majorly increase cash flow. If you’re happy to work your butt off to achieve your goal quicker, then try to get a number of jobs that will be flexible with you, so you can decide when you work and when you don’t. It will mean your routine changes pretty much every week, and for some people that isn’t ideal, but it does mean that you can work as much or as little as you want (and the more you can work the more you can save!). It also means that if you’ve worked super hard for a few weeks, you can take some days off to recuperate (depending on what you job role requires of course). 


Seeking employment within different sectors will help you to manage your time better. For example, if you work in a shop as well as a pub or restaurant, this means you can work both during the day and the evening. It also allows you to vary your week, because working in the same role all the time can get a little repetitive; having different jobs mixes it up a little. Most of the jobs we had were part time with flexible hours, so we were able to decide when to work and when to chill. We worked in so many different places, including a pub, a supermarket phone shop, a building site, a cafe, as a babysitter, at graduations and at a climbing centre. These were all jobs that generated the much needed cash and that’s all that matters. If you’re really wanting to save and save quickly, then getting several jobs is a great way of doing this, but remember, don’t overwork yourself!




                                                                                                        © Stanley Vas

2. Give Yourself a Spending Limit


Once you’ve got the job/s the cash will start pouring in, but it’s important to not get carried away with you’re new found wealth! We found that giving ourselves a spending limit for each month, and sticking to it (!) helped to keep our eyes on the goal and meant we didn’t spend unnecessarily. One great way to keep track of this is to separate the funds - put the spending amount in one bank account and all the money for the thing you are saving for in another. We did this by opening a savings account and just transferring it all into there. Once this is done, DON’T TOUCH IT (unless it is towards whatever you are saving for, e.g insurance for travelling). Having it in a separate account helps with this as it takes it away from your eyes, meaning you won’t be tempted to just use a few pounds for a sandwich, and before you know it you’ve done a whole food shop. 


Alternatively, you can set a goal of putting a certain amount into the savings account every month, and then just spending whatever you have left over. With this method it may be worth having another savings account with contingency funds, just incase, whatever works for you. I always aimed to put at least £1000 into my savings every month for 12 months, so I could work out how much more work I needed to do to get this and then any extra was a bonus. 

These methods worked for us, but there are probably hundreds of ways people use to keep track of their spending (e.g apps, lists, etc). Just do whatever works for you, as long as you’re keeping track and not overspending, saving will be easier. 



3. Make Meet Ups Cheaper


With all that work, time off is deserved (and it’s ok to take time off, and I wish someone would have made me do that!). It’s important to make time to just switch off, and what better way to do this than to meet up with friends, especially because they won’t want to be neglected while your off making the big bucks. But, meet ups normally mean spending the cash, whether it’s on lunch or a night out or a shopping trip etc etc. How to get around this? Well it’s time to get creative. Here’s a few ideas. 


  • Instead of going out for lunch or dinner, go to the supermarket and buy ingredients to make food, and then split the cost with friends. Even going to eat at a cheap place is normally more expensive than making the food yourself.



  • Nights out are always fun, but when you’re saving the two don’t always go hand in hand. It may be tempting to go out and party every weekend, and I’m not saying don’t, but it can be crazy expensive, especially when the drinks are flowing and you see your savings account with all the cash in and suddenly you can afford to buy everyone a few rounds! If you can, try not to go out too often - save if for when you want to celebrate a birthday or leaving to go travelling! Alternatively, go for a few drinks down the pub (and if you drive you won’t be spending a lot) or have drinks round your house (supermarket alcohol can always be cheaper). 



  • Or, don’t spend any money on meeting up at all! Raid the DVD shelf, find someone with Netflix or get everyone to bring their favourite board game, and have a night in watching films or playing games. These nights are always a lot of fun, depending how competitive you get (and how much your friends can tolerate the competitiveness!) and both nights will get everyone together for a good old catch up.



  • Instead of spending your well earned cash on going to a gym, because let’s face it, a gym membership will definitely put a big dent in your savings, try and do sport that is free. This could be going for a run (Couch to 5K is a really good app if you want to start from scratch), getting a fitness app like 7 Minute Work Out, or just follow a work out plan from the internet from the comfort of you’re own home - there are loads out there. If you live by the coast, try going for a sea swim or a beach run. And what’s better is that all of these options are better when you add your pals into the mix - I find working out is easier when someone is there motivating me to carry on. Your friends might not fancy the gym, but when the exercise is free, they’ll be more likely to join (hopefully!).  




4. Sell Your Unwanted Stuff


We’ve all got stuff that we no longer use, and it’s most likely just sitting on a shelf, gathering dust under your bed or about to go in the bin. But why not make some money from your unwanted things - it might not be a huge amount, but money is money after all. Set aside a day or two to have a clear out and sort through your stuff. Clearing out is especially useful if you plan on going travelling for a long time. You just won’t need that stuff while you’re away and it’s just going to sit at home doing nothing. Even if you’re not going travelling, a good old clear out is always an idea if you want to free up space and earn a few pennies. 


Before you start your clear out, get a few boxes together (these can be picked up for free at your local supermarket). Boxes that you can seal are preferable but anything will work. Label them up with things like “Carboot Sale”, “Selling Online”, “Charity Shop” (because not everything is fit for selling but why not give some stuff to a good cause while you’re at it), and then you begin to sort! 

When you’ve got a decent boxful, go to your local car boot sale and flog it there (people expect a bargain at boot sales, so don’t try and sell stuff here that you want to go for a higher price). You can also open an eBay or Depop account, sell things through Facebook groups or do a jumble sale if you’ve got a lot of stuff. All of these platforms are good places to get rid of your unwanted stuff and to make a bit of money on the side, but always be cautious when selling to people online, especially if it involves a lot of money. Saying that, normally people are great and just looking for a bargain, so it should be easy to shift your things and watch the money roll in!





5. Don’t Buy Lunch, Make It


Buying a meal deal for lunch in the supermarket, well that’s not TOO expensive, right? Well, maybe not if you’re only doing that once in a while. If you’re buying lunch five days a week, £3 turns into £15 a week, turns in £60 a month, turns in £720 a year - which is ridiculous just for a little sandwich, a snack and a drink! It’s all cash that you could be saving! Even if it’s not a meal deal you’re buying, pre-made food is usually more expensive than buying separate ingredients. So instead, why not make your lunches instead of buying them? 


My typical working week before I went travelling was 6 or 7 days each week, so I went through a lot of lunches! I found making food in a big batch and freezing it was the easiest and cheapest way to do lunch. Pasta is the perfect food to do this - you can eat it cold or reheat, and you can put anything you like with it. I used to make two big pasta bakes, each with different ingredients (e.g pesto, cheese, bacon, tomato sauce, veggies etc etc) and then spoon portions into those tupaware boxes you always get with a Chinese takeaway. Yes, you have to buy the ingredients, but if you look at the price paid for one pot of pasta (which’ll fill you up easily as well) versus a meal deal, you’re saving way more money! And as you can freeze them, all you have to do is get it out the freezer in the morning, easy peesy! 


To mix things up a bit, I also made wraps, sandwiches and salads for lunches, which again were always way cheaper to make than buy pre-made, and then just paired these with crisps and cereal bars from a multipack. 

I know it’s so tempting to just buy lunch, but by making it and saving the money, I can now afford to treat myself to some of the best food I’ve ever had!



So, there you have it, our top tips for saving your cash towards whatever it is that you’re trying to save towards! You may already be doing all these things, and if so we hope you’re saving is going well. If you aren’t already, then give them a try and see if you can save a bit of extra money - you may be surprised! 




Thanks for reading!


Ellie and Will

*All the ideas written about here are what worked for us, and we both managed to save £12000 in one year, but everyone is different and what may work for one person may not for another. 

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