My top 35 ways to save money

I sat and thought of these in response to an article on Ilona's blog and the resulting theme that swept bloggers into sharing their top 30 ways to save £1.  I didn't participate because the organisation that paid £30 for the blog post tips also wanted to retain the right to publish participant's full names, and I cherish my anonymity here in the Fens quite seriously, and I wasn't about to jeopardise that for £30.

But I am quite happy to share my tips here, and thought a separate page would keep them all handy.

Here we go:
  1. Keep the heating under control.  Layer up with jumpers & gilets, wear socks or slippers and use blankets for snuggling on the sofa when reading or watching tv.  Some people have been known to use the odd hot water bottle as well.
  2. Dry laundry on lines or airers.  I have 4 airers which get moved around but two are usually near the woodburner and 2 smaller ones seem to live on the landing, making the most of the spare heat which rises up the stairs.  I also have 2 lines in the verandah where I can hang washing all year round.
  3. Friends with similar attitudes - I have friends who tell me when Lidl are giving away vouchers on FB, and we all share new shops, offers, websites that we find.  I'd rather not "spend" too much time with spendthrifts who encourage me to spend money or don't understand our philosophy.
  4. Menu plan or pantry plan!  Decide upon your method and use it!
  5. Stockpiling when things are on sale.  Setting up areas for storage has really helped us in this.  Keeping track of what we have and what we need also helps to keep costs down.  Two old wardrobes, fitted out with shelves and standing back to back in the garage serve as a dry/tinned goods store.
  6. Energy costs money, so save it. We changed our electricity supplier and our DD dropped from just over £100 a month to £76 and has since gone down to £56.  I have also found a cheaper supplier for the gas bottles which run our hob and that will save us about £20 every six months or so.
  7. Use the internet to our benefit.  We read personal finance blogs, get advice and information from forums, chat with friends, save on postage by keeping in touch by email, research offers and prices, download recipes and knitting patterns.......It is a wonderful resource that can be mined for ever!
  8. Look outside the box - we have been ordering food and household items from Approved Food for several years now and saving money every time.
  9. Growing our own - some years better than others! I have recently [end of April] sown seeds for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, dwarf beans, runner beans, courgettes and climbing french beans.  I will be sowing more later in the season for succession planting.  The rhubarb crowns are sending up shoots, the gooseberry bushes are coming into leaf and there are signs of life in the raspberry canes.
  10. Cook!  We cook from scratch all the time and know exactly what is in our food.  We sometimes prepare extra for the next day or freeze extra portions.  Making meals from scratch is a key strategy for keeping the food budget under control!
  11. Pack up a lunch - the girls take packed lunches to school, we carry drinks and snacks if we go out for any length of time and if we go out for the day, we happily pack up the cool box with food for the day.  Paying exorbitant prices for pre-packed sandwiches is a no-no.
  12. Know the difference between investment purchases and consumable purchases - and spend appropriately.  I don't always buy the cheapest when I am shopping for big investment purchases that I expect to own and use for 10 years or more, like cars, furniture etc.  We shopped for 5 months back in 1997/8 for a suite of sitting room furniture before we finally paid £800 cash for a three piece suite.  We are still sitting on it, but we have started to look for another one - we won't be rushing into it though!
  13. Sharing items with friends, relatives and neighbours.  We regularly, unfortunately, borrow a set of draining rods from a neighbour, but we support that friend by fetching his chicken food each month as he is over 80 and can't lift the sacks.  We acquired a good collection of old films and several friends come around and borrow their favourites now and again.  Collaboration can save money.
  14. Home beauty treatments save pounds.  The three of us girls have long hair styles which don't need cutting more than twice a year.  We buy home hair colouring kits from Boots or whichever supermarket has an offer on, and dye each other's hair.
  15. Wash laundry at low temperatures on short programmes.  Unless our clothes are absolutely filthy, which they rarely are, they are washed on a short wash at 30degrees.
  16. Wear the right clothes.  We keep "good" clothes for being out and about in public, and wear scruffier "at home" clothes for doing jobs in the house and garden, and generally lounging around.  This means that our "going out and about" clothes are in good condition for longer.  The FH is not so good at doing this and I have despaired of him keeping any clothes looking decent, not splattered with paint or woodstain.  He's getting better at it...
  17. Pay savings first.  This has made a real difference to our savings .  Putting money aside for our future plans forces us to consider more carefully what we are doing day by day.
  18. We have an annual budget, prepared over the Christmas period, which helps me to keep things going in the right direction.  With amounts recognised for annual payments, big bills and regualr debits, we have a clear picture of where our money is going to go.
  19. Record spending and keep receipts.  This helps me to track spending in all the various areas of the budget, like groceries, petrol, toiletries, household items, activities like piano lessons, and expenses like chicken food.
  20. Volunteer your time in exchange for services.  We used to be member of a very active LETS group in Fife, and now I volunteer at gymnastics in exchange for the YFG's training sessions.  The training and professional development this has brought me means that I can now also earn through coaching.
  21. Pay bills on time.  I use a household management folder with calendar pages, and monitor the bills due by writing the date and amount on the calendar as soon as the bill arrives, then filing the bill behind the calendar.  This avoids overdue charges, red letters and embarrassing phone calls!
  22. Use cashback systems when at all possible.  I look for bargains through Quidco and Topcashback, for example, when buying insurance.  If I buy books from the Book People, I always go via Quidco to get some money back.  Every penny counts!
  23. Save money on gifts by earning vouchers and cash through survey sites.  I scan my shopping for "Shop&Scan" and earn points which I exchange for Amazon vouchers, which can be spent on a wide variety of treats.  I also participate in yougov surveys, and am almost at the level to be able to claim another £50 - which will be going into my sealed pot for treats.
  24. That leads straight into the Sealed Pot - take part in this challenge, on your own or with supporters on SFT's blog.  Last year, I popped all our spare change and egg money into a sealed tin and we opened it in June for our holiday spends and had just over £140 in there.
  25. Have an attitude of learning and always want to learn new skills and develop new experiences, which could be beneficial in the long run.  Learn to knit, to sew, to grow veggies, refinish furniture, make curtains, hang wallpaper, or do the plumbing.  I'm extending my knitting skills, aiming to learn to crochet in 2013, and I would like to learn some car maintenance this year too.
  26. Keep mobile phone contracts capped so that you know exactly what the bill will be each month.  The girls and I all have caps on our contracts, and I know exactly where I am with the bills.  I have heard horror stories of teenagers running up £200+ bills in a month more than once, and I am surprised at the parents allowing it to happen; I'd be changing to a tariff or provider that allowed capping.  Similarly, make sure your phone has a password or PIN number to prevent unauthorised use, especially if it gets lost or stolen.
  27. Develop hobbies which save money or which are constructive, rather than those which cost money and merely fill time.  Knitting for charity, my volunteer commitments, the chooks and the veg plots leave me little time for expensive hobbies.
  28. We enjoy spending time together at home, watching DVDs, chatting, sharing meals with friends, or perhaps going for a bike ride round the village.  Take pleasure in relatively simple things is cheap and cheerful wholesome fun - remember that fun doesn't need to be expensive.
  29. Be content!  Contentment and satisfaction are very important as constant shopping, looking at magazines and always wanting the next new thing can make us all discontent and unhappy; learning to be content is a great gift.  I look around UJ's house and I see furniture and household items which have stood the test of time and been well used by three or more generations, and I wonder about the constant need some people feel to revamp their homes every other year.
  30. Accept anything and everything you are given - you can always pass them on again if you don't like them!
  31. Watch the family's consumption of non-nutritious snack food - try to cut this down or at least make your own snacks rather than buying expensive prepackaged and processed foods.  
  32. Be careful with unit pricing: sometimes two of a smaller size can be better value than one larger package.  Use the shelf labels to make sure of best value.
  33. Storeys on the stove: I use a steamer a lot on the hob.  For example, I can boil a gammon joint in a saucepan, with a steamer on top of that with potatoes and another on the third tier holding the veg, and it all cooks on the one gas burner.
  34. Look at portion sizes and consider using smaller plates.  We have done this and it has been good for the waistline as well as for the pocket.  Eating together at the table rather than in front of the tv or the computer helps us to focus and concentrate on the food so that we know when we are full.  Similarly, I don't overload the plates any more, but people can usually have a little more if they are still hungry.
  35. We don't eat cordon bleu every day - very rarely in fact.  Meals like a home made vegetable soup followed by a quick cook-in-the-microwave-from-scratch jam sponge pudding are easy to prepare and filling.  Tuna pasta is another quick and easy favourite.  We do eat roast chicken and roast lamb occasionally, but with the price of meat rising drastically, consider the cost-per-portion and go for cheaper options some days to keep the weekly food budget manageable.
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1 comment:

SarahElisabeth Jones said...

Useful list-thank you. I have linked to it in my May inspiration post.