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Life Hacks

6 Everyday Purchases You're Overspending On (and Alternatives)

According to Santander, Brits collectively overspend a staggering £788 million per week. And that’s not just on obvious pleasures like eating out (see here for how to save) or habits like smoking. In fact, the common problem lies in the often trivial spending that many of us make on a daily basis and think nothing about.

By cutting back on these impulse purchases and actively making a choice to look for cheaper alternatives, the dent in your wallet that magically appears will soon begin to disappear.

So, if you‘re unsure of how to identify the purchases you make that account to your overspending, then read on. Here are 6 things people typically spend too much money on and the alternatives that make for a healthier bank account.

8th November 2021

1. Coffee shops

Did you know you could save up to £2,242.34 a year simply by ditching your morning Costa or Starbucks en route to work? That’s about the cost of a luxury holiday to the Maldives.

OK, everyone knows that the UK loves coffee, and with busy work and life schedules consuming many of our lives, it’s no surprise that for a lot of people, caffeine is a must-have.

With the average takeaway coffee costing around £3.40 per cup, this amount may seem trivial and obviously, very affordable. But, when you add up the amount you have during the day, multiply it by 5 and then by 52, this small number can quickly accumulate and cost you a lot more than you’d expect. Plus, this doesn’t even include the impulse buy of an overpriced pastry that we all inevitably give into.

By simply waiting until you get into the office to have your morning coffee, or investing in a flask and taking it to work, you can literally save yourself a fortune. And if you’re one of those who lives for great quality coffee and can’t live without it, you can still invest in the posh type at the supermarket.

2. Popular brands

People live for high-end brands, and their luxury packaging, marketing and expensive price tags work brilliantly when persuading people to purchase them. That’s why supermarket own brands are so unbelievably underused and underrated.

From skincare and food to even over-the-counter medicines, if something looks of a higher quality due to its branding, people are much more likely to buy it. But, what many people don’t know is that most supermarkets and shop’s own brands are likely just as good inside all that packaging - they’re just not that expensive and often have almost identical ingredients.

So, if you are looking for alternatives to avoid overspending, opting for supermarket brands can actually save you around £520 a year. Frugal families and budget buyers, take note.

3. Gym memberships

No list of common overspending is complete without gym memberships, since we’re pretty much all guilty of not using ours to its full potential. For many of us, that’s simply down to motivation, but often the reason is a lot more out of our control. For example, if you’re prone to injury, realistically you’re going to need to keep taking week-long breaks from the gym, making that monthly fee less and less worth it each time.

Gyms are great, but they’re not financially worth it for the majority of people, especially when there are so many free or affordable alternatives. You can switch to pay-as-you-go gyms if you have one in your area, or try an app like ClassPasswhere you can simply pay for a single class, more tailored to what you love. Check out our guide to working out on a budget.

4. Skincare & dieting

The health and beauty industry is known for its influencer endorsements and hard-sell marketing tactics, all designed for you to pay a premium price on “luxury” products. We’re taught that being healthy is going to cost... a lot. These products promise huge results and huge transformations, and while some are genuinely worth the price tag, many won’t transform your skin or body or worse, will be plain old snake oil and do nothing.

For every skin condition or diet plan, there are cheap, natural alternatives if you know what you’re targeting. For skin conditions, try holistic remedies or home remedies. Did you know apple cider vinegar and green tea can both help improve acne? And certain foods are natural fat burners, so opt for those rather than spending on diet pills and premade diet meals. A big component of your skin and metabolism is genetics and lifestyle, no matter how many products you buy.

Skincare

5. Conveniently-placed snacks

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of filling up your stomach when you’re filling up your car. It can be extremely easy to head into the petrol station to pay for your tank and get distracted by the sweets and treats on display so conveniently by the till.

From a can of Coke to a bar of Dairy Milk, these odd purchases can add up heavily. However, if you can’t help it, draw up an internal rule in your head to check your past transactions of the snacks you have purchased with your petrol bill. If the price seems overly high, set yourself a budget of how much you can spend each time you visit the petrol station or browse near a till, or make a snack purchase every other trip - you’ll definitely notice a difference.

You should also get into the habit of bringing snacks and drinks on your journey if you know the convenience of purchasing at the till will consume you. You’ll soon realise that it’s much easier and cheaper to stock up at home before your journey.

6. Multiple grocery trips

These ‘little’ trips may seem innocent - £5 here, £10 there, however, they soon all add up. Having a budget for your weekly grocery shop is an extremely easy way to keep an eye on your finances. Having a list for your weekly grocery shop is also an extremely easy way to avoid these unnecessary trips - you won’t run out of essential items and you won’t need to head to the shop to pick them up. You also won’t be persuaded to purchase impulse buys at the end of the aisles or next to the till.

Completing one grocery trip per week allows you to track your weekly purchases, and helps you avoid overspending and over consumption of things you know you don’t really need.

Altering your buying habits and sticking to your one trip to the shops per week will massively reduce the amount you don’t even realise you spend.

Hopefully, you can recognise these 6 common overspending habits and nip them in the bud. You’ll soon realise how much you can save, and who knows, you may even get that trip to the Maldives quicker than you expected.

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