These are challenging times for all of us with the increase in fuel and utilities, to name but a few. The following money saving tips from Good Housekeeping should enable all of us to save a few pennies along the way.
1 Save first, spend later
Pay yourself first. If you do this, it’s a sure way towards financial freedom. Use the 50/30/20 flexible approach to budgeting. This means that 50% of your take home pay goes on your needs (bills, food, minimum debt payments), 30% goes towards fun (eating out etc) and 20% goes to future you (debt payments above the minimum, saving for emergencies and investing). If his split doesn’t work for you when money is tight, you can adjust the ratios as you go.
2 Don’t pay interest on credit card debt
If you have card debt, put a strategy in place for getting rid of it. Don’t panic if you can’t pay off the full amount, you can achieve the same end result by transferring the debt to a 0% balance credit card to avoid paying interest for a fixed time (up to 30 months) and paying off a set amount every month. Some cards come with a small balance transfer fees, so make sure you do the maths. Do set up a direct debit to avoid missing minimum payments and being stung with high charges. If you still have debt after the 0% period ends, move to another deal. Do not use this card for purchases. Find the best 0% balance transfer card using comparison site such as Moneyfacts and MoneySuperMarket.
3 Stay on track Don’t let cash slip through your fingers.
With digital bank Monzo you can transfer a set amount of spending money to your card while prepaid cards – like Monese and Transferwise – only let you spend what you load. Too high tech? Set up a day to day spending account with its own card, and transfer your weekly disposable income on to it.
4 Use an incognito browser
Going incognito when you shop online can help you save money by automatically deleting your browser history when you close a tab. This means companies can’t track what you’re looking at and put prices up (yes, it happens!)
5 Don’t splurge on payday
1 in 5 people spend over HALF their spare monthly wages within 48 hours of getting paid! Prioritise your most important outgoings, plus something for the savings pot, before you start spending.
6 Claim working from home tax relief
If you’re still working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you could claim some money back for working from home expenses in the form of tax relief paid by HMRC. Anyone required to work from home, even for one day, could apply for tax relief last tax year for the whole 2020/21 tax year.
7. Buying in Bulk isn’t always cheaper.
Use the calculator on your phone to be sure buying in bulk is actually saving you money, always compare the shelf price per 100g when comparing products.
8 Beware the BOGOFs!
The money you spend buying three bottles of Coke when you only need one is significant and these deals not only cost you dearly, but may also contribute to food waste. Next time you go shopping use the calculator on your phone to work out how much you could save by not falling for the BOGOFs.
9. Try out a new supermarket
Trolley.co.uk is an easy way to compare your normal weekly shopping from different supermarkets.
10 Make best use of local markets
Fresh and locally produced food is always going to be healthier, tastier, and better for the planet.
11 Shop for own brand
Swapping branded products for own brand alternatives is an easy way to slash the price of your shopping bill – from cornflakes and pasta, to oven chips and washing up liquid. If you’re worried about the taste being compromised, ‘blind’ test them out on the family first!
12 Waste less food
Almost three quarters of what we throw away is edible, according to recycling charity WRAP. Make a conscious effort to use everything you buy and you’ll save a fortune. If you’re worried about food safety, remember: ‘use by’ date is the cut-off after which it is not considered safe to eat the food. However, eating food past a ‘best before’ date won’t cause any health issues. And both these dates have long safety margins built in.
13 Check your insurance policy
If you are going to be using your car less as a result of the pandemic and working from home more, check your car insurance is still the right fit. Never auto renew, always check for better deals via your existing supplier and comparison websites such as CompareTheMarket and MoneySupermarket.
14 Cut your grocery bill
Buying only what you need may sound like an obvious way to save money, but it can be easier said than done. Once you’ve planned your meals for the week ahead, the Love Food Hate Waste Portion Calculator can help take the guesswork out of totting up what you need to buy.
15. Get to know the world food aisle
in your supermarket (it hides savings of up to 75% on cupboard staples including rice, lentils, beans, spices and sauces), shop in the evening’s for discounts, look at lower supermarket shelves for smaller prices, don’t pay for plastic bags and make your fruit and veg last longer.
16 Have a no-spend day
Exercise some self discipline and try to have at least one nospend day each week, it’ll make you more careful with your cash in the long term. This can be as simple as having last night’s leftovers rather than buying lunch out, snacking only from your weekly shop and carrying coffee/tea in a keep cup.
17 Paperless energy bills
If you ditch paper bills and become an online customer, you’re almost always more likely to get access to a range of better deals and cheaper plans. Not to mention you can monitor and manage your account online or through a smartphone app.
18 Track your spending
The more conscious you are of what you are spending the less likely you are to overspend. Use free budgeting apps like Money Dashboard to monitor all your accounts in one place on a handy dashboard. Digital banks like Monzo and Starling are also great at helping you manage your spending with a number of budgeting tools within their apps.
19 Try a little patience
When shopping online, fill your shopping basket but don’t check out immediately. Sometimes suppliers will send you a discount to persuade you to return.
20 Manage your gadgets and appliances
It’s not a myth, a small amount of electricity is still drawn when a device is plugged in for charging. Instead of charging overnight, juice up for a couple of hours during the day and unplug to save on your electricity bills. This could save you as much as £30 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Switch off at the wall electrical items that are on ‘stand-by’ when not in use. That neglected music center in the corner of the lounge is using up more than a light bulb per year. Did we mention that not defrosting your freezer is costing you more in energy, too? The more ice your freezer is fashioning, the more energy it uses. So, if the ice gathering around the inside is thicker than around 3cm, defrost it. Keep your freezer as full as you can. Some people will put a freezer container with water or newspaper in it to fill empty spaces – over a year this saves a lot of energy.
Have a list on the outside of the freezer of all items and where they are, cross them off as you take them out, this will mean the door does not need to be left open for longer than necessary.