As you’ll know if you follow this blog, I’m quite thrifty when it comes to spending, preferring instead to look for bargains. And this year, with a couple of large purchases planned, I’m looking to be more thrifty than ever when it comes to general shopping and saving.
So I’ve put together 10 top ideas that I’ll be following to save money this year.
Shop and Scan
Every week after I do my food shop, I unload the products that I’ve bought and line them up on my kitchen surface.
I then get out my zapper (as I call it) and booklet and proceed to scan in all the bar codes of the products that I’ve purchased. I then upload these to the Shop and Scan website.
In return for doing this every week, I am rewarded with points. Every week without fail I upload my shopping and then in December I look at how many points I’ve saved – and it’s usually around £70 worth.
Luckily, Shop and Scan allows you to exchange your points into vouchers – for all sorts of things including the cinema or High Street vouchers. As I know my brother is a frequent iTunes user, I usually give him iTunes vouchers for Christmas using the points that I’ve accrued.
Shop and Scan also emails me online questionaires to complete to gain more points so I try to fill these out too. In one year I think I’d saved £130 worth of points, which helped massively at Christmas. This year, I’m carrying on the scheme to try and save as much money as I can.
I regularly shop for branded goods at shops like Home Bargains and B&M Stores as there are huge savings to be made, especially on non-perishable goods.
Examples include tissues, fabric conditioner, toothpaste, loo roll, dishwasher tablets etc… But even on perishable goods, prices on branded items are still much lower – and sometimes even half the price of what you’ll find in the supermarkets.
As an example, as part of the Slimming World diet I’m currently following, I tend to buy Alpen Light bars. In the supermarkets they usually cost £1.99+ but they’re just £1 in the ‘saver’ shops.
This year I’m going to continue to shop in these for goods I can stock up on as well as do more weekly shops at my local Lidl.
One person who I know is great at thinking ahead is my mum. She’s always got something lined up to give someone a present at a moment’s notice – and that’s because she does a bit of forward thinking.
She’ll go shopping and if she sees something in the sale or on offer (and it’s a good buy), she’ll think about who would benefit from using it. If she can think of someone then she’ll buy it to give to them as a birthday, anniversary or Christmas present.
This is a great idea as:
(a) It means you are usually prepared and
(b) You can save loads of money doing this.
The only problem you might face is storage issues or memory issues (remembering what gifts you’ve purchased and for who); if this is the case you might want to start a ‘gift book’, where you make a note of what you’ve bought, who you had in mind for the present and where you’ve stored it!
Did you know that you can make money by renting out space on your drive? I found the Just Park scheme a few years ago and over the years I’ve earned a fair deal from this.
Fortunately, I live adjacent to a large hospital, so there are always people seeking parking spaces – even the consultants that work at the hospital!
So if you live close to a town, school, hospital etc…and you’ve got a driveway with a free space, it might be worth considering.
There are other schemes that exist such as renting out garage or loft space – or even your spare room. In fact, for a good few years, we let out our spare room to lodgers – a couple I can recommend are Monday to Friday and Five Nights as it means that you get your home to yourself at the weekend.
Since my daughter changed school in October of last year, it has meant that I no longer have to drive her to school and instead we walk.
We all know the importance of exercise and walking is a great low-impact activity that has a huge range of benefits.
One of my goals for this year is to try walking more. So if I know that I only need to get a few items when I go food shopping, I’m going to walk to the shops.
Not only does this mean I get some exercise, it also means that I save money on petrol/parking costs.
Make More Meals
You might think that making more meals means spending more money, but I actually mean bulk make dishes that you can freeze.
In the time-poor lifestyles that we lead, planning meals ahead and cooking in batches will save you both time and money.
How many times have you got in from work (or had a tiring day) and don’t feel like cooking? You might order a takeaway or grab a microwave meal from the supermarket on the way home.
But what if you had a choice of home-cooked meals in the freezer waiting to be heated up? You get a nutritious, delicious meal that you love without having to fork out the extra pennies.
I recently stocked up on some Tupperware boxes from Wilko (for £1) for this very reason.
Use Comparison Sites
It’s amazing the amount of people who don’t do their research on things like car insurance, household insurance, internet provider or travel insurer, preferring instead to let their policies roll over from year to year without batting an eyelid.
You can literally save hundreds of pounds just by shifting your provider. Online comparison sites such as Money Super Market are a great place to start, but I’ll always check on MoneySavingExpert.com as they’ll always be deals at certain times of the year.
Another one to keep an eye on is credit cards. If you pay 0% interest for a fixed period, make sure you know when the 0% period ends. I have an alarm on my phone to remind me a month before.
When the alarm goes off I simply look at other credit card companies that offer the 0% interest for a fixed time period and I literally shift the debt. It means that I don’t start getting charged interest – literally saving hundreds every year.
Hit the Boot Fairs & Charity Shops
You might scoff, but I’m not too proud to say that I enjoy perusing the aisles of a boot fair on Sunday mornings in the summer.
If you haven’t been to a boot fair for a while, you’d be surprised at what goodies you can pick up. In fact, I’ve noticed that in recent years more independent shops are using boot fairs to get rid of their old stock.
The two items that I always pick up at boot fairs are Nicky loo roll (great quality loo roll for a third of the price that you’d pay in the supermarkets) and the huge rolls of kitchen towels.
The kitchen towels are the sort of thing that you’d see used in huge warehouses – double the strength and double the size. I pick up 8 rolls for about £10 but each roll will last me a few weeks – and our family use them every day without fail.
In charity shops I keep my eyes peeled for things like shoes, handbags and accessories – sometimes you’ll find brand new items that people have donated just because they changed their mind about the item.
Some items are not worth scrimping on of course – quality over quantity in many cases, but for general shopping, you can often find the same or similar products for a fraction of the price.
I tend to do more online shopping than High Street shopping – especially in the colder months. There’s something a bit smug about ordering online and not having to battle your way through the crowds/the wind/rain or struggle to find a parking spot.
But did you know that if you’re ordering online you can get cashback when you purchase goods?
A cashback website is a type of reward website that pays its members a percentage of money earned when they purchase goods and services via its affiliate links.
Some sites provide users with a percentage of the total purchase price, while others have a flat sum that they pay out.
The way it works is that the cashback website receives a commission from the retailer after a purchase has been confirmed – and this commission is then shared with the customer who made the purchase.
It’s free to join and you just shop as usual, making sure you shop through the cashback site. You can see your earnings increase the more you shop online and you can choose to be paid in a variety of ways – bank transfers, cheques, via Paypal or even with vouchers. What’s not to like? The one I use is Top Cashback, but a simple google search will bring up the most popular sites.
Another idea for saving money this year is by using my loyalty cards wisely.
Most supermarkets and high street shops (even coffee shops) have their own loyalty cards now, but if you use them wisely, you’ll know how to make the most of them.
For example, supermarkets usually send their customers extra coupons or vouchers to earn more points. Make sure you take these with you as they’ve got smart and usually feature products that are typically on your shopping list anyway.
Other ways of earning money/points on loyalty cards is by completing any questionnaires that are sent to you, plus at certain times of the year, most supermarkets will run huge promotions such as Tesco’s Clubcard Boost and Sainsbury’s Double Up scheme, where you can really get value for money.
It’s about keeping your finger on the pulse and striking while the iron is hot!
So even though it’s good to shop around for goods and services, sometimes being loyal pays off too.
What changes will you be making this year to be a savvy saver?