By completing a simple exercise you can quickly understand how your income stands up to your expenditure, you can simply make a list with two columns outlining exactly how much money you have each week/month to spend and compare that to exactly how much you spend. It is vital that you include everything in both columns so that you can understand how much disposable income you have each month or week. In the book you will see an example of a more in depth type of form, this includes two separate sections for secured and unsecured debt, you can easily replicate this form if you have word or excel or you can down load a copy from the internet. It is vital that you are totally honest with the information you provide otherwise the whole exercise becomes pointless.2) Check your credit report
Find out for yourself what any potential lenders will read about you, your financial situation, payment history etc. It is a very good way of understanding how lenders see you at this time, if you have a low score that would suggest that you need to take steps to protect yourself from possible problems.
As I have mentioned on previous pages, your credit report can be used in conjunction with income and expenditure form, this will allow you to cross reference the information you have in both documents and ensures you have all the facts.
Using credit and Store cards is a very expensive way of buying things; even with 0% transfers you are only delaying paying the price as interest will be charged after a very short period of time.
Only use this option if you are confident that you can either clear the full balance or that the ongoing rate will in fact be cheaper. If you are using your credit card to pay for things like your weekly shopping and everyday living costs that is a sign that your finances are getting out of control.
If you have more than three credit cards it is highly likely that you have over extended on your borrowing, if all your credit cards are at their limit and you are only paying the minimum amount required then you have very definitely over extended on your borrowing.
Credit cards are best used as short term loans which can be paid quickly in full each month. One possible solution may be to consolidate all your cards onto a personal loan with a much lower interest rate, however if you chose this path it is vital that you do not then go to use your cards.
4) Switch your energy supplier.
By using a website such as uswitch.com you can find the best deal for your home based on how much you spend etc.
Paying your bill by direct debit can often reduce your bill too. In many cases you can save as much as £150.00 per year on your household heating bill Even if you are on prepay you have the option to switch supplier.
5) Cut down the cost of you mobile phone.
Think before you make that call, many land lines now offer free evening and weekend calls, if you have an allowance on you mobile for free minutes or texts use them, but try not to go over them.
You may think texting is a cheaper way of talking but it’s not, quite often a quick call will work out much cheaper than exchanging ten texts to say something that would take less that 2 minutes, and remember it much nicer to talk than text.
Make your money work harder for you, many people shop at the same supermarket simply out of habit, compare prices on the goods you buy most often, look out for deals on goods you buy, one brand of beans may offer a two for one deal for example; and remember its only a deal if it’s something you would normally buy or it will replace your usual brand. It no good buying something on offer that you don’t ever normally buy; as it will just be an extra cost no matter how cheap it is. Also Supermarkets are not always cheaper check your local butcher and fruit and veg supplier they are often cheaper and better. And never shop while hungry
7) Conserve the Use of electricity & gas around your home
Take things of standby at night, up to ten percent of energy cost come from appliances being left on standby, turning your heating down by just one degree can save you another ten percent. Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need to use, when you leave the room turn of the lights. Conserve heat by keeping doors closed and ensure you have adequate insulation. One you get into the habit you will be surprised at just how much you can save.8) Raise extra cash
You can raise extra cash by selling unwanted items from your home, car boot sales are a great way of raising extra funds and can be a lot of fun too, you may even find a bargain there for yourself too helping you to save even more, auction web sites are also another good way of raising cash quickly. If you have a spare room you could take in a lodger which could add hundreds of pounds to your monthly income, but think carefully before you do as it is a big change to your home environment.
9) Use your car wisely
With rising fuel costs think before you make that journey, a quick trip to the local shop can be made on foot maybe or popping down the rd to see friends, if your journey is less than a mile walk or ride a bike, it will save you money and keep you fit too, saving you money on that expensive gym membership you never use? If you see cheap fuel on offer at your local supermarket fill the car up, if you can car share with a friend at work. Check your tires etc regular good maintain your car will not only save on repair bills but greatly increase fuel efficiency.
10) Cut back on unnecessary expenses
Take a long hard look at your expenditure list and remove any items that you don’t need or cut back on things you can use less of, Its estimated that over £200m is lost every year in unused gym memberships, how much of that is your cash? Plus you can always keep fit at home or by paying far less at your local pool and by spending time out walking the dog or out walking with your family etc.
11) Make your own lunch
Take your lunch with you to work instead of paying for it at the local sandwich shop, on average we spend more than £960.00 a year on our lunch when you could make it for less than £300.00 saving £660.00 a year. Imagine what you could do with that money, if you smoke try and cut back or even better quit, if you smoke just 10 a day you can save over £1000.00 and you also get to live longer to enjoy it. Take a look at your broadband cost you could save over £100.00 a year by combing it with you TV service for example.Something to say?, Any tips of your own?
12. Change your attitude to your mortgage
The most expensive item you are ever likely to buy is your home. If you’re not in the privileged position to pay cash, make sure the loan you use to finance it is the best available. For example, if you are paying your lender’s full standard variable rate (SVR) you are probably paying hundreds of pounds a year more than you need to.
There are thousands of deals to choose from and while it is vital to check the small print for hidden catches, this is a relatively easy way to save a lot of money. Remember: loyalty to your bank benefits your bank, not you. Even better, if you can afford to make overpayments on your mortgage, you’ll clear your debt several years early and make massive savings. For example, if you borrow £100,000 at 6% over 25 years, you’ll pay it back at £643 a month. The total charge for credit will be £93,000. But if you can overpay by £100 a month you’ll clear the loan in less than 19 years, giving you 6 years of mortgage-free living and saving a staggering £25,000 in interest.
13. Clear your credit card debt
One of the golden rules of financial planning is to clear your most expensive debts first, in other words your credit cards. OK, credit cards offer a convenient way to pay for goods and services but if you can’t clear the balance every month, consider a low-cost loan as an alternative. Do the sums: a credit card debt (APR 15%) of £2,200 over three years will cost £545 in interest. A loan at 6% will cost £209. A saving of £336.
14. Consider installing a water meter
We take our tap water for granted. And why not? The companies behind the supply exist to make a profit, we pay them to supply water and have every right to expect it to flow from our taps. But if it doesn’t rain, supply runs dry and the price goes up. So you may want to consider the possibility of installing a meter. If you have a big home with few occupants you may be surprised to learn you could halve your annual bill.
Link: water calculator
15. Cut your home phone bills
BT may seem to behave like a monopoly but it most definitely is not one. If you must use your phone there are scores of cheaper alternatives from cable companies that package your telephone, television and even broadband internet access to low-cost dial-up services that give you access to cheaper calls using your existing BT line.
16. Consider a pay-as-you go mobile
Ask yourself this: is your mobile phone absolutely necessary? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself whether you really need all those minutes and texts that come as part of your package. If you hand over £50 a month to your mobile phone company, that’s £600 a year – or around £1,000 of your gross salary. But you can buy a pay-as-you-go phone for as little as £30 and only pay for the odd call as and when you need to.
Links: mobile phone deal finder
17. Make a shopping list
Food shopping forms a significant part of our monthly outgoings and the supermarket is where the bulk of the money is spent. Tesco takes £1 in every £8 spent by UK shoppers. But be warned, stores spend a small fortune studying ways of making us part with more of our money than we would otherwise intend to. Have you ever wondered why your favourite song is playing in the background as you navigate the aisles? Have you even noticed the background music? Possibly not, but you will have noticed at the checkout that the bill is often more than expected. To circumvent this, simply make a shopping list. Dig out the cookery books, plan a few meals and only buy what you need.
Saving: £10 a week = £520 a year
Link: Mysupermarket for price comparisons
18. When was the last time you went to the market?
One way to beat the supermarkets – that is, to eat healthily for less – is to use your local market stall. Lower overheads should mean lower prices. At the time of writing, cherries were on sale in Asda for £2.99 for 400g, the equivalent at the local market was going for just over £1.
19. Consider own-brand goods
You can buy a tin of Asda own-brand baked beans for 14p and a loaf bread at Asda, Tesco or Sainsbury’s for 19p. Enough said.
Link: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s
20. Don’t buy designer labels
Celebrities are given expensive clothes to wear. You’re not. At the end of the day, and let’s face it you may only wear the outfit once, can you justify paying hundreds of pounds over the odds because a top designer has had his or her name sewn on the label? And can you honestly say you can tell the difference at a distance between a £600 designer bag and a £9.99 one from the market? Think about it.
Link: Prada – note the total lack of prices
ASOS.com offers discounted brands
21. Do DIY
We’re a nation of obsessive DIYers and for around £100 you can take a course at your local adult education college to improve the skills needed to tackle most household repairs. If the college runs plumbing courses you could soon be on track to wiping out costly call-out charges and extra insurance policies once and for all.
22. Shop around for the cheapest household insurance
Unless you drive – car insurance is mandatory – you don’t need insurance. But it’s strongly advisable. Can you afford to foot the bill if your house burns down? Probably not. Similarly, can you afford to pay over the odds for the same policy available elsewhere because you can’t be bothered to shop around? Possibly, but it’s not advisable. The internet has made finding cheaper insurance easy and you can compare hundreds of policies in minutes.
23. Choose cheaper breakdown insurance
The breakdown sector is dominated by big names such as the AA and RAC. But being towed home if your car breaks down is just another form of insurance like any other and there are scores of cheaper alternatives.
Saving: Up to £100 a year
24. Are you paying too much for your life insurance?
We’re living longer. As a result the cost of insuring the unthinkable is getting cheaper all the time. If you were sold a policy when you took out or mortgage you may have been under too much stress to shop around. You could be missing a trick.
25. Book Early
Low-cost airlines have created a market in holidays for people prepared to fly to any destination provided it’s cheap. You can benefit from this too. Just remember, only a few seats on each flight are sold at bargain-basement prices and once they’re sold, the prices rise. So book early.
Link: Skyscanner – the air fares comparison site
26. Book your own ‘package’ holiday online
The popularity of High Street travel agents is waning as more and more people warm to the benefits of researching and putting together their own holidays on the internet. If your holiday consists of flights, accommodation, transfers and possibly car hire, then take this test. Order a brochure from a leading holiday company and work out the price of your holiday including all the complicated supplements. Now go online and, starting with the flights, try to put the same package together.
Links: This is flights, HotelClub.co.uk, Shuttle Direct, Holiday Autos
27.Learn to say ‘no’
It’s easy to capitulate to the demands of a screaming child in a packed Woolworths on a Saturday afternoon. But don’t do it. Similarly, how often does a ‘swift half’ after work turn into a £40 drinking session? Saying ‘no’ a few times a year will do wonders for your bank account.
28. Don’t pay full price for theatre or theme park tickets
If you are prepared to tolerate the unwieldy website and hit-and-miss customer service, lastminute.com regularly boasts some amazing deals for London’s theatres and the nation’s theme parks. At the time of writing you can see top West End show The Producers plus a two-course meal for less than £20 a head, a saving of £60 per person, and tickets for Chessington World of Adventures cost from £12, a saving of nearly £50 for a day out for a family of four.
29.Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses
Trying to keep up appearances is little more than a costly illness. Remember, you cannot judge someone by what they have because you don’t know how they got it. Chances are they’re in more debt than you are.
30. Trade down your car
So, you bought an American sports utility vehicle (SUV) that nets 15 miles to the gallon on a whim. Obviously we’re all very impressed – especially by the personalised number plate. But can you honestly justify the ongoing expense? If not, get rid of it. Then visit a car supermarket, where you can choose from thousands of cars at knock-down prices. If you’re a true money saver, consider an ex-rental model which you can pick up for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
Links: Daily Mail find a car service; Cargiant
31.Ask yourself: do I really need this?
Imagine the scenario. It’s lunchtime and you’ve got an hour to kill. You find yourself in a department store and there’s a sale on. You pick up a beautifully packaged selection of barbecue tools and associated garden paraphernalia. And it’s half price. Now, stop! Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Exactly. Now, put it down and walk away.
32. Walk/cycle to the station/work
It maybe a bit of hippie notion to many people but it’s free.
Link: Cycle Campaign Network
33.Cut down your drinking
A few beers after work a few nights a week is a financially debilitating state of affairs. Set limits and stick to them.
34. Pack up Smoking
Never mind the health implications, the guilt and the smell, your 20-a-day habit is costing you nearly £2,000 a year. Pack it in.
Saving: Nearly £2,000
35. Cancel your gym membership
If you pay your £40 a month by direct debit and you use the gym three times a week, great. If not, cancel your membership immediately. You’ll soon save enough to buy your own bike and, if you’re so inclined, a rowing machine. Consider running home from work three times a week. It’s free.
Link: Compare prices for rowing machines on Kelkoo
36. Use your library
The local library is a mecca for the money saver. You’ll never need to buy another cookbook, guidebook or lifestyle manual again and if you can bear to wait a few weeks in the queue for the latest blockbuster, you never need to buy books again. CDs and videos are great value too.
Link: www.whichbook.net – find a book and check if it’s available at your local library
37. The three for two trick
Now, there’s a lot to be said for buy-one-get-one-free deals, especially if they pass the ‘Do I really need this?’ test. Then there’s three-for-twos; a particularly cynical way of stores to entice shoppers to buy an extra item they would not otherwise buy. The ‘offer’ is always priced into the deal so do your sums and shop around.
Saving: It’s a principle at stake here
38. Buy clothes and presents in the sales
So you need a new suit and the one you like comes in at a cool £300. Wait! The chances are that you can pick it up in the sale – and there’s always a sale just around the corner – for £150. The same applies for birthday and Christmas presents. Buy in bulk in the sales and you not only save money, but you enjoy stress-free pre-Christmases and no last-minute birthday worries.
39. Use your Isa allowances
If you’re not already aware, you can save up to £3,000 a year in a tax-free savings account called an Isa (for the more financially savvy there’s also a stocks and shares Isa). It means you don’t pay any tax on the interest accrued so, if you have spare cash in your current account, this is the difference between earning next to no interest and up to £150 a year.
Link: Best Isa rates
40. Claim your benefits and tax credits
There was once a certain stigma in Britain attached to claiming benefits. Well, not any more. The Government has put benefits at the heart of the family budget and it’s your money so make sure you’re claiming it. That includes Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and other employee-related tax benefits.
41. How saving £50 a month now can save you £120 next year
Do you pay your insurance premiums by monthly instalments? If you do, then consider this: you are probably being charged a premium of between 15% and 20% for the privilege. In other words, if your home and car insurance bill for the year is £600, you’re paying up to £120 a year in interest by paying monthly. If you are in a position this year to save up for next year’s premiums in advance, you can save money by paying the whole lot in one go.
42. Do you need all those TV channels?
Britain is switching to digital-only television and time is running out for you to choose your new digital TV provider. The choice is already bewildering and with telephone-based services now being launched it’s going to get more complicated. Packages range from full the monty, including every sports and movie channel costing around £50 a month, down to Freeview, which is free. Choose wisely.
43. Bin the ready meals
If TV chefs such as Ainsley Harriott can knock up a meal from a bag of random groceries including an aubergine and a packet of sultanas – so can you. Ready meals may be convenient, but preparing your own food saves money. A visit to your library will reveal scores of books dedicated to cooking proper meals in minutes.
44. Take up a money-saving hobby
Hobbies not only open your mind to new experiences but they also take up your time – important if you would otherwise spend it in the pub drinking away your hard-earned money. If a painting takes 20 hours to complete, and you normally get through a pint an hour. That’s a saving of a least 40 quid a picture. Think about it. Get painting. Go fishing.
45. Avoid extended warranties
Electrical goods are more reliable than ever. If your new radio won’t last three years perhaps it’s not worth buying in the first place. Think about it: how many times has your fridge broken down in the last five years? And do you really need the hassle of claiming for repairs to a £15 toaster?
46. Shop Online
The internet is gradually taking over. Online grocery shopping is getting better all the time and there are plenty of comparison websites to help find the best prices for bigger items. Give it a try, unless of course you like fighting your way through supermarket crowds.
Saving: Your sanity
Links: Online grocery service rated; PriceRunner – price comparison site
47. Take a packed lunch to work !!!£££!!!
It’s obvious. So obvious, in fact, that most days I receive an email from someone somewhere explaining the money-saving virtues of making your own lunch. ‘Do the maths, Rich!’ So here goes: you spend a conservative £5 a day on lunch plus the luxury of £1.50 on a coffee and £1 on snacks, it’s nothing. It’s only £7.50 a day. Or £1,800 a year. Or, for the hard of understanding, the cost of a brand new £10,000 car after a mere five years. Over your working life you can easily chomp away more than £100,000. And you know what? An awful lot of people spend considerably more than £7.50 a day. While making your own lunch isn’t free, remember: a sandwich is just some bread with some stuff in between. And for the price of a small pension, does the coffee really taste that good?
Perfect packed lunches
48. And if you do take a packed lunch…
Buy in bulk. One pack of crisps costs around 45p. A six-pack, £1. And £2 for a sack. That’s enough packed lunches. (See 37)
49. Use quality low-cost clothes shops
I’ve never been to a Primark. There isn’t one near me. But plenty of you have and it sounds like my kind of place – quality clothes at sensible prices. I’m a TK Maxx fan myself. I know the value of things and £90 for a pair of trainers is not good value – especially when you can pick them up at TKMaxx a few months later for £24.99. Annual saving: £500+
TK Maxx | Primark
50. Use quality low-cost food shops
The idea that Tesco is cheap is a myth. Like all of the big-four supermarkets, it has headline-grabbing bargains to lure you in then leaves you at the mercy of the millions it spends tempting customers to buy everything else at whatever price it chooses. If you must use supermarkets over the local market, I’ve found Asda to be the cheapest of the big four. But discerning money savers should check out…
Netto | Lidl | Aldi
51. Avoid the car wash
There has been a boom over the last couple of years in the hand car-washing industry. Every car park now seems to have one. And every one seems to have a queue of drivers willing to part with up to £40 [I’ve seen one at £125] for a Gold , Silver or Titanium wash. Maybe it’s a pride thing. I don’t know. It is, however, money down the drain. My last car wash cost about 4¼p in electricity to power the vacuum cleaner and heat the water. The water and cloth (old pants) are already paid for and the free exercise is a bonus.
Video: How to wash a car
52. Don’t be a credit card tart
‘Card tarting’ is a technique where, if you are incredibly organised and money-savvy, you can take on the credit card companies at their own game – and even make money from them. It centres around the 0% interest phenomenon that began several years ago – and there is still a lot of talk about playing this game. It is not a game for everyone. It’s not for me! And it’s certainly not for anyone who has a weakness when it comes to credit cards. The providers aren’t stupid and will try to exploit that weakness by casually offering more debt when you call to activate your new card, or by sending credit cheques in the post. A tempting offer if you’re weak. Beware. If you have a history of credit card problems, cut the cards up. Certainly don’t take out more. You could save yourself Potentially £1,000s and avoid a lifetime of financial misery.
Sort out all your finances in eight steps
53. Pay for your prescriptions in advance
A little-known, but top money saver for those who need regular prescriptions is the ability to pay in advance. Patients who have to pay for more than five prescription items in four months or 14 items in 12 months may find it cheaper to buy a pre-payment certificate. At the time of writing a single prescription costs £6.65 and an annual pass costs £95.30, so every prescription over and above your 14th in a year is free. The downside is that you will save money the more ill you are.
Learn about PPCs | Check if you are entitled to free prescriptions
54. Buy generic medicines
A 16-pack of Anadin Ultra Ibuprofen capsules costs £2.99. Own-brand aspirin from Sainsbury cost 33p. How bad is that headache now?
55. Grow your own herbs
This may seem like a trifling little thing so let’s put it in perspective. Any self-respecting cook will use a lot of herbs and if you’re happy with dried this probably won’t apply. But even if you only have a windowsill or two it is quite easy, planting seeds at regular intervals, to set up a nice little production line throughout the spring and summer months. You can save up to £100 over the growing season.
56. Repair things
The sad reality in these green, carbon-neutral days is that you can’t repair your toaster. Or little else, for that matter. I tried to get my toaster fixed and while everyone was sympathetic I was forced to claim my little plot of landfill along with the rest of the country. You can, however, hold on to salvaged materials, off-cuts of wood and screws that, while irritating your spouse, come in handy when it comes to repairs around the home.
(Aside: why is it you can only buy nails and screws in bags of 100,000?)
57. When it comes to fashion, sizes matters
I love this tip sent in from a reader – because I have to admit that I’ve been suckered by it many times. ‘Never buy clothes that you will wear once you lose some weight.’ I’ve got a shelf of jumpers and trousers that I’ll be able to wear just as soon as I shed a couple of inches. I’m brave enough now to admit that that ain’t gonna to happen. What a waste (or is that waist?) of money.
58. Never pay for parking – and especially not for parking tickets
You pay your car tax, VAT, petrol tax, road tolls, congestion charge and obligatory insurance. You pay for tunnels and bridges and child seats and hand-free mobile sets and speeding fines. So don’t pay for parking. And make sure you park legally to avoid parking fines. It means you have to walk a bit further. But is that such a bad thing?
59. Drivers: slow down and save
Unless you drive everywhere at 30mph it’s becoming all-but impossible to avoid being caught speeding at least once in your life. There are now more than 6,000 speed cameras waiting to catch you out. But if your driving involves high mileage think about this: if you drive at 70mph rather than 80mph – and I’ve seen how few few drivers stick to 70mph – it will save one litre of petrol for every 20 miles, says one reader. If you do 10,000 motorway miles a year, that’s a saving of nearly £450.
Speed camera database
60. Avoid the motorway service station
Or should we refer to these as the world’s most expensive toilets? These places are hateful rip-offs. Coffee up to £3 a pop. Cash machines that charge £1.85 to withdraw your money. Petrol that costs an extra tenner a tank. If you travel a lot, says a reader, take a flask of coffee, fill up before you go. Avoiding these places, just twice a week, could save you £1,000 a year.
61. Beware the false bargain
Sometimes you get what you pay for. Let me explain. I bought a sandwich toaster for £5 from Asda. A bargain? Well, no. As far as I know the toast is still in it. The catch broke on its first outing and I didn’t have the energy to take it back.
62. Check your statements, receipts – and everything
Business exists to part you with your money. It’s a simple logic that, while obvious in the souks of the Maghreb, is much more cleverly disguised in the so-called developed world. Everyone’s at it and always has been; sometimes innocently, often not. Always check your bank and loyalty card statements, restaurant and phone bills and till receipts. It’s a chore to complain (see 24), and can be embarrassing if you’re wrong, but those extras you never received at the restaurant, the bank charges and the worse, the internet dialing scam, could be costing you a fortune – and if you don’t check you won’t know.
63. Cheap theatre tickets
The lure of the West End stage is a powerful one – and not just for the actors. Hundreds of theatre-lovers are bussed in from the provinces every day to watch largely over-priced dross. The price of the tickets is enough to cripple a family’s budget, never mind the extra costs of transport, food and accommodation. Much better value can be found in the fringe theatres, and even better in your small local or pub theatre. If you must come to London, the Kings Head in Islington is highly rated, as is Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate. Outside London, the Theatre Royal, Windsor is a try-out venue for many West End shows.
64. Shop Online
Says a reader: ‘Doing your grocery shopping online means you don’t end up with all those impulse buys like chocolate and snacks.’ Yep. I saved enough for a long weekend in Norway by shopping online. Read about ‘The best money-saving tip… in the world’ here.
65. Use the internet for things you otherwise wouldn’t think of using it for
I knocked 85% off the cost of a couple of items with a few clicks of the mouse. But for cables and batteries, online stores are probably an obvious destination. However, a reader says: ‘I saved £30 recently by buying two new car tyres via the internet from My Tyres and had them fitted locally. This was for two skinny tyres so I expect that four bigger tyres would save much more. Every little helps.’ Quite right.
66. Use charity shops
Boys: if you only buy one thing from a charity shop in your life, make sure it’s a tux. Tuxedos must be one of the great cons – a really expensive suit you wear only once or twice. It’ll take time to find one the right size, but for the savings its worth it. Girls: ‘Perfectly good designer wear is just hanging on rails for a few pounds – you’re doing something to help charity and helping yourself at the same time,’ says a reader.
67. Swap and share books
You can buy a big range of new books on Amazon for 1p – plus postage – making it rather hard for anyone to compete on price. Many charity shops have upped their prices of books to take advantage of the ‘do your bit for charity’ angle. But if you read a lot you should check out one of the book swapping services. You only pay postage and it works, or so I’m assured by several readers.
68. Negotiate your salary
‘The best and easiest time to negotiate a better pay and benefits deal is when you go for a new job. An extra £1,000 per annum is extra every year.’
69. Drink tap water
A simple puzzle for you: if you drink 1.5 litres of water a day – roughly the recommended daily dose for adults – and you satisfy this need with bottled water at 75p a litre, how much are you spending a year on water? Answer: £472.50. Turn the tap on folks. It’s as good as free and in most cases it’s as good as bottled.
70. Make the most of your lunch break – it could change your life
Sorry folks, more maths. (Bear with me, it’s worth it). If you work typically 48 weeks a year and have one hour a day for lunch, it adds up to 240 hours of spare time. If you normally work an 8-hour day, then your lunch breaks add up to the equivalent of 30 working days (a whole month) in which to do something worthwhile. You can study for a new job, knit jumpers, sell stuff on eBay, write your novel – or, as a lot of people seem to do, wander round in a daze and buy shoes and sandwiches (see 1). You choose.
The New Spend Less Revolution
71. Do they know it’s Christmas?
The retailers surely do. For them, Christmas starts around the end of August and continues for a quarter of a year. In ’50 ways’ we covered buying next year’s gifts – and birthday presents – in the sales. But: ‘Another tip is to ask friends and relatives to buy you gift vouchers for Christmas. Once the sales start you can often get double the value of the gifts in the sales. You can save £100s.’
72. Money-saving meals: the meat as a side dish trick
As John Cleese once said: ‘If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?’ But all that rearing can make meat an expensive luxury. So while we traditionally think of a hearty meal as meat and two veg, by twisting this idea on its head and stacking up the plate with loads of veg with a little bit of meat on the side you can save a packet.
73. If you buy magazines regularly think about getting a subscription
Only follow this tip if you are sure you are going to read the magazine every time, all year! Better, ask for one as a birthday present. I recommend Private Eye – a mere £24 a year – and to Web User, dearer at £40, but packed with useful tips and tactics.
74. Avoid the glasses rip-off
Retailers are pocketing up to 1,000% on a pair of specs, or so it is claimed. If you have a prescription consider one of the online discount stores such as Glasses Direct, where you’ll pay as little as £15 for a pair.
75. Avoid loyalty cards at all costs
The first rule of money saving is to SHOP AROUND. Loyalty cards, however, are designed to make you do the OPPOSITE OF THAT. They exist to make you spend more than you intended, to buy more than you intended to be marketed (sold) things you didn’t know you wanted because, in fact, you didn’t want them. These schemes prey hard on your subconscious. In the back of your mind, every time you use the card you’re somehow saving money and taking one step further to reaching the ultimate points prize – which is usually a trip to the zoo.
Loyalty cards – the biggest High St con of all?
76. Avoid cashback credit cards
The same psychology is at work here as for loyalty cards (see 39). Only this time the rewards are even greater: FREE MONEY! Yes dear. Clawing at your subconscious here is the idea that the more you spend the more money free money you’ll get back. It’s a brilliant concept for the card companies, whose sole aim is to get you into debt so you pay them interest every month. There is no such thing as free money. The house always wins.
77. Never take what you see on the internet at face value
Anyone can set up a website within a few minutes and the internet is awash with self-appointed experts in every subject imaginable. But beware the money experts – they’re lining their pockets not yours. While you have to take your hat off to their ingenuity, for heaven’s sake don’t fall for it. There’s no such thing as free money.
78. Five money-saving quickies – it all adds up
Electricity: Switch off the lights, turn down the thermostat, turn off the telly properly. (This works best if you’re not intending to spend a quiet night in watching Coronation Street. In winter.)
Telephones: If you use an 0870 number to phone a company to sort out a problem of their making, ask them how much the call is costing and insist they call you back.
Wine: I’m sure the rule used to be that you got six glasses from a bottle. It’s down to about three these days – and the bottles haven’t any got smaller. So remember, if you’re going out and drinking wine in a bar you might as well share a whole bottle than buying by the glass. It’s much cheaper.
Motoring: Use an independent garage to service your car, not a dealership.
Small print: Always read the small print. You see, there are only four money-saving quickies in this list of five. (Or are there?)
79. How to save money on dental treatment
Good grief, my mother was right. The best way to save money on dental treatment is to avoid it. No, I don’t mean neglect yourself until you turn into a bag lady or tramp and try to get a place on Reality Teeth Makeover TV.
I mean clean at least twice a day and eat fruit, not sweets. A spoonful of sugar in your tea causes your teeth to decay for two hours. So, a cuppa every couple hours and you’re going to be making regular contributions to your dentist’s pension fund.