Last week I took a test. Devised by Aviva, the Financial Personality Tool promised to enlighten me as to my own particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to money. It got me completely right, and opened my eyes to some opportunities to be a bit smarter about how I save, spend, and manage my finances. I took the test for my husband, and it agreed that my suspicions were correct: we should never have got married…

That shock out of the way (who am I kidding, it was never a shock – I love him to bits, but gawd that man should go and live at the South Pole while I make my way North), the test gave us a couple of basic strategies we could use to make sure we’re both working towards a better future, financially speaking.

As a nation, we spend more than we save. I don’t know about you, but contactless cards are scaring me. I wave my credit card in the general direction of the cashier and oops!: I have a brand new wardrobe and a bottle of champagne packaged up with a smile. It’s all just a little bit too easy. I can almost feel my Dad, with his pocket full of cash, sending me an I told you so look from the skies as I proffer my plastic.

Save smarter: be careful about credit cards

Aviva want people to start saving a bit smarter, and the tool is a great way to start thinking about your own particular personality when it comes to putting money aside, or frittering it on things we don’t really need. I’m a big believer in saving pennies rather than pounds. If I want to go out for dinner on a Friday, I don’t want to deny myself that in favour of a sandwich on the sofa and a hundred pounds in my pocket. I like my holidays, and whilst I love a staycation, let’s face it, the sun doesn’t shine enough in Britain. So I save daily, where I can, cutting costs over the long term. Here are my ten quick and easy ideas for saving money and mounting up the savings.

Save smarter: watch the pennies mount up

10 Tips for Cutting Costs as a Family

  1. Cook from scratch: a takeaway for a family costs around £10 and is full of stuff that’s bad for your body. A ready meal for 4 is easily £6. But you can make a delicious veggie curry for under a fiver, and if you have slow cooker, cheaper cuts of meat will make you a hearty casserole that is low in cost, and lovely to eat.
  2. Blitz your bread crusts: I know, it sounds daft, but if you’re cooking from scratch, fresh breadcrumbs are much nicer than the shop-bought variety. No one in our house eats the crusts from a loaf of bread, so I just blitz them in a blender and freeze them for breadcrumbs when I need them. Saves peanuts, but if you go through as much bread as we do, it adds up.
  3. Eat freezer food for a week: no, this is not an excuse to abandon the top two tips and eat pizza and turkey dinosaurs. We always have a ton of leftovers in our freezer, so every now and then I make a point of not shopping, instead using up whatever we have in there for midweek meals. Not technically saving, I know, but it saves you a shop in a tough month.
  4. Make a shopping list and stick to it. Add nothing you see on the shelves as you do you grocery shop, that isn’t on your list. Saves your waistline too.
  5. Visit the library. Have you seen how much books cost these days? They’re free at the library.
  6. Shop around. Actually this isn’t pennies. If you go with the auto-renewal option every time you get your travel, home and car insurance, or continue with your current utilities provider for years at a time, you’re probably paying more than you need to.
  7. Don’t use the tumble-drier. Those things eat fuel. Install an indoor line, or use a clothes horse and dry your washing free of charge.
  8. When you’re using your oven, try to fill it. If you can’t wait to cook several items at once, fill the empty spaces with dishes and roasting pans – a full oven takes less time to heat up.
  9. Take up running. Honestly, I thought I was one of those people who couldn’t run, until I realised what I could save by binning my gym membership. Look how I run now!
  10. Stop buying Lottery tickets. It won’t be you. The odds of winning the Lotto jackpot are stacked 14m to 1 against each ticket. Stick it in a jam jar instead and feel smug when you’re up £50 and the others aren’t.

Save Smarter: don't do the lottery!

There are hundreds more, I’m sure. Let me know your tips for saving smarter too.

Aviva have some great tips of their own, as well as information on how to make your savings work harder for you in stocks and shares, or ISA’s – just take the test to get some personalised to you.

Post sponsored by Aviva. Lottery, jar of coins, and contactless card images courtesy of Shutterstock.

Save Smarter: 10 tips for cutting costs as a family

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