Coins, Coins, Everywhere…
One thing that many people find annoying when shopping is having pockets full of loose change. Some use debit cards to avoid using cash altogether. But for those of you who still carry cash, it’s a frustrating side effect to deal with. Some ends up scattered around the house, lost down the sofa while many of us fill charity and collection boxes with what we find. However, what if we wanted to find a way to make use of all this spare cash? We wanted to try to see what we could do…
In the past we’ve tried saving all our loose change. We’ve had a bottle for saving coins and put everything in there religiously. Every day we empty all our coins, right up to 50p, into the bottle. Most years we end up spending what we have saved towards days out or emergencies. This time we wanted to be strict with ourselves instead. Every so often we decided to check the bottle, count the money into bags and change it in the bank into notes and watch it build throughout the year. The question we really wanted to know was whether or not it would make a difference with our Christmas savings.
The answer was a resounding YES. In the first ten weeks of 2019 we had already amassed £55 in notes with probably another £20 or so waiting to be counted up. Take that right through to the end of the year and we’re looking at around £300-£400 without any effort at all. Although I think our daughter has her eye on that with her Christmas present list already…!
Some often say that store loyalty cards are little more than an extravagant marketing gimmick. That you pay for the “rewards” through increased prices in your day-to-day shop. But for the savvy shopper, there is a way to make these work for you. While it’s usually wise to shop around for the best deals this isn’t always practical. However, if you can manage your shopping carefully and make sure that you stick to the same retailer consistently, you can build up a healthy amount of points throughout the course of a year. Each store has their own pros and cons, especially when looking at the price of their groceries as well. Many have linked schemes with other retailers and businesses, but if you can try to limit the number of stores you use, the benefits at the end of the year will be worth it.
Still sticking with specific retailers are the store savings schemes. Most stores would like us to believe that they are running these to help us but in reality they benefit the stores just as much. By giving retailers our money months in advance of us using it, they are able to bank it and immediately start accruing interest in their accounts on anything paid in. Even when funds are reserved until used by customers, this virtual currency makes money for retailers until it is spent. It is a great idea for consumers and does mean that we can build up funds without having to get a large sum saved up. But it’s not just for us.
Most work in two ways. Some stores use stamp cards which rely on fixed amounts to add value to it. This is fine if you have change but they’re not particularly flexible. Alternatively stores offer cards that can be topped up at checkouts. These can be managed more readily and in a way offer more flexibility. In our case we are using both. We are buying stamps for one store, purchasing a few each week (and have already saved over £60). The second store is card based and we’ve opted to round up our food shop to the nearest £5 each time we go there. It might only add a couple of pounds each time, but that card too is approaching £30.
As the year progresses you’ll get an idea of what you want to buy for people. Some things you can’t get too early incase the people you are buying for get the gift themselves but there’s nothing stopping you getting stocking fillers and smaller gifts as you find them. Set aside a box to store presents in and buy them as you can and see how stress free your Christmas can get. And remember, sales can be your best friend! I already mentioned the January sales, but look out for other seasonal opportunities for gift sets and ideas too. Special events will always see a flurry of gifts hit stores and almost immediately after a dramatic price cut. Just make sure you avoid the seasonal-specific present and you’ll be fine. No one will want to open a Valentine’s Day item on 25th December!
The End Results
As I said, at the time of writing this as a family we’re less than three months into 2019. But is this working for us? Absolutely. Without any real effort we’re set to have the money for all our food and drinks covered by Summer along with entertainment presents (DVDs, games etc). A second food shop for groceries and frozen food should be covered by September/October. To add to that we’ll have several hundred pounds in cash.
We’ve also got our new tree, new decorations and we’ve bought the first presents for family members. And we feel pretty damn good about it too being honest! It’s still early days to tell if we’ll make it to the end of the year but we think we’re in for a great year.
If you’re trying anything similar I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
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