How To Start Saving

Want to get your savings journey started but not sure where to begin?

Here are a few suggestions of different ways you can save.

Simple Saving Challenges

What better way to start saving than a fun, easy-to-follow challenge? Check out these two popular ones aimed at putting extra money in your pocket over a year.

With both, you can start on January 1st and by December 31st you will have a healthy amount saved away from the year. There's an explanation below about what you can do if you start later in the year.

1p Saving Challenge

On day 1, you save 1p. On day 2, you save 2p. On day 3, you save 3p. You get the idea.

On December 31st you make your last payment which is £3.65 (or £3.66 on a leap year!) which leaves you with £667.95 or £671.61 in a leap year.

Not bad for starting out with 1p! This method is a great way of learning how saving can take you from something small to something big. 

If you bank with Monzo, you can set up your account to follow the 1p challenge automatically.

£1 Saving Challenge

The idea here is simple.

Save a pound each day throughout the year, so by December 31st you will have £365, or £366 on leap years!

This way you know what you need to do each day and it is a great way to build a habit of saving a regular amount.

Starting after January 1st

With both challenges, if you don't start on January 1st, there’s a workaround.

You can either do a year from the day you begin or you can pay in what you have missed on your first payment and go from there.

For example, if you wanted to start on March 1st you would be starting on day 60, or 61 on leap year.

For the 1p saving challenge, you can do a sum. Add up the days you missed, 60p + 59p + 58p etc, until you get down to 1p. In this example, you would pay £18.30, or £18.91 on a leap year.

For the £1 challenge, the maths is easier. You’d multiply 60 x £1 (or 61 if it is a leap year) and pay in that amount for your first day. If this is a little steep for one payment you could start saving your £1 each day as normal but put a little extra away whenever you can afford to until you have made up the additional money.

Open a Savings Account

One of the most common and easiest ways to save is to set up a savings account. You can do this through a bank or building society that will open an account where you can deposit money as you save. These accounts differ from a current account. The idea is that once you put money in, you leave it for the time being and continue to add to it.

Many savings accounts come with an interest rate, which means over time your money will grow by that percentage. These interest rates are quite small, but your money is very safe in a savings account.

They may come with other conditions such as having a minimum amount of money you need to pay in. They could also have a limit on how quickly you can access the money so it's important to be aware of the terms and conditions attached before you open a particular account.

Most savings accounts are for adults and anyone who has a permanent UK address can open one. There are also options tailored for young people under the age of 16.

ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts)

An ISA is a type of savings account that allows you to save tax-free into a cash or investment account. There are different types of ISA that come with different conditions.

Some allow you to save up to £20,000, others such as a Lifetime ISA (LISA) allow you to put in just £4000 each year but offer a 25% top-up each year meaning you can earn up to £1000 each year from these. Other conditions are attached to LISA, for example, there are restrictions on who can open them and when you can take out the money but they are a good option if you're saving to buy a house.

You can read more about what ISAs are and how they work on the gov.uk website.

This article on Which? has lots of information about the different types of savings accounts you can get. This Money Saving Expert page compares some of the top savings accounts available. Have a read to work out which one sounds right for you.

If you're planning on opening an account it may also be good to shop around online and compare the different offers available for you so you can get the most suitable account for your needs.

Use Savings Apps

If you're starting out with savings, you might find it useful to use an app that helps you.

There are a variety of apps available that offer different services such as rounding up your purchases to the nearest pound and pocketing the excess into a savings pot. They may also work out how much you can afford to save every week and move that amount into your separate savings account.

You can read more about automatic savings apps on the Money Saving Expert website.

Below are a few options that might work for you.

Plum

This app connects to your current account and offers a variety of savings features.

It can work out your regular income, rent, bills and daily spending and add up what amount it can safely put aside without affecting your day-to-day life and move it to your Plum account.

Other 'saving rules', such as Roundups, Weekly savers, Payday saver, etc aim to help you put away money whenever possible. You can also track your spending habits, find cheaper bills and even invest with Plum.

Find out more about Plum and how to download the app.

Raisin

Raisin tracks the different savings accounts which are available to you and lets you switch between them so you can get the best deals out there. 

You can apply to open as many savings accounts as you like and manage everything under one roof, with no fees.

Find out more about Raisin and how to sign up.

Moneybox

Like Plum, Moneybox offers saving and investing features such as automatic round-ups when you buy something.

It also offers specific services if you are saving towards a goal, whether you're "saving for your first home, retirement or a rainy day, to looking for a mortgage or tracking down your old pension pots".

Find out more about Moneybox and how to download the app.

Cut Your Costs

Making little changes to your lifestyle can go a long way in the long run.

Some simple steps you can take include:

  • making meal plans so you only buy what you need and reduce waste,
  • cutting back on non-essentials,
  • comparing offers to see if you can get a cheaper deal on your phone, internet or other household bills,
  • reviewing your subscriptions and getting rid of ones you don't use anymore,
  • buying cheaper alternatives to the food and products you commonly use.

Our article has some more information about improving how you manage your money.

Check out our budgeting section for everything you need to know about working to a budget.

Investing

If you are just starting out with saving money, you may want to wait before getting into investing for the time being. It generally carries more risk than other options such as using a savings account.

It is an option that can grow your money faster than traditional savings methods. If you aren't too familiar with what investing is, you can get some helpful explanations of the basic words and terms in our handy article.

To find out more about what investing is and whether it's right for you, check out our video with financial expert Iona Bain.

Consider Your Debt

Before you start squirrelling money away, you should consider any unpaid debt you may have.

You should always prioritise debt and try to work out a repayment plan with whoever you owe money to before allocating money to your savings.

Citizens Advice Scotland has lots of information about debt and how you can get support.

Get more information about budgeting, saving and money management on our Money & Me page.