We’ve all been there. You’re trying to save some money for that dream summer holiday, a lavish Christmas with all the family, or even a house deposit for your very own pad. However, no matter how careful you’re trying to be with your money, you always seem to be strapped for cash by the last week of the month. If you’re looking for a few pointers on how to cut costs and increase your savings, our simple steps will have your wallet looking healthier without making any extreme changes to your current lifestyle.
We’ve separated our financial advice into a few key sections: food & drink, entertainment, fashion, household, car, holidays and other, so that you can pick and choose the areas in your life where you feel you need to cut back on most. You can thank us later when you’re sunning yourself by the beach in Ibiza with all the dough you’ve saved!
FOOD & DRINK
Take a packed lunch to work.
Always eat before you go supermarket shopping – you’re less likely to make impulse purchases than if you’re hungry.
Buy supermarket own brand as much as possible, often they’re made in the same place as well-known brands and only the packaging is different.
Do the majority of your grocery shopping once a week, don’t be tempted to buy as you go throughout the week.
Shop by yourself, without your children.
Have at least two meat-free meals a week.
Batch cook – when cooking a casserole / chilli / spag-bol, make double and freeze half, that way you’ll always have a quick on-the-go meal to eat.
Drink a large glass of water before each meal, you’ll eat less and feel fuller for longer.
Carry a refillable bottle of tap water around with you, to avoid buying bottled drinks.
Buy dried beans instead of canned- you can buy them cheaper and in bulk that way.
Divide and freeze any meat you won’t eat in a week- e.g. buy larger packs of meat and freeze any excess.
Buy frozen fruits and vegetables instead of fresh – they’ll last longer and there’ll be less waste.
Meal plan at the start of this week, so that you can work out exactly what you’ll need and avoid impulse purchases.
Sign up to store cards for your most used supermarkets.
If you can, grow your own vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, potatoes, salad leaves and chillies are a good place to start), it’s also a fun, cheap hobby.
Have a ‘left-over’ night once a week where you experiment with using up all the food that needs using in your fridge.
Freeze loaves of bread and take slices out individually for toasting.
Store fruit and vegetables correctly so that they stay fresher for longer (for example, you should store bananas away from other fruits as they ripen quicker otherwise).
Ditch the takeaways – opt for supermarket pizzas or ready meals if you fancy a ‘no-cook’ treat at the weekend.
Go through your entertainment subscription services e.g. Spotify, Netflix, Now TV, Sky) and work out how often you use them. Cancel any you’re not getting enough value from.
Swap babysitting duties with fellow friends that also have children, i.e. take it in turns to babysit each other’s kids for free.
For one weekend every month, have a ‘money-free’ weekend: Watch local sports, play board games, go for a walk, visit a free museum, hang out with friends at home… anything that doesn’t involve spending money!
Visit your local library for new books and media.
Keep an eye out for free events in your local area (e.g. open-air cinemas, food festivals, sports games, nature trails).
Take advantage of ‘happy hour’ in bars and pubs, avoid going for drinks outside these times.
Attend the matinee performances of plays and concerts, it can often be cheaper than the evening performances.
Volunteer at concerts, festivals and plays. In exchange for being an usher or marshal, you’ll often get to watch for free.
Find a cheap new hobby to engage in in your spare time. For example, gardening, knitting, baking and yoga can all be done for fairly cheap at home. They’re also time-consuming, meaning you’ll have less time to spend money.
Have friends over for dinner, but tell them each to bring a dish to divide costs. It’ll be fun trying what everyone’s cooked too!
Have a board game night with family and friends – either use the ones you already have or look in charity shops for new ones.
Buy songs off iTunes instead of full albums.
Look out for theme park and attraction coupons in local and national newspapers – they often post promotions in summer.
Only buy a new item of clothing if you can think of at least 3 different outfits in your current wardrobe it would go with.
Buy generic basics (e.g. socks, vests and plain t-shirts) from supermarket clothing sections.
Rather than buying a new outfit, use accessories to freshen up your wardrobe – the right necklace, belt or scarf can make an outfit look brand new.
Learn some sewing basics, e.g. hand-sewing buttons, darning small tears and simple hems, that way you won’t have to replace your clothes if they get slightly damaged.
Check the washing instructions on clothes before you buy them – dry clean only and handwash items can be time-consuming and costly to clean.
Swap dresses and evening-wear with friends for special occasions, that way you won’t have to buy something new every time you have an event to go to.
Only shop for your current size and situation, don’t be tempted to buy something for when you lose weight or your next summer holiday.
Use the one in, one out rule – for every new piece of clothing, you have to give one to charity.
Make a point of browsing charity shops in affluent areas, you’ll often find some great gems from designer labels.
Sell your old clothes on eBay – especially good for barely-worn clothing, and larger items such as coats and dresses.
Follow your favourite brands on social media, and via email, as they will often share promotions, discounts and special offers.
Take care of your clothes – store them neatly, wash your clothes in a gentle cycle in cool water, and line dry instead of using your tumble dryer where possible.
Women’s clothing is often priced higher than men’s and kids’, so have a look in these sections first if you’re after something such as a t-shirt, vest or hoodie.
Turn the lights off during the day, and whenever you leave a room.
Install energy-saving light bulbs around your home.
Don’t leave your TV and other electrical appliances on standby.
Try negotiating a lower rent the next time your lease is renewed – the worst they can say is no!
Make a household budget to keep track of all your bills, knowing exactly where your money goes each month will help you cut down.
Make your own cleaning products using ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.
Use rechargeable batteries in all your battery-powered appliances.
Install blinds around your house, they help keep the heat in and insulate your home during winter.
Turn your heating down by at least 1 degree.
Only run the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher when you have a full load.
Wash your laundry in cold water, you’ll find the colours don’t bleed as much either whilst saving you money.
Air dry clothes whenever possible.
Invest in warm blankets and have the heating on as little as possible.
Adjust your water heater thermostat to 120F to restrict heat loss.
Invest in a fuel-efficient car (look at miles to the gallon when buying).
For places that are a 5-10 minute car drive away, simply set off earlier and walk the distance.
Drive in an energy-efficient manner: don’t speed, inflate your tyres fully, avoid using the AC, keep windows closed, and minimise your car’s weight by keeping your boot empty.
If possible, car pool to work with a colleague that lives nearby.
Only look at used cars when buying a new car.
Check on fuel comparison sites to find the cheapest petrol and diesel pumps in your local area.
Don’t assume third party insurance is cheapest, shop around and look at fully comprehensive cover policies too.
Try and pay your insurance and car tax in one yearly lump sum, as if you pay monthly the interest will cost more.
Don’t bother buying premium ‘high performance’ fuels if you drive a standard car.
Add a second driver with a good driving record to cut insurance costs.
Check your hotel on price comparison sites before booking- places like Trivago and Booking.com can often find the cheapest rates for a specific hotel. It’s often worthwhile ringing the hotel itself to see if they’ll beat the price too.
Book your flights as early as possible to make the most of low fares.
If booking in a large group, look into getting a villa or apartment instead of staying in a hotel, as you can often get more for your money.
For long-haul flights, consider getting an indirect flight, as these often work out cheaper.
If you’re confined to the school summer holidays, go later on. The last week of August/ first week of September are often the cheapest times to go in the 6 week holidays.
Consider going away in October/ May half term instead of the summer.
Weigh your hand and hold luggage before setting off for the airport, to avoid excess baggage charges.
Travel via coach instead of train.
When booking an apartment or villa, choose a location near the beach and don’t bother getting a place with your own private pool.
Arrange your own excursions, don’t bother with organised or guided tours.
Don’t use the hotel minibar, instead get bottled water and snacks from the nearest supermarket.
If self-catering, take a few essentials with you in your suitcase (e.g. tea bags, condiments, bin bags and washing-up liquid).
Check the charges for using your mobile phone abroad before you go- make sure you’ve turned data-roaming off and instead make use of areas with free Wi-Fi.
Go youth-hostelling instead of booking a traditional hotel.
Look out for deals and tokens in national newspapers.
If going to the airport, book your taxis there and back in advance and agree the rate beforehand.
Don’t fly on Fridays or Saturdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are often the cheapest days to fly.
Don’t keep your credit card in your wallet, that way you can’t be tempted to make large impulse buys when you’re out shopping
Avoid stress-spending online after a hard day at work – instead go for a run, do a puzzle or a spot of housework… the choice is yours!
Keep a jar in the house for loose change and pennies, when the jar gets full, take it to a coin machine and use the extra money on your next food shop.
Recycle wrapping paper – open birthday and Christmas presents carefully and you’ll be able to use the gift wrap again.
Stock up on cheap gifts and stocking fillers in the January sales – you can give them out at birthday parties your child is invited to, or for next year’s Christmas stockings.
Maintain good oral hygiene- clean your teeth and floss regularly, as dentist bills can be costly.
Where possible, use student services (e.g. trainee hairdressers, masseurs and dentists).