How to Spend Less in 2020: Tips for the New Year

The new year is almost here, and for many of us, that means it’s time to start thinking about personal changes and new year’s resolutions. One of the most common resolutions that people make in the UK, is to spend less and save more.

Although this might seem like a simple enough goal, figuring out how to manage your finances better isn’t always as easy as it seems. The good news? We’ve put together some helpful tips that you can use to spend a little less as you move into 2020.

Make a List

Whenever you go shopping for food and everyday essentials, the best thing you can do to help yourself spend less, is to take a list. A list will keep you and your loved ones on track as you wander around the supermarket being enticed by everything you see on the shelves. If you want to go a step further, you can even use the internet to find out how much each item will cost, then take only that amount of cash with you to the shop. You’ll have a hard time spending more than you meant to if you only have a certain amount of money with you.

Make it Easier to find Discounts

Just because most people don’t clip their vouchers out of newspapers and magazines anymore, doesn’t mean that they’re not using them. The digital world is full of coupon codes and hidden savings that you might not be aware of. One easy way to find more discounts is to follow your favourite brands on social media or sign up for their email newsletters. If you don’t want to clog your inbox up with too much advertising, then you can always create a separate email address just for messages from other brands. That way, you’ll never miss out on a sale.

Do More Comparison Shopping

Rather than just accepting the first price that you see for an item online, save yourself some cash by comparing that offer with other deals from different vendors. More often than not, you’ll be able to find a cheaper version of the same product elsewhere. Comparison shopping works for everything from big-ticket purchases, like new televisions, to when you want to cut the costs of your electricity and gas bills by switching providers.

Get Paid to Spend

You’re unlikely to become an overnight millionaire when you start using cashback websites, as you only earn a very small amount of money every time you buy something. However, if you’re going to be purchasing those products anyway, then it makes sense to get a little money back wherever you can. Look into cashback websites that work with your favourite brands and sign up for a free account to start developing your savings. Some companies will even let you fill out surveys for extra cash.

Save as a Student

Did you know that you can still get a student card if you’re not in full-time education. If you’re taking certain courses online, that still counts towards getting an education. This means that you can sign up for NUS extra cards and other accounts that give you immediate discounts on everything from your music streaming services to the price of your rail travel. Have a look online at the kind of courses you can sign up for to get started. Remember, learning something new could help you to earn a better-paying job too!

Assess Purchases According to Value

When you’re deciding what to buy in 2020, don’t just focus on the immediate price tag. Ask yourself how much value you’re going to get back over time. For instance, if using your emergency savings on a £300 car is going to lead to £3000 in repairs bills, then it makes more sense to take out a £3000 loan straight away. Think about how you can get the most out of every purchase and avoid making any big-ticket buy too fast. If you’re planning on spending more than £50, give yourself at least 24 hours to think it over.

Ask for Help

Finally, visit your local citizen’s advice bureau and find out what kind of extra help you might be eligible to. There are plenty of forms of financial support available out there today, as long as you’re willing to look for them. You may be able to cut the costs of your heating bills, or reduce your council tax expenses just by filling out a form.

Image: Pexels

Money Management Tips to Change your Life in 2020

Money management is a tough subject for a lot of people.

We all know that we should be using our money carefully and watching what we spend to improve our chances of reaching our financial goals. However, if you’re not earning as much money as you’d like, and you constantly have bills to deal with, then the concept of dealing with your cash can end up being extremely daunting.

The good news? Now is the perfect time to make a change. With the new year just around the corner, you have an opportunity to make a money management resolution that will change your life in 2020. Here’s how to get started.

Know Your Cash Priorities

Before you can start thinking about things like budgeting and saving, you’ll need to determine what matters most to you. What do you want to accomplish with your cash right now? Do you just want to maintain your existing lifestyle as much as possible and save a little back for retirement? Maybe you want to save as quickly as possible for a big goal like a new home.

Knowing your priorities will help you to decide how much money you want to dedicate to your discretionary spending and your savings. Around 50% of your income should go towards your bills, while 30 could go to recreational spending, and 20 could go to saving, or vice versa.

Spend Money to Save Money

Deciding that you want to save more money doesn’t mean committing yourself to buying the cheapest option of everything. This is a common mistake that a lot of people make when they start dealing with money management for the first time. Instead, you might have to pay a little more from time to time to make sure that you get a better deal in the long term.

For instance, borrowing a little extra cash on your personal loan when you move into your new house, so that you can afford energy efficient appliances could save you a fortune on energy in the future. Measure the cost of each item against its long term benefits.

Track your Trigger Points

We all have areas in our financial lives where we struggle more to make good decisions with our money. For some people, the problem comes whenever they see a sale on clothes in their favourite store. Other people have a hard time saying no to their friends when they’re invited to go for a night on the town or join the group for an expensive meal.

Tracking where you spend your cash over a period of a few months will help you to figure out exactly where you’re having the hardest time sticking to your budget. Once you know your trigger points, you can find ways to fight them, or avoid them. For instance, consider asking your friends to come over to your home for drinks rather than going out one night.

Don’t Bury your Head in the Sand

Good financial management means creating a plan for your cash and following that plan as carefully as possible. For instance, you might even know where every penny in your pay is going to go at the

end of each month. However, there’s always a chance that something could happen in your world that you haven’t planned for. Over time, if you’re managing your money correctly, you’ll be able to put a small amount of your cash each month aside into an emergency savings fund that you can tap into when these problems arise.

However, if you don’t have your emergency savings fund yet, don’t just bury your head in the sand when things go wrong. Sometimes you’ll need to borrow money and use other cash to fix issues, and that’s okay. It’s often better to deal with problems like a broken boiler or an issue with your roof immediately, as the problem can become much more expensive later on.

Find What Works for You

Different people have different strategies for effective money management. Some people will need to use apps on their phone where they can keep track of all their spending each month. Other people will prefer to keep notes in a notebook that they can refer to from time to time. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for successfully saving cash and reducing your spending. Ultimately, you’ll need to experiment until you find what works for you.

If the envelope method of budgeting where you use cash for most of your offline expenses doesn’t work for you – switch to the 80/30/20 method instead. Keep trying new strategies until you find something that you feel comfortable with. 

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

How to Take Your Business to the Next Level

You didn’t spend all that time attempting to bring your business to life only to see it falter and struggle in its startup stage. You envisaged your organization exceeding its exceptions and one day reaching the very pinnacle of its market. If your company is to reach these lofty heights, you’re first going to have to ensure that it takes the next all-important step in its development.

To find out how you can take your business to the next level, make sure to check out the advice below.

Set goals

Having a number of goals to work towards over a sustained period of time will benefit your business in a number of different ways. The biggest benefits that you stand to reap when you embrace the act of goal-setting include an enhanced clarity when it comes to your overall focus, the ability to measure and track your progress, and the opportunity to push the boundaries and try something new.

Believe it or not, there’s an art to setting goals in the world of business. To effectively take on this all-important challenge, you must:

  • Define quantifiable goals that are going to be worth the effort you put into achieving them
  • Be specific with the tasks that you set yourself
  • Make sure you are willing to commit to the goals that you set
  • Go public with your goals to ensure that you account for them
  • Set yourself a strict deadline
  • Reward yourself for each goal that you achieve

Embrace demand generation

Demand generation marketing refers to the act of driving awareness in a specific product and/or service. Being somewhat of an umbrella term, it is an advertising term that encompasses all stages of the marketing campaign. Specifically, it focuses on optimizing each individual touchpoint in the customer journey — from initially being interesting to the act of upsetting.

If you want to provide the right information to the right people at highly opportunistic times, you should be learning about demand generation. More to the point, you should be seeking to run a marketing campaign that has demand generation at its core.

The fundamentals of a great demand generation marketing strategy include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Inbound marketing
  • Sales enablement
  • Client retention

Commit yourself to continuous learning

If you think you know everything there is to know about the world of business, you’re wrong. There’s always something more for you to learn about customer trends, marketing, and technology, so you might want to consider committing yourself to continuous learning if you’re serious about taking your business to the next level. Quite simply, the more you know about today’s climate, the better chance you will have of providing a service befitting of current customer expectations.

Do you want to take your business to the next level? Of course you do! If you didn’t, what would be the point in owning a business at all? If your company is to take that all-important next step, you need to be putting all of the above advice into practice.

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Why mobile messaging could be great for your business

Let’s face it, we’re all addicted to our mobile phones. For many of us, our mobiles are the last thing we look at before we go to bed at night and the first thing we see in the morning. Mobile messaging is our main way of staying in touch with family and friends now, with us using messaging to arrange when and where to meet as well as just checking in to see how our people are.

So, it makes sense to think about reaching your clients and customers on a device that’s already in use multiple times a day, and that they are checking frequently for messages that are important to them.

Mobile messaging can be very cost effective compared to postal and other paper-based campaigns and allows for far better targeting and reporting. You can send a message to a segment of subscribers and get very detailed information on who opened and acted on that message. In addition, messages are quick and easy to respond to in that the person receiving the message just needs to tap on the link you place in the message

If you’re thinking of using mobile messaging for marketing, here are some things to consider:

  1. Have a strategy

Be clear about who exactly you want to reach and what they might like to receive from you. Would they like news about events, the latest deals and discounts or competitions, for example? How often would they like to receive these messages? And would they like to receive them by text messaging or another service such as Facebook Messenger?

  1. Find your messaging platform

Before you dip your toe in mobile messaging you’re going to need to find a messaging platform to send and manage your campaigns. After all, you won’t want to manage your campaign from your own mobile phone! As well as the ability to send campaigns, you’ll want to look out for a platform that allows you to segment your subscribers (say, by their interests or what they’ve bought from you), and allows for mobile engagement such as one-to-one conversations with your team members if a subscriber replies to the message. Scheduling is also a useful feature, as is the ability to send multimedia messages such as images.

If you need to integrate mobile messaging with any other tools you use – for example you want to send a text message after a customer has made a purchase in your store or on your site – look out for a platform which gives you an SMS API.

  1. Be aware of the legal issues

You will need to be aware of the legal issues surrounding mobile communications, including giving your subscribers the ability to opt in and out of messages easily as per the GDPR rules. If you send messages to someone who has opted out you may be liable for a fine.

Mobile messaging is a digital marketing channel that’s often overlooked in favour of things like social media and Facebook ads. But as you can see, there are many reasons why it could benefit your business.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

How the big companies can inspire the little ones!

Anyone trying to build a brand or business from home will know all too well the hurdles involved in getting something to come to fruition. Whether you’re a home chef who is turning their passion for cooking into a viable product you can sell at the local market (or online!), or you’ve got an online store that can’t see to get anyone to take notice of, there are ways we can look to those already successful to help get inspiration.

I’m not talking about opening a book of inspirational quotes and trying to seek knowledge from “Live.Laugh.Love”. I’m talking about looking at how big companies succeed in helping their businesses get noticed.

I’ve scoured the web and got some unsolicited advice that would be noteworthy for parents running small businesses; looking at everything from packaging to how to start selling online when you don’t have vast resources.

I’m hoping you’ll be able to glean a little light that inspires, so let’s start with getting your products out there!

Big Company Tip 1: Let others take care of your “stuff”.

When you ask most people what Amazon is known for, they’ll say it’s that they sell books or that they sell pretty much anything. When you ask people what Apple is known for, they’ll say nice phones or a fancy watch that reminds you to stand up every hour.

But did you know that Apple pays Amazon a reported $30 million a month? They’re not buying a lot of cheap phone cases but use Amazon’s Web Services (AWS). Amazon is one of the biggest providers of servers in the world. Many companies actually use it because Amazon has the computing power that they don’t – even Facebook used to for a few years.

So what does that have to do with your little business? Well, when it comes to things like designing a website, hosting it, making logos and such, you can save yourself a lot of stress by getting it done externally.

For example, weigh up the amount of time it would take for you to design complete branding that fits on your website against the money it would cost someone on a site like Fiverr or Squarespace to do it. Making small payments on your weak points saves you time and money in the long term.

Think of it like babysitting for your business. Someone is taking care of a or b to give you time to work on c-z.

Big Company Tip 2: Create a spark through design

I love Cadbury’s chocolate. We all know what a bar looks like (big shiny purple tasty goodness), and even though it’s always been in a purple wrapper, there is a surprising amount of work that goes into getting it to look a certain way when sitting on a shelf.

The company who designs the packaging is called Pearlfisher, and they have a straightforward mantra on their website that I love;

“brands that ignite passion…will be loved forever”.

If you’re making any kind of food product (or any product for that matter), you need to let your personality shine through in the packaging. People want to feel happy when they look at what you have to offer. Someone cooking a homemade hot sauce will have an easier time selling it if there’s a sense of your passion and story in every bottle, rather than a fancy label that does nothing for the imagination.

Brands like Coca Cola do this all the time when they put people’s names on bottles. Starbucks even does it every time you go in and give your name with your order. People like to feel a part of your story, so taking the time to pop a note in when getting an order ready helps make a much more positive connection than a Thank You card with no name.

It’s the kind of connection that can have them coming back as a repeat customer.

Big Company Tip 3: Act Smart, Not Big

So you don’t have the budget to hire a media company to spend a day taking photos of your business or your product. So what? You don’t need them anyway!

Etsy themselves have created a complete guide of how to act smart and get products on their site noticed. Take a page from their book and act quickly when working with what resources you have on your website or store.

Big Company Tip 4: Let the big company deliver your stuff

I’m going back to Amazon for this last tip, but oh boy it’s a good one.

For any business that sells a physical product, fulfilment is the biggest bug-bearer and making sure deliveries get out there on time can become stressful. So (again) act smart and let the big guys do all the hard work for you.

Small businesses can register for free on Amazon and start selling their products directly to customers. Amazon will come to your door, pick up all the order and ship them without you even needing to leave the house.

There can be a small monthly fee involved depending on how much you’re selling, but it dwarves having to do it all yourself when the alternative is loading up the car and having to drag it all into the post office every week.

It makes running a physical store less stressful and gives you more free time, which is something every parent always needs.

Bonus Big Company Tip: You should be happy

Did you know that people working at Google can (at any point in their day) go to the gym, grab free food, watch lectures, work wherever they like and even do yoga?

All the big tech companies invest time and money in making sure their employees are happy at work.

Take heed of that and always make sure your little business has positives that still outweigh the negatives. If you don’t enjoy doing it, you might want to reconsider it.