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The easy way to save money on household essentials

Jasmine Birtles 12th Oct 2017 One Comment

Reading Time: 7 minutes

You know the easy way to save on day-to-day household expenses?

It’s to develop a few, simple, money-saving habits and just keep them going each week, month and year.

It’s just like eating healthily: you learn a few rules (like not eating too many cakes and sweets and making sure you have fruit and veg every day) and put them into your daily routine.

After reading The Money Advice Service’s piece about how to save on household bills, I was inspired to come up with some of my own tips and tricks for saving on household bills and day-to-day expenses.

My biggest tip is to take out the ‘thinking’ part of saving. Setting up healthy saving and spending habits makes it easier to do because you don’t have to think about it…you just do it!

So here are six great habits that I have come up with over the years which will help you save at home day by day.


Habit 1: Use and re-use

Up-cycled pallet bedside table

We have got into a nasty habit of throwing things away and buying new when we could actually re-use things, mend them, upcycle or even swap or sell to make the most of what we have.

This is the thinking behind my Clear Your Clutter campaign – use what you have, get rid of what you don’t need in a positive way (i.e. sell it, swap it, give it to charity), mend and upcycle what isn’t quite good enough and live a leaner, freer, happier life.

Some things you can do to use and re-use are:

  • Have a ‘use it up’ month in the kitchen. Only buy perishables to go with the tins, packets and jars of stuff that have been in your store cupboards for months. Use up everything in the freezer too before refilling.
  • Have a swap shop with friends and neighbours. Everyone brings clothes, make-up (even half-used), accessories and even household items they don’t want and you swap with each other. It’s a fun party too.
  • Get your paintbrush out and have fun with the kids painting up jam jars to make them into pencil pots and vases; get the sewing kit out and mend a few seems and sew on a few buttons while you’re watching TV so that you have ‘new’ clothes to wear; get those broken gadgets out of the drawer and either have them mended (look online to see where the cheapest menders are in your locality) or sell them – you can make money even with broken bits and pieces as you can see here.
  • Have a big clear-out of your stuff, room by room, drawer by drawer, cupboard by cupboard. Divide the things you don’t want into ‘throw’, ‘mend’, ‘charity’ and ‘sell’. See my video here on how to do this (it’s a great feeling, by the way, to get things organised like this and give yourself space at home!)



Habit 2: Switch bills once a year

Mature couple assessing bills

Yes just once a year, go through your various bills and see which companies will give you a better deal.

You should be able to save over £1,000 in the year just by switching.

In fact, get some ideas from our article on how to live on half your salary. Much of that is down to switching to cheaper providers each year.

gas and electricity

Probably the easiest switch is gas and electricity. You don’t even have to have your bills with you to find the cheapest one. You can just put your postcode in here and see what cheaper deals come up. If you have a recent bill that can make it more accurate but it’s not essential.

car insurance

It’s REALLY important to switch your car insurance once a year, particularly as premiums are likely to hit an all-time high in 2018.

Never accept the new premium your current provider offers. Go onto a car insurance comparison (at least one) and find a cheaper deal. Even if you don’t go for that one you can use it as a bargaining tool with your current provider to get a better deal

home insurance

Same with home insurance. Always shop around for a new deal.

Go on a home insurance comparison site (like the MoneyMagpie one here) and get a cheaper deal.

other insurance

You can save LOADS by getting the best value travel insurance, pet insurance and any other insurance once a year. It really doesn’t take long to fill in the online form and we have lots of info for you on how to do this in our insurance section here.

broadband and phone

You probably already know how much you’re being ripped-off by your broadband and phone providers??

It’s worth taking a look NOW at what the deals out there are. They keep changing and it’s highly likely that you could be saving at least £20 a month by switching.


Habit 3: Do a Budget and into weekly amounts

Budget calculator on phone

Doing a budget sounds dull but it’s actually quick and easy if you use one of the many budget calculators on the net like the one on the Money Advice Service here.

You can do it on the back of an envelope too.

  1. Do two columns – one for monthly incomings, the other for monthly outgoings
  2. Put list of all the money you get each month (including benefits, rental income, salary etc)
  3. Then write a list of all your essential monthly outgoings like mortgage or rent, gas and electricity, basic food, basic clothing and travel, insurance, TV licence etc.
  4. Add up both and take your outgoings away from your incomings. That will show you what you have to play with each month.

Once you know your monthly ‘playing’ money you should divide that by four and that will give you a rough idea of how much you can allow yourself to spend each week.

If you have that in mind as you go about your day you will be better at knowing what you can spend on and what you can’t.

You could even take that amount out of the ATM in cash each week and have that only as your spending money – no cards. It’s a really good way of budgeting without knowing you’re doing it!

See our article here on how to do a budget and stick to it.


Habit 4: Get as much as you can for free

MoneyMagpie freebies banner

Why pay if you can get it for free?

There’s loads you can get for free all over the place. If you make it a habit to try and find free versions of everything then that will bring your costs right down.

For example

  • There are free events and entertainments all over. Your local council will put on events at certain times of the year so check their website. Also try one of the many free events sites like Freeevents.co.uk and Timeout.co.uk (look for the free section).
  • Get books from the local library, go to free events at your local museums and galleries and make the most of free parks, walks and sites.
  • Get free stuff every week on freebies sites and newsletters like the one we run here on MoneyMagpie. Every week we give away loads of free stuff to anyone on our freebies newsletter list. Sign up here if you haven’t already and get a free eBook on how to live for free!
  • Get lots of free used (and non-used) stuff for your home and for the family on Freecycle.org and the free section on Gumtree.com


Habit 5: Think for yourself and don’t be persuaded by media or friends

Woman looking thoughtful

Every hour of every day someone is trying to get you to part with your money for some reason.

  • Shops want you to buy something – anything – from them and they don’t care whether you need it or not
  • Bars, restaurants and clubs want you to spend as much as possible with them
  • Friends want you to go out with them and buy the things that they buy. They want you to spend on their weddings, their birthdays, their holidays and more.
  • The Government wants you to spend on anything so that you keep the economy going
  • Banks want you to borrow money from them so that you pay them interest

Obviously you can’t spend your life not spending on anything, but the point is that you need to know what you’re spending on is what you really want or actually need.

Keep asking yourself “do I really need this? Do I want it and if so why? Will it really make my life better or am I just being manipulated?”

At least half of the time it’s likely you’re being manipulated so reject it and close your wallet!


Jasmine says...

Quote 1

Thinking for yourself is one of the best money-saving and money-making tips I have. Get information and make up your own mind – maybe with help from an independent advisor that you pay – and ignore the pressure from friends and adverts to spend, spend, spend!

Quote 2


Habit 6: Go for value, not cheapness

Magnifying glass identifying word quality over word quantity

In many things, cheap is not cheerful. Watch where you spend.

  • Travel insurance is often better when more expensive as it will cover more. If you’re doing watersports or skiing or you’re going to the USA you should make sure you’re properly covered.
  • Cheap clothes often fall apart after one wash. Better to have a few good ones than a wardrobe full of rubbish.
  • Cheap meat should be avoided as it is often packed with antibiotics and other drug nasties! Better to have one or two ‘veggie nights’ each week instead. Have meat here and there but less of it so that you keep the quality but reduce the amount.


What ideas to you have? Let us know your tips in the comments below.


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5 years ago

Useful tips for keeping the bills down.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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