Saving money doesn’t have to be all doom, gloom and sacrifice. It doesn’t have to mean never going out and having a good time and it certainly doesn’t mean giving up all and every luxury. Here are 20 ways to save money that don’t mean giving up any form of enjoyment in your life!
1. Take advantage of ‘free events,’ in your area for entertainment purposes. http://wherecanwego.com/ is a great website which lets you search for events in your area and allows you to filter to show only free events. There are a surprising number of free events on as well, some of which you might not have even considered before. Give it a go! For those of us who thrive on being entertained, the cost of gig and entertainment tickets can soon add up and you may find you have just as much fun at one of these more economical alternatives.
2. Don’t go shopping without a shopping list. If you’re anything like me, you’re a marketer’s dream! Bright packaging, a catchy slogan and immediately you’re overcome with the temptation to put it (whatever ‘it’ is) into your shopping basket. Stop. Breathe. Slow down and step away from the brightly coloured entirely unnecessary object that you will probably never use. If you spend an hour or so planning your shopping and producing a shopping list, you’ll find you save money over time. No unnecessary impulse purchases means more money in the bank. Take a list and stick to it.
3. Try local markets for food. Supermarkets are convenient. Yes, absolutely. But you will often find your local market has a number of fruit and vegetable stands, butchers and bakers etc. Not only is it often cheaper than the supermarket equivalent, but in my experience is fresher and much better quality too. Support your own finances and the local economy too.
4. Own brand products. Ok, now I’m odd. I insist upon Heinz for beans. I don’t know why and I know, I know, I know that the supermarket brands are probably ‘just the same.’ But I’m quirky. However, I do buy supermarket brands for a number of other items and it does save a lot of money. Weigh up the differences and see where you can save.
5. Do you really need designer labels? Do you? Honestly? If you can bring yourself to stop buying the designer brands, then do! Of course, a special treat now and then is wholeheartedly deserved, but even then try to shop on eBay or at designer outlet malls for the better prices.
6. Sell your junk! Use eBay or similar sites to sell items you no longer need and earn a bit of extra cash. As this is ‘bonus’ cash that you were not expecting to earn, it won’t have to make up part of your budget and you can therefore just save it!
7. Switch to the cheapest utilities provider. Yes, electricity, gas and water are all very essential. Nobody is suggesting you should cut them off altogether, but do shop around. Electricity and gas prices vary from provider to provider and it’s worth shopping around to see if you could be saving money on your bills. We shop around for the best price on other things, so why not our utilities?
8. Can you trade your car down? Is your vehicle bigger/better/newer/flasher than it needs to be? The savings on fuel and on insurance can be immense by ‘downgrading’ to a smaller vehicle. This is a particularly good idea if you’re only ever driving yourself around and don’t need a big car for multiple passengers.
9. One step further… car sharing. If you drive to work, ask about a car pool scheme at your place of work or even ask around with your colleagues. It might be that someone you work with comes from the same direction as you do. Sharing the journey in means splitting the driving and the petrol costs and doesn’t only save a lot of money but also goes some way to cutting down your carbon footprint.
10. Do you really need that gym membership? Now, of course if you use the gym a few times each week you’re probably getting your money’s worth. But let’s say you’re paying £30/month and only going once every blue moon. Why do you still have the membership? Cancel it and put the money towards some home gym equipment. Perhaps even consider running home from work a couple of days. You’ll save money on your transport too!
11. Packed lunches. Packed lunches don’t necessarily have to be the nightmarish affairs they may have been when you were at school. No need for triangular shaped jam sandwiches in bright coloured boxes now. But consider the price of a sandwich bought from a shop and then consider the fact that, for that price, you could probably have made lunches for a week if you’d done it at home. Save the cash and prepare your food from home. Besides, you don’t have to feel cheeky asking for extra mayo when you do your own!
12. Take advantage of the library. I read a great deal. But, with the exception of about two books in the whole world, I can’t read the same book more than once. That means new books are read once and then just sit in the back of a cupboard, before your next door neighbour’s friend’s daughter’s school teacher’s cousin’s Mother ‘borrows’ it and you never get it back. Yet brand new paperback books cost in the region of £7, sometimes more. If you even read just one book a month that’s over £80 you could be spending on books every year. Well stop. There’s no need. Libraries are free in the UK to borrow books, educational CD Roms etc and it’s also incredibly cheap to hire DVDs, games and CDs from the library too. So get a free membership and read as much as you like at no cost.
13. Use your skills for a bit of extra income. Sites like www.getafreelancer.com and www.elance.com allow people to sign up either to hire freelancers or to find work as freelancers. Essentially, they put people with skills in touch with the people who need the skills. Whether you’re a talented copywriter, graphic artist, translator, computer programmer or anything else you can think of, there’s probably someone online looking for your skills. The great thing about freelancing is that it is again income you were not expecting to have and therefore does not have to make up part of your budget. So it can be saved! You also have the luxury, with freelancing, of only taking on the projects you feel you can manage!
14. Compare your music before you download it. The i-generation have a habit of logging on, downloading and listening when it comes to music. But thanks to Martin Lewis, of Money Saving Expert, it needn’t be the case. He has launched an awesome music comparison site, Tunes Checker, which allows you to compare the price of downloads from a number of e-stores before buying. iTunes tends not to fare too well!
15. Pay as you go mobiles really can save you money. Perhaps your contact is drawing to an end? Well the good news is that with most contracts, once they expire, the handset is yours. So why not get a Pay as you Go sim and just put it into your existing phone? You could save a small fortune! Look into it. Or, if you do wish to continue on contract, ask your service provider before you renew, whether they’ll negotiate the rates. If they think you are considering a move to pay as you go, you might just be surprised at the deals they offer you to stick with the contract!
16. If you’re not satisfied, complain. Now, there’s a certain group of people who complain about everything just to get something for nothing. They complain if they’re happy!! I don’t condone that. I think that if you pay a price for something and you are happy with it, then great! The only correspondence you need to be sending anywhere is praise. But if you do pay for a product or service and you are not satisfied with it, do raise a complaint. Why spend lots of money on products and services you’re just not happy with and that don’t meet the expected standard?
17. Budget carefully. This might seem like the most obvious of these money saving tips but one that few of us actually do, believe it or not. Do you write down each month what you earn and what you have to spend? If not, it’s worth doing. This is one really simply way to save money just by enabling you to get a clear idea of what you should be spending. It makes you consider your expenses and think about your finances a bit more.
18. Use cash. Now of course this is not always practical, but where it is, cash is great. I’ve found that if I physically have to hand money over, I am slightly more conscious of it. So I take out my maximum budget at the start of each week in cash and I keep it in a safe place at home. I can then clearly see when I am going over budget or heading that way. Anything left at the end of the week, I pop into my savings. Added bonus!
19. Cheaper train travel. If you travel around a lot between cities in the UK, you may find that the train is cheaper than the car! However, possibly not if you buy on the day! Train travel is notorious for being far, far more expensive if left late than if booked early. Visit The Train Line to check our prices for trips in advance and work your journey so that you can take some of the cheaper priced journeys.
20. Discount vouchers. If you are buying anything, whether online or off, it might just be worth doing a quick online search for related vouchers. There are promotional discount codes and printable vouchers online for everything from restaurants and cinema trips to electrical items. Have a look before you buy and you might find yourself saving a fair few pennies!
These are just 20 money saving tips that might make a small difference. Of course, there are limitless other ways to save money and finding the right combination of little tricks that add up for you is the key to keeping the bank balance in check!