There are two ways you can improve your financial situation. You can either spend less or earn more. Earning more is always nice but it’s not usually all that easy to achieve. Luckily most people can make a few tweaks to their budget and be a bit better off.
Cutting back on your living costs can sometimes mean having to do a bit of work to get the best deal but by reducing your expenses it’s a bit like you’re giving yourself a pay rise, so the work definitely pays off!
There are lots of things you can do to cut your expenses: we’ve identified 32 budget areas that you can try to cut back on. Some might not apply, some could be things you already know, but we think that most people can find something in this list that could help save them some cash!
- Landline phones – Do you still use yours? If not then you might be able to save money by getting rid of your line. If you find you use mainly use your mobile then getting rid of your landline could save a few quid.
- Clothing and footwear – Repurposing your old clobber is a great way to get that new-clothes feeling without splashing out any cash. Pinterest is a treasure trove of ideas on how to flip your old stuff into something fabulous.
- Internet – Internet service providers are always clambering over each other to try and get your business. So getting a good deal means keeping your eyes open and being willing to switch providers if better deals become available. Shopping around for the best offer when you’re out of contract will nearly always save you money (though you’ll have to factor in the hassle of switching into the cost). Comparison sites like broadbandchoices make it easier to find good deals.
- Dry cleaning – Some clothes say that they’re dry clean only but if you’re careful you can get away with washing them at home. This article on wikiHow shows you three ways to wash a dry clean only garment and importantly tells you which materials you definitely shouldn’t wash at home. Nobody wants a shrunken jumper on their hands!
- Mortgage – Shop around for the best mortgage deals. If you’re on a DMP then your credit file might limit the number of deals available but it still pays to try to get a better deal.
- Mobile phones – Who doesn’t like a new shiny thing? While it’s tempting to get the latest and greatest smartphone, resisting the urge to upgrade your phone can save you serious cash. Switching to a sim-only contract or to ‘pay as you go’ can slash your costs compared to being stuck in a contract.
- Charity donations – Giving to good causes is a great idea but if you’re struggling for money then it might be a better idea to offer your time rather than cash. Do-it.org.uk has a searchable database which will tell you about volunteering opportunities in your area.
- Council tax – Worried you might be in the wrong band? MoneySavingExpert.com has a great guide to challenging your council tax band which has helped some people save thousands of pounds. Follow the instructions carefully though, as the council could put your bill up as well as down.
- Gas and electric – Most of us know that comparing suppliers and switching is a good way to cut your bills but how many of us actually do it? If you’ve got a few minutes spare our online utility checking service will help you find a good deal.
- TV licence – If you don’t watch telly then you can save money by not having to pay for a TV licence. This is only a good option if you genuinely don’t watch any broadcast TV though (which includes watching live TV online), as landing a hefty fine isn’t money-saving at all!
- TV packages – Premium TV packages with Sky and Virgin Media offer hundreds of channels but do you really watch them? If not you could ditch your package and save loads of cash by switching to Freeview.
- Household repairs – If you’ve got a squeaky hinge, leaky tap or loose bit of carpet you don’t have to call in a specialist. Search online for video tutorials for whatever problem you’re looking to solve. The exception to this rule is anything involving gas and electricity – they’re the jobs where you need to call in the specialists.
- Rent – If your place is too big for you then you could consider downsizing to smaller place to save money on rent. This could also give you knock on savings to your utilities and council tax.
- Appliance rental / hire purchase – The easiest way to save money on appliance rental is to avoid them at all costs. If you’re skint and need a new washer, TV or sofa then look for cheaper alternatives. Friends and family might have spares lying around or local charity shops often sell decent furniture and appliances at low prices. Gumtree and Freecycle are also good resources for free and cheap things near you.
- Childcare – We’ve got a great guide on all the various ways you can cut the cost of childcare.
- County court judgments (CCJs) – If you’ve got a CCJ then you’ll have been told by the court what you should pay towards this debt. If you can’t afford the payment anymore then we’ve got an article with details of how to reduce the monthly payment on a CCJ.
- Fuel costs – Car expert Stuart Masson told us five top tips to keep your fuel costs down.
- Public transport costs – Most bus and train operators offer discounts on your travel costs if you’re willing to pay upfront for an annual season ticket. It might not always be practical to fork out so much money up front but a lot of big employers offer season ticket loans which they’ll then take out of your wages.
- Breakdown cover – This is another of those yearly costs where shopping around really pays off.
- Food shopping – We’ve got a great article about cutting your shopping budget but if you want one tip then I’d recommend doing a meal plan for the week before shopping and only buying the ingredients for the meals you’re planning.
- Water bills – If you’re not on a water meter then you could save a lot of cash by switching. Your water company will install it for free and then you’ll be billed on the water you use. Unless you use an awful lot of water you’re likely to save money.
- Water bills – You can also save money by cutting back on how much water you use. If you’re already on water meters then using too much water is literally seeing money go down the drain! We’ve got some top tips on how to reduce your water usage.
- Smoking – Cutting back on smoking is something we’ll always recommend but we understand that it’s not always that easy. If you want to quit then there’s some great support available from the NHS. We’re also hearing that many people have saved by switching to e-cigarettes too (not that we can endorse either habit).
- Pet costs – Try switching to a cheaper brand of pet food. Some pets can be picky and might turn their noses up but often they’ll never notice the difference.
- Meals at work – Try to establish a morning routine that allows time to make yourself something to take into work. It shouldn’t take more than a five minutes to make yourself a quick sandwich and will save you loads of cash if you can do this every day.
- Buildings and contents insurance – You never know what’s around the corner, so home insurance is a useful thing to have, even when you’re on a tight budget. However, it’s possible that you could be over-insured. Next time yours comes up for renewal it might be worth adjusting the amounts and make sure that you’re getting the cover you need, not more than you need.
- School meals – Think your kids could be entitled to free school meals but aren’t sure? There’s a handy checker that you can use to find out if you can get free school meals.
- Hairdressing – If you’re feeling brave you could always look up YouTube videos on how to cut your own hair. Those that don’t have that level of confidence with a pair of scissors can save cash by looking for cheaper hairdressers. My last haircut at the barbers cost four quid and I couldn’t tell the difference from the more expensive salon cuts I’ve had in the past.
- Newspapers & magazines – This might sounds a bit obvious but if money’s tight then cutting this area of expenditure is a fairly painless way to save cash. I say painless because the same information is usually available online for free, and it’s more up to date!
- Sports, hobbies and entertainment – Being on a budget can rule out some expensive hobbies but there’s loads of free ways to keep yourself busy. Our blogger pal SkintDad has written an insightful article about seven cheap hobbies you can try today.
- Pocket money – This is a tricky area. Pocket money is a useful way to help children to understand the value of money and budgeting. On the other hand you don’t want to get into a situation where your children are on your list of creditors! Limiting pocket money to what you can afford and perhaps make it conditional on your little one doing some household chores.
- Christmas and birthdays – There’s often a lot of pressure to spend loads of money on gifts for loved ones but you can avoid some of these costs by giving thoughtful homemade presents. We’ve got an article all about how to make cheap birthday gifts.
There are hundreds of ways to save money if you think about it. If there’s any ways that you’ve managed to cut back your costs then we’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!