Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
Many of us are looking closely at ways we can save money this winter. I am guessing the current turbulent economic situation in the UK is what brought you to this article. Lots of writers on frugality are offering ways to pare back spending, but I thought I would look at some extreme frugal things that you may not yet have considered.
You may think that some of these will only save you pennies and aren’t worth the effort. However, every small step you take towards frugality will help you to develop a money saving mentality. Each time you save £5 or £10 it will encourage you to look at ways to save even more.
Remember the old saying, “Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”? I have found there is a lot of wisdom in this. Here are eight extreme frugal things to help you save money this winter.
We all know it makes sense to insulate your home as much as you can. However, if you have no money to invest in this right now, use what you already have.
For example, if you have bubble wrap lying around, cut it to fit your draughtiest windows, spray the flat side with water and place it against the glass. It makes a big difference!
Roll up beach towels to use at the bottom of doors to keep your rooms cosy. Hang old curtains underneath your main curtains to double up on the insulating effects and keep them closed as soon as the sun goes down.
Pin a thick blanket or curtain against your front door once you are home for the evening.
Keep a pile of blankets or duvets in your sitting room so that you can snuggle up whilst you watch TV rather than putting the heating on.
If you give into the takeaway temptation frequently, put yourself on a complete ban. Cooking may not be your thing, but buying takeout food is the most expensive way to purchase it other than eating in a restaurant.
To help you, invest in some takeaway style ready meals for those evenings when you are tired and can’t be bothered to cook.
Make sure that you delete the apps from your phone too. They make it all too easy to order your favourites!
This may sound like a lot of effort, but tracking each and every penny that you spend will make you super aware of where your money is going and what you can cut back on.
There are apps that you can download that link to your bank account, but I prefer an old school approach. I save all of my paper receipts and each week I go through them all, then check to see what I have spent online via Paypal, eBay, Amazon, etc.
Once you realise where you spend unnecessarily you can start to cut back.
Make a list of all of your regular subscriptions. Look at the gym, weekly recipe kits or other food deliveries such as chocolate, makeup and beauty boxes, magazines and newspapers, paid apps, audio books – anything where you are not tied into a contract. Which do you genuinely use and couldn’t do without?
If you are really motivated to save money this winter, be brutal and cut at least some of them out. You can often find free alternatives. For example, I love audio books but, instead of tying myself into a subscription with Audible, I use Borrowbox via my library service, which is completely free.
Check to see when bills like your car insurance, car breakdown cover, home insurance, pet insurance, broadband, etc are due to expire and make a note to shop around for a cheaper deal as they come up for renewal.
Never, ever allow them to auto renew. They will inevitably keep increasing until you are paying way more than they are charging new customers. If you go to your supplier with the cheapest comparable deal you find, they will often match it. If not, be prepared to go elsewhere.
Have a completely no spend month. I often do this in January to help recover from the cost of Christmas, but you can do it any time of the year.
Decide that you will pay purely for essentials like rent or mortgage, utility bills, food, bus fares to work, groceries, etc, but NOTHING ELSE for the entire month.
That means no online or in person shopping, no meals or drinks out, no new clothing or makeup, no hair cuts, no books, no music streaming, no takeaway lunches or coffees, etc. Prepare in advance by purchasing essential gifts (you can’t tell your kids they can’t have a present because you are on a no spend month, after all), by writing a grocery shopping list ensuring you buy the ingredients for work packed lunches, inviting friends over for coffee rather than meeting them in a cafe, etc.
I have found that having a hard and fast no spend rule is the most effective way to rein in my spending. The idea of cutting back is a little wishy-washy for me. You save so much money on a no spend month, you may well find that your spending habits change for good.
Set yourself the challenge to eat only the contents of your fridge, freezer and food cupboards for a week. Hopefully you won’t need to go food shopping at all, but might find that you need essentials like milk, eggs, teabags, etc. If you do, take a list and buy exactly what you need and nothing else.
Living from the larder will make you more creative and help you get rid of ingredients you bought on a whim but have never got around to using.
If you are prone to impulse purchases, freeze your credit card. Literally. Put it in a ziplock bag in a plastic box of water in your freezer to make it hard to access.
This still leaves your debit card and Apple Pay, of course. If you want to really restrict your spending, get cash out at the beginning of each week (budget so you know what you will need to last you) then leave your debit card at home and disable Apple Pay.
If you enjoyed this post and would like more creative ways to save money this winter, take a browse around the money saving section of this site, and head over to my YouTube channel too.
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All good ideas Jane!