Ten Ways to Save Money
I’m getting really into this saving money lark; once you start, it becomes like a competition with your former self, to see how much money you can save. Here are my top ten tips for saving a bit of cash:
- Do you use liquid soap? I don’t know about you, but every time I wash my hands with liquid soap, half of what I’ve pumped out of the bottle goes down the drain. Next time you buy a new bottle, pour half of it into the old (empty) bottle, and top both up with water. It still works as soap, it still smells nice, it’s exactly the same – but there’s twice as much soap. You can do the same with washing up liquid, and probably shower gel, bubble bath too.
- Dilute your fabric softener with white (distilled) vinegar. It works just as well, and the vinegar is apparently very good for your machine. Never use fabric softener for washing nappies, towels, or basically anything that needs to be absorbent; just use vinegar on its own. And no, your clothes won’t come out stinking of a fish and chip shop.
- Don’t throw away flat cola; put it down the loo instead. Left overnight, it can clean your toilet bowl up nicely.
- This one has a bit of an initial outlay, but I’ve found it pretty handy in the long term. Stock up on non-perishables when they are on 3 for 2 or BOGOF offers in the supermarkets, and only re-stock when they are on offer again. Most of the supermarkets rotate their offers between brands, so you can get 5 cans of Heinz soups for a reduced price one week, 5 of Campbell’s the following week, and so on. If you have the space, you can do this with washing powder, nappies, toilet roll… basically anything. When I find something that I use regularly is on offer, I buy as many as I can afford and stash them in the cupboard. When you first start doing this, you can just add a couple of extra things to your shopping basket each week/month. Longer term, because you don’t need to buy toilet roll or nappies or whatever this week (because they’re stockpiled at home) you can afford to take advantage of another offer!
- Sign up for every single reward card you can get your hands on! It can be a pain to carry them all around with you and fumble for them at the till, but if you use them religiously every time you shop, and make use of the coupons etc they send you, you can save a lot of money. My favourite ones to use are Boots (best value, and tons of double points events), Tesco (they’ve started doing promotions where you can cash in your vouchers for double the usual amount), Nectar (you can collect them bloody anywhere) and Holland & Barrett (because I use a lot of supplements, and shop in there any way, and once a quarter they send me a code to use at the till for money off my purchases – no need to worry about losing coupons!) Also, sign up for baby clubs, family clubs, wine clubs etc with these shops. Boots give 10 points per pound spent on baby products, and if you join their contact lens scheme you get money off all Boots products. N.B. sign up for reward cards, but not store cards; these are the work of the devil, with horribly high interest rates.
- If there’s a brand you particularly like, “like” them on Facebook, and visit their website whenever you think of it. In the last couple of months I’ve had coupons for free baby fromage frais, free baby food pouches, money off Tropicana and Soreen, a free tooth brush, free tea bags, free coffee…
- Whenever you have a product that breaks, doesn’t taste right, leaks or generally doesn’t perform as you expected, email the company and complain! British people are terribly polite and don’t like to cause a fuss, but at the end of the day, you spent your money on that, and it turned out to be a bit pants. The companies want to keep you happy, and will usually send you vouchers or something to compensate for your inconvenience. When I bought a certain brand of nappies for S and they leaked badly I emailed them and they sent me vouchers that could be used across their whole range of brands – so I used them to buy some toilet roll for the stock pile cupboard!
- Become a great big geek! Anyone who knows me well, will know I love a good spreadsheet. I keep a weekly track of how much gas and electricity I use, and then compete with myself to see if I can get the amount I’ve spent down a little each week. I have a prepay meter for both, so each time I top up I make a note of how much credit is left on the meter from last week. I also keep a “cash flow” spreadsheet to keep a track on my bank account and make sure I don’t go overdrawn. I love it. And I feel like I’ve just admitted something terribly embarrassing!
- Sign up for everything! Most companies want to send you weekly/monthly/quarterly emails with random gumpf about their brand; they’re mostly rubbish, but sometimes they will also send you vouchers, coupons, discount codes and even chances to test new products (free samples!). Avoid having your email account filled with spam by setting up a new account especially for this sort of thing, and just check it every now and then to see what’s come in.
- This one is really boring. Open your bills and statements, and read them. Check whether you are going over your minutes or texts on your mobile, or perhaps you’re not even using close to your allowance and could stand to cut your contract. Check there’s not random amounts of money disappearing from your bank or credit card account each month. If you’ve made calls from the landline, would it have been cheaper to call from your mobile, and vice versa? 0845 numbers are expensive to call from your mobile, and usually cheaper from the landline, and some companies have a system where you can pay a small fee for a month and get calls to these sorts of numbers significantly cheaper – worth knowing about if you get that sinking feeling you’re going to be on the phone sorting out something complicated and time-consuming!