I’ve been trying to save a bit of money lately, but without it really impacting on my life so that I feel like I’m “penny pinching.” For lots of advice on money matters, speak to the Money Advice Service. Meanwhile, here are ten money saving ideas I’ve come up with…
1. Write everything down! My dad swore by this; he had a little notepad and he wrote down every penny he spent, so that he could see where it was all going. It’s a bit extreme in the long term, but doing it for a week or so can be quite enlightening. For instance, you might not think it costs you too much to buy your lunch from somewhere in town every day on your lunch break – but over the course of a week the amount you spend on lunch could be quite frightening! When it comes to money saving tips, this is something really simple we can all do – after all, you can’t cut your spending if you don’t know where it’s going in the first place!
2. Get loyalty cards. Everyone know that the Boots Advantage Card is the best one, in terms of the number of points it gives you, and the way you can spend them – but I also have cards for Superdrug, Tesco, Sainsburys… basically anywhere that I shop regularly. When I need to buy something, I tend to try and go somewhere I have a loyalty card for. And if I’m in Tesco but need shampoo, I’ll finish my shopping and then trudge on over to Boots for the shampoo. Four points per pound is better than one, after all. Another great tip for this is to keep an eye on the windows of your local Boots. on Bank Holidays and around Christmas they often have double points promotions, so if I need to stock up on vitamins or nail polish, I wait until there’s a points event and buy it all then. This sort of thing is great for money saving as you can then use the points you’ve collected to buy other things – essentially, free stuff!
3. Turn off the TV! Not only will you save money on electricity, but you won’t be subjected to endless advertisements – and neither will the rest of your family. Advertising is insidious, and quite often we don’t even really realise the messages are going into our brains until we’re walking past McDonalds one day and realise we really want to try that new burger they’ve been advertising. Advertising that’s aimed at children is even worse, and designed to work on pester power. If your children don’t see the ads, they won’t want half of the plastic junk they’re currently hassling you for.
4. Never go food shopping when you’re hungry – and always make a list! I am terrible for wandering aimlessly around the supermarket, picking up random things that look nice. I go through the checkout, balk at the total price… and then get home to find that for all the money I’ve just spent, I don’t have anything in my shopping bags I could put together to make an actual meal. So I end up going back to the supermarket and doing it all over again! For me this is exacerbated by the fact I only live 2 blocks from my local supermarket. These days I decide before leaving the house, what we’re having for tea and whether we need to buy milk!
5. Ebay! And not just Ebay – there are loads of local selling pages on Facebook these days. If you have the patience to sort through old toys, clothes and books, take photos and post them you can make enough money to… buy more toys, clothes and books. Or, you know, put it into a savings account. Or pay a tiny fraction of your gas bill. Okay, so this is not so much money saving as money making, but if you have the patience to do it, it can be great.
6. Drink more water. Quite often we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty – so drinking water out of the tap will save you money on food. Also if you’re drinking the 2 litres of watre a day we’re all supposed to, you’ll be less inclined to spend money on expensive energy drinks or poncy health drinks that cost a small fortune.
7.Hang around the reductions shelves in the supermarket around closing time. Supermarkets don’t want to lose money on food that’s going out of date so when it gets near to closing time they discount everything that’s going out of date today. And as we all know, the Best Before Date is largely just a guesstimate of when the manufacturer thinks the food will taste nicest. This can be a great money saving exercise as you can get lots of the things you normally buy at a discounted rate – but also things you wouldn’t normally buy because they’re too expensive, for a much lower price and have a bit of a treat.
8. Get used to switching things off. This sounds silly, but it makes a difference. Switching lights off when you leave a room is simple, but how often do we do it? It can also be a good money saver to switch things off at the wall if you’re not using them. And one thing that has made a massive difference to my electricity bill is to switch off the bathroom fan. Most of us just leave it running any time we go into the bathroom – but the only time you really need it is if you’re having a bath or a shower. By leaving it switched off the rest of the time, you can save a small fortune over the course of a year.
9. Clean the filter on your vacuum cleaner. When it gets clogged up with all the dust and junk – and when the pipes are clogged with all the crap you accidentally picked up that were too big to get into the actual drum – the vacuum cleaner doesn’t work so well. And when the vacuum cleaner isn’t picking things up, we spend twice as long with it switched on, going over and over the same patch of carpet. By cleaning it, you can make it more efficient and therefore spend less time using it.
10. Read your bank statement – and your Paypal transactions. Check that you know exactly where your money is going. Are you subscribed to something you’re paying for every month but don’t use? Now’s the time to ditch it! When it comes to money saving advice, this is one of the best tips. With so many direct debits and standing orders these days, it can be hard to keep up with everything. We look at our bank balance and either smile or frown, but often don’t look to closely at the detail of what’s gone out.
There are lots more money saving tips in this article… do you have any of your own to add?