I have got to be honest, I am not the world’s greatest money saver. My willpower tends to vary between being very little to non-existent, however, with baby number two on the way, it is probably time I gave this some more thought.
I am also hoping to win some Amazon vouchers from the lovely Jane who is celebrating the launch of her brand-spanking new blog, From Spending to Saving.
My trouble is I spend far too much time listening to the bad fairy on my left shoulder, the one with the penchant for nice shoes, Chanel and fancy cheese, and not enough time listening to the good fairy on my right shoulder…
… the boring one.
Not any more though. Oh no. I am even going to get the bad fairy on board.
So here are the 101-ish ways I have come up with to save some of my hard-earned cash.
- Plan your weekly meals BEFORE you shop and make a list. This way you will only buy the stuff you really need.
- Schedule meals carefully so that Monday’s leftovers can be made into Tuesday’s tea. Left-over meat, veg and potato from a roast dinner can be transformed into a tasty curry simply with the addition of a jar of sauce and some rice.
- Consider where you shop. Stores like Aldi often offer equivalent produce at a vastly lower price than some of the other supermarkets.
- Bring your own shopping bags, don’t waste money on plastic carriers.
- If you do have carrier bags then re-use them as bin-liners.
- Freeze leftovers. If you have cooked too much then portion out into small sandwich bags and freeze for another day.
- Check expiry dates on perishable food….and check the ones at the very back of the shelf. You may get a few extra days grace that way.
- For non-perishable items buy in bulk, but only stuff that you KNOW you will use. There is no point having 20 jars of pickled onions taking up cupboard space for the next three years.
- Never go food-shopping when you are hungry or hungover…you will make BAD CHOICES…I guarantee it.
- Consider investing in a slow-cooker. For this small outlay you can make very cheap cuts of meat taste delicious in stews and casseroles etc.
- Stretch your budget. If you have a weekly food allowance see, with a bit of creativity, if you can make it last for 10 days.
- Grow your own herbs. Even if you don’t have a garden a small pot on a sunny window-sill will do and it is much more effective than packaged fresh herbs. If you do end up buying these you will invariably have more than you need. Freeze whatever is left in ice-cube trays with a little water and you can use these in the future to flavour stews and sauces.
- Beware of paying extra for branded products unnecessarily. Ok so we are all probably still a bit stunned that some of our value beef recently turned out to be horse, EEK, but there are some products that you can really save on without the worry. DRUGS! Buy store-brand paracetamol, antihistamines etc and you will save a fortune. The active ingredient, i.e. the bit you need, is the same!
- If you KNOW you are a spend-thrift, like me, and you know that you need to be good this month, freeze your credit card. No kidding. Place in a small bag of water and freeze. It will make sure that you don’t impulse buy and the time it takes to defrost will give you plenty of time to decide whether or not the purchase is absolutely necessary.
- Remove your card details from online stores. Again, this will make impulse buying that little bit more of an effort and might just make you think twice if you have to go and track down your card details.
- Shop around for the best mobile tariff you can find. Armed with this info ring up your provider and say you want to leave unless they can offer you a better deal, equivalent or better to the best that you have found. They will want to keep you and it will probably only take you half an hour.
- DO NOT RING 0800 numbers from your mobile, EVER. It costs a fortune. You can find equivalent landline numbers for most companies at this great site SAY NO TO 0870. They even have a FREE app you can get for your mobile.
- Remember to switch off data-roaming on your phone when abroad unless you definitely need to use it.
- Avoid using the internet on your phone when abroad unless you can find a WIFI area. Checking out your Instagram account every hour will cost you a fortune.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: On calling friends, after a minute or so make a ***SHHHHHHHHHHHH**** noise and wave your phone about then hang up. They will think you have been cut off and invariably ring you back.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Call long-distance friends/relatives at a time you know they will be out at work. Leave a message. They will phone you back.
- Dig out the stuff you no longer wear but is still in good condition and get your buddies to do the same. Invite them all round for a swapshop night, encourage them to bring wine, and make it a party where you all go home with something new.
- Check out your local charity shops for bargains. You will be amazed at what you might find, particularly in the handbag sections!
- Look after your stuff. Do up zips before washing so that they won’t snag other clothes, hang up properly, don’t over-wash etc.
- Avoid using the tumble dryer when you can. Try and dry outside or on a clothes horse.
- If you do need to use it spin your washing for one extra cycle first. It will dry that bit faster and use up less energy than those extra minutes in the dryer.
- Only wash dark clothes after several wears unless actually dirty.
- Wait until you have a full load before putting the machine on.
- Check out the local free papers for deals and vouchers.
- Also look online at My Voucher Codes, you will almost always find deals for restaurant chains here.
- You will often find much better deals midweek than weekends so consider when you really want to go out.
- Don’t have a starter….do you REALLY need one.
- Ask for tap water instead of bottled. It won’t do you any harm and, to be honest, can you really tell the difference?
- Order the house wine. If it is a half-decent establishment they will have chosen this carefully and it should be reasonable.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Swipe all the unopened sachets of ketchup/mustard/sauce etc from pubs and stash in your handbag to bring home.
- If you can only afford the odd night out try and pick somewhere with a happy hour or a good deal on to make your pennies stretch that bit further.
- Drink water between each round of drinks. It will save both your wallet and your head in the morning.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Leave your wallet at home. Your friends might just shout you.
Entertaining The Kids
- Go to the park, for free.
- Visit a city farm, for free.
- Visit local museums, many of which are also free.
- Go on a scavenger hunt collecting flowers, twigs, stones etc.
- Take your chalks outside for some pavement painting.
- Play some frisbee, football, rounders.
- When the weather is bad have some fun in the kitchen with some baking or let them help you make the dinner.
- Look online for good deals.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Before heading out make sure you have packed any unopened shampoos/shower-gels etc in your bag. The maid will then refill when she makes up the room meaning more for you to take home!
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Bring your handbag down to breakfast. This can be super handy for swiping those cute individual pots of jam/boxes of cereal etc.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Check vending machines for unretrieved change, or look for that product that didn’t quite fall out for the last buyer and choose this in the hope you may get two for the price of one.
- Turn down your thermostat. Just a few degrees could save a fair few pounds over a month or two.
- De-clutter. Look through all those DVDS and CDS you have. Are you really going to watch/listen to them again? If not consider selling them at a car-boot or have a look at sites like Music Magpie which will buy them from you.
- Shop around for the best energy deals. This may take a bit of time but could save you a fortune in the long run. There are some great comparison sites which can make this easier such as uswitch.com.
- Switch to energy-saving light bulbs. They will save you money in the long-run
- Turn off all appliances when not in use. Those little stand-by lights are a constant drain on your finances.
- Make sure you use up ALL the washing up liquid, hand-soap etc from your dispensers. A small splash of water when you get near to the end of the bottle will make sure that you don’t waste those last few mls.
- Ditch your gym membership. NOW! Go for a run/walk/swim at your local pool. Buy an exercise DVD and exercise at home. You can still stay fit without it costing a small fortune every month.
- Leave the car at home and get some exercise. If you are not going that far then stretch your legs and save on petrol costs.
- Ask a friend to help you dye your hair with a packet dye instead of paying outrageous salon fees.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Cut your partners hair….how hard can clippers be?
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Cut your childrens hair, an upside-down bowl can make a very simple guide for this.
- Borrow books from the library instead of buying new. Lots of coffee shops also have free book-swaps so keep your eyes open for these.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: If your doctors/opticians/local coffee shop have a decent supply of magazines you may consider BORROWING them stealthily. You can always return them later.
- Make a packed lunch. Instead of nipping out for a £2.50 sandwich and a snack make one at home and bring in some fruit or a bag of crisps. This could make a HUGE difference to your weekly spend.
- Car-share with a colleague and save on petrol.
- Consider taking the bus instead of the car.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: Steal the loo-roll, particularly if they are over halfway through a roll no-one will notice.
- Do you really need any? Consider all of the expense of vet bills, medicines, food and upkeep before making any rash decisions…no matter how much the little ones beg you.
- BAD FAIRY SAYS: A decent sized dog can make a good foot-warmer and save on the heating bill
- Marry a man who can fix stuff…or at least one with a Dad who can!
Now what to do with all that lovely money you have just saved? *GAGS BAD FAIRY QUICKLY*
Well part of this little competition is to tell Jane why she should consider putting some money into an off-shore pension. Well, quite simply, if you are an ex-pat living abroad, the tax breaks are much better. With a UK pension you can withdraw 25% of a lump-sum tax-free on maturity. With an off-shore pension you can withdraw 100% tax-free. To find out more about this, and the many other advantages of an offshore pension, please visit WhichOffshore.
I don’t live abroad.
*Wanders off in search of fancy cheese*
I am not suggesting that you follow ANY of the Bad Fairy’s suggestions and do hope you will take them in the way they were intended, to make you giggle.