Do you dream of treating yourself to a family holiday, a new kitchen or other expensive purchases? But, do you find putting money aside to fund these dreams quite difficult?
Understanding how to budget, plan and put regular amounts into the best savings account for your needs doesn't have to be complicated or impossible.
Our top savings tips could help.
How much can you save?
This question is an obvious first step but sometimes the answer may not be as clear as you think. Just because you get to the end of every month and don't have much left doesn't mean you can't save.
Look closely at your current spending to see where you could make savings.
- Do you make the most of cash back offers? From cash back on car insurance to hotel rooms, there's a whole host of schemes and websites that can point you to the best deals. However, a cash back deal is only a saving if you were going to make the purchase in the first place – don't be tempted to spend just for the cashback deal.
- Use loyalty schemes intelligently – yes there is such a thing as a free lunch with certain loyalty schemes. In some large pharmacy and supermarket chains buying your everyday items will soon add up in terms of points which can be convert into cash off your regular shopping. No, this is nothing new, but if used prudently these schemes can save you money, particularly at high spending times such as Christmas, when it can be really useful to find that 12 months of toothpaste and deodorant purchase points could cover the cost of several gifts for the family.
- BOGOF, free coffee perks, two for one deals – sometimes the advertising for these deals can be annoying, but when you're trying to boost your savings, it really is true that every penny counts. So, if your mobile phone deal comes with a free theme park ticket or a half price meal deal at a local pizza restaurant, make the most of it!
- Are you eligible for student discount? Some employers also offer benefits and savings rewards in selected shops and for certain services. Again, doing your research and using the benefits schemes intelligently can help you save money.
- Coupon websites – Using coupons cut out of magazines might seem a bit old-fashioned, but it's a viable method of saving money. Checkout coupon websites such as Groupon and Quidco for top deals (again there are provisos – a good deal is only a good deal if you were going to spend on it in the first place).
You can make savings in all sorts of surprising places, it might take some research and maybe waiting for the right deal to come along, but when you use these money-saving options wisely, they can make a significant impact on your spending and saving options.
Here are some great ideas for ensuring your savings don't get in the way of your essential monthly outgoings.
- Work out your bills and outgoings on a monthly basis but don't forget to factor in annual costs such as car servicing, insurance payments, gym memberships and so on.
- Determine the essentials; mortgage, utilities, food and see what's left over from your income.
- Take a realistic look at Christmas and holiday spends and budget accordingly for them.
- Use tools such as a spreadsheet to plot months when your spending might be higher than others. Alternatively, The Money Advice Service offer both a budget planner and a savings calculator
- Work out how much you should be able to save each month and decide what type of savings account would be best – easy access, notice accounts or fixed term savings (see our Growth and flexibility for your Savings guide for more information).
- Set up a standing order to your savings account (see below).
How long will it take to reach your savings target?
If you’re saving for a particular item, you probably have a rough idea of how much it'll cost. Once you've looked at your income and expenditure you'll know how much you can put into a savings account each month – from here it should be easier to calculate how long it'll take to reach your target. And interest on savings will help you get there even quicker as long as you don't make any withdrawals.
To see how much your savings could earn in interest why not try our easy-to-use website tool. Just click on a product from The Cambridge savings range, such as our Instant Access ISA or 5 Year Fixed Rate Bond, and at the top of the page you'll see a place to fill in your initial deposit amount. We will then calculate how much your savings plus interest will be after a specified amount of time, so you can see just how much interest you will accrue.
Not every saver has a particular target of course. Perhaps you’re just creating a "savings cushion" or maybe you'd like some added security for the future, whether that's for your retirement, your children’s education or potential maintenance costs for the family home. If this is you, work out how much you can save comfortably and then put it into an account such as a 5 Year Fixed Rate ISA or a 5 Year Fixed Rate Bond where you're likely to get a better interest rate (leaving your money alone will allow you to get the full benefit).
Find the right account
The account that looks best on paper may not always be the account that is best for you. This is why it is important not to simply go for the account with the most attractive interest rate.
Some savings accounts have restrictions that may not suit your needs. For example, you may not be able to withdraw money when you need it, while others may require a minimum monthly investment.
You can see all the savings accounts available at The Cambridge by visiting our Personal Savings page. Find out how the different types of account could suit you by reading our 'Growth and flexibility for your Savings' guide or if you’d prefer a face-to-face chat with our savings experts, let’s get together in branch or store.
Set up a standing order
If you're sure you can afford it (see our budgeting tip above), you could set up a standing order to pay a set amount from your current account into your savings account with The Cambridge (subject to chosen product). Choose pay day or as close to it as possible.
Not only does this ensure that your savings account grows, it also helps saving become a habit. If you treat your savings contributions as a bill, chances are that you’ll hardly notice it as an outgoing and it'll soon become an accepted part of your monthly expenditure.
Compound your savings
For example, if you put £1,000 in a savings account with an interest rate of 1%, at the end of one year you should have earned £10 interest (if the interest rate stayed the same throughout and you didn't make any additional payments in or withdrawals). So now you have £1,010. That extra money is yours (and is tax free in an ISA account). So, during the next 12 months, if the interest rate stays the same your savings will gain an additional £10.10 and your total will go up to £1,020.10 – and this will keep happening, depending on the interest rate, year on year as long as you leave your money in place.
If you want to keep your savings gaining maximum interest over a longer period, say five years, it might be a good idea to set up an account just for this. You could choose a fixed-term account or a bond perhaps. For your everyday savings and so that you've always got money to dip into, why not set up an instant access account which you keep at a level to cover the cost of any emergencies, holidays or Christmas spending for example. Why not set a level, say £2,000, and when you reach that amount you could transfer anything over this into your longer-term savings account (see your products terms and conditions) so you benefit from higher interest rates.
Make the most of every opportunity
Sometimes you have to make the most of every savings opportunity, particularly if you're saving for something large such as a deposit for a house. In this situation it can really pay to save what you can whenever you can. Whether this is putting loose change into a tin and depositing it in branch or, if you're self-employed or on an irregular income, working out how much you could pay into your account each month, every month, and then actually doing it. Do this as often as you can and over time you'll begin to feel the benefits.
Make the most of Cambridge and the surrounding area!
There are plenty of ways you can save money in Cambridge and the surrounding areas to help you have more money to funnel into your savings projects. The following list is just a start, but you may be able to find many more ways to save money locally by speaking to friends and family.
- Find things for free: whether you are looking for a television, a bike, a piece of furniture or something else, there are many ways to find items really cheaply and sometimes for free. Websites and Apps such as Freecycle and Freegle are just two of these and can be a great way to save money on otherwise expensive purchases. Look out for local buying and selling groups on social media and notice boards in large retail outlets.
- Think like a budget tourist: Cambridge is the seventh most popular tourist city in the UK and has plenty of free cultural highlights on offer, from evensong at King’s College to a treasure trove of world-class, and free, museums and libraries such as the Sedgwick, the Scott Polar Research Institute and the Fitzwilliam Museum. Who needs the pub with such cultural riches on your doorstep?
- Embrace nature: Cambridge has long been recognised as one of the most beautiful cities in England. Get out and walk or cycle to feel fit and healthy while increasing your overall wellbeing – and it costs nothing.
- Some other ideas you may want to try out – Grantchester Meadows (good for frisbee or a dip in the river), Mill Road Christmas fair, watch some rowing races such as the bumps at Lent and in May, Castle Hill for great views and Kettle’s Yard for a free-to-view gallery of modern art.
Save for your dreams
With The Cambridge you can personalise your accounts using our online services including The Cambridge Money App, and it's surprising how great it is to see your "Travel Plans" or "New Kitchen Fund" account keep growing.
To find out more about how we can help you start saving for your dreams just call our Customer Contact Centre on 0345 601 4021 or visit your nearest branch. A customer representative will be able to talk you through our savings accounts.
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