For many women across the world, saving money can be a difficult and uphill battle. Not only do you have to cover a much higher rate of living with your salary each month, but unexpected bills can crop up and hinder any plans for saving.

During the last few months, much of the world has been through varying severities of lockdown due to Coronavirus (yes we’re sick of reading about it too at this point). This has meant tightening the belts for many families, as jobs have been affected in all sectors. However, in other ways, it has been slightly easier for families to save money as there have been no childcare costs, holiday costs, or weekend expenditure leaving the bank balance low. Many people have found the way they spend money has changed dramatically during this strange economic time. There has also been very little chance of visiting clothing stores, toy stores, beauty shops, petrol stations or other places that you might normally frequent, and so you may have found that money has been more plentiful at the end of the month. With that in mind, here are some tips for saving your hard-earned cash and making it work for you:

Tip 1 – Organise your Finances

The last few months may have muddled your usual financial schedule. You may have spent much more on food, for instance, but hardly anything on petrol. This means you should suspend your usual financial plan and create a temporary one for the current situation.It’s crucial to know exactly how much credit access you have that is truly yours.  Take out any outgoings that you haven’t been paying for, such as gym membership, or social money that you haven’t needed. This can give you an accurate representation of what you actually have left over at the end of the month (and previous months during the lockdown.) You may find you have more money kicking around than what you first thought.

Tip 2 – Find a Good Place to Put Extra Money

You need to separate your excess money into a savings account. If you don’t have one, make sure you apply. You don’t need to go to the bank for this, it can all be done online. If you can, set up a direct debit leaving your account on payday into the new savings account. Research has shown that by saving money on payday, you are more likely to leave it untouched and won’t rely on it throughout the month. Savings accounts don’t have the best interest rates right now, but don’t let that put you off. You can also find low-risk stocks and shares accounts to place your money in now, in the hope it will grow in the future (this could be a really good opportunity post lockdown when the world economies start improving again.)

Tip 3 – Hold off on Larger Purchases

If you like shopping online and have something in mind you want to buy, Wonga suggests using the 48-hour rule to consider your purchases more carefully. In their Money Saving Tips For Women blog post, they say “With a 48-hour rule, you commit to giving yourself at least two days to fully consider the financial impact of making a large purchase – and often, this gives you the time you need to weigh up the positive and negative aspects of such a decision.” So, try putting the item in your shopping basket and then waiting before you buy it. This is a considered and balanced approach to spending money and could stop you from buying things that you really don’t need. That extra money can go into savings for something even more important.

Tip 4 – Negotiate your Monthly bills

During the lockdown, you may find yourself with more time. It is the perfect opportunity to go through all of your outgoings to ensure that everything is in order. Think of it like a Spring clean. When you get to your utility purchases, think about negotiating with your energy supplier, internet and phone provider, etc. More often than not, a supplier will up their price year on year and if you don’t keep on top of this, you could end up spending much more money than you need to. You can compare prices online quickly and easily. There is no disruption to your service and usually no cancellation fee if you have been with a company for more than a year. It isn’t just a small amount you can save, either – many families find they save a real chunk of money each year. For tips on negotiating with an energy supplier, see this handy post from Money Saving Expert.

You might also want to save money on your energy bills by turning off lights, TVs that aren’t in use, and unplugging devices more frequently. It might only seem like a small act, but actually this all adds up over time and can save you a bit of money. With everyone in the house a lot more, your electricity or gas bills could mount up without a little consideration!

Tip 5 – Plan your Meals

You may find that you are spending more money on food during the lockdown, as everyone is in the house and there are more opportunities for snacking. You could take this opportunity to cook more items from scratch, which can save you a lot of money. Also, by creating a meal planner for your week, you can waste less food in the long run. Try investing in a whiteboard for your fridge so that you can write up what you plan to cook each day. You might also consider batch cooking. Not only does this save you time, it is more convenient, and helps you feel much more organized, but you could save a lot of money on wasted food or takeaways. If you are on a diet, the added benefit of this is that you might end up losing weight as well.