How to build a savings safety net every time you put the dishwasher on

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With energy prices soaring and Covid still threatening the economy, 2022 is as good a time as any to build a savings safety net.

But this need not be daunting — there are even smartphone apps that will do it for you.

Some calculate how much you can afford to put aside and squirrel it away automatically, while others allow you to set yourself quirky savings challenges.

With energy prices soaring and the pandemic still threatening the economy, 2022 is as good a time as any to build a savings safety net

With energy prices soaring and the pandemic still threatening the economy, 2022 is as good a time as any to build a savings safety net

Simon Hodgkiss now saves money every time his door opens, he switches on his dishwasher or goes to bed late. He was not a saver 18 months ago, but last year he put aside almost £2,000 without making any big cutbacks or sacrifices. 

Instead Simon, 33, has linked his Monzo bank account to a smartphone app called If This Then That (IFTTT). The app, which can connect gadgets around his home, allows him to programme his bank to save money every time a real-world event happens.

So now, each time he runs the dishwasher, 5p is taken from his account for his water bill and another 10p for his gas and electricity bill. 

And if the web developer, from Leeds, goes to bed at 10pm, just 10p is taken, but the amount increases by 10p each hour after this. Over the past 18 months, he has saved around £780 with this challenge.

Another 25p is added to his savings every time his front door opens, and £1.50 is taken when the temperature goes above 20c or falls below 2c.

But the most lucrative savings challenge comes when it rains.

On one recent Saturday, £14 was moved to Simon’s savings pot because it stopped and started raining seven times that day.

Primary school teacher Viki Allen, 46, saved £3,000 last year by taking part in a number of challenges. One involved saving 1p on January 1 and increasing the amount by 1p each day. 

She does this in reverse, too; a payment of £3.65 is taken on the first day of the year and the daily amount reduces by 1p. 

Combined, this adds up to £1,335.90 after 12 months. She also does a £1 weekly challenge, where £1 is saved in the first week, then £2, building up to £52 in the final week.

Like Simon, Viki uses the IFTTT app to save when the weather changes. In the winter, £2 is taken every time the temperature is below 10c — 136 times in the past 12 months. In the summer the same amount is taken when it is above 20c, which earnt her £156.

The If This Then That app allows you to connect your phone to gadgets around the home and then automatically save every time they are used

The If This Then That app allows you to connect your phone to gadgets around the home and then automatically save every time they are used

Viki, of Hellingly, East Sussex, says: ‘I want to try to double my savings next year. Of course, a holiday would be nice and I want to get my kitchen done, but the main thing is knowing I have savings — it is a really good feeling.’

Other app users have come up with their own savings challenges. If Bryony Stewart-Seume, 40, walks 10,000 steps in a day, she puts the bus fare in her savings account. And graphic designer Michael Clarke, 30, sets aside £1 every time he uses the vending machine at work.

Money management app Plum analyses your spending and works out how much you can afford to save. Every few days it moves money into a separate account.

You can adjust the settings so it puts away more or less. It also allows you too round up your purchases to the nearest pound and save the difference.

It is free to use Plum’s basic tier, which gives you access to the auto-saving and round-up features. You can also open a Plum ‘interest pocket’, which pays 0.25 per cent interest. 

It is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so your money is protected up to £85,000. Withdrawals are subject to one day’s notice.

If you subscribe to one of Plum’s premium services, Plum Pro or Plum Ultra, you can also set up automatic savings challenges.

Its Rainy Days feature will set aside money every time it rains where you live, while the 52-week Challenge could help you save £1,378 over the year. Plum Pro costs £2.99 a month and Plum Ultra is £4.99.

MoneyBox is also free, but only offers the round-up feature. It has four savings account options where the cash is deposited. Its Simple Saver is FSCS-protected, pays 0.47 per cent and you can make one next-day withdrawal per month.

A number of banks also allow customers to save spare change automatically.

TSB’s Save The Pennies rounds up debit card payments made from your current account to the nearest pound and stashes the difference in your TSB savings account. You can set this up online, using your mobile banking app or in branch.

Lloyds’ Save The Change feature works in a similar way. Starling Bank customers can also round up payments to the nearest pound — or more. The spare cash is then sent to one of your Savings Spaces, which are like virtual piggy banks.

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