This is a collaborative post with RCI Bank.
Life is for living. When we first moved to the country, we were on a super tight budget. But more recently, in our 40s, we’ve been able to save more, and then enjoy spending some of it!
To me, saving isn’t about deprivation. It brings the freedom for us to afford experiences like holidays, home improvements and special meals. I really value that time together, rather than acquiring yet more material possessions.
Turns out we’re not the only people enjoying ‘lifestyle upgrades’ as we get older.
More than two thirds of over 40s have made lifestyle upgrades over the last five years, according to research from RCI Bank. A third were keen to get away, whether taking more holidays, upgrading flights or staying in better hotels. Fancier cars, nicer restaurants, premium supermarket ranges and premium beauty products were also popular.
So check out my savvy spending tips and savings hacks so you can make the most of your money – and add a little luxury for less!
How to spend less on lifestyle upgrades
Here are my top tips to cut the cost of my four favourite lifestyle upgrades:
1. Nabbing holidays for less
Holidays don’t have to be super long haul, or even super long, to make a difference. This year my husband and I celebrated birthdays by heading off for dinner and a night away at special hotels. Now the children are older, it’s easier for generous grandparents to look after them over night. I blogged about our stay at The Ickworth Hotel from Buyagift, and we’ve also taken advantage of hotel stays with added extras via offpeakluxury.com.
If you’re looking further afield, head to Google Flights, to find the cheapest days in the month for different destinations. Then try Skyscanner and Momondo, to see if you can cut the air fares further.
I’ve also joined Jack’s Flight Club, for emails highlighting cheap fare deals, discounted flights and error prices.
Eating out is a special treat for us, so I’d rather find an offer at a good restaurant than settle for somewhere mediocre.
That’s where set menus come in. You can often get a great deal especially if you’re willing to book at less popular times. Think mid week, earlier in the evening, maybe lunch rather than dinner, or the days either side of Valentine’s Day. Back in London, for example, I looked forward to the January offers at D&D restaurants in the Evening Standard, while nowadays I check out local gastro pubs and hotels.
Then go easy on the extras if you want to stick to budget – alcohol can be particularly pricey, so we order wine by the glass, rather than by the bottle.
3. Cooking up a storm
Home cooking is almost always less expensive than eating out, and you can still save money even if you splash out on special ingredients, such as our 10thanniversary meal. I’m a big fan of short-dated yellow-stickered food from the reduced shelves. It means I can swoop on more expensive meat, fish and veg, such as salmon and sugar snap peas, to be eaten that day or shoved straight in the freezer. I’d certainly rather buy yellow-stickered sausages with a high meat content than value range options at normal price.
Nipping to the supermarket straight after Christmas or Easter can be a great time for bargains on bigger cuts of meat, like our leg of lamb after Easter.
4. Bagging beauty bargains
Confession time. I do still hanker after certain big beauty brands. My solution is to focus on a few good products I’ll really use and request them as Christmas or birthday presents.
If I do end up buying brands like Aveda or Clarins myself, I wait for sales, price match discounts, or offers with extra samples. I also hoard Boots Advantage points to pay.
It’s worth checking newsagent shelves – I’ve had a couple of Rodial mascaras free on the front of magazines!
How to save more for lifestyle upgrades
I like to save up before splashing the cash, rather than slapping purchases on a credit card and hoping for the best.
Fundamentally, I’d rather earn extra money towards fun stuff, as a dollop of interest added to my savings. I resent paying interest and charges when borrowing. There’s so much more I could do with that money!
Sadly, saving rarely happens by accident. RCI Bank found that only 22% of people are saving for their lifestyle upgrades. But the sooner you get your money sorted, the sooner you can enjoy living it up.
If you do want to set money aside for life’s little luxuries, here are my top four tips to turbo charge your savings:
1. Treat saving like a bill
I used to have the best intentions about saving money left at the end of the month. Spoiler alert: often, there wasn’t any. Instead, I recommend setting up a standing order into a savings account, so money goes straight into savings alongside direct debits for your bills.
2. Set up a separate account
Keeping savings in a separate account keeps the money out of sight, so you’re less likely to dip into it. Somehow spare money rolling around in your normal current account is much more likely to get spent!
3. Get paid to save
Interest rates may be low right now, but I’m still keen to earn as much as I can, so I always look out for accounts paying competitive rates.
For example, RCI Bank has an award-winning range of savings accounts, including an easy access account paying 1.41% interest a year, and fixed interest savings accounts which pay up to 2.36% if you can leave your money untouched for longer.
4. Take advantage of tax breaks
The good news is that the Personal Savings Allowance means you can rake in up to £1,000 a year in interest without paying a penny in tax, as a basic rate taxpayer. Even higher-rate taxpayers can earn £500 interest each year tax-free.
Now – over to you. What are your favourite lifestyle upgrades? And what are your tips on saving up for life’s little luxuries?