This handy list of tips for saving money will help you combat the soaring fuel, energy and food bills with expert money saving advice for your whole family. Trimming the fat off of wasteful habits can really add up to savings of £100s, and you might even have fun doing it.
52 money-saving tips for families:
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 and Sainsbury’s family recipes.
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 Home Channel’s ‘How to guide’ so you can get started. Most of them will cost less than £2 to make!
Start packing your lunch: 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, and for handy hints on packing your lunch and yummy food ideas see how you can make your lunch money go further.
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 Cooking 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 LoveFoodHateWaste for ideas on what to do with your leftovers.
Buy no-frills brands: Buy the store brand of 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 MySupermarket to make sure you’re getting the lowest prices.
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 family numbers. Make sure you take your list and tick off each item you place in the trolley.
Take advantage of all the rain: Good old British weather may not be best for sunbathing, but great for growing vegetables, saving money on having to buy them. To help your green fingers, Amazon have lots of books to choose from, and John Harrison’s Vegetable Growing Month-by-Month will take you through the whole year.
Go foraging: The summer is the perfect time to wander in the open countryside and pick up some meals 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. It’s worth checking in a book like Richard Mabey’s book, Food For Free, which has been around for over 20 years, and is available on Amazon, and is a great source of information.
Cut back on eating meat: You don’t have to become a vegetarian but if you opt to go veggie twice a week you will be saving money as meat can be expensive. You can still get your daily amount of protein from eating eggs, lentils and beans, and nuts, and the BBC Good Food website has a whole host of recipes on what to do with them.
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. The Telegraph wrote an article about it.
Cut down on laundry detergent: This is like the directions on all 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 it is caked in mud, paint and grass stains). This simple trick will make your laundry detergent last twice as long and save you money.
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. The website Making Greeting Cards is devoted to this, loaded with design ideas and a whole list of tools and supplies that you can pick up from stores like Staples.
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.
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 as it will often be less than half the price. The same goes for pretty much any holiday event.
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, and hey, it’s free!
Refill – don’t buy new: Refill your printer cartridges rather than purchasing new ones, you’ll 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. Inkcycle.co.uk will pay you for your empty cartridges, but it no longer collects Epson or Laser brands.
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.
Make your own make-up: Going homemade with toiletries such as face masks and exfoliants will help save money as a lot of brands charge huge amounts for their products. 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 a load. 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. Hop onto Health Recipes for all the beauty creams you’ll ever need, or Making Your Own for more.
Let a student cut your hair: Get your haircuts, and especially your children’s haircuts, at hairdressing colleges where students can gain experience, and 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 – the latter offers free hair cuts and £20 for highlights. Both salons only offer the services on specific dates and times so you need to book in advance.
Hit those charity shops: Shop at charity shops in posh parts of town is a money-saving must, where you can sometimes buy fantastic designer finds 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.
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, so scan the vintage clothes section, or go to the women’s clothing section and search by period.
Throw a swap party: Have your friends and neighbours round for a swap party, which is 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 and it’s a great way to get rid of all those old items you no longer wanted. If not, sites like Freecyle and Snaffle Up can help you swap stuff online.
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.
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 really discounted prices. Read our article on Police Auctions for great tips, and check the Police and Government Auctions website.
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, and the next upcoming occasion you now have your gift without spending a thing…Just don’t give it back to the person who gave it to you!
Recycle: When items become old, and you’re either bored of them or replace them for 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, and if yours is too old to have any value, at least they will 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.
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.
Get your movies from the library: Borrow movies from your local library rather than from the video store – they’re about half the price, or if you’re a film buff, join LOVEFiLM, as they’re currently giving a free 30-day trial, and you can get films delivered to your door.
Books: There is no real need to buy books at full price any more. Make use of your local public library, or if you do just have to have the physical copy in your possession, scout around charity shops, book sales, Amazon, and sites like ReadItSwapIt where you can swap the books you don’t want for the ones you do!
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 quarter to a fifth 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.
Save money on energy: In the UK, energy prices have steadily risen since 2003 and are still going. There is a bright side, with such rising costs customers have started really shopping around for good deals, creating 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. Head over to sites such as MySupermarket and The Energy Shop.
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.
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.
Replace your old boiler: If your boiler is over 15 years old it is no longer efficient and draining loads of energy, and therefore, 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 will 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 your local Energy Efficiency Advice Centre on 0800 512012 for more details on energy efficient boilers and for grant information. If you would like to compare the efficiency of different boilers visit www.boilers.org.uk.
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 programming 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.
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 shouldcost you about a tenner from most good DIY stores, and B&Q have one for much less. Make sure to purchase a jacket that is at least 75mm thick. Visit Home Heating Guide for step-by-step instructions.
Switch off: 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 they are left on standby. In fact 85% of the energy consumed by your DVD player comes from when it is not actually in use, so start saving money!
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 and it won’t last as long.
Get energy efficient appliances: If you are purchasing any new appliances buying the energy efficient one will save you loads. By replacing a 10 year-old fridge-freezer with a modern, energy efficient A-rated appliance you can save £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! Read through some of the offers.
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, as long as you 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.
Don’t forget about the loft: By insulating your loft you could save up to £200 off your annual heating bill. 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.
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.
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 heads are a no-no as they can use as much water – or sometimes more – than a bath would!
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 you the best deal. You can compare deals here. 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.
Get cheaper car insurance: When it’s time to renew, always check to see if you could get a cheaper deal. You can visit our car insurance comparison page to compare services, and it’s always worth checking sites like GoCompare and Confused.com to see what deals they can offer you to save money.
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 transfer fees to 0% credit cards. Read about the best 0% credit cards for the best offers. Have a look at our article on the best 0% credit cards for balance transfers.
Consider your car: If you can, start walking or cycling to work, or walking the kids to school. It will save money, it’s eco friendly, and gives you some exercise without having to step into a gym. If you have to drive, don’t be in such a hurry. You’d get up to 35% better fuel efficiency by just driving a bit slower and not accelerating so quickly at green lights.
Get points with loyalty cards: Store cards from places like Boots, Tesco and Nectar cards that can be used at Sainsbury’s 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, therefore saving money on future purchases. In the case of Nectar points, if you build up enough you could even use them to pay for flights for a holiday.
Make your own baby food: When making those homemade meals for your family don’t forget to blend some of those fresh soft fruits 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.
Get cashback from shopping: Just imagine; you’ve just bought something from the internet – a stereo perhaps – 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 have registered, you just have to click from their website to the site where you want to buy from, purchase as normal, and once you’ve spent £25 they will credit your bank account. But note, it’s only worth doing if you were going to buy the items anyway.
Sign up to Toluna: Sign up to Toluna which will give you free samples to test and rewards for answering their surveys. You are then able to redeem these points for prizes or use them to enter competitions with great prizes, such as an Xbox One.
Sell your stuff on Zapper: Selling your unwanted items is a great way to make money and to get rid of clutter in your home! ZAPPER will pay you for your old books, CDs, DVD’s and games. You can simply enter in the barcode of your item and they will tell you how much cash it is worth.
We hope this has given you a few ideas on how to save money, even if you try out just a few of them.