I’ve kept finances away from my blog for the simple reason that here is where I come to dream, contemplate and get away from the amount of debt I have. I am working hard on managing this and getting it down, but I had an unexpected vet emergency last night and it sent my head spinning.
A fellow blogger pointed me towards a challenge… so here goes. My 30 ways to save £1. None of these are rocket science, but they are all things I’ve done that have saved me some cash. I’ve tried not to read anyone else’s so as not to copy, but am off to have a good hunt around now I’ve written my own list.
First tip – have a really, really good think about everything going on in your life and where your money goes. Work out a proper budget, what your priorities are, what you can’t exist without and what you don’t mind giving up. You might be surprised, you will need to experiment, but it can change your life. Some of my closest friends have been people I’ve made through my lean times.
E.g. I don’t mind about new shoes, new clothes or makeup (and I used to spend a FORTUNE on these) but I do mind what state my hair is in, I need to spend time with my friends and family and I need to eat well otherwise I get ill and miserable.
2. If someone offers to buy you lunch or coffee, accept. I used to be too proud to do this, but I’ve had to bite my tongue and realise that I am skint. I have bought enough lunches over the years for skint friends, and I am lucky that people are returning the favour. If they are skint too though, make sure you swap next time, for goodness’ sake don’t abuse it.
3. If your family offer you money when you visit, or towards food when they visit you, accept. Again, my gran knows I was too proud to take it before but she knows the score now and gives me a bit towards my fuel costs when I visit. If they ask if they can bring you something, say thank you graciously, give them some suggestions and accept!
4. Before replacing lost or broken leads, cables, chargers or headphones, ask around your friends first to see if they have spares. These are the kind of things that people replace often when they change phone or computer. A kind friend donated a pair of old iPod headphones when I left mine in the library and they weren’t handed in. Another friend offered to buy me a pair. Saving = approx £20 to replace.
5. Keep your eyes out for cheap theatre/concert tickets. You can often get fantastic seats for just a few pounds if you are a student or are on a mailing list or voucher site. Recent saving – £30 on a top RSNO ticket on a Saturday night which cost me a fiver.
6. ALWAYS Ask if there is a student/club member etc discount in shops. Swallow your pride and do it. Even 10% can be a couple of quid you would have spent otherwise. That’s a pint or a coffee with a friend. Discounts aren’t always displayed so it’s worth being cheeky.
7. Make use of Orange Wednesday – easy peasy but some people still haven’t heard of it. It’s loads quieter in the day, worth taking advantage of if you work odd shifts. Saving £7+ for a cinema ticket, £8+ for pizza
8. Reinvestigate cheaper brands if you don’t already use them. I used to hate H&M as it was such poor quality but they are my new saviour. Basic tshirts etc are cheaper than M&S and I think the quality and fit is better. Saving £3+ per top. I also love their running kit, saving £10+ per top. I find the supermarket sizes too bizarre for me but they suit others really well.
9. Clear out your wardrobe regularly, especially when the weather is changing, so you use everything you have and don’t buy duplicates because you couldn’t see you already had them.
10. Drop a supermarket brand. I hate the one i’m using now but I can’t deny it is saving me a fortune, at least £10+ per month. I eat for £70 per month. Occasionally I buy lunch but only if it’s a really long day at college.
11. Cook in batches. A vat of chilli or Bolognese sauce doesn’t take long at all, is dead easy and really versatile. Hang on to takeaway containers or other little plastic pots and stash them your freezer, then grab one out in the morning before you leave the house and it will be defrosted when you’re home. Add pasta/rice, easy.
12. Plan your meals for the week. It doesn’t mean you have to eat things on specific days but it helps you budget and avoid food wastage. Check out yellow stickered (reduced) items, these can be great for a quick ready meal to shove in the freezer for a dire emergency, or for meat which can also go straight in the freezer for a batch cooking session another day.
13. Keep something to nibble (!) in your bag if you get the munchies. My danger time is always the bus journey home – if I’m hungry I get travel sick. The trouble is, there’s a Sainsbury’s Local by the bus station, and popping in when I’m hungry tends to result in a pizza and bottle of wine to go with a little chocolate bar that I bought just to keep me going.
14. Work out your car mpg and use this to calculate fuel costs so you know how much your journeys cost you. This seems a bit geeky but it can help you know whether it is worth using public transport. Don’t forget parking costs if relevant. This also helps you to realise how much your gran etc is helping you and why you should accept gratefully, and also to know how much to price in for travel if you are self-employed.
15. Always always consider if it really is going to save you money on fuel by going to a cheaper fuel station that is further away. It’s often not worth it for a couple of pence per litre if you live rurally.
16. Combine journeys to visit friends and family. If you are making a long journey to visit friends or family, and have a lot of people living close together, make the most of the fuel and journey time. It can make for a longer day but it saves you money and helps you keep in touch with everyone.
17. Ask around, find a garage you trust and feel comfortable with, and stay loyal. Recommend them to others, if people say who has sent them they will remember your name. My last garage helped me numerous times by popping me at the front of the queue in a gig emergency and finding cheaper parts when they could.
18. Look after tradesmen when they come to your house. It costs a few mugs of tea and maybe a packet of biscuits, but my plumber and plasterer have helped me out at short notice on countless occasions because I am nice to them and recommend them to others.
19. If you are self-employed, establish a presence on social media networks such as Twitter. This is really valuable if you do something quirky. If I’ve had great service I always tweet about it, and this has been reciprocated. I’ve found an osteopath through Twitter, received a highly secret recipe, plus a donation of my favourite teabags!
20. If your pet is unfortunate enough to need treatment at the vets, ask questions about the cost of the medication. Sometimes the vet prescribes the palatable (easy to swallow/more tasty) version of a tablet, but if your pets are good pill takers, sometimes this isn’t needed. My dogs are very good and happily eat tablets if they are in with their food. Last week I saved £25 on a course of antibiotics because I asked if the non-palatable variety was cheaper and suitable for the type of injury they had – it was, massively. £4.50 vs £30
21. Investigate working dog (often dry) foods – these are VAT free. My dogs are retired greyhounds and their food is £13 for a 15kg sack, they have 2 bags a month. Saving £5 per month. Not suitable for all dogs, especially older dogs, but it’s worth checking out.
22. Buy from your local pet shop. A 1kg bag of mixed shape biscuits costs me £2, compared to £1.75 for a 500g box in the supermarket. Saving £1.50, twice a month.
23. Keep a small stash of first aid supplies for your pets as well as yourself – often cuts and abrasions can be treated at home on a wait and see basis before calling the vets, so having a few dressings and antiseptic wipes is so useful as a first port of call in an emergency. Gradually experience tells you when to treat at home and when to go straight to the vets. NB – Do NOT shut your greyhounds’s tail in the front door as this causes upset for both owner and pet, and results in expensive trips to the out of hours vet and surgery the next day!
24. If you are looking for a new furry friend, consider a rescue dog or cat. Costs vary from free to a donation of approx. £100, and you will be helping save an animal from possible destruction. Normally they come already neutered and microchipped, and if you get a retired greyhound, you get a lead and a bowl with your new dog 🙂
25. Otherwise, local councils often offer free or reduced microchipping and neutering at some points in the year. Strays cost them a fortune and create a lot of distress for owners so if you haven’t already had your pet chipped and snipped, get it done!
26. If you have a fringe, cut your own. Sometimes hairdressers do these for free, but more often it can cost a couple of pounds each time. I bought a pair of scissors from a hairdressing/beauty supplies store in an indoor market for £3. It’s scary the first time, but cut when your hair is dry, start in the middle where you can gauge against your eyebrows, go steadily and you will have the knack in no time. Saving £5 per month in trims.
27. If you colour your hair, investigate doing it yourself at home. This is probably not an option if you have a lot of grey or really thick or long hair, but otherwise it’s easy enough and less messy than you might think. Especially if you last coloured your hair in 1992.
28. Drop a beauty brand. Do your research, ask around. I’ve gone from REN to Boots Botanics, saving £20 per month. If you are craving some colour in your life, go for new nail varnish – my favourites are Barry M (from £3) and NYC (Superdrug) from £1.79 for dry-in-a-new-york-minute nails. Both last really well – with 3 coats, I’ve had 5 days out of both brands.
29. Medication – go generic. Look for own-branded packets or Galpharm. Check the drug names for the products you use. This is great if you have hayfever – e.g. Zirtek branded, 7 tablets for £4+. Unbranded/Galpharm Cetirizine 14 tablets for £2, and often these go on BOGOF in Superdrug or Savers once the season starts. If you are unsure, check with the pharmacist. Supermarket own Paracetamol/Ibuprofen start from 16p for 16 tablets and are the same as the brands.
30. If you are splashing out on new perfume or branded cosmetics, head to a counter for the personal touch. Last time I bought perfume, I wanted to try something new so got chatting to a really helpful assistant. I left with a bottle of perfume, a gorgeous travel bottle of something else I already used and a couple of others to try. In the past, I’ve also been offered a cheaper one with a squashed box, and a leftover giftbox from Christmas with an extra body lotion AND shower gel.
Loyalty Cards – USE THEM!
31. Boots is great for saving your points for a free nail varnish every now and then. If I am caught out on lunches I always get a meal deal from here, £3.25 for a huge sandwich, snack and drink. And the points soon add up, especially if you look out for extra ones.
Coffee – My college does a great buy 9 get the 10th free, which is a joyous feeling firstly as it’s good coffee, and because the 10th always falls on a crappy day and cheers me up! Saving – not huge but so worth it. Sometimes they even count the 10th free coffee as a stamp on a new card.
Tesco’s – check out the Clubcard voucher exchange schemes. Last year I swapped my clubcard vouchers for double their face value in Figleaves vouchers, which scored me a much-needed free sports bra, saving me £30
So there we go. That’s 31! What a bargain 🙂