So here we go. Any suggestions guys? Here are mine.
1. Energy bulbs, while they may cost slightly more to begin with use less energy (around 80%) less to run and over its lifetime can save you around £45 per bulb you use. There is also the possibility of getting the light bulbs free if you have a search around the internet or your local council/energy provider might be offering them.
2. Make a meal plan, I usually have a weekly one, but I know of some people that do a monthly one. It helps when you are doing your weekly shop, you can plan for the seasons and it means you are less likely to go for a take-away or eat out in the absence of anything already pre-decided. Making a meal plan with what you already have in is also useful, making sure you use up food before it goes out of date.
3. Freeze things. Freeze bread. I currently have 2 packs of bread in my freezer that I bought reduced and just pop them in the microwave for 30seconds when I want them. Or if making toast just put it straight into the toaster, so stock up on reduced items / items nearing their sell by date and make use of your freezer.
4. Bring your own. Water, Coffee, Tea. By investing in a good flask or water bottle you can carry water with you on the go at all times and then amazingly once empty, can refill it (providing there is a water safe tap nearby). I usually take water with me, or on special occasions I may buy the non-branded fizzy drinks 2Litres for 20p and transfer it into a 500ml bottle. 5p for something that I know can be as expensive as £1.29+ easily.
5. Have a Herb Garden. I have a friend who grows a chilli plant on their kitchen windowsill, and when they are ripe simply pick off and freeze ready for use later in cooking. Having a herb garden is a great way to avoid being charged expensive prices at the supermarket. If you do not have much room why not share a couple of plants with a friend, you have the basil they have the thyme?
6. Fruit Trees, obviously this one requires having a garden, but trees can be grown in big, big plant pots and left outside if like me you do not have a soil garden. Once planted, a fruit tree should give you fruit time and time again. So after the initial outlay of the tree you get the benefit of free fruit once a year. And if you have for example an apple tree and too many apples it is not too hard to slice the apples and part cook them then freeze for use later in apple pie. Or apple sauce perhaps.
7. Rhubarb plant. And similar plants. Once planted this plant gives you a fresh crop every year, it is near impossible to kill and goes great with apple pies. If it costs you £1 for the bulb you will get that money back with the first harvest in terms of fruit, and isn’t it nice to know where your food comes from. It also means one less trip to the supermarket and a lovely pudding. (Strawberries do the same but are a little harder to keep in my experience)
8. Go shopping with a list and on a full stomach. If it’s not on the list, do you really need it? I admit I only half do this, with my half-hearted list. But I do go on a full stomach and find I resist all those yummy looking items, why? Because I’m full. I’ve heard this advice time and again, and only recently have I put it into use. I find I spend less money overall as I’m not craving anything.
9. Cook too much and freeze leftovers or have them for lunch to next day. Pasta dishes are great for this, as are rice dishes in my experience. This can also save on energy bills if it is a dish that takes a long time to cook such as a stew or soup.
10. Don’t cook too much. I realise this contradicts with the above. But some things just are not nice reheated or don’t freeze well. For example garlic bread is not something that lasts well in a freezer. Instead why not make individual portion sizes of garlic bread with bread and butter with garlic mixed in and put it under the grill for 5 minutes. Quick, easy portion controllable garlic bread.
11. Have a vegetarian day once a week. Depending on what meat you eat this can save a good couple of pounds for the family by simply having a non-meat dish. Egg and soldiers, or Macaroni Cheese are favourites in my house, but each house obviously will have their own favourites.
12. Buy frozen meat. It costs a lot less and is more convenient in my eyes. Frozen chicken breasts are £2.00 for 600g from Heron or Asda Smartprice Chicken Fillets £3.79 for 550g. Being honest, who buys smart price meat as well? It makes sense to shop around for certain products, being frozen you can stock up as well.
13. Be inventive. Try a bit of make do and mending. Need to wrap something up? Why not use the jargon pushed through the mail box or a newspaper left lying around. Why not see whether you can make do with what you already have before rushing out to the shops. There are people online who may have been in the same situation as you, and the more you practise the better you get (usually). This is also a brilliant source of entertainment, if you get the whole house involved in solving a particular challenge.
14. Half and Half. With children or adults who like expensive cereal perhaps a good way to cut the cost is to give them half expensive cereal and half cheap meaning the expensive stuff will go further and every-one is happy. This can also be done for other things but I find cereal works best. Like on an evening having on alcoholic drink followed by one water/soft drink means that your cost will be lower overall and you will wake up feeling better (hopefully)
15. Wear socks at night, and turning the heating down. Hence saving you money.
16. Make your own artwork. Get you children to make the pictures you hang around your home. It’s more personal and could save you money on expensive prints.
17. Cut down on shower times. By reducing your average shower time by two minutes, the average home could save £20 a year.
18. Turn electrical items off at the plug socket when not in use.
19. Invest in timer plugs. Although it there is an initial outlay this works well for those who fail to turn everything off at the plug or have a habit of forgetting.
20. Always shop around for big purchases, perhaps even discounts at your intended store. Sometimes savings of 10% can add up and are worth just a couple of minutes searching the internet.
21. Make use of friends/family when visiting certain locations, and use of their knowledge of the local area for the best deals/places if their home is not an option. Ask the locals opinion as well. They will know the best places to go, and the cheapest. Staying at a friends house or a relatives when travelling can save a lot of money on B and B’s or a hotel. Just remember to say Thanks and perhaps bring a bottle of wine or fizzy water, whatever is your poison.
22. Go Teetotal. Even if it is just cutting back to half what your normal amount is, your liver will thank you and so will your bank balance. Alcohol is expensive, mixing your drinks with cheaper versions may be an option, but abstinence is my avocation.
23. Substitute hand wash for bath creme, does the same job for a fraction of the cost. Go on, give it a go.
24. Have a second set of curtains, on top of the first. This helps to keep the heat in and consequently less heat is needed, thank you bank balance.
25. Make use of the basket. Do not get a trolley bigger than necessary. If there is not as much room then you are going to have to prioritise the ingredients that you really need and stick to the list. Using a basket will also help to build your upper body muscles so you can save money on the gym. (I personally really like using the trolley because I am quite lazy and prefer not to carry the shopping round, so instead I take a basket and put it in the trolley, which may look silly but it does limit my purchases without having to tire myself out).
26. Cards, play cards as entertainment instead of perhaps buying a DVD or going to the cinema. Make a friends night in playing cards costs about 60p for a deck of cards, but once bought they should last you a long time and are a cheap form of entertainment that I think is often underestimated. Cards with children can also be a good way of entertaining them with less need for new and expensive gifts all the time, with so many different games for different ages.
27. Get your shoes repaired. Investing in a good pair of shoes and then getting them repaired at a trusty cobblers is one way to make the most out of your money and avoid getting a new pair for a long time. Same can be said for things with zips that might be faulty, instead of throwing away and starting again get the opinion of your local cobbler/repair shop. (Perhaps you can even repair them yourself)
28. Refrain from expensive takeaways or alternatively substitute your usual takeaway for a cheaper alternative if refraining was not an option.
29. Walk places.
30. Cut your washing up sponges in half. It may sound silly, but I’ve found that half of one needs replacing just as frequently as the full thing. It just helps it to go further and save you money on buying them less frequently.
Moneysupermarket are running a competition to celebrate the 30 years of the £1 coin. Amazing really. Think you can come up with some ideas and suggestions? Get involved guys. It’s been quite fun and challenging trying to come up with non traditional ideas.