Everyday money mistakes and how to avoid them

Top tips to reduce your outgoings and to help bolster your bank balance

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Even if we’re extremely vigilant with saving and responsibly using credit, everyday financial mistakes can set progress back. And, with costs continuing to rise, checking in on our spending habits is more important than ever.

We recently carried out a survey among 2,000 UK adults to find out more about common money mistakes they have made in the last 12 months. Read on for some ideas on how to reduce your outgoings and help give your bank balance a boost…

1. Making unnecessary purchases (26%)

It can feel great to buy a new item of clothing or a piece of furniture if it’s something we really want or need – but we might not get the same buzz if we know deep down it’s a waste of money. With unnecessary purchases ranking top of this list, the message is clear: think twice before indulging. 

2. Buying food on the go (24%)

Preparing lunch and dinners at home, as opposed to buying food out or on the go, can be an effective way to reduce expenditure. But we should also pay close attention to where we shop. There may be a notable price difference between groceries at different stores. 

3. Forgetting to cancel unwanted subscriptions (13%)

Whether it’s streaming services, food boxes, flowers or beauty products, subscription services can soon add up. So, it’s a good idea to regularly check our direct debits and make sure that we’re only paying for services that we consistently use and enjoy.

4. Not having an emergency fund and needing one (12%)

From essential maintenance to our homes, to a period of unemployment – it’s a good idea to always be prepared for extra costs above and beyond our monthly budget. We recently conducted research that found only half (52%) of UK adults had a pot of emergency savings, and now we know that over one in ten people (12%) surveyed got caught short. We’ve put together some top tips on how to give your emergency funds a boost and be prepared for the unexpected. 

5. Not planning finances (11%)

Organising our finances requires a balance of short-term and long-term planning. Creating a budget can be a great way to ensure that we have a close grip on our spending – on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. See our top tips for effective budgeting here.

6. Forgetting to save for special occasions (9%)

Birthdays, anniversaries and weddings can catch us off guard – especially if we want to buy a present or arrange a celebration. So, it’s a good idea to either plan ahead for specific occasions, or to have a savings pot ready for when we need it. This will avoid any surprise costs. 

7. Not refunding purchases in time (8%)

It’s easy to leave that online order return sat in the corner of the room but, by constantly failing to return online purchases, we could be missing out on a lot of money over time. Many online retailers have now made this incredibly simple, from a quick trip to the post office with a QR code, or a drop off point at a corner shop.

8. Not utilising employee perks (7%)

People in employment may be eligible to a range of perks such as childcare, eye tests and health cover. This can be incredibly helpful to save many people from making a big dent in their wallets It’s always worth investigating what benefits are available and making the most of these. 

The final word

It’s important to regularly check in on our spending habits to make sure we’re not making any obvious money mistakes. By making some everyday quick fixes to how we manage our money, we could give our savings a boost and benefit from better financial security.

About the research

This research was conducted by Opinium with 2,000 UK adults between 04.07.23 and 07.07.23. Research is weighted to a nationally representative criteria.

*This article has been prepared with care; however, it is only intended to highlight issues and it is not intended to be comprehensive.

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