FINANCES: CREDIT CARDS AND LOANS
1. Create a budget and be realistic about all your incomings and outgoings. Make sure you know exactly what money you have and when you will have it. This will help you plan for events such as birthdays or holidays when you may need a little extra cash saved up.
2. Make sure you are getting the best possible interest rate for your savings, opening an online savings account could receive a higher interest rate than a regular current account.
3. Missing your credit card minimum payment dates will hit you with a big charge, so set up a direct debit payment to make sure you never miss the date by accident.
4. Lots of credit cards now offer cashback or points on your purchases or gift vouchers when you first sign up, so make sure you shop around before choosing your credit card. However don’t just choose a card because of a one off benefit, you have to look at the overall package.
5. Don’t be scared to transfer to another credit card with an interest free promotional period as lots of credit cards offer this now. However make sure you transfer to a different one before the promotional period is over as you could be charged with a higher interest rate once it has ended.
6. Keep your credit history healthy- this will make it easier to transfer to different credit cards when you need to.
7. Don’t sign up to department store credit cards even if they do offer you 10% off your first purchase, they charge you a very high interest rate, high late payment charges and are too tempting to have in your wallet while you are out shopping!
8. Don’t get yourself into a mess with paying your mortgage. If you are struggling to pay your monthly payments, speak to your provider about taking a mortgage payment holiday which is better than simply defaulting on your payments.
9. If you have a little extra money, pay more on your credit cards or loans instead of spending it on a treat. If you can pay your debts off quicker, you will pay less interest.
10. If you have been stung in the past by large bank charges, try to reclaim them by writing to your bank. If you think your bank charges are significantly higher than other banks, think about transferring your account.
11. If you travel a lot, use a credit card which doesn’t charge you for using it abroad. Some credit cards charge 2.5% for using it in a foreign country, however there are some that do not charge this fee if you shop around.
12. If you are worried about your finances, get free help from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, they understand what troubles you may be facing and are trained to help you think of solutions.
13. Make sure you are claiming any benefits that you are entitled to such as Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit. The forms can take a while to fill out and it can be confusing about what you are entitled for but you can go to your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau to help with any queries.
14. Do you shopping online, this will stop you having to pay for buses or parking and you are more likely to buy what you need when you are online.
15. Join Internet Cashback to earn cashback while you shop online and get access to discount codes which aren’t available in the shops. Earn cashback on a variety of products including your food shopping, clothes shopping, credit cards, insurances etc. Download the Cashback Detector and you will never miss out on cashback while shopping online again!
16. Don’t buy everything from the usual high street shops; use a price comparison website before you buy anything to make sure you are getting the best prices, which could point you to an online shop you have never heard of before with the cheapest products.
17. Try not to impulse shop! Don’t buy something as soon as you see it; give yourself time to think about it so you can see if you really need it. This will also give you chance to shop around for the best price.
18. When buying your groceries try the supermarket’s economy range. You’ll find most of it tastes the same but is half the price, so don’t be put off by the packaging. Supermarket economy ranges are also good for toiletries, medicines and cleaning products.
19. Have a spring clean and sell anything you don’t want or use anymore on Ebay- it is really quick and easy to sell on eBay now.
20. Do your grocery shopping at night if you can, as supermarkets such as ASDA or Tesco often reduce the price of food like bread, milk or cakes at the end of the day to make sure they sell it.
21. Before you go shopping, make a list of what you need and then stick to it, if you don’t know what you need, you’ll be more likely to overspend.
22. Don’t buy your daily cup of coffee from expensive coffee shops because they are too expensive. A £2 cup of coffee every day will cost you approximately £60 over the whole month! Take a flask out instead!
23. Take a packed lunch to work instead of buying it everyday, it will work out much cheaper especially if you’ve managed to get your bread reduced for your sandwiches the night before.
24. Don’t buy ready made meals; they’re expensive and not very healthy. If you get yourself organised you can cook a meal from scratch in about 20 minutes. It’s healthier and much cheaper.
25. Only buy what you need to eat, buying too much food means it’ll go out of date fast and you lose money on it.
26. Use the leftovers from your evening meals for your lunch the next day, as long as you keep in the fridge it will still stay nice and means you won’t need to buy your dinner out.
27. Always look out for special offers, coupons and discounts. Bulk buy if there is a special offer on something you regularly use, for example a BOGOF on toothpaste however don’t just buy something because it is reduced!
28. Don’t feel you have to be the first person to get the latest products, for example a mobile phone could cost £300 when first launched but could drop to only £50 in the next year.
29. Plan your family and friend’s birthday and Christmas presents in advance by buying them during the sales. If you have enough storage, you could buy your Christmas presents for the following year in the January sales.
EVENING ENTERTAINMENT AND LEISURE
30. Stop eating out at restaurants at evenings and weekends so often. It’s easy to get lazy and head out for dinner but you’ve got to remember that your meal will cost a lot more in a restaurant than it will cooking for yourself.
31. If you do eat out at a restaurant, try to skip the starter and only have two courses which will save you money without ruining your evening. Also, try to resist the coffee at the end of the meal, you can get one at home for much less.
32. Find a restaurant where you can take your own bottle of wine! These are quite common and will mean you are not paying restaurant prices for your drinks.
33. Take it in turns for you and your friends to throw a dinner party. This is much cheaper than going to a restaurant and is often more fun especially if you have themed evenings.
34. If you are going out for the evening, don’t go too early and have a few drinks before you leave. You will spend much less money but will still have fun!
35. If you have an expensive gym membership and do not use it then cancel it as it is a complete waste of money. Try walking instead or using your local leisure centre which will be much cheaper than a gym membership.
36. If you pay to go to a slimming club, consider starting your own with your family, friends and neighbours instead. You will still get the same motivation but will save on the weekly cost.
37. Don’t pay full price for cinema tickets as most cinemas offer cheap weekend or daytime prices, and if you know someone with an Orange mobile phone you can get 2-for-1 tickets on Wednesday’s with their Orange Wednesday promotion.
38. During summer holidays most council’s have free or cheap events for families and children to take part in, so make sure you hunt around to make the most of what is offered.
39. Libraries are a great place to take the children on a rainy day and are great for adults too as many now stock not only books but CDs , DVDs and magazines.
40. Share the cost of events with your family and friends, for example if you love football then buy a season ticket with your friends and take it in turns to go to the matches. This way you might miss out on some matches but that’s better than missing out on all of them.
41. Try and find a market research group in your area which will pay you very well for telling researches what you think of specific products or ideas. These are enjoyable to do and you are provided with refreshments while you are there.
42. Aim to build your wardrobe up with classic pieces that match. This way you will be able to interchange everything, so you won’t have to buy as many new pieces.
43. Go to the factory or clearance shops; they’re much cheaper and give you big brands at low prices and chances are, nobody will know where you bought them from!
44. Try to save your shopping trips until the sales are on. Although make sure you don’t buy things just because they are cheap if you don’t actually need them and take them back if they don’t fit as many shops do not open their fitting rooms during busy sale times.
45. Go to your local charity shop for cheap clothes! Remember, the majority of celebrities shop in charity stores because that’s where all the quirky stuff is so you will be in good company!
46. Don’t splash out on designer clothes for your children. Hand-me-downs and supermarket clothing ranges are a great way to dress your children cheaply and they probably won’t even notice the difference.
47. Learn how to sew and fix your clothes, not only will you be able to sew any holes or rips, you will also be able to customise your own clothes to make one off pieces.
48. Return clothes for a refund that you have bought and then realised you don’t like, don’t just let them sit in your wardrobe with the tags on.
49. Don’t avoid the cheaper shops such as Primark, they are great to stock up on your simple wardrobe necessities such as t-shirts and nightwear.
50. Only buy home appliances that have been certified as energy efficient, they may cost more to start with but you’ll save more over time on running costs.
51. Replace your old light bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs as they last longer and save you money.
52. Lower your heating thermostat. If there are rooms that you don’t use in your home then turn off the radiator and close the door. If you live in a 2 storey house, you can turn the thermostat down even further upstairs because heat rises. By turning your heating thermostat down 10-20 you will be surprised at how much energy you will save per year.
53. Install more insulation in your attic, replace old curtain liners with new insulating curtain liners and seal any draughts. If you have a big enough budget, install double or even triple glazed windows, these are very efficient means of insulating your home, saving you money on heating costs. They also boost the value of a property significantly.
54. Turn off the lights if you aren’t in the room and make sure everyone in your house does the same. There’s no point in being charged for light that you don’t use. Simple as that!
55. Don’t leave electrical appliances on standby as they still consume electricity. Turn them off at the wall and you could save up to 10% off your electricity bills. According to reports, the UK government is bringing in legislation that will make it compulsory for all new appliances to not have a standby mode because of the huge waste this brings.
56. You can save a lot of money on your water bills very easily, always shower rather than bathing and spend as little time in the shower as possible.
57. If you have a big home with few occupants you could halve your annual water bill by installing a water meter.
58. Turn your washing machine down to 40. Unless your clothes are heavily soiled a wash on 30-40 will still bring them out sparkling clean!
59. Don’t be lazy by sticking with your current utility company, shop around and make sure you are getting the best deal; you can use utility comparison sites to help you see which company will be best for you and use Internet Cashback to earn up to 37.50 pounds for switching utility companies.
60. Book flights early and save money. While many of the budget airlines will fly to a regional airport, it may actually cost less to fly into an airport closer to a city center (if you are going on a city break) as you won’t have to pay for a taxi to your accommodation.
61. Budget airlines such as Ryanair are now charging per bag checked into the hold in an effort to speed up their turn around times. If you can, pack what you need (minus scissors, liquids etc) into your hold baggage. This also means you don’t have to wait round to pick up your baggage at arrivals.
62. Book hotels online rather than walking in unannounced and being hit with the typically higher walk-in rate.
63. Buy your car rental online rather than arranging for it when you arrive. Car rental is a competitive market and there are plenty of money-saving offers available.
64. If you are planning a journey by train or bus then book early, look for offers and do not travel in peak times. If you buy your ticket on the day of travelling it will be significantly more money than if you book in advance.
65. If you are on a long train or plane journey, buy your refreshments before you board as drinks and snacks are always over priced once you are travelling.
66. There are lots of websites which will send you free samples or money off coupons so find the best one and keep checking it for the samples you want to receive. Shampoo and body lotion samples are great to take on weekends away!
67. If you don’t use your landline phone often then change to a pay as you go mobile phone, it is silly paying for line rental if you don’t use it.
68. If you don’t use your internet broadband often then cancel it and make use of free wireless internet in most restaurants, cafes and bars. You simply take your laptop and connect to their wireless for free (although it might cost you a cup of coffee!). You can go to your library and use their computers for free and even have access to their printers and photocopiers for a small cost.
69. If you are on a monthly mobile phone contract, think about going pay as you go instead. You will have much more control over what you spend, and you’ll be surprised at how many people will call you instead of you calling them!
70. Send an email instead of phoning or texting people. Most customer services departments will answer emails now if you have a problem with a service such as your utility bill which means you won’t have to ring their premium rate customer services phone number. You can also send your family and friends emails instead of calling them and even send birthday cards by email to save on postage.
71. There are lots of websites which let you send text messages to mobile phones for free so you won’t use up your credit texting while you can get online and use a messenger service such as MSN Live to talk to your family and friends over the internet for free.
72. Get a Freeview digital box and cancel your SKY or cable TV package. Freeview has lots of free channels and you can now watch the majority of TV programmes on the internet, so you won’t be missing out on your favourite shows.
AROUND THE HOUSE
73. If you have a spare room, advertise for a lodger. There are lots of people who just want a room during the week while they are at work, so you would still get your privacy at weekends. If you live on your own a lodger can provide you with great company and will help pay towards your bills.
74. Don’t be wasteful with products such as toothpaste, body lotion or foundation. When you can’t get anymore out of the tube, cut it open and you will be able to use the bits you couldn’t get to.
75. Re-use old ice-cream tubs or take away packaging, you can use them for freezing food or taking your packed lunch into work.
76. If you have a pet, don’t go out buying expensive bedding from the pet shop, recycle the waste paper from your office or buy your own shredding machine at home and shred up your old newspapers.
77. Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need, filling it up full wastes energy and takes longer to boil so you’ll have to wait longer for your drink!
78. When you use your washing machine, make sure it’s full every time, if you just have a few items to wash then hand wash them in the sink.
79. Instead of drying your clothes in the tumble dryer, hang them outside or in rainy weather hang them over a clotheshorse. This will also keep your clothes nicer for longer as tumble dryers tend to shrink your clothes!
80. Learn how to make your own cleaning products which are as effective as the products you buy in the shop and you can often use the ingredients you already have in your kitchen cupboards.
81. Grow your own fruit and vegetables in your garden or rent an allotment, especially if you give the vegetables to your pets. Seeds cost virtually nothing compared to the actual products themselves.
82. Downsizing your car could save you 100s of pounds each year in both fuel and road tax so if you are just making journeys to and from work you should seriously consider getting a smaller, more efficient car.
83. Don’t renew your car insurance without shopping around first. Use a price comparison site and you could save £100s every year by changing to a cheaper provider.
For a price comparison service go to CompareTheMarket.com.
84. If you travel to work on your own, try and start a car pool with colleagues who live in your area, not only will this save in petrol costs, it will also keep your car miles low.
85. Don’t jump in your car for all journeys, if you can, walk or cycle and you will save money and get fitter.
86. Start a school run with other parents in your area if you drive your children to school or consider walking them there instead if it is in a walking distance.
87. Don’t drive too fast, the RAC claim most car engines run far more efficiently at 60-70 miles an hour, compared to 80 mph or over.
88. Check your tyre pressure regularly; if your tyres are under inflated by 20% then you’ll use 10% more fuel.
89. Don’t pay to get your car cleaned as it is a waste of money, set aside 30 minutes each week to wash it yourself.
90. Instead of buying a daily paper, read the news online. Most newspapers have regularly updated websites which have all the news stories for free which could save you approximately 15 pounds per month.
91. If you smoke, try to stop or cut down. The NHS has lots of free services to help you do this and it will save you £100s each year.
92. Monitor how much alcohol you drink. If you are having a few glasses everyday, try to cut back and only have it for special occasions.
93. Don’t spend money you don’t have on gambling sites, especially ones online. It is easy to lose track on how much money you are spending and more often than not, you will lose this money. Try premium bonds instead if you want to try your luck as this way you will not lose your money.
94. It may be cheaper for you to pay for your prescriptions in advance with a pre-payment certificate if you pay for more than five prescription items in four months or 14 items in 12 months.
95. Buy generic medicines when you can, a 16 pack of Anadin costs approximately 2.99 pounds however a Sainsbury branded pack will only cost approximately 33p.
96. Cut and colour your own hair, or get your friends to help you. There are lots of great DIY colour kits out there to give you a new look for under 5 pounds and a pair of clippers won’t set you back much. Be careful though!
97. Pretend it’s your birthday on a night out and you might get a free birthday cake or glass of Champaign.
98. Don’t lose all of your loose pennies, save them up in a jar and at the end of the year you will be surprised at how much money you have collected.
99. Make saving money fun! Saving money doesn’t have to make you miserable! You can still see your friends, buy yourself treats and go on holiday; you just have the added advantage of feeling proud of your finances instead of hiding away from them!