Money Matters – Tips and Tricks
Following on from Part One and Part Two of this money-saving series, we decided to pull together some of the most universal tips and tricks to help you save money. Even if you aren’t in debt, using these can be a great way to help your money stretch further. In doing so, you’re less likely to struggle, if there’s a change in finances. You may even be able to start a savings account!
Food Glorious Food
Time to look at your grocery shop. How often are you going and how much food is sat in your cupboard, or being thrown out as it goes past its use-by date? According to Love Food, Hate Waste, UK homes throw away, on average, 7.5 MILLION tonnes of food per year. The same website also has loads of helpful tips as to how to use leftovers, safe ways to store food and best meals to freeze and eat later. It also gives lots of little hints and tips as to the best ways to be less wasteful. Supercook is also brilliant for finding recipes for leftovers. Go give it a try!
However, prevention is better than a cure and the best way to minimise food waste is to not buy more than you need. There are two ways of doing this, and they’re not mutually exclusive so go ahead and save yourself oodles by doing both; meal plan in advance and shop online.
By doing both, you’re minimising the risk of impulse buys. Especially if you have children. Supermarkets have paid top dollar to carry out research in product placement and, while you see those delicious ‘bargains’, your kids see delicious sweets/toys. You’re also minimising the risk of toddler throw-downs. Win-win.
Treats Don’t Have to Cost a Lot
Get yourself over to the bargain pages if you don’t believe me! You can give yourself nice little things as a pat on the back or simply because but you don’t have to undo all your hard work for them
Gumtree, Freecycle and Facebook are all good, well-known places to get freebies. When I moved into my place at 20 weeks pregnant I had nothing. One well-worded plea to the masses on Facebook and I got my fridge-freezer, dining table, washing machine, double bed, sofa and area rug free- I just paid a local man and van for delivery (and made sure to pass on my good fortune by donating my un-used or outgrown things in return)
Look at Reasons Why You Spend Money
Think of the seven deadly sins:
Lust – impulse buys
Gluttony – waste, such as the food waste mentioned. Or clothes that can be swapped or donated, instead of thrown.
Greed– “I want it!”
Pride– ‘Needing’ to look a certain way or have certain things as part of a status claim.
Wrath – People buy things when angry. Tell me you haven’t had a shitty day and a shopping spree made you feel better!
Envy – “I want what she has”.
Sloth– “That would make my life so much easier”.
Before you buy something, if it falls into one of these categories, you probably don’t need it. Put it down…[grapples with you] C’mon.. DOWN. Good.
Winter is Coming – And It Costs Money
Here are some of the best ways to save money during the colder months (some obvious, some less so)
- Put on a jumper (obvious but underrated)
- If you have single-pane windows, grab some of this liner to help stop condensation and add an extra layer
- Similarly, use brush strips on your doors to stop cold air seeping in through the crack
- Find draughts and use excluders or Polyfilla depending on where it’s coming from
- Shut your doors between your rooms. This is not only safer in terms of fire prevention/safety but your home will heat faster and-
- – Don’t forget to turn radiators low in rooms you don’t use
- Most energy companies will now offer you a smart meter in order to keep track of what’s using the most energy in your home. Time to discover just how much you’re using drying your hair every day!
- Does your washing machine have a ‘half load’ option? Go check. Also, try and wash clothes on the lowest reasonable temperature. It could save you a fortune.
- Turning your heating down by just one degree can save you £65 a year, so see if you can handle the temperature at one or two degrees lower
- Appliances and gadgets on standby use nearly as much energy as they do when you’re using them fully turned on. Try to remember to switch off at the plug.
- Timer plugs are a life-saver. If you use your washing machine/dishwasher etc. at night, pop a timer on your plug so it doesn’t stay on after it’s finished and keep using energy all night.
- A lot of people don’t know their eligible for loft insulation and cavity wall insulation at a subsidised cost. Find out if you can get help here
- Energy efficient lightbulbs take a little longer to warm up, but they also take longer to die out and use up to £50 less energy over their lifetime. It’s the little changes that make the most difference!
- Thicker curtains are worth investing in if you have larger windows or a draughty old house. They’ll keep warm air in and cool air out at night. They also help give you a better nights sleep. Lovely.
- This may not work for you- but if you’re a single person or know that you don’t use a vast amount of water, a water meter could help dramatically cut costs. If you are one of these, another way to save cash is to get a water butt placed outside to use a natural source for things like watering plants!
- Paying for things by direct debit can save you money as suppliers feel they’re more likely to be paid regularly and it cuts their administration costs
- Similarly, see if items like bank statements can be switched to online only. E-on, as an example, cut your bill payments for switching to paperless billing.
- Apply cut-off points to your mobile provider, to make sure you don’t go over your usage or bills. Companies like o2 offer warnings when you nearly hit your limit and cut you off when you reach it, but some can really catch you out with unexpected bill because of this.
- Haggle! It’s not very British but some independent stores aren’t averse to the idea of looking at deals and discounts. Bear in mind, it pays to help the salesperson too- I’ve previously managed to garner a host of free things because I helped a sales assistant hit his targets and NEVER be rude. As someone who’s worked in retail for a long time, I can assure you this does more harm than good. It does no harm to ask, as they can only say no.
- You can sometimes run up bills just by parking. But if you check out sites like gumtree and JustPark, you can save a lot of money by renting someone’s unused car space at their flat or place of work. Similarly, you can earn money by renting out an unused space of your own!
- Speaking of cars, try to keep your rubbish to a minimum, to make petrol/diesel go further