Monday 12 October 2015

20 Tips to get More from your Money

Money in Glass Jar by Shutterstock

Just over two years ago we moved to East Sussex from Hertfordshire and with this move came lots of change. I gave up my out-of-home job, we sold our house and dh took a massive pay-cut. Without a doubt it is the best move our family ever made but it didn't come without its fair share of challenges!

Due to the massive cut in our income we have had to look for ways to be much more creative with our money and to save spending out unnecessarily. I'm not the type to go without all my luxuries so we have had to shop smarter to get the things we need (or even just want). I thought it might be useful to share with you some of the ways that I have become thrifty and saved money along the way -

1. Pick your credit card wisely. We pay off our balance every month so interest rates hold no real attraction for us but we do like to choose a card that offers us a little extra. Our card comes with points for every pound we spend and then we can exchange these for restaurant, cinema and holiday vouchers. We gain loads of days and meals out in this way.

2.  Become a Charity shop shopper. I truly love a good bargain and am happy to wile away a couple of hours browsing the charity shops. If you've not been in one before you;d be amazed with the bargains that can be picked up. Clothes, books, gifts and so much more.  I buy nearly all my kids stocking fillers in charity shops as many things are donated that have never even been opened.

3.  Cook at home more. As we now live a minimum of 5 miles from any restaurant this really took the shine off buying a take-away as no-one delivers. Of course this means we now save lots of money and I have discovered that you can pretty easily cook all your favourite take-aways for a fraction of the price and without too much fuss.

4.  Plan nights in with friends. Instead of going out for meals, to the pub or the cinema. Plan plenty of nights in with your mates, a bottle of wine and some board games. I've been surprised how much fun you can have when a few of you get together and stay in.

5.  Save vouchers. We've had many fun out-of-season caravan holidays by collecting tokens from the Sun newspaper.  You don't even have to buy the paper as lots of people share the codes online. I also collect all the vouchers I can find onlne for any purchases that I need to make.

6.  Use cashback sites. if you need to make a purchase online, then ensure that you go via a cashback site. I use both Quidco and topcashback. They have both been useful for differing purchases. Sometimes you can even make money from them by just using them for an insurance quote.

7.  Use online comparison sites. Make sure that you check out the cost of all your regular purchases like insurance, telephone plans, internet, cable TV and energy online and do it regularly as things change fairly often and you want to be getting the best deal.  There is often money available just because you are swapping suppliers too.

8.  Give Frugal Gifts. I try to buy gifts when I see something on special that I know that the recipient would like. Alternatively, I like to give handmade gifts that have taken time and love but little money. There are so many fabulous ideas on Pinterest and Etsy nowadays that you need never be stuck for inspiration.

9.  Car share. This is a massive saver, my kids all go to school a 10 mile round journey from home and by three families sharing the lifts I only have to do this journey about 4 times a week instead of 

10.  Ditch the cleaning products. I rarely buy any cleaning products nowadays, instead choosing to use micro clothes, a water spray, white vinegar and bicarb. There is not a lot you cannot get clean with some elbow grease and a bi-carb mixture.

11.  Meal plan, batch cook and freeze. I do my online shop once a week and I order to my menu plan. I then cook up a few days of meals to freeze and then over the next couple of weeks it is easy to be organised and to eat well for little cost.

12.  Get washing smart. Before we moved I was guilty of washing every piece of clothing every day but now I'm a little smarter and if a piece of clothing looks clean and smells clean then it can be hung and worn again the next day. I also use only 1/2 the recommended amount of laundry detergent nowadays and have given up on fabric conditioner as I see no difference without it. Of course, line drying is the cheapest way but if you use a tumble dryer make sure you stick in a laundry ball.

13.  Switch from Cable to online. Personally, we have Netflix nowadays and at £5.99 a month it is dramatically cheaper than we used to pay to Virgin for our cable TV before we moved. We also tend to buy DVDs for £1 from the charity shop and then swap and share with other local families.

14.  Swap to own brands or budget shops. Shops like Lidl and Aldi are now offering premium quality goods without the price tag and I've discovered that for many items it really does not matter if you buy the value own brand rather than the market leader. The difference on a tin of beans can be as much as 60p per can.

15.  Home swap.  This year we spent our summer holiday at a friends house in Telford, it was perfect and it was free. So much nicer to have stocked cupboards, DVDs to watch, a trampoline to bounce on and a super comfy sofa than a sterile holiday let that costs in excess of £1000 in the school holidays.

16.  Ask about or use Freecycle. If you need something new, like a freezer or wardrobe why not ask about first. Put a message on FaceBook or send an email, I learnt this recently when we needed a new washer and after ordering one I spoke to my Mum who said my aunt had one she wanted to get rid of! Freecycle is also fabulous and can provide any great items, as well as a way to get rid of bulky items you no longer need.

17.  Turn everything off. Make sure not to leave any electrical appliances on standby, nor water running when you don't need it. All these little efforts will soon add up to big savings.

18.  De-bobble old knitwear. We've all had the jumper that we loved but it started to look old and bobbly. Did you know you can gently shave off those bobbles and it will look as good as new? Seriously a cheap and disposable razor does the job but be gentle!

19.  Sell the things you don't need. I've been using Ebay for years but my kids also love car boots. So if you have things that are no longer being used, why not sell them and make some cash to save or spend on items that are required.

20.  Shop around for the best place to put your money. You rarely get rewarded for loyalty with banks so make sure you keep an eye on who is paying the best interest and offering the most relevant deals. Recently TSB have launched their 5 Plus account which offers 5% interest on your current and savings account and also 5% cashback on your purchases. It seems worth checking out, right?

I have been commissioned to write this post by TSB.

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