Top ways to tighten your belt – without feeling the squeeze!
Times are tough, and making your money go further often means making sacrifices. But it doesn’t have to. There are loads of ways to tighten your belt without having to give up all the things you love; you just have to be clever about it.
Be a clever supermarket shopper
With food prices higher than ever, one of our biggest regular spends is at the supermarket – so it pays to be a savvy shopper.
- First of all make sure you are taking advantage of your supermarket’s rewards scheme –Nectar and Clubcard points can go a long way, and you earn them without having to spend anything extra. Either save up to shop with, or use them to pay for other things like days out with the kids and even holidays.
- It’s also worth getting a credit card which rewards you for shopping too. Doing the weekly shop for a family can easily add up to £100 so you may as well be rewarded for it. A cashback card like the Capital One World MasterCard offers 5% cashback on all spending for the first three months as well as a £10 bonus, and up to 1.25% cashback after that.
- Always try to take a list to the supermarket with you, and stick to it religiously. It’ll stop you spending extra on things you don’t really need and is also a good way to plan your meals in advance so you make the best of everything you buy.
- Never go to the supermarket when you’re hungry. You will invariably buy extra things you wouldn’t normally get and succumb to those cleverly placed sweets and chocolates by the checkout.
- Be ruthless when it comes to offers. Is it really a good deal? Do you actually need the item and will you use it? If the answer is no, don’t put it in the trolley!
Switch your luxuries
- Do you really watch all those extra Sky or Virgin channels that you’re paying extra for? Why not just have simple Freeview (which gives you over 50 channels anyway) and if you’re film crazy you could pay for a subscription to LoveFilm or Netflix – £4.99 or £5.99 respectively, rather than the £20 a month Sky or Virgin equivalent.
- Buying your lunch for work each day might seem like a bit of a treat, but just think about all those extra calories in pre-packed sandwiches and salads… they’re not doing you much good and what’s more they’re costing you a fortune.
- Most of us spend over £1,000 a year buying lunch or coffee during working days. Put in a little bit of effort and you can enjoy your own home-made, healthier, cheaper lunch.
- It’s up to you how ruthless you are about luxuries, and how much money you need to save. A bigger step could be to ditch the second car if you have two, or downsize to a smaller, cheaper model if you only have one. You can sell your car, and even find yourself a second hand model to replace it on Preloved. Not only will you save on bills like road tax and insurance, you’ll be spending less on petrol too.
Switch and save on your bills
If you haven’t switched energy supplier for a while, or even at all, then you stand to save over £300 a year.
- Using a comparison service like Energy Helpline will take all the stress out of the process as they’ll do all the leg work for you. Just tell them a bit about your current supplier and bills and they’ll point you towards cheaper deals.
- The same goes for insurance too – check online to see if you can find a better deal elsewhere, and if you don’t want to switch, you can always try haggling with your current supplier to see if they’ll match an offer you’ve found online. You’d be surprised at how keen they are to keep you. This process could comfortably save you over £100 too.
- And don’t forget your phone and internet bills. Are you with one supplier for both? Do they offer the best deal around? Because there are no rewards for loyalty, so if you’ve been with them for a while, chances are there are better deals out there. Check out Broadband Choices to see if you can find a cheaper deal.
Treat yourself for less
Of course you can’t deny yourself all of life little luxuries, even when money is tight, but treating yourself needn’t cost a fortune.
- If you’re going to eat out, make the most of voucher websites and get yourself a good deal. Vouchercodes.co.uk has a great selection of offers, not just for restaurant dining, but high-street shopping, gifts and holidays.
- And don’t forget to shop for all sorts of goodies second hand – from cameras to furniturePreloved has it all, and as well as saving yourself money, you’ll be recycling and helping the environment too.
Financial writer Jo Robinson is a freelance journalist who has written for The Times, The Sunday Times and The Daily Express. She was Senior Editor at Moneymagpie for two and half years, and now spends the majority of her time covering lifestyle and personal finance topics for AOL and Totally Money. A sucker for a good deal, when she’s not writing about budgets and bank accounts you’ll find her at her local market (and on Preloved of course!) hunting for bargains.