Want to cut down on those un-fun monthly spends that it’s impossible to completely avoid? This handy list of money-saving tips for families will help you combat those soaring fuel, energy and food bills that seem to drain your bank account every month. Trimming the fat off of wasteful habits can really add up to savings of £100s, and you might even have fun doing it!
- Food and drink savings
- Clean up on the cheap
- Seasonal savings
- Pre-loved is just as good
- Beauty for less
- Budget fashion tips
- Slash your bills
- Manage your money
- Use loyalty schemes and freebies
- Clear your clutter
- Bonus money saving tips
1. Ready, steady, cook:
Stop buying fast food and ready-made meals. Buying ingredients and cooking yourself will save money in the long term, and it is much healthier. Making meals from scratch can be a lot easier than you think, and you can get the kids involved and helping too. There are loads of easy, healthy and inexpensive recipes to be found online, such as Tesco Real Food, Sainsbury’s family recipes, and the budget recipes on food writer Jack Monroe’s blog.
2. Start packing your lunch:
One of the easiest money-saving tips for families to follow is to make your own lunches. Did you know that the average worker spends about £5 per day on lunch, adding up to £25 each week? Keep going and you are at almost £1,250 each year. By the end of your career you would have spent over £47,500 just on buying lunch! Save money by making your own. For handy hints on packing your lunch and yummy food ideas see how you can make your lunch money go further.
3. Wait! You don’t need to go grocery shopping yet:
Use all the tins and jars lurking in the back of your pantry and cupboards before you buy more. Visiting sites like Frugal will give you recipe ideas on what to do with them, and vegan and vegetarian recipes are particularly good for using up all those beans and pulses that normally sit at the back of the cupboard. Check out Love Food Hate Waste for ideas on what to do with your leftovers.
4. Buy no-frills brands:
Buy the store brand for food items like bread, butter, canned goods, teas and pulses. You’ll be amazed at how much money this can save you. You can compare the difference between the major supermarket prices on My Supermarket to make sure you’re getting the lowest prices.
5. Write a menu plan:
Having a shopping list will prevent you from purchasing things that you don’t need. Sainsbury’s meal planner has a detailed list that will feed three meals to a family of four for seven days, and can be changed depending on dietary requirements and varying numbers of family numbers. Make sure you take your list and tick off each item you place in the trolley.
6. Take advantage of all the rain:
Good old British weather may not be best for sunbathing, but it is great for growing vegetables. Growing your own is one of the best long-term money-saving tips for families. It’s a great way to teach your children about gardening and food origins, too. Check out this useful guide for beginners.
7. Go foraging:
The summer months are the perfect time to wander in the open countryside and pick up ingredients for free. Berries, mushrooms and other food grow naturally and often go to waste. Be careful what you eat though, as it isn’t all safe. See our guide to foraging and map of the best foraging spots before you get started.
8. Cut back on eating meat:
You don’t have to become a vegetarian, but if you opt to go veggie twice a week you’ll save money. Meat is expensive. You can still get your daily amount of protein from eating eggs, lentils, beans and nuts. The BBC Good Food website has a whole host of veggie recipes.
9. Stop buying bottled water:
Not only is it expensive and environmentally irresponsible, but tap water is actually cleaner! It goes through a more stringent filtering processes than bottled water since there are very few regulated standards that bottled water companies need to comply with.
10. Beware of the BOGOF:
Unless you were going to buy it anyway, buying something because it is on offer only ends up making you spend more than you were going to. So put down the five multi-packs of crisps, and the expensive washing powder with a free novelty toy, and step away. Read our guide to avoiding sneaky supermarket tricks here.
11. Make your own baby food:
When making homemade meals for your family don’t forget to blend some fruit for your own baby food purees. Once your baby has moved onto cooked meals you can just puree some of the unsalted version you’ve already made for the rest of the family, saving you both time and money. You’ll also be avoiding a lot of the preservatives that can be found in some brands of baby food.
You could also check out parenting websites or brands like Pampers for their top tips on creating your own baby food, too.
12. Make homemade cleaning products:
Why pay £3 for floor cleaner when you can pay 50p for lemon juice and still make your floor sparkle? Not only will making your own products save you money, they are also more environmentally-friendly and contain fewer harmful chemicals. Have a look at the this guide from Friends of the Earth to help you get started.
13. Cut down on laundry detergent:
Many of these money-saving tips for families have a theme: use less. Laundry detergent is like the directions on shampoo bottles that advises us to wash our hair twice. No one ever does that, and they still manage to have clean hair. You definitely don’t need to use two tablets, or as much powder as the box recommends, to get a clean clothes (unless they’re caked in mud, paint and grass stains). This simple knowledge will make your laundry detergent last twice as long and save you money.
14. Make homemade greeting cards and wrapping paper:
Save loads on birthday and holiday cards by making them yourself. They can be personalised for a special touch, and it also gives you a fun way to spend some quality time with your children. See this guide to making your own greetings cards for inspiration.
15. Recycle old greeting cards:
Remember that Christmas card with the really cute penguin on it? Why not cut him out and make him into a gift tag? Instead of throwing cards away or letting them sit at the bottom of some drawer, you may as well put them to use, and save the money you would have spent on packs of tags.
16. Buy all seasonal products after the holiday for the following year:
While you’re elbowing your way through the January sales, you should also pick up wrapping paper and anything else you might need for the next Christmas. Often, it will be less than half the price. The same goes for pretty much any holiday event.
17. Start re-gifting:
Re-gifting is a great way to save money. If you got a gift that you don’t need or want, don’t take it out of the box. On the next gifting occasion, you won’t have to spend a thing. Just don’t give it back to the person who gave it to you!
18. Go second hand:
Save yourself hundreds by buying used items like bicycles or furniture at greatly reduced prices from sites like eBay and Gumtree. Sometimes Gumtree features free items that people just want rid of, though you often have to pick it up yourself. A lot of the stuff is in great condition, and you can check photos online before you pick it up. Try Freecycle for this too.
19. No more shampoo:
Seriously, if you were to step into your bathroom now and venture into the dark scary recesses of your cupboards, how many unused and unfinished hair, cosmetic and skin products would you find lying back there? Have a clean-up, throw out all the old, used-up stuff and start using all that forgotten stuff. Don’t buy any new shampoos, conditioners, make-up or lotions until you’ve used it all up.
20. Make your own make-up:
Going homemade with toiletries including face masks and exfoliants will help save money. Instead of spending £5 on a face mask that is made with a scary list of items that you can’t pronounce, why not mash up a banana and slather on, with a couple of slices of cucumber for your eyes? It makes for an amazing face mask and has just saved you money. Exfoliating with used coffee grinds is great for the skin and should help diminish those cellulite dimples, as caffeine is the active ingredient used in lots of fancy cellulite creams.
21. Let a student cut your hair:
A top-secret in the list of money-saving tips for families is to find students or trainees for your needs. Get your hair cut and/or your kids’ haircuts at colleges where students can gain experience. You get a cheap – or free – new ‘do’. It’s not so scary: most have had hours of class time, and there is a teacher with them at all times. You can also go with trusted hair salons like Vidal Sassoon and Toni & Guy. Both salons only offer the services on specific dates and times, so you need to book in advance.
22. Hit those charity shops:
Shopping at charity shops in posh parts of town is a money-saving must. You can sometimes buy fantastic designer seconds at an 80% discount. In London, Chelsea, Notting Hill and Kensington are good bets, but otherwise any affluent suburban area is likely to have some good finds.
23. Shop online:
If charity shops aren’t your thing you can still save loads by buying used designer clothes on eBay. Vintage and retro looks are very in, and there are some great bargains to be had. Scan the vintage clothes section, or go to the women’s clothing section and search by period.Buying online also means you can take advantage of extra discount vouchers and codes, plus access online-only sales, too! Check out our guide to cheap fashion online.
24. Throw a swap party:
Have your friends and neighbours round for a swap party, where you all bring stuff you no longer want and swap with each other. This can be a great way to get some new clothes or used baby items for free. It’s also a great way to get rid of all those old items you no longer want. If not, sites like SnaffleUp can help you swap stuff online.
25. Don’t be shy – haggle!
There are so many deals out there to be had if you just work up the courage to ask. Even high street shops have great deals. Start by asking what kind of discount you can get if you pay in cash or if you buy two rather than one. Use a price comparison site like Kelkoo to make sure you always get the best deal. Read Jasmine’s tips on how to get out there and do it.
26. Switch those bulbs:
Changing all the lights in your house to the energy-saving kind will save money on your annual electricity bill, and up to £100 over the bulb’s lifetime. Energy saving bulbs last up to 10 to 15 times as long, and use about a fifth to a quarter of the electricity that ordinary light bulbs use.
In less than a year the costs of the light bulbs will have been saved in your energy bill. Which? conducted a rigorous lifetime test of the newer-style eco-light bulbs, finding that General Electric, Osram and Ikea come out on top in terms of lifetime, and liability to dim as they age. At around £3, Wilkinsons is the best place to buy them.
27. Save money on energy:
In the UK, energy prices have steadily risen since 2003 and are still going. With rising costs customers have started really shopping around for good deals. This has created a market where energy suppliers are desperate to retain customers by offering them bargains. Switching to a new gas and electricity supplier can save you as much as £100 per year, with an additional savings of £50-£60 annually if you set up a direct debit payment scheme. There are lots of energy price comparison sites you can use to compare deals.
28. Turn it down:
If you were to turn down your thermostat by 1°C, you could save yourself £30 annually! By making the most of the heat, drawing your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows, and making sure not to block radiators with any curtains or furniture, it’s unlikely you’ll even notice the difference.
29. Don’t forget the boiler:
By also turning down both your hot water boiler to 60 degrees centigrade or 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you could save an extra £10 annually.
30. Replace your old boiler:
If your boiler is over 15 years old it is no longer efficient and likely draining loads of energy and cash. It can be expensive to purchase a new boiler, but the savings made with lower heating bills will see the cost recovered within three to five years.
There are also government grants that can offer you money, or will cover the cost of purchase and installation. After installing your high efficiency condensing boiler with heating controls you can expect to save between £190- £240 annually on your heating bills. Contact the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234 for more details.
31. Use your timer:
Even if you are not planning on replacing your boiler, always use a timer. There’s no point heating your house if you’re not in it! Turn your heater off 30 minutes before leaving home and programme it so that it switches back on 30 minutes before you return. Unless it’s really cold, turn it off overnight too and go for hot water bottles instead.
32. Buy your boiler a new jacket:
By adding an insulation jacket to your hot water cylinder you will be preventing heat loss and therefore saving yourself £15-£20 annually. They are easy to fit yourself and should cost you about a tenner from most good DIY stores. Make sure to purchase a jacket that is at least 75mm thick. Visit Home Heating Guide for step-by-step instructions.
33. Switch off:
One of the money-saving tips for families that you’ll need to get everyone on-board with – but it’s worth it. Always remember to switch off all your appliances when you are no longer using them, preferably at the plug socket. Microwaves, TVs, videos, stereos, and computers eat up loads of energy when the’re left on standby. In fact 85% of the energy consumed by your DVD player comes from when it is not actually in use.
34. Unplug too:
The same principle applies with unplugging pieces of equipment once they have fully charged. Don’t leave your mobile phone charger, shavers or electric toothbrushes plugged in as they will still be draining electricity unnecessarily. Overcharging electrical equipment also causes the battery trauma, meaning it won’t last as long.
35. Get energy efficient appliances:
If you’re purchasing any new appliances buying the energy efficient one will save you money. By replacing a 10-year-old fridge-freezer with a modern, energy efficient A-rated appliance can save you £45 a year. The government has put several grants in place to help people replace their appliances. With just a bit of research you can scoop up loads of free money to buy new appliances that will help save you money.
36. Stop washing your dishes:
Think you are saving water and energy by washing your dishes by hand? Think again. Modern dishwashers use less energy and water. Remember to only wash full loads of dishes, turn down the hot water temperature, and skip the drying cycle. Leave the door ajar instead and let your dishes air dry to save money.
37. Don’t forget about the loft:
By insulating your loft you could save up to £200 on your annual heating bill. The key to making this one of the top money-saving tips for families is to do the installation yourself. You can purchase the insulating foam at B&Q and install it yourself, but remember to use protective goggles and gloves. Note that this could be time consuming, and you’ll need some know-how to do it properly. You may want to check out where you can find loads of resources for government grants that will cover the costs of you going greener.
38. Skip the dry cycle:
Giving your tumble dryer a miss and drying your clothes indoors is a great way to save money. Use clothes rails rather than lying clothes over radiators, as this prevents heat from circulating the room. Drying outside in summer is a great idea too.
39. Shower more and bath less:
Taking a shower consumes two-fifths of the water used for a bath, meaning lower water bills for you. However those power showers are a no-no as they can use as much water – or sometimes more – than a bath would!
40. Make sure that you have the lowest mortgage rate possible:
Find yourself a ‘fees-free’ or ‘whole of market’ mortgage broker that can guide you through the process of finding the best deal. Remortgaging your home and securing the lowest mortgage rate is the most substantial money saving move you can make. If you manage to cut 1% off from a £100,000 you’ll save £80 per month.
41. Use direct debit:
Set up direct debit payments to avoid paying late fees on your credit card, which could result in having your interest rate increase. Also consider setting up a new 0% balance transfer card – some offer up to 24 months interest-free on balance transfers to keep your payments low.
42. Switch bank accounts
At the top of the ‘must do’ list of money-saving tips for families is to make sure you’re getting the best rates on your current account and savings. You could be missing out on interest for your monthly income! More than that, many banks offer a financial incentive to switch bank accounts, too. At the time of publication, Natwest offered £175 to every customer that switched, as did HSBC and First Direct. Read our guide to switching banks to find out how to do it.
43. Set up a Children’s Saving Account
If you’re setting aside some cash each month or year for your child’s future, set up a bank account for them. You can often benefit from better savings rates than adult accounts – and it’s easy to let them take over the account when they reach 18 (instead of ‘gifting’ a huge lump sum that could impact your taxes). You could even start paying into a pension for your child as soon as they’re born – small amounts now make a massive difference to their retirement!
44. Sign up to airline rewards programmes:
When shopping online, you can pick up redeemable points through airline loyalty schemes. British Airways, for example, has thousands of retailers signed up to their membership scheme. It’s free to join and you can use the points to bag free flights for your family holiday.
45. Get points with loyalty cards:
Store cards from places like Boots and Tesco and Sainsbury’s cards can be used to give more value to your money. After spending you earn points on your card, which can be exchanged for vouchers or used to buy other products. In the case of Nectar points, if you build up enough you could even use them to pay for flights for a holiday.
46. Get cashback from shopping:
Imagine: you’ve just bought something online, and just through buying it from a particular site they decide to give you money. Money for buying stuff? That doesn’t happen! With sites like Cashback Shopper, it actually does. Once you’ve registered, just click from their website to the site you want to buy from and purchase as normal. Once you’ve spent £25 they will credit your bank account. Note that it’s only worth doing if you were going to buy the items anyway.
47. Sign up to Toluna:
Toluna allows you to earn points which can be converted into PayPal cash, or a variety of e-vouchers such as Amazon, Tesco, John Lewis, Starbucks etc.
When items become old, and you’re either bored of them or replace them with a newer model, don’t just throw them away or leave them in a cupboard. Sites like Envirofone will pay to recycle most old mobile phones. If yours is too old to have any value, they’ll recycle it responsibly. As for your old CDs, DVDs and games, musicMagpie will send you a cheque for what you send them. They have excellent taste in birds, too.
49. Sell your stuff:
Selling unwanted items is a great way to make money and to get rid of clutter in your home.Money-saving tips for families include ways you can make cash with your stuff, too. Zapper will pay you for your old books, CDs, DVDs and games. You can simply enter in the barcode of your item and they will tell you how much cash it is worth.
50. Shop at auctions:
There are hundreds of charity fund-raising auctions and general auctions around, but it’s worth having a look at any police auctions being held in your area. Police auctions sell everything from jewellery to cars to homes for discounted prices. Read our article on police auctions for great tips, and check the Police and Government Auctions website.
51. Refill – don’t buy new:
Refill your printer cartridges rather than purchasing new ones. You could save yourself on average 60-70% on the cost of replacing a cartridge by simply refilling your old one. Visit Cartridge World for great rates.
52. Get your books from the library:
Not only one of our favourite money-saving tips for families, but a great way to support your local library! Borrow books from your local library rather than buying them. If there’s a new release that you want, you can also request that they order it. This helps authors and saves you money. If you do just have to own a copy, scout around charity shops, book sales and Amazon. Sites like ReadItSwapIt let you can swap the books you don’t want for the ones you do.
We hope this has given you a few ideas on how to save money, even if you try out just a few of them. Let us know how you get on!