We’ve divided up our money saving tips into different areas so it’s easy for you to find what you’re looking for:
If there is any particular area where you know you could do with cutting back a little, you’re sure to find it here. Alternatively, you could just take each section one at a time and work your way through them all too make sure you’re making great savings in every area of your life!
This is a key area where you may be able to cut back on your spending. Try and think about the things you buy and try to consider whether these are things you NEED or things you WANT.
It’s nice to have treats, but if your spending is becoming a problem you may need to look at areas where you can cut back on unnecessary items – new clothes, regular trips to the hairdressers, getting taxis, etc. If you can’t afford to live an extravagant lifestyle then don’t try to keep up with others who can, you’ll land yourself in trouble.
Where you do need to purchase things, for instance travel costs or groceries etc, try and get the best deals you can. Try to buy fruit and vegetables that are in season, or go for a tinned version for a lower cost alternative that will still be good for you.
Sites like http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/ can also help with this cost cutting exercise. They let you enter your weekly shopping list and then suggest areas where you could save money, for instance by switching to supermarket own brand goods, or making the most of special offers on that week. The site doesn’t cover all supermarkets unfortunately, but the principle remains the same wherever you shop, when you would normally pick up a branded product, try one from the supermarket’s own or value range instead and give it a go. Several ‘value’ range items are included on this website http://supermarketspecialoffers.com/DiscountOffers.aspx which shows supermarket items on sale for 20p or less and may be useful when looking for a bargain.
If you don’t like it, switch back to your normal product – after all it’s not much of a saving if you end up having to throw the food away because you don’t like it! There’s a website called http://www.supermarketownbrandguide.co.uk/index.htm which runs through many own brand products from different supermarkets and compares them to branded products, which you may find useful when deciding where to make switches.
If something catches your eye that you hadn’t planned to get, stop and think before you buy. Sometimes it may be worthwhile getting things when you hadn’t planned to if there is a particularly good deal on and it’s something you would’ve bought anyway – for example if you know you will need a new coat soon and you see something you like in a sale, it may be a good buy. However sometimes you can be pressured into getting something you don’t really need just because ‘it’s too good a deal to miss’.
Remember that sales people are trained to get you to part with your cash – be particularly wary of anyone that tries to rush you into buying something when you’re unsure. Take your time, go home and ask yourself whether the product is something you really need and whether you can afford it.
Here are some more top tips you came up with at MiNT training sessions:
‘Leave the kids and your partner at home’
Anyone who has ever been shopping with their children knows how stressful it can be when they are constantly asking for their favourite treats, and it can sometimes be hard to say no.
‘Don’t shop hungry’
If you’re hungry when you go shopping, you’re much more likely to be tempted by your favourite treats and buy more food than you need. Going after a meal can help ensure you stick to your plan of what you want to get, rather than just impulse buying.
‘Make a shopping list and stick to it’
Making lists before you go shopping will make sure you only get what you need and don’t end up buying extra of something ‘just in case’, only to get home and find you already had a packet in the cupboard. It should also help ensure you don’t miss anything out and therefore you will hopefully not have to make so many trips shopping. Not only does this save on time and petrol, it also means you’re not tempted to pick up little extras which can often be the case – how often do you pop to the shop for one item and end up coming out with four or five things?
‘Do shop when you need a wee!’
You’ll be really focussed on your shopping so you can get out super quick with no time to get tempted by things you don’t really need!
‘Cook your own food’
Ready meals and takeaways may be quick and easy, but they are notoriously bad for you and are an expensive option. Homemade meals are much more nutritious and better for your wallet too – check out http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/Eatwellcheap.aspx from the NHS which gives some favourite quick and easy options along with the potential savings in cash and calories from making the meals from scratch yourself. If you don’t have time to cook every day, consider making larger portions and freezing some to make another meal later in the week.
‘Use BOGOFs (wisely)’
Buy one get one frees can be great value, but beware of buying something just because it’s on offer – if you won’t use it, it’s still a waste of money, no matter how cheap it was. If you’re not sure you’ll be able to use the amount you have to buy t get the bargain, you could try sharing with a friend or family member; that way you can both benefit from the bargain.
‘Buy supermarket own brands’
These can offer much better value than branded products, and often you may find the taste is virtually the same as a more expensive version – the only real difference is the packaging.
‘Don’t listen to the music!’
Shops spend huge amounts of money researching consumer psychology and seeing how they can influence you to buy more. Being aware of the sorts of tricks they use can help you beat them at their own game. For instance, music may be used to make you stay in the store longer, and premium products tend to be displayed at eye-level to catch your attention. Look on top and bottom shelves for cheaper products and better deals.
‘Make the most of loyalty cards’
If you shop regularly in a store which has a loyalty card scheme, ensure you get signed up and use your card every time you shop. The points you earn will build up and can then be used as rewards to save you money on future shopping.
‘Only take as much money as you need to get your shopping’
If you know you are often tempted into buying extras, this can be a really good way to break the habit.
Shop around for bargains’
Always check different deals and prices in different shops, especially when making an expensive purchase. Sites such as http://www.kelkoo.co.uk/ can help you make sure you’re getting the best deal, and review sites likehttp://www.which.co.uk/ can provide advice on the quality of the product to make sure you are getting value for money.
Shop in the evenings or at night’
Supermarkets often reduce food prices in the evening to try and sell stuff that won’t keep until the next day, meaning you can pick up some great bargains.
If you have any more top tips of your own to add email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Buying online can be a great way to bag a bargain. Try sites like http://www.ebay.co.uk/ or http://www.amazon.co.uk/ to get massive reductions on high street prices for a whole range of products, although beware of posting and packing costs which are usually added on to the amount you pay for the product and can push the price up significantly.
You can also find great deals on things like insurance and holidays – use a search engine such ashttp://www.google.co.uk/ to instantly find millions of websites selling whatever you want. It may be useful to use an online comparison site (also called a ‘shop-bot’) like http://www.megashopbot.com/ or http://www.kelkoo.co.uk/ – these compare prices across the internet to find you the best deals.
For the real bargain hunters there are more tips and tricks you can use to get even better deals on these prices – try http://www.localbargainfinder.co.uk/ for eBay items that need to be collected rather than posted and hence are usually cheaper, or check http://www.fatfingers.co.uk/ for listings which have been spelt wrong, making them harder for people to find and hence cheaper as there’s likely to be less people competing over them.
Sites such as http://groups.freecycle.org/freecycle-tameside/posts/all can even help you get goods for nothing if you are prepared to travel locally to collect them. Sign up with them for free and then either search through adverts to find what you want or write your own and wait for replies – you may be amazed what unwanted items people are prepared to offer for free.
There are certain things you should be aware of when shopping online however. You are actually better protected legally in that you have more extended customer rights (read more about this in our Consumer Advice section). There are specific things you need to be aware of when buying online however. Firstly you can be more vulnerable to scams as you obviously cannot see the product you’re buying; you have no way of checking the quality of the item, or even being sure it really exists! The Electrical Safety Council has produced a guide to buying online (http://22.214.171.124/public/guides-and-advice/safe-shoppers-guide/) to alert people to the particular dangers when buying electrical goods online.
For more information look at our Comsumer Advice section which includes all the information you will need to get going online and hopefully saving money!
You may also want to check out ways of reducing your travel costs. If you drive, how fuel efficient is your car and how much do you have to spend on its upkeep?
If possible it may be worth switching to using public transport or alternatives such as walking or cycling. Could you make fewer journeys and use a bike or go by foot instead? Sites like http://www.bing.com/maps/?FORM=MMREDIR# or http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&tab=wlnow give directions for walking as well as driving, and once you know your route it may even be quicker to walk as you don’t have to worry about problems such as rush hour traffic. Alternatively your workplace may offer a cycle to work scheme which you could take advantage of – find out more at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Cycling/DG_190101. If this isn’t possible try asking a friend if they’d be interested in sharing lifts for trips you have to make regularly. For instance you could share the school run, with one of you dropping both sets of children off in the morning and the other picking them both up in the afternoon.
If you already use the bus, are you getting the cheapest pass available for your travel requirements? Check on the bus or with your travel operator’s website. You or your children may even be eligible for a free bus pass, if you meet certain criteria – check http://www.tameside.gov.uk/buspasses or look at our Welfare Benefits section for more information.
Train travel is another area where you can make big savings. You can usually get cheaper tickets if you book in advance with your train operator, particularly if you can be flexible about when you travel or are prepared to change trains part way through the journey. You can usually book either online, over the phone or by going into the rail station. If booking online though, beware of sites which charge you a booking fee. The same deals will usually be available free of charge from the rail company.
It may also be worth looking at buying separate tickets for different parts of your journey, as oddly enough this can sometimes work out cheaper. For instance, if you were travelling from Manchester to London, it may be cheaper to buy one ticket from Manchester to Birmingham and another to take you from Birmingham to London, even if you don’t physically change trains in between. Look at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-train-tickets for more information on how this works. If you have to travel long distances by train regularly it may be worth looking into getting a railcard (http://www.railcard.co.uk/). These vary in price but can knock around a third off the cost of every trip you make, so can work out a good buy for students for instance, who may have to regularly travel long distances to get their dirty washing home to mum!
If you can’t cut back on the things you’re buying, try and get them for less. There are some brilliant bargains around for those who know where to look. Sites such as http://www.myvouchercodes.co.uk/ or http://www.discountvouchers.co.uk/ will allow you to sign up for regular emails detailing the latest deals and offers as well as searching through their site to find any discounts you may be interested in using.
Some discounts may be codes you can enter when doing online shopping, others might be for you to print off and take into the store. If you are a student you may also be able to make use of student discounts which are on offer in many shops when you show your NUS card (usually there will be a sign in the window, but if not you could always try your luck and ask at the counter – as they say ‘shy bairns get nowt’) or you can look on sites such as http://www.studentbeans.com/which list student-specific discounts which you may be able to take advantage of.
Sometimes it seems you can’t do anything without spending a fortune, however there are plenty of cheap or even free days out around if you know where to look, whether you’re after something to do with the kids during school holidays or just something a bit different to do with your partner or friends.
Many museums and other attractions such as art galleries are free or ask only for a donation from visitors so can be a cheap option for a day out, while plenty of TV shows also give free tickets to be in the audience – you may have to wait a while for tickets though and can’t always choose which date you want to go on – sign up with a site such as http://www.lostintv.com/ or http://www.applausestore.com/ for more information.
School holidays can be a tricky time if you have to keep the kids entertained, especially if the weather isn’t great. Keep an eye on http://whatson.tameside.gov.uk/ for details of free local events. Alternatively, take a look at our Games and Resources section for fun ways to keep them occupied.
If you prefer to stay in the comfort of your own home, you can (legally) download films from sites such as www.blinkbox.com, www.lovefilm.com, www.indiemoviesonline.com or www.crackle.com. These all have a variety of films; some which will cost a couple of pounds to ‘rent’ (watch through your computer) but many that are completely free. Stick a couple of bags of popcorn in the microwave and enjoy the cinema experience from your very own armchair.
As energy bills soar and climate change hits headlines, it is more important than ever to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible. Have a look at our top tips to see what simple changes you can make around the house. See our section on Utility Bills and Affordable Warmth for more information.
Moving or setting up home can be a really expensive time, particularly if you need to furnish the place from scratch. Even if you have got basic furniture sorted, all the little extras to make a house a home can really add up.
- Ask friends and relatives if they’ve any old stuff they’re throwing out which you can make use of – from sofas to teaspoons, every little helps.
- Look into buying second hand where possible – local charity shops may sell items you can make use of, and will be much cheaper than buying new, or try looking online – sites like http://www.preloved.co.uk/ or http://www.gumtree.com/cgi-bin/list_postings.pl?page_no=2&search_location=Tameside&ubercat=1 can offer really good bargains.
- Schemes such as Emmaus Mossley (http://www.emmausmossley.org.uk/) can also help provide quality goods at a reasonable price. They offer second hand and reconditioned furniture, and may even be able to arrange free delivery if you are in receipt of certain benefits.
- A similar project is also run in Glossop – find out more on their website http://www.glossopdalefurnitureproject.co.uk/index.asp
- Another great website is http://groups.freecycle.org/freecycle-tameside/posts/all which brings together people from the local community and allows them to advertise unwanted goods which they will give away for free to anyone who will come and collect them. As always with these things, you should take care when going to anyone else’s home – meet in a public place if possible, and where this is not possible try and take someone with you or at least ensure someone knows where you are going and when to expect you back.
See our Typical Costs of Running a Home page for more information on the costs involved in running your own home.
- Ask friends and relatives if they’ve any old stuff they’re throwing out which you can make use of – from sofas to teaspoons, every little helps.
These are key areas where you might be spending more than you realise and could easily make significant savings.
No one is saying you can’t go out and enjoy yourself every once in a while – a night out can be a good way relax after a hard week of work or study and can be a great way to catch up and enjoy time with friends and family. Frequent nights out however can soon add up and the cost may not only be financial – alcohol can also have a seriously negative impact on your relationships with others.
When you’re drunk you may do or say things that you don’t really mean, and just because you don’t remember it the next day is no guarantee the other person will have forgotten. You could also find yourself getting into a situation you later wish you hadn’t – according to YouthNet (http://www.youthnet.org/) as many as 1 in 3 16-24 year olds has had a drunken one-night stand they regretted the next day.
Excessive alcohol can take a major toll on your health too, and could even land you in trouble with the law if you are involved in a drink related incident. Every year around 80,000 arrests are made for drink related behaviour, and reports suggest alcohol is responsible for around 4,000 deaths from violence, accidents and drink driving. Remember, you don’t necessarily have to be the one instigating violent behaviour to get caught up in trouble, simply being drunk or not having your wits about you could leave you in a potentially dangerous situation. For more information, check out http://www.drinksafely.info/BingeDrinking/
Smoking won’t do you many favours either – the impacts on your health are well reported (increased risks of cancer, heart disease and fertility problems to name a few) and cigarette packets now carry their own grim warnings of what can happen as a result of your smoking habit. If you need more reasons to quit, take a look at this slideshow which shows the impact smoking can have on your appearance. If you’ve ever thought smoking looked cool or sexy, you may find yourself having a rethink – pale, uneven skin tone, saggy arms and breasts, bags under your eyes, damaged teeth and gums, baldness, cataracts and wrinkles probably aren’t quite the look you were going for.
As well as improving your health, appearance and relationships, giving up the fags and cutting down on drinking may be really helpful in getting a handle on your spending. There are lots of websites that give alcohol advice – try http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/ or http://www.downyourdrink.org.uk/page/ to get an idea of how much alcohol you are consuming and how you could start to cut down.
A really simple tip can be substituting every other drink for a non-alcoholic beverage or even a glass of water. This will not only save you money and keep you soberer, but should help reduce your hangover the next morning too. Also, try leaving your cash card at home if you go out drinking, that way you are limited as to how much you can spend, and can’t spend more than you have budgeted for. Smoking-wise, http://smokefree.nhs.uk/ gives help on quitting along with a range of tools showing you the impact smoking may have on your body and bank balance.