Clear your credit card debt
Credit cards offer a convenient way to pay for goods and services but, if you can’t clear the balance every month, consider a low-cost loan as an alternative.
Cut the cost of your fuel bills
Fuel prices are rising but that doesn’t mean you need to be ripped off! The market for fuel is a competitive one, and you can change supplier with a few clicks of the mouse. Your new supplier will take care of the formalities – you just pay less every month.
Consider installing a water meter
We take our tap water for granted. And why not? The companies behind the supply exist to make a profit – we pay them to supply water and have every right to expect it to flow from our taps. But if it doesn’t rain, supply runs dry and the price goes up. As such, you may want to consider the possibility of installing a meter. If you have a big home with few occupants, you may be surprised to learn you could halve your annual bill.
Cut your home phone bills
If you have to use your home phone, there are scores of cheaper alternatives from cable companies that package your telephone, television, and even broadband internet access to low-cost dial-up services that give you access to cheaper calls using your existing BT line.
Consider a pay-as-you-go mobile
Ask yourself this – is your mobile phone absolutely necessary? If the answer is yes, do you really need all those minutes and texts that come as part of your package? If you hand over £50 a month to your mobile phone company, that’s £600 a year! However, you can buy a pay-as-you-go phone for as little as £30 and only pay for the odd call as and when you need to.
Make a shopping list
Food shopping forms a significant part of our monthly outgoings and the supermarket is where the bulk of the money is spent. Be warned – stores spend a small fortune studying ways of making us part with more of our money than we would otherwise intend to. Have you ever wondered why your favorite song is playing in the background as you shop? Have you even noticed the background music? Possibly not, but you will have noticed at the checkout that the bill is often more than expected. To avoid this, simply make a shopping list. Dig out the cookery books, plan a few meals and only buy what you need.
When was the last time you went to the market?
One way to beat the supermarkets, and to eat healthily for less, is to use your local market stall. Lower overheads should mean lower prices. At the time of writing, cherries were on sale in one of the big supermarkets for £2.99 – the equivalent at the local market was going for just over £1.
Consider own-brand goods
You can buy a tin of own-brand baked beans for 26p and a loaf bread for 47p. Enough said!
Don't buy designer labels
Celebrities are given expensive clothes to wear. At the end of the day – and, let’s face it, you may only wear the outfit once – can you justify paying hundreds of pounds over the odds because a top designer has had his or her name sewn on the label? Can you honestly say you can tell the difference at a distance between a £600 designer bag and a £9.99 one from the market? Think about it…
Sell your clutter online
Take this quick test: You’re at home. Open a cupboard. Look inside. If it’s full of clothes you haven’t worn, or ‘good ideas at the time’ you haven’t used for, let’s say, three years, you probably don’t need them. So why not sell them to someone else who does? eBay, the online auction site, has opened individual sellers to a world of buyers. You can flog anything for the cost of a small commission. Tip: you may want to buy a few items first to build up your rating as a respectable eBay seller before you start selling.
You can also sell your stuff via ‘Buy and Sell’ Facebook pages. These don’t take any fees and, with local collections, there is no need to pay for the expense of postage and packaging.
Choose cheaper breakdown insurance
The breakdown sector is dominated by big names such as the AA and RAC. Being towed home if your car breaks down is just another form of insurance like any other, and there are scores of cheaper alternatives. Shop around and look online.
Learn to say 'no'
It’s easy to give in to the demands of a screaming child in a packed supermarket on a Saturday afternoon, but DON’T DO IT! Similarly, how often does a ‘swift half’ after work turn into a £40 drinking session? Saying ‘no’ a few times a year will do wonders for your bank account!
Don't pay full price for theatre or theme park tickets
Collect tokens in newspapers or take advantage of the 2-for-1 tickets available each year for theme parks to save on family days out.
Walk/cycle to the station/work
It may be a bit of ‘chore’ to many people, but it’s free and a good form of exercise.
Cut down your drinking
A few beers after work a few nights a week is a financially debilitating state of affairs. Set limits and stick to them.
Give up smoking
Never mind the health implications, the guilt and the smell – your 20-a-day habit is costing you nearly £2,000 a year. Pack it in!
Cancel your gym membership
If you pay your £40 a month by Direct Debit and use the gym three times a week, great. If not, cancel your membership immediately. You’ll soon save enough to buy your own bike and, if you’re so inclined, a rowing machine. Consider running home from work three times a week. It’s free!
Use your library
The local library is a mecca for the money saver. You’ll never need to buy another cookbook, guidebook or lifestyle manual again and, if you can bear to wait a few weeks in the queue for the latest bestseller, you never need to buy books again. CDs and videos are great value too.
The Christmas lottery
Instead of trying to buy a present for every relative in your family, consider getting together beforehand and picking one name from the hat. You then buy one thoughtful gift for that one person rather than attempting to please everyone at considerable cost. Everyone gets a present, everyone saves money!
The three-for-two trick
There’s a lot to be said for buy-one-get-one-free deals, especially if they pass the ‘Do I really need this?’ test. Then there’s three-for-twos; a particularly cynical way for stores to entice shoppers to buy an extra item they wouldn’t otherwise. The ‘offer’ is always priced into the deal so do your sums and shop around.
Claim your benefits and tax credits
There was once a stigma in Britain attached to claiming benefits. Not anymore. The Government has put benefits at the heart of the family budget and it’s your money, so make sure you’re claiming it. That includes Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and other employee-related tax benefits.
Bin the ready meals
If TV chefs such as Ainsley Harriott can knock up a meal from a bag of random groceries, so can you! Ready meals may be convenient, but preparing your own food saves money. A visit to your library will reveal scores of books dedicated to cooking proper meals in minutes.
The internet is gradually taking over. Online grocery shopping is getting better all the time, and there are plenty of comparison websites to help find the best prices for bigger items. Give it a try!