Jasmine Birtles from Moneymagpie.com shares her favourite freebie websites and tips on...
18 smart and easy ways to save money
Saving money is something that we can all get on board with. There are lots of ways to watch the pennies, it’s just a case of spotting them.
Moneymagpie’s Jasmine Birtles stopped by the blog to share some top tips on how the whole family can save a few pounds…
You may be thinking ‘everyone says how easy it is to save money, but putting it in practice is another thing altogether’. The good news is that you can save money the minute you get out of bed and start getting ready for the day. This is how a thrifty life is lived – baby steps, little by little, every day.
Once you know your own budget and needs, there’s a whole wealth of ways you can supercharge your savings. For now, let’s take a look at some thrifty tips that are so crafty you might just feel hoodwinked into saving money!
Wait before you go grocery shopping
Before you go on ‘the big food shop’, take a quick look at the tins and jars in your cupboards before you buy more. Have a quick peek in the fridge and freezer while making a note of what’s in there – you might be able to whip up something out of just a few ingredients.
Try the BBC recipes section or Lovefoodhatewaste.com for some cheap and easy recipes. Vegetarian recipes are particularly good for using up all those tins and packets of beans and pulses that normally sit at the back of the cupboard.
Cut back on eating meat
You don’t have to become a vegetarian, but opting for a veggie dish twice a week might save money, as meat can be expensive. You can still get your daily amount of protein from eating eggs, lentils, beans, and nuts.
Laura from the MoneyAware team wrote a handy blogpost on vegetarian dishes that you can try.
Cut down on laundry detergent
You don’t need to use two tablets, or as much powder as the box recommends, to get clean clothes (unless it’s caked in mud, paint and grass). It’s better to pre-soak clothes that have these ‘heavy’ stains, or use stain remover before the wash on marks like grease or felt tip.
Did you know you can use baking soda to wash your clothes? If you’re low on detergent, combine what’s left with some baking soda and your clothes will wash up lovely and bright (and for more baking soda tips, check out Jenny’s blogpost).
Make greeting cards and wrapping paper
The website Making Greeting Cards is loaded with design ideas for gorgeous, homemade cards. There are also hundreds of ideas on Pinterest if you just put ‘greetings cards ideas’ into the search bar. You can also find tips for recycling old Christmas cards, which can save money as well as the environment!
Buy seasonal products after the event
Shops are in a rush to get rid of seasonal stuff to make room, so it’ll often be less than half the price.
The same goes for pretty much any annual event like Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ night.
Go second hand
You can furnish your whole house for a few hundred quid if you go second hand. Bicycles, furniture and appliances are on offer at greatly reduced prices on sites like eBay, Gumtree, Shpock and even Facebook Marketplace. A lot of the stuff is in great condition, and you can check photos online before you pick it up.
While most people who flog their stuff through these website are trustworthy, it’s always a good idea to exercise a bit of caution. Scams tend to pop up a lot on Facebook, especially around the festive season. Jenny’s blogpost on how to avoid online scams can help you spot any dodgy dealers!
Use up your beauty product dregs
Make it a house policy to never buy any new shampoos, conditioners, make-up or lotions until you’ve used up the old ones. This could save you tens or even hundreds of pounds a year.
The best way to get to the last dregs of shampoo is to cut the bottle open (just be careful not to snip a finger in the process!). Once that’s done, you can:
- Dab some on an old stubborn zip to make it work better (using a cotton swab)
- Use it as a substitute shaving cream (conditioner works well for this, too)
- Add it to lukewarm water to clean paintbrushes
- Use it to give your shoes a quick polish
Are you languishing in leftover bits of make-up? Check out Krazy Koupon Lady’s guide on how to make your war paint last longer.
Use charity shops to the max
Charity shops are also a great way to have a cut-price, glamorous wedding. Oxfam have special wedding shops (check out the excellent one in Aberdeen for example) with amazing wedding dresses worn only once…of course!
Throw a swish party
Have your friends and neighbours round for a ‘swishing’ party. This can be a great way to get new things for free and get rid of all the old items you no longer want.
Have a quick read of Pavan’s handy swishing blogpost to help you get started.
Don’t be shy – haggle!
Keep smiling while you do it as you could easily be knocked back at first. Do your research before by going to see what other retailers are charging and make sure you speak to someone in charge who has the authority to say yes.
If you’re feeling brave enough to barter, you need to read Mara’s guide to high street haggling over on Moneymagpie.com.
Make the most of auctions
Furnishing your home can spiral out of control, cost-wise. The good news is there are hundreds of charity fundraising auctions and general auctions around which sell homeware and furniture at a good price.
It’s also worth checking out police auctions as they have everything from jewellery to cars. Find out more on MoneySavingExpert.com, and get ready to bag some serious bargains!
Recycle, recycle, recycle!
Sites like Envirofone will pay to recycle most old mobile phones, and if yours is too old to have any value, at least they’ll recycle it responsibly.
As for your old CDs, DVDs and games, Ziffit will send you a cheque for what you send them or pay you directly via Paypal.
Switch your bulbs
Energy-saving bulbs last up to 10 to 15 times as long, and use about a quarter to a fifth of the electricity that ordinary light bulbs use. Yes, they cost more to buy, but our the lifetime of the bulb the savings add up.
Get a railcard
If you travel on the train more than a couple of times a year, it might be worth looking into getting a railcard. In some cases, the fee you pay for the railcard can be made back in a couple of trips or less.
Railcards cost between £20-30 a year, and there’s a good chance you’ll be covered by at least one of them.
You could save 1/3 off rail journeys if:
- you’re aged 16-25
- you’re aged 60 or over
- you travel with family, friends or one other person regularly
- you have a disability
Even if none of these railcards fit your circumstances, if you travel a lot in the Greater London Network Rail area you could still benefit. Find out more at Railcard.co.uk.
Get as much as you can for free
It’s amazing what’s around for free if you look hard enough. Try sites like Freecyle for free furniture, books, clothes, homeware, garden items and more that are being given away by people in your area.
Also, take advantage of all free entertainment in your area. Use the library for free books, magazines and even talks. Check your local council’s website to see what they’re offering or do a quick search for ‘free events’ on Google.
Cut the landline
The majority of broadband deals demand a landline although 95% of us would manage without one. However, if you live in central or north London you can get a standalone broadband service from Relish for just £20 a month.
And nowadays some internet providers have plans that give you broadband without the phone line.
Get cheaper petrol
The ‘Petrol Prices Pro’ app (on Android and Apple) costs £2.99 per year but is updated every weekday to give you the most up-to-date fuel prices from over 11,000 petrol stations across the UK. It’s also worth keeping an eye on your speed and driving as smoothly as possible as this cuts down petrol consumption.
While you’re at it, check out Peer’s blogpost on all the different ways you can save money with your car. James also took a look at how you can save money on the dreaded annual MOT.
Time your flight bookings
According to Momondo.co.uk, you get the cheapest deals on flights if you book them at least 53 days in advance. They also found it’s cheapest to book on a Tuesday. Saturdays are the most expensive – on average 11.5 per cent dearer than buying on a Tuesday.
If you’re planning to get away from it all, don’t miss James’s blogpost on how to have the perfect thrifty holiday.
Hungry for more money-saving ideas for the family? Make sure you download Jasmine’s FREE eBook “I’m not made of money! Budgeting tips for stressed parents (PDF)”. It’ll show you how to cut down on all your regular family costs, how to save when you’ve just had a baby, how to invest for your children, ways your family can make money together, and much more!
Jasmine Birtles is founder of MoneyMagpie.com which is full of money-making and money-saving ideas for everyone.