If you want to save money in 2015, one of the first steps is to reduce your spending.
This is certainly easier said than done, but making a few changes in your habits and the way you manage your money could deliver benefits more quickly than you think.
Here are five handy methods that could help you cut back this year.
Use cash and leave cards at home
It's all too easy to spend flippantly when you have a debit or credit card burning a hole in your pocket. Try to get into the habit of setting yourself a budget for certain days or activities and withdrawing cash to cover the cost.
Whenever possible, leave your cards at home to eliminate temptation, or entrust them to someone else, only to be used in emergencies.
Change your shopping habits
Could you save money by shopping online? You get a running total during internet shops, making it easier to stick to a budget. What's more, you will avoid the temptation of those end-of-aisle special offers and enticing arrays of indulgent, expensive foods.
You'll have to pay for delivery, but do one big online shop every month and it could work out cheaper than the cost of petrol to drive to the supermarket every week.
It's also worth doing some price comparisons to see if you could save by switching to your store's own-brand products.
If you don't need it, don't buy it
Rather than asking yourself, 'Do I want this?' when browsing in shops (which might not be the best idea in the first place), ask, 'Do I need this?'
You'll be surprised to find how many products are far from essential. New clothes, takeaway meals, vending-machine snacks and that one last drink at the pub are just a few examples of things you could do without for a while.
If you're a smoker, make this the year that you quit and do both your health and your finances a massive favour.
The best way to make sure you are always getting the best deals and prices – on everything from eggs to energy providers – is to constantly compare rival offers.
Make use of the many resources available online to find the cheapest gas, electricity, phone and internet providers, and visit local markets to see if they can beat the big supermarkets on prices.
If you notice prices creeping up, don't take it lying down: vote with your feet and switch to a cheaper store or company.
Energy firms in particular have a habit of regularly hiking prices, so see if you can save money by changing to a supplier outside the 'big six'.
Use incentives and reminders
Trying to save money doesn't mean you can't allow yourself the odd treat. In fact, being more organised with your finances will show you exactly how much you have to spare and can put towards the occasional indulgence.
Regular reminders can also prove useful when it comes to maintaining discipline. Note down your savings goals or ambitions (such as your next holiday) on your calendar or a piece of paper in your purse or wallet so they are never far from your mind.
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