Stretch Your Money with 61 Money Saving Tips You Haven’t Tried Yet

By PURSUIT of FIRE on in Save Money - Level 2

You manage to follow your budget every month (for the most part anyway). You make sure not to overspend where you can and you are paying your bills off fine.

Even with all this, why do you feel broke all the time?

There is always room for improvement and chances are you haven’t tried one of these money-saving tips.

Utilities and Bills

When you look at your monthly outgoings most of it is going to be made up of bills. It may seem like you can’t change them but there are always savings to be had on mobile contracts, heating and electricity.

1. Downgrade your mobile plan

This is one area where my wife and I have managed to save a lot of money. Often when we are picking mobile contracts we go for the one with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts. With the rationale that we don’t want to be charged for going over.

However, the reality is we use iMessage, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp more then we send text messages and we are rarely on the phone that much that it warrants unlimited minutes.

The best time to do this is once you have finished your initial 12/24 month contract. You are no longer paying for your phone yet if you stay on the same contract you end up paying over the odds each month.

By downgrading to a sim only contract you can save as much as £30 a month, that’s £360 a year!

2. Turn your heating down a couple of degrees

We all need to stay warm during the winter especially those with young children in the house. However, most of the time we seem to want it to feel like summer indoors.

They say that lowering your heating by 1 degree can save you as much as 10% on your heating. This applies to your water heating as well, do you really need the water that hot to have a shower.

By lowering your heating and putting on a jumper you could save yourself as much as £90 a year.

3. Get rid of cable/satellite

My wife and I don’t watch a lot of normal TV any more. Most of the time we will watch Netflix or rent a movie on Google Play (see point 28 for free movies).

The only normal TV we watch is CBeebies (kids TV channel) for our 2 girls. As such we really can’t justify paying for extra channels on Sky or Virgin.

The top package on Sky will set you back a staggering £79 a month. With Freeview, Freesat, Netflix and the occasional movie rental, we always have plenty to watch.

4. Pay your bills on time

This should be a given for your family to be financially happy. Not paying your bills on time can cause you to have hefty fines which can wipe out all the other savings you made this month.

Most companies let you pay by direct debit. For those that don’t, I have recurring appointments set in my calendar to remind me at a set time each month.

5. Unplug appliances when not in use

If your house is anything like ours, when you turn the light off in the living room it will look like there is a sea of red eyes looking back at you. All those standby lights use a little bit of power.

One appliance by itself is fine but most of us have at least 3. The best way to save power is to have your entertainment system plugged into a power strip like this one from Belkin. It has a switch on the side so you can just switch everything off at once.

6. Do balance transfers for any credit card debt

If you have a large amount of debt on your credit card you can save a lot of money by moving the balance to a new card with 0% interest for a period of time.

Ideally, you should not put anything on the credit card that you can’t afford to pay off at the end of the month. I mostly put purchases on the credit card for the added protection and cashback rather than for the credit.

7. Replace your bulbs with Eco bulbs

You can save a lot of money by switching lights off at the end of the day, but you are always going to need a light on somewhere at night.

You can save as much as £240 a year by switching to energy saver bulbs. The downside is the bulbs are more expensive than standard ones but you can buy them cheaply if you look around.

Amazon, for example, does a pack of 3 for £9.95 and you can save more if you buy the larger packs. However, if you buy them from supermarkets and high street stores you can pay as much as £10 per bulb!

8. Cancel your subscriptions

There are so many subscription services you can sign up to these days. A friend of mine realised one day that he was signed up to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV and Sky, so was paying over £60 a month for TV he wasn’t even there to watch.

For subscriptions as low as £9.99 a month, you can think, well it’s only £9.99 but they soon add up. It’s time to look at the services and see which ones you actually use.

We were spending £9.99 per month on Now TV for the movies and realised we only watch 1 per week and most of the new ones aren’t on there. It was cheaper for us just to rent the ones we did want to watch on Google Play (see point 28 for free movies) and use Netflix or our own collection for the rest.

9. Get them to waive the fees

Whether it is an annual fee on your credit card or a fee for going overdrawn, most companies would much rather waive that fee than lose a customer. Getting customers is hard work, it is much easier just to keep the ones you already have.

There is a guy called Ramit Sethi, who is brilliant at this and has even created scripts you can use on the phone. Check out his post on how to get your fees waived.

10. Buy a timer plug when charging your phone

If you are like me, you are probably on your phone a lot. It is a lifeline and a source of entertainment when you are bored. The only time I am not on my phone is when I am sleeping, and so I use this time to charge my phone.

However, it only takes 1-2 hours to charge my phone yet it stays on 8 hours using electricity! With Smart Plugs you can set schedules and get them to automatically turn on and off when different things happen. The best one out there is the Belkin WeMo plug, it even works with Amazon’s Echo.

Food, Drink and Groceries

Our biggest monthly outgoing after our mortgage is on our weekly shop. Our weekly shop tends to range from £50 – £100 depending on where we shop and what we need that week. Try these tips to cut down on how much you spend each week.

11. Bulk up dishes with beans and rice

As your family gets bigger and the kids start eating adult size portions it is difficult to make meals stretch. You end up buying a bigger pack of meat which ends up costing you even more. Why not try bulking up your dishes with beans or rice.

Looking at vegetarian recipes can be a great way to see what you can use to bulk up meals. If you are having Mexican food such as enchiladas, packing them out with refried beans or rice can be a great way to make the meal stretch for hungry mouths.

12. Only buy what you need

Going around the supermarket you will see all sorts of great deals 3 for £10, Buy 2 Get 1 Free etc. However, if those deals are on perishable items it is worth thinking twice before buying them. If you normally buy that amount then great but don’t be fooled into spending more for items you don’t need.

My wife and I make this mistake time and time again and we are getting better at spending less. If the deal is really good you can always put things in the freezer.

13. Buy in bulk

You will often find that larger packs of items cost a lot less per item than smaller packs. If you really want to save money on your groceries you can buy bigger packs at wholesale retailers such as Costco. Just make sure you have space to store everything.

14. Eat less meat

When it comes to our weekly shop meat has to be one of the most expensive items we buy. Especially for joints of meat such as lamb and beef. I don’t believe people are supposed to eat as much meat as we do. Not only is it better for you to eat less meat but it is better for your bank balance as well.

15. Buy Supermarket Brands

There are certain products that I like and will always buy a certain brand. However, when it comes to staple ingredients it is very rare that I can tell the difference.

If I blindfolded you and made you eat 2 different types of baked beans, one from Heinz and a supermarket own version. Would you be able to tell the difference? I can’t! Heinz baked beans cost around £0.75 a can whereas Tesco’s own brand costs as little as £0.32 a can for a slightly bigger can as well. That’s a 57% saving.

The same thing goes for things like rice and biscuits. We buy Tesco Jaffa Cakes and digestive biscuits, one because they are cheaper but mainly because they are also dairy free and our daughter has a dairy allergy, bonus.

16. Plan your Meals

We still struggle to do this every week, it is difficult with a busy family. However, when we do plan our meals not only do we always have enough food for the week we also spend a lot less.

When we don’t plan we just go round buying things we like but with no proper plan for what we are going to have. We end up either running out of food or realise come cooking time that what we bought should have been cooking for 2 hours already.

17. Cook food at home instead of going out

This ties into the point above. If we run out of food we tend to get a takeaway or go out to our nearest restaurant. Obviously, it costs a hell of a lot more doing that then just eating at home.

Even if you go out and buy a pizza from your supermarket it is still going to cost a lot less then going out for a meal.

18. Drink more water

Ever remember your Mum saying, “you’re probably not hungry just thirsty have a drink”. She wasn’t wrong, it has been shown that people who drink more water tend to eat less. Not only will you save money on food you can also lose some weight too.

19. Find a cheaper place to buy your groceries

You can save quite a bit of money by shopping in cheaper supermarkets. When we shop at Aldi we tend to save at least £30 a week, however, there are always some things we still need to go to the big supermarkets for.

For toiletries and cleaning products, you can save lots of money on branded items by going to places like Savers, Wilkos and Poundland. I use an app called MySupermarket (Android, IOS). You put in what you want to buy and tells you where to find it cheaper. I use it mostly for the expensive brand name items we buy such as tubs of Vanish (£12 each) and branded toiletries.

I also love my coffee and have a Dolce Gusto machine at home. The problem is 1 pack of coffee capsules cost £4 for just 8 drinks. You can buy 3 packs of 8 for only £9.49 on Amazon.

20. Have a routine for meals

Half of the issue with food shopping is trying to work out what we want to eat each week. Having a routine can make things so much easier. Now I am not suggesting just eating the same thing every day.

We tend to have 1 day a week where we have either Pizza, Burgers or Hot Dogs. On the day my Dad visits we tend to have a roast dinner and another day we have meat-free. If you have a few days partially planned it makes is easier to make a shopping list. That way you are less likely to spend money on takeaways or food you don’t need.

21. Try smaller portions

As a nation, we do tend to eat too much. We are all guilty of cooking too much and then eating it all anyway. Why not try having smaller portions. There might not be enough left over for another dinner but there is usually enough for someone to have for lunch the next day.

22. Don’t skip meals

You might think you can save money by not having breakfast but skipping meals only leads you to snack more and eating too much later on. If you are out when hunger strikes then you will end up buying extra food on impulse. As the saying goes, “Never shop on an empty stomach”. We always buy more when we go round the shops hungry.

23. Pack food for days out and long journeys

With our family living all across the country when tend to go on long journeys a lot. We almost always forget (or are too lazy) to make up a packed lunch to take with us. As a result, we end up paying £30 for lunch at the services. Same happens on days out to the zoo or theme parks. The prices for food in these places is always marked up because they know you can’t go anywhere else. You can save a lot of money by taking your own food with you.

24. Cut down on your drinking

Bottles of wine aren’t cheap. For some families, alcohol can make up a lot of the cost of their weekly shop. My wife doesn’t drink and I tend to limit alcohol to a few beers at the weekend. We tend to spend less than a fiver a week on alcohol as a result.

25. Pack up smoking

If you smoke, you don’t need me to tell you to quit. For those that do, the thing they have noticed the most is how much money they are saving. Why not put that money away and save up for something you really want.

26. Shave with a safety razor

This is mainly for men as I wouldn’t recommend a safety razor on your legs! I have been using a safety razor for the last 8 years and I am still on the first pack of blades I bought.

You can buy 100 blades from Amazon for under £10. Compare the standard Gillette ones and you would be lucky to buy 8 for that price. Safety Razors are fairly cheap, you can pick one up for around £30 and will last you a lifetime. I have got an Edwin Jagger DE89L that I use every day and I love it.

27. Buy a bread maker

My wife and I love fresh bread but generally, it is more expensive than the sliced stuff. It also doesn’t last that long as you tend to cut it thicker. You can save a lot of money by making it yourself, plus your home will smell lovely. The best one they have on Amazon can also do Gluten Free bread too.

Entertainment

A lot of our income, especially those non-budgeted expenses are spent on entertainment. Use these tips to save money on your hobbies and TV watching.

28. Sign up for Google Opinions

I am a bit of a movie lover but with 2 young kids we rarely (read never) get to go to the cinema. So we always have to wait for the films to come out on rental to be able to watch them.

We have managed to watch most of our rentals for free using the Google Opinions app. You just install it on your phone and it sends you surveys to answer. You generally get paid between £0.03 and £0.50 per survey and can spend the money on the play store. Usually, we have enough each month to rent a movie for free. Download for Android and iOS.

29. Read more

Everyone loves a good book and depending on where you get them (see below) it can be quite a cheap hobby. Generally, it takes me about 8 hours to read a book.

That is 8 hours of entertainment which is cheaper then watching 3 films or spending a day out somewhere.

30. Buy books from Charity Stores

New paperbacks aren’t really that cheap. They can generally cost around £8 for a new one. However, you can find loads of books in your local charity store for a fraction of the price.

31. Buy used DVDs and Blu-Rays

With new Blu-Rays costing around £15 and new DVDs costing £10, amassing a large movie collection can get quite costly. However, you can find older films for as little as £3 and you can even get used DVDs from places like Poundland for just £1.

You can also buy lots of films for cheap on sites like Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Gumtree. People tend to buy films and hardly watch them again so they are usually still in good shape.

32. Choose free events, instead of paid ones

Days out to the zoo or to theme parks can get really expensive for a family of 4. Why not try going to a museum or the park as a fun free thing to do instead.

33. Use the library

I have said about buying books and DVDs from charity shops and other sites but we often forget about the library. We used to borrow books when we are kids but for some reason when we get to be adults we don’t do it anymore.

Instead, we spend £8 on a book we are only going to read once. Most libraries even have the latest books and will even get them in if you ask. Some libraries even have DVDs to borrow. Just make sure you return them on time to avoid any late fees.

34. Take up a cheaper hobby

Some hobbies are more expensive than others. Golf, for example, can be quite costly not only have you got to fork out hundreds for golf clubs but you often need to pay either monthly or everytime you use the course.

However, other hobbies such as playing an instrument (other than the initial purchase), reading or painting are a lot cheaper.

35. Get in early for ticket sales

My wife and I love going to concerts but they can get quite costly depending on when you buy your tickets. If you sign up for TicketMaster you can get tickets as soon as they go on sale.

Transport and Travel

Running a car often makes up a big chunk of your outgoings for the month. However, with these tips, you can cut down on your spending and save the money towards something else.

36. Walk more

We all need to get around but even I am guilty of driving when I could have walked it. By walking more you will not only save on petrol but you will also get fitter too.

37. Get a railcard

If you travel by train a lot there are a number of railcards you can get to cut down the cost of things. Do you always travel with your wife, then you can get a two together railcard and save 1/3 on tickets? Or travel as a family with the family and friends railcard and get a whopping 60% off of kids fares.

38. Use Monzo or Revolut when spending money abroad

People are used to getting money out before they go abroad but not only is it dangerous to carry lots of cash around it can be quite costly too. Most of the exchange rates you get from high street retailers aren’t great.

If you chose to use your bank card abroad the exchange rates can be even worse and you will likely get charged a foreign exchange fee on top as well.

There is a better way though. New finance startups are shaking up the UK finance industry. With Monzo and Revolut you can use a debit card abroad and not only get no foreign exchange fees you also get the same rate as applied by Visa and Mastercard. Both come with fantastic mobile apps. Revolut also has the option of opening accounts in different currencies to avoid any currency conversion when buying stuff.

39. Don’t trade in your car

People love their cars and always seem tempted to cash in their car for a new one. Often this is done on credit meaning you are always paying a monthly fee for a new car. Why not keep your car for that bit longer and save yourself the monthly expense. Ideally, if you need a new car you should pay for it with savings instead of forking out monthly for it.

40. Switch to a fuel efficient car

Some cars are cheaper to run than others. At the end of the day, a car is there to get you from A to B. Both do that same job but some cost hell of a lot more than others. If cars are your thing that is fine but otherwise you might find considerable savings by buying a low emission car. Not only will you save money on car tax generally the fuel consumption will be a lot less as well.

41. Learn to drive efficiently

If you can’t afford a more fuel-efficient car you can save money by driving more efficiently. Some cars even have an indicator on the dashboard when to change up and down a gear. By changing up a gear a little bit sooner than you normally would you can get more miles per gallon out of your car and therefore save money on petrol.

42. Book holidays early

Everyone needs a holiday to wind down every once and a while. However, the longer you leave it to book your holiday the more it is likely to cost. If you can book your holiday a year in advance you will normally save at least 25%. Alternatively, if you don’t mind where you go, you can book at the very last minute and get some great deals.

Household

43. Keep up preventative maintenance

No one likes doing maintenance on their home but it something that has to be done to keep the house in order. However, it is good to keep up with maintenance before things get too bad. The longer you leave something the more likely it is to cost you more down the road. A leaking shower, for example, may only be a drip but if left could lead to major rot and renovation work.

The breaks on my car were starting to go. I knew I needed to get them changed but I thought they had a few more miles in them. When I did finally get them changed I needed to get the whole disks replaced. So it cost £800 instead of £200.

44. DIY when possible

Doing DIY is the best way to save money. We are no experts but we always try and do as much as we can ourselves. I know people who pay decorators to paint their homes. Painting is something I am quite happy to do especially when paying someone to paint a room can cost upwards of £300. If you are able to paint yourself then you should. Any major work I leave for the professionals.

45. Maintain your appliances

You can make your kitchen appliances last longer if you do a little bit of maintenance. Using a descaler on your kettle and coffee machine can extend its life by many years. Same goes for your washing machine. My parents had a water softener which meant there was no build up of limescale in their appliances. They managed to keep the same washing machine for 15 years! The one time they had it fixed the repairmen was so shocked as it looked brand new inside.

46. Declutter your house

No matter how big your house is you always manage to fill it with stuff! Whether it be presents you didn’t really want or gadgets you bought but hardly used. A great way to make a little extra money is to sell your unwanted stuff on eBay or Gumtree.

47. Insulate your home

One of your major bills especially during the winter will be heating. However, if your home isn’t properly insulated you could be leaking out all that heat through your roof, walls or windows. Getting energy efficient windows is one way you can cut down your cost but it is one of the more expensive options.

You can, however, get loft insulation relatively cheaply and it can make a major difference to how much money you spend over the winter. You can also get cavity wall insulation to stop heat from escaping through your walls.

Appliances

48. Buy quality first time around

When first moving into our new house we bought a lot of cheap appliances. We managed to get a fridge-freezer, cooker and washing machine all for under £1000. However, 5 years later they have all been replaced with better models. If we had bought the more expensive models then we would probably still have them now and saved ourselves £1000.

Generally, you get what you pay for when it comes to appliances. Buy the best you can afford and hopefully, it should mean you won’t be buying another one in 5 years time.

49. Avoid extended warranties

When you buy appliances you will nearly always get the option to pay out for extended warranties. The same thing happens with furniture. When we got our sofas we paid an extra £200 for a 5-year replacement cover.

Did we use it, no! I have never claimed on any of the extended warranties we have paid out for. If it is going to break it usually does it within the first couple of years while it is still under the standard warranty anyway.

Other Spending

50. Make yourself wait for impulse purchases

There are loads of things I would like to buy, as a geek I do love my gadgets. However, one thing I have found is waiting 30 days before buying something. If I still want it after 30 days then I will get it but usually, I find I am no longer that interested in it any more and it would have just been another impulse purchase.

51. Exercise at Home

Did you know that gyms are massively oversubscribed? There are more people signed up for a gym subscription that could possibly fit in the gym. But gym owners know that even if people are paying out for the gym they often lack the motivation to stick with it.

So why not save yourself a lot of money and skip the gym subscription and do the exercise at home. If you can’t do it at home then you aren’t going to motivate yourself to go to the gym either.

52. Avoid stress spending

Picture this, you have had a bad day, so you decide to treat yourself with a yummy dessert, movie, bottle of wine or a new top. You aren’t alone many people stress spend like this but you don’t need it! Why not go for a run instead or do some other exercise at home. Buying stuff may give a small amount of stress relief but ultimately you will just feel guilty for wasting money.

53. Buy presents throughout the year

I am terrible at remembering birthdays. I will often leave present buying to the last minute and have to spend ridiculous amounts on express delivery so it gets there in time. If you buy presents in advance then you can get them at a cheaper price and avoid spending loads on delivery.

One website I love to use is CamelCamelCamel it is an Amazon price watcher. Put in the name of any product and it will give you a complete price history. You can even set up price alerts and get told when it goes on sale.

54. Buy better clothes

Buying cheap clothes is a false economy. I have often bought clothes from Primark just for them to go out of shape after the first wash or worse fall apart. If you spend a bit more on your clothes you will not only feel better wearing them you will also save money in the long run as they will last longer.

55. Don’t try and keep up with the Joneses

So who are the Joneses, they are the neighbour down the street who always have a brand new car on the drive, the latest smartphone and designer clothes. The likelihood is they are in a very different financial circumstance to you.

Either they have lots of money to afford these things or they are crippled but debt trying to afford these things. Either way, buying things will not make you happy. Learn to be happy with what you have and you will be one step closer to financial independence.

56. Invest Early

Compound interest is a truly amazing thing but it works it’s magic when you start to save early. There are 2 people:

  1. One starts saving at 19 and saves £2000 a year for 8 years and then stops saving.
  2. The other starts saving 8 years after at 27 and saves until he is 65, still putting away £2,000 a year.

Person 1 put away £16,000, Person 2 put away £76,000.

By 65, Person 1 has £2,288,996 but Person 2 only has £1,532,166. Person 1 saved £60,000 less than Person 2 but ended up with £756,830 extra.

Check out Dave Ramsey’s post on the topic.

57. Stop doing the lottery

I must admit a few times I have been tempted by the lottery. When I was younger I even did it every week for a year. The result, my wallet was £52 lighter than it was before. Unless you are incredibly lucky you will always lose out in the long run. Instead of buying a lottery ticket invest the money instead.

58. Use your personal allowances

In the UK we have a number of personal allowances we can use before we pay tax. The best one you can take advantage of is your ISA allowance. You can save up to £20,000 a year in your ISA tax-free. Even better yet open up a stocks and shares answers and put that money to good use.

For as little as £25 a month you can start investing money. I have my ISA with Hargreaves Lansdown and I generally see about a 9% return on my savings.

59. Switch your current account

You can save a lot of money by switching your current account. Some offer money if you switch and others give you interest on balances up to a certain amount. TSB and Nationwide both offer current accounts with 5% interest up to a certain amount.

60. Use your company benefits

If you work for a good company chance are there will be quite a few company benefits you aren’t using. The best benefit I ever used was for a season ticket loan.

My season ticket used to cost me £5000 a year but it would cost me an extra £80 a month if I paid it monthly. You can save yourself quite a bit of money with a season ticket loan and not have the initial outgoing.

61. Put your raise into savings

Congratulations you got a pay rise! You can finally afford to buy a latte every day or treat yourself to some new clothes each month. Stop. The best thing you can do is put that extra money away each month and act as if you haven’t got it. Better yet put it towards your pension and then you can get the tax breaks from it too.

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AUTHOR BIO

Alex started Pursuit of FIRE in 2019 to try and help people reach financial independence. He has spent nearly a decade working as a software developer in the finance industry and now is looking towards early retirement so he can spend more time with his young family.