The power of the group is a common theme in human history, and when it comes to finance it pays to be more than personal.
Collective purchasing can be a win-win for both the buyer and seller, meaning that the consumer can secure a great deal while the business sells more volume and increases its customer base.
Read our tips for making the most of group spending power on goods and services where you may be paying a high price for going solo.
- Buying groceries with friends and family
- Group discounts at restaurants
- Collective energy deals
- Holiday discounts with family and friends
- Use networking to save
- Referring friends
Buying groceries in bulk can lead to large savings, especially if you then cook large batches of food such as stew, pasta sauce and curry which can be frozen and re-used.
The problem is that potential savings can be negated if you buy more than you need and let the food perish, a particular danger if you don’t have a family to feed.
But single people and couples can also tap into the power of the group by clubbing together with friends and family for the weekly food shop.
You can pool your money to buy all the fruit, vegetables and dried goods you need, thereby taking advantage of the many BOGOF (buy one, get one free) offers and other bulk-buying discounts that the supermarkets are so fond of.
The restaurant business is tough and competitive, as anyone who’s seen one of Gordon Ramsay’s expletive-strewn shows will surely have had drilled into them.
This means that, if you’re eating out in a big group, you’ve got some serious haggling power when it comes to getting a great deal.
That could be a discount, free bottles of wine, or perhaps a set menu with a price per head. This can save you money and it makes working out the bill at the end much easier.
Eating out early in the week should get you even better deals as this is when restaurants find it hardest to fill their tables.
If you don’t fancy haggling with the restaurant directly, you can book online and get 50% off the a la carte menu at loads of restaurants by using the fab service OpenTable.
By doing this, you’ll also earn points each time you book a restaurant – once you’ve got enough points, you get a free meal.
If you prefer to do your own negotiating, try these restaurant haggling tips…
When you enter a restaurant with friends, ask what they offer to groups – with the attitude that if their offer isn’t decent, you’ll be going elsewhere.
London’s Brick Lane is a perfect example. There are lots of restaurants in the area offering the same cuisine and they’re all fighting for your business.
Let the doormen at the respective eateries argue with each other about what they’ll offer you to dine with them, then pick the deal you want.
You can also enquire when you book direct with the restaurant. If you’re planning a meal out, phone a couple of places to see what they’re willing to offer you.
If you especially want to go to one place but another establishment is offering you something better, ask them if they’ll match the offer.
Take a look at our regularly updated article for the latest restaurant vouchers and special offers when two or more people are dining. It’s bursting with 2-for-1 deals on mouthwatering menus from leading restaurant chains.
Collective energy switching has made a big impact on the gas and electricity market, helping you to join a group that can negotiate unique and attractive tariffs with energy suppliers – the bigger the group, the bigger the savings are likely to be.
Almost anyone can set up a collective switching group, some of the big ones having been formed by national newspapers, price comparison websites and local councils. They’re easy to join, but the tariffs offered will only be available for a short period of time.
Energy companies like collective switches because they allow them to get around caps and restrictions on the tariffs they can put on the open market, and to target specific customer groups.
Group purchasing power can also be a big help in other areas of the energy market, where customers have more problems shopping around.
If, for example, your home is fuelled by heating oil or LPG, buying in bulk with others from your community is one of the best ways to secure a discount.
If you’re looking to buy a new plasma TV, asking your friend if they’d also like one may not be the first thing on your mind… but maybe it should be! As with so many other things, buying major electronic items can be cheaper if done in bulk.
Start by using a shopping comparison website to see the price you should expect to pay for the TV (or other electronic product) and use that as a starting point for your in-shop haggling.
Push the price as low as you can, before throwing the salesperson an unexpected curve-ball question… what would you charge me if I bought two?
The shop staff will have sales targets to hit, so why not give it a go? The worst they can do is refuse any further discount.
From hotels to flights, cruises and package holiday deals, there’s almost always a discount to be had when travelling in a group.
Try haggling with any operator you use, these are just a few it might work with:
- Eurostar says its group deals can be 10% cheaper than individual fares
- Opodo is always worth a look for group deals, particularly on self-catering skiing holidays
- Travelodge has a special group bookings team to test your negotiating skills on
- Virgin Holidays will direct you to a dedicated consultant if you’re booking for 10 adults or more
Remember, too, that if you go on holiday with a group of friends, you can make money from it by doing the booking for them, using a cashback or rewards credit card.
Getting together with like-minded people in your community can lead to thousands of pounds worth of savings in unexpected areas – from clothes to childcare to cooking and more. Consider some of these things:
Rather than spending a fortune on new clothes, why not hold a swap shop with friends?
Ask them to bring second-hand garments in good condition that they no longer want, put them all into a communal pile and make your collective choices.
Everyone gets a freshened-up wardrobe with something different to wear – and no-one’s spent a penny!
Childcare costs can be crippling and some parents struggle to find any help at all – many childcare centres have long waiting lists.
Sharing childcare can be a great option, even a community-building one. Perhaps you can get together with one or more neighbours to look after each other’s children; with two of you sharing, for example, you could each work half the week.
A nanny share could be another option, allowing you to spread the cost of childcare by agreeing for the nanny to look after other people’s kids as well as your own, using different homes on different days of the week.
Another obvious networking saver is finding someone who works and lives close to you, so the both of you can take it in turns to drive the other to work.
You’d be paying for less than half the amount of fuel you usually would in a week, could have good company for the commute and would be doing your bit for the environment.
If you’re struggling to find a commuting partner, check whether your company already has a scheme in place, or try an organisation like National Carshare or Liftshare.
You could even go one step further and buy a car with a friend or relative who lives nearby, then share it between you.
Work out who needs it on which days, and which days are negotiable, as well as whose turn it is to fill it up. Maintenance costs would be shared by both parties.
As we said earlier, the MoneyMagpies think batch cooking makes life much easier and meals cheaper to produce.
But if you get bored having spaghetti bolognese for yet another night, get together with a few friends and swap some of the meals you make in batches.
Someone else’s boring old chicken curry could be the amazing homemade delicacy you’ve always dreamed of.
Each of you could choose one dish and bulk-buy the ingredients to make enough for all of the families that are involved (if there are three of you cooking, then three families).
Once you cook the meal, divide it into three containers/pots/dishes and swap them around. Voila – cheaper ingredients from bulk buying and three different meals to heat and eat.
Holiday home swaps
An increasingly popular way to take a holiday is to swap homes with other families, either in the UK or abroad.
Just go to a house-swapping agency such as Lovehomeswap, sign up online, then see where in the world you want to go.
You’ll need to set up a profile that shows what kind of house you have to offer – its size, number of rooms, etc. Then find someone who sounds interested in your destination and time period, as well as you in theirs.
No money changes hands. You can even swap cars and some people are happy to look after others’ pets.
Referrals, or word-of-mouth recommendations, are one of the forms of advertising that companies value most – and they may be prepared to pay for it.
Many referral programmes allow you to get money back or a percentage of what your friends spend or buy. Here are just a few examples that the Moneymagpies have found:
If you’re a member of a gym, keep a look out for any referral specials they run – you could benefit with a month’s free membership, or other great freebies.
We love these. Basically, have a look out for vouchers in newspapers or if you’re signed up to our newsletter we’ll send you bargain alerts that include 2-for-1 vouchers on restaurant meals and happy hours. You can keep on top of the latest bargains here.
Don’t limit yourself… be a bit cheeky!
Don’t limit yourself to the areas we’ve mentioned – companies are on the look-out for more business, so if there’s something you want, get the most out of the purchase for you, your friends and family.
Just ask what deal you can get, then split the profits… or enjoy the bonus. Happy bargain hunting!