your top tips for money-saving and a more frugal life..

(475 Posts)
amigoingmadhere Sun 19-Aug-12 09:07:12

Right - having until now led a relatively good lifestyle, am about to be single with 3 young dcs and very little money (not going to go into background here as it's depressing and will only get me down on this sunny morning).

Rather than sit here terrified, I would like to gather the collective wisdom of MN to see how I can immediately live a more frugal life and preserve any little money we have for a house and the dcs' future.

So, here's what I can think of to start with:

- get a new Boots card (old one is connected to my stbxh's email account)
- get Tesco clubcard
- get Nectar card
- always scour the internet etc. for vouchers / codes etc. (do this anyway but in a more random way)
- only ever buy presents in sales
- when moving house, try to get as much as possible from charity shops / freecycle etc.
- use library more
- see if Surestart still exists (a while since I used their services)
- start looking for any local free/cheap gym / sports facilities

There must be more that I'm not thinking of.. would be grateful for your ideas! - shopping / cooking / kids' activities / house furnishing etc.
I'm starting afresh on a new and wonderful life.. but it's going to be hard.

thanks smile

CailinDana Sun 19-Aug-12 09:13:40

Do you have anything you could sell on Ebay to build up a cushion of money for the tough times?

Meal plan and only buy the food you need, avoid impulse buying and try to make food from scratch

Look for a mobile phone deal online - I've just signed up for a smart phone that will cost me £8 a month

Surestart still exists, I use my local one a lot and it's great

If you have a car, have a think if you can do without it, it saves an incredible amount of money

You will manage. Good luck!

ringos Sun 19-Aug-12 09:14:36

I am trying an experiment with my shopping. I shop every week and spend about £50-£60. [two adults one 7 year old]

One week I buy all the extra goodies [coke, crisps, biscuits, frozen meals etc]

The following week I cut out all the extras and just buy the basics. Saves a bit of money and makes the treats more like treats and not always expected.

And by the basics I mean I stick to the list if something is on offer I walk on by.... [or try to wink]

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 19-Aug-12 09:16:31

Use smartprice vinegar (aldi's is currently 13p and edible too unlike asda smartprice vinegar which is vile imho) to descale your kettle and shower head, I put it in the kettle overnight, decant it back into the bottle in the morning and swill the kettle around with cold water before doing the morning tea. A bottle lasts me ages.

Time your hot water tank to only be on for an hour, check the thermostat is set to 60c, I set mine to 55 but I like to live on the edge. When we moved in I couldnt figure out why the gas bill was so much until I realised about the water tank. I set a timer on my phone to remind me when the hour is up.

When your cooking a meal with green veg or baked beans I put them in a pyrex jug in the oven to cook (with water obv) and it saves putting a ring on on the hob, I figure the oven is on so I might as well make use of it rather than putting the microwave on too.

On a day out it's cheaper to buy a multipack of ice lollies than individuals.

If you wash up by hand aldis washing up liquid came out better in tests than fairy.

If you have a dishwasher try tesco daisy powder, it was only £4.59 when I bought mine last November and I am still using it. I use one dessert spoon per wash but I spray the inside of cups with smartprice bleach (I only buy a couple of bottles of it a year too so it isnt expensive) as we use them several times each.

I tried vineagar in the rinse aid compartment but it isnt working out for me so I will be going back to poundshop rinseaid.

You can clean dishwashers using half a cup of soda crystals (cheaper in homebargins than asda) on the hottest cycle, much cheaper than the dishwasher cleaners they sell.

Alwasy check moneysupermarket for vouchers if you go out for a meal somewhere thats a chain, you can usually get bogof or 20% off.

Check supersavvyme for vouchers, I got 20 free dishwasher tablets earlier this year and some vouchers for free always towels, the rest of the time I use sainsburys towels, 14p for 10. They are just like old fashioned towels from 20 years ago and as I dont have heavy periods do the job just fine.

If you need condoms dont forget the family planning clinics do them free as do gp surgeries if you see the nurse to get registered, they are all branded from what I've seen (I used to work in health centres) and different types flavoured, coloured etc.

Some of the water boards offer free water saving devices such as tap inserts, hippo bags and shower regulators (not to be used with power showers though, you'll damage it) or shower timers. Just putting tap inserts in shaved £20 a year off my bill and reduced the amount of hot water being used as dh doesnt always put the plug in.

Homebargains are good for toys, cheaper than argos from what I've seen.

I use card factory for all my birthday and xmas cards now, they arent cheap looking.

MIL uses water from her water butt in the iron as rainwater is soft instead of buying ironing water.

Charity sacks put through your door make excellent bin bags.

Farm foods do the cheapest milk, you can freeze milk so you dont have to pop out to the shops and risk impulse buys or get the car out. We lived in the country for a while with only one village shop that was usually shut so this came in handy.

Stardrops do a gentle wash called alur that I use for my woolens and silks and anything I dont want fading eg nice stuff not workwear, I buy it in homebargains for 89p a bottle.

Smartprice batter mix is only 9pish in asda and does pancakes or yorkie puds.

Dont forget the slow cooker if you have one.

If you need an eyetest check the internet for coupons for free ones or £10 ones. Dont forget if you have a relative with Glaucoma you get free tests (blood relative obv).

You can use wire wool for stubborn stains when you clean, cheaper than brillo pads.

Shop in aldi/lidl. I prefer aldi, it's cheaper and more organised.

Packed lunches.

Try aldi beans, last time we ran out and bought heinz dh told me not to run out of aldi ones again.

Always take a snack and a drink out with you if you are going shopping/nipping into town.

Try sainsbos basics tea bags (I buy 15 boxes at a time), dh still hasnt noticed we dont have pg tips anymore (20 months and counting). Not tesco or asda ones though, there rubbish.

Astonish cleaners are cheap in savers/poundshop and are not tested on animals unlike other major bunny murdering companies.

Find the free side street parking in town and use it, you only get 30 mins but it means you get fit walking really fast too.

Use topcashback, quidco charges £5 a year, they dont.

Find a local farm shop and see if they are cheaper for potatoes etc than the major supermarkets.

Check your local supermarkets at 8-9pm and buy bread for the freezer, 10p for a loaf of Hovis? dont mind if I do ta.

If you have a favorite local eatery join the mailing list, they usually give you a free drink or pudding. Rather have the drink. I have multiple email addresses for this sort of thing.

If you have sky ring up to cancel, they might put you through to customer retentions and reduce your bill rather than have you leave.

Order any pet products you need ie advocate or frontline off online pharmacies via topcashback, even with a private prescription they are half the price.

Check your elec/gas tariffs and go via topcashback, I got £35 for using a search engine via quidco as edf didnt have a cashback deal.

Same for car ins, the cheapest one didnt have cashback but the search engine on quidco did. Add a parent/spouse, sometimes that brings the bill down. When you get your cheapest quote check the retailer website and sometimes you can knock more money off that way. I.E dh's car ins was cheaper via quidco going direct to LV than going through go compare to LV.

I cut and pasted this from previous threads I posted on, I work for myself and when you have to last 6-7 weeks between people paying you you get quite frugal.

I hope something I've posted helps you, I dont miss the days of chucking stuff in the trolley and not thinking about it, I just kick myself for all the money I wasted.

Meal plan, and stick to it. Sainsburys have a good cheap one.

Write down what you finish each week and use this for the bulk of your shopping.

Grow your own vegetables, but work out was worth it time and effort wise. I stopped growing onions because they're so cheap to buy. It sounds daft but only grow what you like and will eat. Sounds dat but i grew everything, then has to find homes for 10 million tomatoes.

twinkerbell Sun 19-Aug-12 09:20:04

mysupermarket.com is great, you can do your shopping on there and it compares four supermarkets while you are doing it and you click on the cheapest at the end
Get an allotment, a friend of mine has got one she is a single mum, she grows loads of veggies and salad and the kids love spending time there climbing trees and picking apples and plums and digging up what they have grown
car boot sale.... sell all kids decent clothing, and your decent cloting that you no longer want (or fit) and toys

secretlyahippy Sun 19-Aug-12 09:23:59

Make sure you have your entitlement of child tax credit.

Meal plan with online shop so you do not get tempted.

Always take drinks/picnics for children when out and about.

Don't go to expensive play areas, do park, woodlands etc with friends.

Sit down and review aLl your bills/direct debits and see if there are any services you could go without. The ones you need - try and get chgeaper, either with different provider or phoning up your current provider and haggling.

DizzySiddal Sun 19-Aug-12 09:26:41

Oh honey, I've been where you are. It's a bit scary now, I know, but everything WILL be ok. I obviously don't know the background but life will be sunny and fine again, I promise.
Habits I got into when I found myself in that kind of situation (and have kept up ever since!) include:
Checking the 'reduced' sections in supermarkets, the later in the day the better. Most stuff can go in the freezer, and I've had some amazing bargains over the years. My local Tesco sells fresh bread for 5p a loaf on Sunday afternoons.
Using 'double up' offers on Tesco clubcard vouchers to buy school uniforms and stuff for Christmas. They do this a few times a year - there's one on at the moment. I've just got my winter boots for free and last year got DD's winter coat for nothing!
Putting, say, 50p a day (which you don't miss) into a jar for Christmas. It's amazing how fast it mounts up. We also have a 'coppers' jar - all our spare change goes in at the end if every day and we take it to the Coinstar machine at Asda once a year (usually Christmas). Last year it came to £104 which more than paid for our Christmas grocery shop!
Charity shops! You'll be AMAZED at what people get rid of. Example: a couple of weeks ago I bought a brand new Banana Republic trench coat - unworn, labels still on, £125 on their website) for £4.99 at Oxfam! Go to the ones in the naice areas for the best stuff.
Make sure you're getting all the benefits etc you're entitled to - things like tax credits, free school meals, free prescriptions, etc.
Good luck xx

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 19-Aug-12 09:33:11

Ignore me saying about free condoms, Obviously you might be a bit off men for a while.

HalleLouja Sun 19-Aug-12 09:34:37

www.topcashback.co.uk its awesome if you buy things on the interweb.

Ebay things you don't want. There are also lots of local FB groups you can sell for free on.

Car boot sales for buyng and selling.

Shop in Aldi / lidl and markets.

clangermum Sun 19-Aug-12 09:39:29

join your local freecycle - can be great for house bits and also clearing space by passing on things you no longer need

clangermum Sun 19-Aug-12 09:40:56

if they're not quite up to being sold on ebay, I should add

or if ebay feels like to much of a faff, for selling larger items with tricky postage, gumtree can be good

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 19-Aug-12 09:45:44

I've had about £60 cash back off quidco this year, I'm changing to topcashback though as they give 10% more cashback than quidco and dont charge a fee.

lollystix Sun 19-Aug-12 09:48:59

Go to M&s after 4.30 and they start marking the food down - lots.

Also tk maxx clearance section is great for toys for birthday gifts.

M&s for cards as they are a pound each

HalleLouja Sun 19-Aug-12 09:52:21

I love Sainsburys basic peaches, pollock and biscuits. I need to try more as their stuff is good.

watto1 Sun 19-Aug-12 10:00:09

If you have young boys, buy clippers and cut their hair yourself rather than take them to the barber/hairdresser. The clippers will pay for themselves very quickly.

Mooncup (sorry!) - again it will pay for itself in a couple of months.

See if any firms near you are doing free solar panels. Our electricity bill is a third of what it was.

Totally agree with Fluffy about buying cards from Card Factory. 7 for £1 is not to be sniffed at and they don't look cheap at all.

Katienana Sun 19-Aug-12 10:00:34

If clothes aren't too dirty use one laundry tablet instead of 2. Always meal plan. Check the supermarket offers to make.sure they are the best deals by.looking at price per gram etc.

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 19-Aug-12 10:05:29

If anyone gets solar panels make sure they alter your electric meter so it cant start to run backwards.

It was on Radio 4 (and therefore must be true) that a woman had it happen to her so she had the meter changed as the electric provider can estimate how much you have used and charge you anyway as they wont be able to accurately work out how much you have used.

Apparently it's legal too!.

springydaffs Sun 19-Aug-12 10:23:27

don't go shopping, you'll weaken! Obv basic shopping but don't trail around the shops iyswim. i actually got a charity shop addiction - beware! Charity shops our way are very expensive - that coat, Dizzy, would have been £30 (at least, prob £50) in ours.

have a present box and collect things you see that have been ridiculously marked down (not that you're going shopping much...). Most of the presents I give are approx £3 and they're blarsty good presents. Christmas presents cost me 'zero' because I've been collecting presents all year. Buy christmas cards, decorations, lights in the sales after christmas.

Keep track of ingoings/outgoings and factor in some treats. If you don't know you have a certain amount to spend just on you/the kids you'll weaken and do a splurge and then feel guilty. Legit treats is the way to go.

Definitely lidl/aldi - small, no temptation (there's a theme here for me...) - and marked down food at the end of the day in in the bigger supermarkets (though I steer clear of huge supermarkets because of erm temptation/impulse buys marketing . I went to Iceland for the first time in my life recently and was pleasantly surprised. Keep your eye on poundshops and markets. At the moment I am in luuurve with HOme Bargains who have just opened up our way.

there's a whole (much) cheaper life out there and it's not that hard to find. the stuff isn't tacky either, just cheaper.

I'm not sure what your income will be like but even if you are on a low income/working tax credits you may be entitled to uniform/meal allowance for the kids, nhs dental work and more.

Meal plan.

Look at websites such as Love Food, Hate Waste for some ideas. I freeze literally everything.

A piggy bank with various change in it has been a lifesaver for me for when I've forgotten ds's school money, need some essentials from the shop etc and when it builds up I clear out into money bags every so often and store to use for a big event like christmas, birthdays.

If you're on facebook they may have groups called something like 'things to sell around' your area.

Shop without the kids when you can!! I always weaken and buy stuff I don't need when I have ds with me to keep him quiet.

MAYBELATERNOWIMBUSY Sun 19-Aug-12 21:21:51

Do your "big shop" on a day later than previous week and every 8th wk!!!!!! bingo!!!! and ,if haven"t already, encourage kids to LOVE , SIMPLY LOVE, PASTA ! (tell them it"s continental !) pasta , cut tomato, onion etc etc >healthy and doesn"t cost so much >>>win win !!!

Nurseynursetobe Sun 19-Aug-12 21:32:20

We are on a ridiculously tight budget atm (starting uni next month!) with 3dc and a Dh and our lifesaver has been farm foods. I spend £50 every 2 weeks and the freezer is full, milk and bread are very cheap there as someone else said and they freeze easy as anything. Then I go to morrisons and spend £25 every two weeks on can goods etc. I go to morrisons because if I go to tesco and asda I get distracted by all the beautiful non essential items.

Itsgottabebags Sun 19-Aug-12 21:41:13

Card factory for cars- v v cheap

Do you use or live next to a bus/travel terminal? Don't buy a paper get the Metro for free.

Sign up for emails from the Martin Lewis website

chocoluvva Sun 19-Aug-12 21:53:59

Try all the 'value' items. Some of them are just as good as branded, others aren't, but the best way to find out is to try once.
Groupon, happli, kgb deals etc have some bargains - but take care that you know exactly what you're going to get. I've had my hair done cheaply using these coupons, (but it's a bit nerve-wracking).

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 19-Aug-12 22:00:26

Aldi do a really good foundation and pressed powder.

OhLimpPricks Sun 19-Aug-12 22:25:28

Try Tesco value baby wash, 25p for 500 ml. Brilliant shower wash for everyone, as it's baby friendly, no no harsh chemicals. DH has psoriasis and excema, and used to buy Sanex at a couple of quid a bottle. He uses Tesco baby wash....

Do your shopping online if you can. You can do your order at the beginning of the week and order things and amend it up to the day before delivery. You won't be tempted to impulse buy, and if you pick your delivery time cleverly it will cost you £3/4 which is less than the cost of petrol/parking/bus fares.

Good luck with everything. What a thoughtful Mum you are, thinking all this through, instead of acting recklessly. What a great lesson in humility for your kids. Something you can't buy.

Freshletticialongjump Sun 19-Aug-12 22:56:18

Mealplan and cook from scratch where possible, always doubling up so you have one for the freezer - cheaper on cooking fuel.
Grow your own veg, but grow the expensive things such as french beans, salad leaves, courgettes.
Buy basic root veg at the market in big bags.
Cook meals which are mostly veg, adding meats in small quantities for flavour. Works well with pasta and risotto dishes.
Bake your own bread.
Use all your leftovers and recycle the rest into eggs via 2 or 3 hens.
Recycle clothes into new items by customising if you have a sewing machine. Works best for the DCs.
Use less than half the washing powder it says on the box.
Go to bed early and get up early - saves loads on heating and lighting in the evening.
Hth.x

mrspink27 Mon 20-Aug-12 07:53:26

Another vote for Sainsbos basics tea bags - DH likes them better than the organic ones!

Also Sainsbos basics dishwasher tabs are fine,and the second cheapest washing up liquid (which I water down!) as are sainsburys washing tabs in a green box.

I use half soda crystals and half softener in the machine and no ill effects noted!

Mrbojangles1 Mon 20-Aug-12 10:41:00

My top tip is buy a tent

We just come back fom euro camp and stayed in a shally cost 670 for a three bed shally for four nights and five days incuding the crossing

We have brought a tent sleeps 10 the same hoilday in france will cost £60 for the crossing and £120 for the four days and five nights bargin

Mrbojangles1 Mon 20-Aug-12 10:43:54

Also can i suggest doing your shopping at night the supermarkets reduce by 10% three times a day you can pick up things next to nothing co-op os fab for this tesco not so much they only mark down by pennies

Littlecherublegs Mon 20-Aug-12 10:44:05

I would second a lot of what has already been said particularly:

- meal planning (I do a plan at the start of the week of meals we're going to have and just buy food what I need)

- ebay (sell unwanted stuff on here)

- shop around for things like home / car insurance, gas / electric etc.

- changed my mobile tariff to Virgin £5 a month for 100 minutes and unlimited texts

- shop at places such as Home Bargains, Jack Fulton, Primark, Aldi, Wilkos, etc.

- buy in bulk where you can (ie. larger packs of cereal, rice, pasta, washing powder, etc)

- find free things for the kids to do - libraries, museums, parks, etc.

yellowraincoat Mon 20-Aug-12 10:45:30

Wow lots of good tips here.

I try to take out cash before I go shopping rather than bunging everything on my debit card. When you have your card, it's so easy to just go "oh I'll just buy this as well" and not think about the cost so much, but when you have a finite amount of cash, you can't do it.

BlueMoon74 Mon 20-Aug-12 10:49:49

Make cakes for people's birthday presents - cost virtually nothing and always gratefully received!

Also, keep a birthday box on the go - when you see stuff that is cheap that could do for someone (doesn't matter who!) buy it and store. Ditto for Christmas presents.

Asda smartprice washing powder is fab.

Third for Sainsburys cheap tea!

Sainsburys cheap toilet paper too.

Always buy loose produce, not bagged. Much, much cheaper.

Buy bread for 10p and freeze. Make up the kids packed lunches out of frozen bread - it will have defrosted by lunchtime.

Declutter your house and do a car boot (I made £300 doing this selling tat I thought no one would want!)

You don't say how old your DC are but remember that as they get to school age, they'll be eligible for free school meals then you'll only have to provide a "beans on toast" style snack in the evening.

If you get a tent for holidays, look on eBay, particularly in autumn, as people sell off kits when they realise the weather camping's not for them.

If you go supermarket food shopping, try not to take the DC with you, if there is anyone else who could have them for you, as it reduces the impulse buys. Also, buy fruit / veg from markets as they're loads cheaper and riper than supermarkets. Don't discount places like Farm Foods for frozen food. They have lots of ready meals but also loads of different cheap frozen veg - spinach, swede etc and usually have offers on Hovis bread.

Agree with Littlecherublegs about shopping in HomeBargains, their "£3 odd for 12 rolls" loo roll is fab as are the tissues in the navy blue boxes. They don't feel cheap at all.

freakydeaky Mon 20-Aug-12 11:03:50

If you're able to factor in a small treat now and then, and you wear perfume, Lidl does a perfume that smells exactly like Coco Mademoiselle. Even my DD, who's an absolute Chanel addict, is fooled!

Wishing you all the best in your new and wonderful life! smile

I'd second decluttering your house and really look at ways to use things up.

For example, old birthday gifts of hand cream - perfectly good as body lotion, 'posh' shower gel/bath soaks - don't save for a special occasion but use it up as everyday showergel rather than having to buy stuff. Can use this approach with lots of cleaning products as well. I remember saving loads in boots purchases and I seemed to keep going for ages, when in the past I'd have been buying the latest thing I'd seen in boots! (Avoid magazines!!!!)

Similarly food cupboard - use up things that have been in the cupboard for ages as the basis of a meal.

Once you are clear of clutter - then shop smart (lots of tips already on here about that) to only buy what you really need, go for practicality rather than brand and if its something you do need - get the best price you can for it by buying in a cheap shop or in bulk.

With regard to clothes, have a think about how to mix and match what you have to give it a new lease of life - or at least use it as a guide to get some 'key' items that can be used with majority of your wardrobe. Use scarves/accessories to make an outfit feel new/up to date. Look after your shoes/bags to keep them nice and usable for longer. The idea is to not shop, and if you do its for just the odd item rather than complete outfits.

EasyToEatTiger Mon 20-Aug-12 11:04:29

Don't use a credit card, and DO use cash as much as possible. When it's gone, it's gone, and it's easy to see where you are. It is hard work and a bit of a pain. Also, unless you absolutely need them, second-hand clothes and hand-me-downs are fab. I wouldn't want to wear a stranger's knickers but knicker-buying shouldn't break the bank

Don't go food shopping when you are hungry. It will cut hugely down on impuse buying (and buying of chocolate/crisps!).

Are you paying for Sky/a TV broadband package? check out getting a satellite dish and decoder box for the free to view channels. I have the Beeb, C4, E4, More4 etc, the dish and box were about £100 and my uncle put the dish up for me for nothing. Only TV cost now is the licence fee, saves me about £50 per month.

My smartphone package has unlimited data, so I can connect my phone to the laptop and go online that way - so no additional broadband charge.

Have you any skills you can use to earn money at home? My aunt does cakes, it only pays her minimum wage - but she can do it at home (so no childcare) so really she's earning minimum wage plus what childcare would cost.

boredandrestless Mon 20-Aug-12 11:17:02

I love saisbury's basic tea bags too - am often singing their praises on here under various names! grin I drink a lot of tea so it saves me a fortune.

Lots of good tips.

I think my main focus is on a life less revolved around 'stuff'. I'm not a material person anyway, but asking myself if I really truly need something helps to keep outgoings down. Don't go completely without any little pleasures as you'll crack, little treats keep you going and they don't have to break the bank. smile

boredandrestless Mon 20-Aug-12 11:18:54

Google billmonitor.

I have just used them and halved the cost of my contract, and I was only on a cheap one to begin with! It looks at how you use your phone and then finds you the best deals to match your needs. It emails you again when your current contract is coming to an end too to remind you that you can switch to a better deal.

Oh yes, I agree with Tiger about not using a credit card - in fact, unless you have the willpower to pay it off and put it in a drawer and only use it for dire emergencies, I'd get rid of it altogether.

I had a card that they stopped providing (i.e. withdrew the product) so I had to pay it off and couldn't spend any more on it while I was paying it off. Saved me a fortune and I haven't needed it since (it's gone about 3 years).

topbannana Mon 20-Aug-12 11:36:18

What fluffycloud says is true, actually being in control of your finances is quite liberating and I really feel like a grown up at last!! and you suddenly find yourself amazed at the money you wasted in the past.
Anyway here are mine:
- Unless clothes are really dirty, use half the amount of powder/ liquid it says on the bottle.
- Buy fruit and veg if nothing else in Lidl/ Aldi. I specifically visit Lidl on a Friday (before my big Tesco shop) for this and spend around £15 for a week. In Tesco it is double that
- Think of bulking meals out. Eg. we can often make a meal last 2 days by putting extra veg, potatoes or bread with it
- Use the library. They often have free courses and workshops over the holidays for kids as well.
- Use e-Bay for clothes. I often buy DS designer(ish!) clothes as I know they have a good resale value on e-Bay. Bundles of clothes also seem good value if you can find some that are near enough to pick up in person.
- Bake cakes, flapjacks etc. Once you have laid out for the basic ingredients it is cheaper and often healthier too.
- Never use cartons of drink, always take water bottles when you go out.
- Plan your meals, use scraps wisely rather than throw them away, and hang around the supermarkets at closing time

It seems depressing but it quickly becomes a way of life.. After a particularly harrowing period in our lives where we sometimes did not know where the next meal was coming from, things have taken a turn for the better for us. I still stick fairly rigidly to my thrifty ways though and cannot imagine going back to my old habits. If nothing else, it is an eye-opener smile

gallifrey Mon 20-Aug-12 11:48:09

Tesco Value fabric conditioner is great, smells really lovely and is only 80p for 2l bottle smile

PoohBearsHole Mon 20-Aug-12 12:10:31

It is probably very basic but:

check your bank accounts for any odd d/d - found out we were paying for a magazine that we hadn't changed the address on shock

sometimes if you have a bank account clear out then this can help

Also talk to your bank re overdraght facility - DON'T use it, however if it is in place it can save a great deal of financial kerfuffle if rent/mortgage comes out a day before money goes in, it is also worth checking these dates and setting them up so that they all fall on the right days iyswim

clear out anything that you really don't need, clear it out and ebay it but wait for a free weekend, if won't really matter then if it doesn't sell but you can get the price you want for it. (Old kids stuff etc I managed to accrue £200 over the summer so it is helpful!)

Make sure with the club cards that you take advantage of the point swaps - so xmas tesco usually do a double up the vouchers (£5 gives you £10 etc to spend on toys) managed to get all xmas gifts this way last year.

If you have a car check out here and if the cheapest one is a supermarket then use them and make sure you get the points!

Mrbojangles1 Mon 20-Aug-12 12:14:22

Most cinemas have a kids club which is £1.50 on saturday and sunday mornings

Badvoc Mon 20-Aug-12 12:16:27

Second e bay for clothes...had some lovely stuff for the dc
Also Aldo for cleaning stuff...much cheaper and it's all been endorsed by good housekeeping or which!
Co op branded washing stuff is good too albeit a bit costlier.
I do shop online and find a monthly pass means I inky pay £2.99 per month for my groceries to be delivered which saved a lot over the months...

lisianthus Mon 20-Aug-12 12:17:24

Great topic OP- really helpful for lots of us.

Another vote for not having a credit card. I don't have one either.

Don't just shop around on price comparison sites for electricity, gas, phone and insurance now, make it an ongoing thing and do it every six months.

Organisation is your friend. It's not just meal planning, you can do it with most aspects of your life. Clothes, for instance, are something you don't need stacks of if you plan for what you need. Buy dried beans rather than tinned ones and plan to soak them the night before.

Be ruthless about looking after what you have. I found that making Friday nights non-negotiable shoe polishing night extended the life of shoes by at least double. Sew on buttons as soon as you notice they are getting loose, if you notice a small hole in clothes, stitch it up before it becomes a large hole. Reinforce the knees of your children's trousers on the inside before holes appear.

When I hit my personal downturn in circumstances, I cleared out a cupboard and used some of my very precious small savings pool at my local Chinese superstore, buying things such as 5 kilo sacks of rice, dried chickpeas, dried beans and flour, a 5 litre bottle of sunflower oil, 5 kg sack of sugar, catering size clingfilm, 5 litres of vinegar, a 5 kg sack of bicarb and 2 kg of pasta, then (and this is pretty crucial) reducing the amount I spent on groceries each week to account for the savings I made so they weren't "lost" and I was able to replace each of the bulk goods when they ran out. I also bought a cheap breadmaker (ebay!) and save a bundle making my own bread. This way we still eat excellent quality bread but pay pennies for it. I am starting to learn to bake sourdough bread without the machine, but it's still as heavy as a brick and I don't want to feel deprived of good bread, so the breadmaker still sees lots of use!

Reduce the amount of meat you eat, and plan your meal around the carb in the meal instead of the meat. This means meals are just as filling but much cheaper. For example, have one meal where the main ingredient is potatoes (such as jacket potatoes or shepherd's pie), one rice meal, one chickpea meal, one quinoa meal, one meal with beans each week. Use meat is a flavouring, and schedule several meals without meat.

I make my own soaps with cheap bulk olive oil and instead of buying a lot of expensive cleaning products, use vinegar and bicarb. I bought 5 litres of cheap (horrible!) vinegar at the Chinese supermarket for £1.50, then fill a spray bottle with half vinegar and half water. It's as good as any commercial all-purpose kitchen or bathroom spray. If you buy some lemon or lavender oil and add a few drops, your house won't smell of vinegar.

Before you do your budget each week, put a small amount of money, even if it's £2, aside, somewhere you can't touch it. When you have very little, an emergency fund is crucial. Take this money out FIRST so you don't think of it as a deduction, the idea is to pretend that your income is smaller. It is much easier to save that way, as otherwise you will be trying to save out of "leftover" income which is impossible if there is nothing left over.

This technique works the same way with leftover food. If, BEFORE serving up, you take a portion of food out of your main meal to form the next day's lunch, you are far more likely to get two meals out of it than if you just serve up a meal and then see what is left afterwards for the next day.

Finally, be careful of false economies. Try to plan ahead for when things wear out, so you don't fall into the buy cheap buy twice pitfall. With me, I tried to save money growing my own vegies on my balcony, but after spending money on potting mix, seeds, etc etc etc, I lost my whole crop of EVERYTHING to bugs and aphids. It was heartbreaking. Sometimes it's cheaper to just buy vegetables from Lidl. I have given up on gardening except for bay leaves.

Rezolution Mon 20-Aug-12 12:22:02

Have been very hard up myself in the past, so I feel your pain.
Dry your clothes outside on the line (if you do not have one, then rig one up cheaply from Wilkinsons) Tumble dryers cost a lot to run.
All your cleaning products (in fact anything you are not going to eat or drink) can be the cheapest available.
Do not eat out. Take sandwiches/snacks for the DCs, particularly when out and about.
Don't be too proud - free handmedowns from relatives/friends can be a big help.
If you have a spare room get a lodger. In fact, get anything that brings in a few pounds more each week. What skills do you offer? Can you offer any kind of service to neighbours or friends? Maybe you could babysit for someone even while you are looking after your own DCs?
You idea of getting Tesco and Boots and Nectar cards is OK but don't go spending loads of money just to clock up the points. Your aim is to spend as little as possible, remember
Keep your chin up! See this as an opportunity, not a crisis.

BlameThePixies Mon 20-Aug-12 12:23:57

Go to Money Saving Expert and sign up for the weekly email - lots of info of current deals, and the main site tells you how to save money in almost every area of life!

Try to only carry cash - plan when you need to make purchases on your card and leave it at home the rest of the time. Money means more when you're handing over cash, as plastic doesn't seem so real.

Get organised so there is less need for last minute spending - obv meal plans, but a birthday planner works well, my sis buys bd cards (and presents) in bulk in sales and writes them all out in advance so they can be posted 2nd class and still arrive in time. She keeps a birthday book and plans presents for BDs and Xmas so that she doesn't accidentally double buy, which is easily done when you buy in sales far in advance.

Try to get the kids onside with budgeting now, they need to understand what money means, it's so much harder to budget when they're pressuring you to spend.
My mum made sure we didn't expect things to be bought on a whim - we weren't allowed to ask for things when we were out and about.

Good luck with your fresh start!

GreenEggsAndNichts Mon 20-Aug-12 12:42:11

If you can do so, try shopping around 7pm, as that's when supermarkets have deep discounts on food which is on the date. I buy a lot of our meat from Morrisons that way. If I'm not going to use it that day, I freeze it to use later.

I love Aldi and will swear up and down that anything they have is going to be better than the Value or regulare store brand at either Tesco or Asda. Hell, they're better than most name brands in a lot of things.

breathedeeply Mon 20-Aug-12 12:55:29

My friend was left in a similar situation to you thanks to an appalling shit of a husband. She swore by Freecycle for new furniture, kids bikes etc. Also free school meals (her children were 4 and 6), and free prescriptions and dental care. She also acquired a tent (via Freecycle) and had some great holidays (lots of campsites don't make you book in advance so you can check the weather first).
Her biggest expense was running a small beaten up car, but this meant that she could work 16 hours per week and claim working tax credits and child care payments (WTC is worth about £3k per year alone - you should always be better off than on Income Support).
Look at the local leisure centre for discounted swimming and gym membership - most local council give a discount to people on low incomes.
Car boot sales can also be a good supply of toys/clothes/household goods - particularly if you have a vehicle to transport bulky items that stall holders won't want to take home with them.

MorrisZapp Mon 20-Aug-12 13:08:37

Make a 'no gifts' agreement with any friends or family members who you think would be happy to stop shelling out at birthdays and christmas.

I have got a pay as you go MasterCard from www.mycashplus.com to which I have a standing order for our monthly food and petrol allowance. There is a monthly fee, but I feel it's worth it as I know exactly what I have for food and the money in the main account is just for bills.

I have a spreadsheet for bills, everything is paid by SO or DD. I check my main account online each morning and change the spreadsheet accordingly, moving items from the 'due' to the 'paid' column, and as long as the tota
Of the 'due' columnn is less than the balance of my main account I know we will be okay money-wise, I have not had a bank charge for over a year by doing this. (and the bank used to make a fortune from me in charges)

alemci Mon 20-Aug-12 13:18:49

with the cash back sites can you pay by credit card. I use John Lewis alot to shop but with their credit card?

Takver Mon 20-Aug-12 13:19:59

Absolutely agree with no credit cards - even though we're doing ok now I still won't have one (after too many years earning about 20p an hour starting our business!)

My top tip from those years - account for everything. Have an excel spreadsheet or a big cashbook depending on preference, look at your money coming in per month, and set a monthly budget for each category - bills, transport, food, clothes, medical, etc. If at all possible budget a little bit even if only a fiver for savings so you have an emergency fund.

Then once a week at least go through every receipt in your purse and write down exactly what you've spent in each category. Have a little notebook that you take shopping so that you can write down any small cash purchases where you don't get a receipt.

Check it all off against your bank statement. The aim is that you know where every single penny has gone. If you're going over on some parts of your budget, look where you can cut or alternatively see if you can re-allocate some money from elsewhere.

Personally I prefer to shop using a debit card because it makes this all simpler, but I agree that having a set amount of cash is easier for some people.

Frontpaw Mon 20-Aug-12 13:27:48

Take a good look at your bank statements. See what the DD and SOs are and if they are necessary. If your bank changes a fee, tell them you want to change your account to a free one (unless there is really good benefits you get with it). See how much you spend of 'nothing' and impluse, or things like gym fees that you never use.

Make a spreadsheet of how much you need to spend annually (rent, insurance, car, travel, clothes, school, spending, utilities, food etc) and break it down into monthly amounts so you know roughly how much a month you need.

Insurance etc should be checked every year for better value quotes. I wouldn't change utilities as it seems to be a lot more hassle than its worth - I'm sure others have done this and its been great, but I know a few people who switched from BT and gone back after rotten experiences.

Consider suspending any outgoings - savings, clubs or memberships until you get up and running again.

domesticgodless Mon 20-Aug-12 13:30:43

a lot of great advice here. I am not broke atm (sorry to appear insensitive to others on thread- but am in difficult divorce situation where ex will not settle with me. So I'm trying to save a deposit to buy another house (as I lost ours to him and he won't buy me out, plus I would lose huge amount in legal fees etc). I have been trying to put away as large an amount as I can every month, and due to following a lot of the tricks on here, have started to succeed. I reckon I have saved an extra £100-300 every month due to thriftiness.

The MAIN one in my opinion is to THINK about everything you buy and follow the Martin Lewis mantra: Do you need it? Will you use it? For how long? Also think about how long you will have to work to pay for it! Calculate your £ per hour rate if you work or H works, and think about it... do you really want to work x hours for this object?

Agree, avoid shops- especially the pretty ones with tempting displays! It's all a big con :D. Clothes are a real money pit- especially 'pretty' or 'special' stuff you don't intend for everyday wear. I could weep over the unused dresses I have sold on ebay for 1% of cost price after wearing once, if that :D

Forget 'prettiness' in general. Cultivate a natural look, less makeup, less high maintenance. You might feel refreshingly 'free' too and have more time for things you really want to do. Review wardrobe regularly and dig out stuff you haven't worn for a while. Create 'ebay pile' of stuff you KNOW you won't wear again and do a sell-off every 3 months or so.

Also forget domestic prettiness. Your house need only be comfortable not shiny and filled with pretty things! Save that for when you feel really flush, whenever that is!

Shorten showers and reduce baths to minimum.

Check petrolprices.com for cheapest petrol in your area.

Plan for your little treats. Mine are the odd plant, and M and S soup which i adore. I am going to try the 'shop later' trick today and hope I can find some reduced :D

another interesting idea to try if you have the time is to put any credit balance you have into savings as far as possible, which provide you with interest, unlike current accounts where your money loses value as the banks don't give any interest on it. This takes organisation though and isn't worthwhile if you have a very tight monthly budget.

jenduck Mon 20-Aug-12 13:33:36

Agree with so many of these, especially shopping late at night for reduced-price groceries, using Topcashback & drinking Sainsbury's basics tea (their cornflakes for about 30p/large pack & instant coffee for about 70p/bag are also pretty good IMHO)

Also, if you have a few spare minutes now & again, sign up to online survey sites & you can earn vouchers for supermarkets/Amazon or cash. You also often get to test products for free - I haven't paid for laundry detergent since last year or nappies since June thanks to these!

domesticgodless Mon 20-Aug-12 13:37:54

oh another general thing: if you are a bit overweight (as I was before I started going frugal) you can treat frugality as a sort of diet! (Please ignore if already thin or struggling to put food on table sad) We mostly eat more than we need in this country. I know I was. I now avoid food 'treats' and downgraded my treat to the odd nice cup of decaff coffee. We don't generally need all this food we stuff the house with and a lot of it goes to waste or ends up on the hips....

BornToFolk Mon 20-Aug-12 13:46:36

Use Savers, Wilkos and the pound shop for your toiletries rather than Boots. especially for the basic stuff. I found E45 Kids lotion in Savers that was about half the price it was in Boots, Wilkos had a two pack of kids' toothbrushes for about 80p.

Sign up for Quidco (or another cash back site, I just use Quidco!) and do as much of your shopping on line if you can. If I want anything from Debenhams, for example, I buy it online to get the cashback (and frequently other offers too) then get it delivered to store. This works really well for me as I work in town so can pop in at lunchtime to collect.

The most important thing though is to budget and look at your major expenses and see what savings can be made. Shop around for your insurance etc. You mention moving house - if you are buying, do you use an independent mortgage advisor? Mine is brilliant. I'm remortaging at the moment (split up with my ex...) and he's been great at finding me the best deal. And I pay him zlich - his fee comes from the mortgage company. I'd never be able to find such a good deal by myself.

As you are newly single, tell the council as soon as possible so you get the single person reduction on your council tax.

BoerWarKids Mon 20-Aug-12 13:49:06

I don't buy fabric conditioner. I think it's a marketing con and you don't need it! It's actually bad for towels.

I got rid of my Boots Advantage card. Yes you get points but everything they sell can be bought cheaper elsewhere.

Bickleighbabe Mon 20-Aug-12 14:00:51

I would recommend buying and using a pressure cooker. Invest in the best you can afford, it will recoup it's cost in months. Cook a whole chicken in 30 minutes (instead of roasting for 11/2 hours!), use to cook pulses in 10 minutes, lentils, black beans etc, much cheaper than buying in tins, rice pudding takes 12 minutes instead of 2 hours! You can do fantastic filling stews and soups in no time at all saving fuel and because it's cooked under pressure steam, all the goodness is contained. You will wonder how you lived without one!
If you do have a garden, easy veg such a broad beans and runner beans will supply fresh greens. They don't tend to suffer from too many pests and you can buy heavy croppers.
A frugal life doesn't mean a rubbish life, it's very rewarding, good luck

nipitinthebud Mon 20-Aug-12 14:13:51

Quidco is good for online shopping and it does mount up when you're buying bigger items. I also have an Opus Mastercard (although probably agree with everyone about it being easier to not have a credit card at all) which gives 3% cashback. You have to be quite strict in that you don't use it as a 'credit' card but pay off each month. But again the cashback (and it is proper cash not vouchers, Quidco again is cash not vouchers too) it can add up over the course of time.

Aldi and Lidl are great. Lidl washing liquid is Good Housekeeping recommended and very good and cheap. I reckon Lidl fruit and veg is actually better than Waitrose and their ham is lovely (not sausages though - bit of a trial and error approach sometimes). You can check on the Lidl website for best deals for things in your local Lidl (food and non-food items). But agree about late in the day shopping. In my local Waitrose Ive noticed they knock stuff waaay down - seems to be after 5pm on a certain day of the week, maybe to coincide with a delivery (ours is wed)? e.g. Maris Piper pots 19p!

Cut the ends of tubes so that you can squeeze out the very last bit.

If you're crafty you could get some books out of the library or scour some craft blogs/websites for things that you can make as Xmas/birthday presents for your DC (or friends/family). You can use remnants of old clothes as a base and then look out in fabric stores (or markets) for little bits to brighten something up.

Your local leisure centre will probably have a gym (or local university/college). Cheaper than a private gym, but still fairly costly. Running might be a better option....a good pair of trainers and you're off!

Good Luck and I hope things work out!

Pinot Mon 20-Aug-12 14:23:43

Great thread.

Best of luck, OP.

shieldbug Mon 20-Aug-12 14:24:14

Try taking out a sum of money at the beginning of the week for groceries/household stuff and then you can easily see how much of your budget you've got left. If you pay by cards its too easy to lose track. That alone has saved me loads.

I recommend a slow-cooker as it uses very little electricity to run and is also convenient to set up in the morning then leave during the day. I think you can get them relatively cheaply online through supermarkets. Mine is a secondhand one and is great.

Oh yes, and a steamer is great for saving on cooking costs as you can stack them and cook lots of veggies at the same time on one ring. Much better for retaining vitamins too.

Home made fudge/ toffee or biscuits etc can be a nice present (or part of a present).

Depending on your situation, try not using a car/ cutting right back-keeps you fit and saves a bucket. I don't drive and so ds and I walk everywhere- can be inconvenient sometimes, but actually it's much more fun. We have fantastic conversations walking together.

Good luck op

topbannana Mon 20-Aug-12 14:34:39

I thought of a couple more, having read some of the previous posts smile
- We love flowers but find them very expensive. I now use old jam jars and decorate them with a bit of raffia and a button or similar and fill them with wild flowers (just ordinary hedgerow flowers, not rare meadow species!) They are bright, seasonal and free. In fact DM is receiving a jar when we visit next weekend. She will love the thought and place them proudly on her windowsill, DSDad on the other hand will be hmm but hes a different story!
- DS(8) is a bit of a foodie and proclaimed his best birthday present last year was a box full of cookies (homemade) hot chocolate (very posh one as its his favourite treat) some soft fruit, expensive cereal that I am too mean to buy normally etc. I also buy Christmas presents like a new lunchbox, trainers etc. all stuff that he needs but has yet to work out that I would have to buy anyway!
- Always bake cakes, biscuits etc as gifts. Wrap nicely and pop a handwritten label on and most people (DSDad excluded!) will be thrilled at your effort and thought.

MamaMary Mon 20-Aug-12 15:06:11

Great tips on here. Sometimes it's just a matter of spending a lot of time shopping around - seeing what's cheaper in Poundland, Iceland, Lidl, etc. It'll be different things in different places. It's a pain having to spend so much time doing this when you're used to going to one big place (e..g Tescos) and bunging everything in. But in the long run it'll get easier as you get savvier.

I would get rid of your Boots Advantage Card tbh. Yes you get points but Boots is very expensive and you can get toiletries, nappies, etc. much cheaper elsewhere. (if your DC are still in nappies, Lidl are the best I've found).

thefirstmrsrochester Mon 20-Aug-12 15:07:39

Costco can be great at times but shopping there requires massive self control and restraint. At the moment they have 2 chickens for £5.49 - one fed my family of 5 with leftovers. And tasted brilliant. The carcass is in the freezer along with the leftover veg ready to be made into soup. Also from there, big jug of rice - £3.49, 100 adult servings. It's brilliant to cook & no wastage due to blinking bags ripping.
Asda are also fab for markdowns of chickens, joints etc. I filled my freezer for under £20 one day - chickens, pork joints, lamb, beef.....ds1 actually complained about getting French trimmed rack of lamb again! You need to know what time the shops near you mark down at.
My dc love old fashioned puddings like angel delight and jelly with some (just to go soft) fruit chucked in.
For clothes, toys & toiletries, our local boys brigade sale comes up trumps every time. I've had premium brand tops, jeans & hoodies for my boys - hollister etc. and Avon & virgin vie products which had been donated.
Even a Yamaha electric piano ......the less said about that the better. Church sales are fab also.
Morrisons did, in spring, plug plants - lettuce etc. £1 or £2 for 6 plants. Some of these kept us going all summer (and great fun for kids).
Oh, and did I say church & bb sales for kids toys?

lisianthus Mon 20-Aug-12 15:18:14

Nice point on the pressure cooker Bickleighbabe. They are ace. My mum has one and I am very envious!

BoffinMum Mon 20-Aug-12 16:27:47

You might care to look on my MN-approved blog, which has a lot of advice for frugal living. Have a good rummage through past posts and I am sure you will find help there.

Austerity Housekeeping

My top tips at the moment are:

1. Do your Christmas shopping now, in the summer sales.
2. Shop at Aldi or Lidl (I am a big fan).
3. Spend an hour a day surfing Money Saving Expert, HotUKdeals and so on for coupons and bargains (you have to act promptly otherwise the deal will have finished if it is a good one).
4. Forage blackberries, sloes, apples, pears and so on now, jam/freeze them and keep them for treats for later in the year when the weather is bad and you are feeling a bit poor. It is hard to suffer when eating home made blackberry and apple crumble or having a bit of apple and sloe jelly with some roast pork.
5. You can feel as though you are having a very comfortable lifestyle indeed if you do the cinema kids club as Mrbojangles mentioned (take your own popcorn/pick and mix/cartons of drink) as well as going for a weekly swim with the kids, and this is inexpensive.
6. Some local churches have great parent and child groups that organise cheap outings, social events and so on. You don't have to belong to the religion concerned a lot of the time, as long as you show willing helping with fetes and fundraisers from time to time.

Minimammoth Mon 20-Aug-12 16:47:44

Sorry have not read whole thread blush so this may have been covered. Use low energy lightbulbs, switch appliances off between uses and overnight. Turn heating down and wear an extra jumper. fit timers to Emerson heater, and other heaters if you use them.
Find interesting ways to use left overs.

mumzy Mon 20-Aug-12 17:01:58

I've found car boot sales to be a good source of cheap good quality household goods, clothes, toys. Our school asks for donations of used school uniforms which they sell off very cheaply to parents to raise funds for the school. If your school doesn't already do this suggest they do as it benefits everyone.

yellowraincoat Mon 20-Aug-12 17:09:33

Lot of recommendations to sell on ebay here, but remember to check ebay before you buy anywhere else as well.

I used to buy earplugs in Boots - 3 pairs for £4. I now buy them on ebay - better quality earplugs as well - 40 pairs for £3. Unbelievable. Everything like cosmetics, stuff for the house is far far cheaper on there. Obviously it only tends to make sense for stuff that doesn't weigh much.

Corygal Mon 20-Aug-12 17:14:18

Use Poundland for cleaning products for self, family and home. It's miles cheaper, and, in the words of Vogue's beauty experts, 'anything you wash off shouldn't be expensive'.

Make cheap recipes. There is no cost-to-deliciousness ratio for most food.

Use your freezer to store reduced bargain buys. Mine is crammed with sausages at 30p and a massive roast lamb I got for 3 quid.

Buy snacks at poundshop and take with on outings - popcorn for cinema, cokes and mini cheddars etc - so you won't feel deprived.

Car boots are way cheaper than ebay and wayway cheaper than charity shops. I've never got anythng off freecyle, by the way.

Ignore shops like John Lewis and Debenhams - buy the same stock in TK Maxx.

Once you've started economising, you'll actually get off on it a bit and not want to go back.

SrirachaGirl Mon 20-Aug-12 17:17:26

Running is free, flexible and the best fitness there is. It's also easy to do in short chunks of time. Add in a few push-ups, sit-ups and stretches at home when you're finished and you're done smile.

StuntNun Mon 20-Aug-12 17:28:08

Sign up to MyVoucherCodes for occasional good deals. If you need to buy new clothes, may as well get them on sale.

Make a budget and stick to it as best as you can. Make sure your budget includes treats, e.g. get a takeaway once per month on pay day to celebrate.

One thing my DH did was to set up a fund that we pay into every month for big expenses. I use an eSavings account linked to my Nationwide account. We pay £x a month into it then when we have a big bill such as car insurance, car repair, Christmas presents etc. we transfer the money out again to cover it. It's hard to set this up initially as you need to have a 'float' to start with and you really need to look at your annual expenditure to see how much you will have to pay a month. We've been using this system for years and it works so well. When the car insurance is due you can just pay the whole bill in one, which is cheaper than having to pay in monthly installments. You do have to keep an idea on how much you are paying in, we went down to £0 once (after Christmas) and had to increase our monthly payments until we had a fund available again.

Cook cheap food like spaghetti bolognese, stews etc. in bulk and freeze portions for another day. If you cook a roast, buy a big enough joint of meat so that you can make another meal out of it, e.g. chicken pie, soup or shepherd's pie.

nipitinthebud Mon 20-Aug-12 17:44:34

Oh another thing is using the peel of veg you might ordinarily chuck away or the woody ends of things and make soup with them. Great to do after a roast dinner - so all the carrot peelings, half bits of onion, potato peelings (I don't ever peel my pots for soup anyway - all good fibre) and after boiling the chicken (or whatever) carcass to make the stock.

Also the end of the day specials, I bought a large head of brocolli for 20p - there was a very minor amount of yellowing - just boiled it up with an onion and stock cube, then added a bit of milk and an end bit of blue cheese looking very past its best in the fridge - brocolli and stilton soup for next to nothing. And can always freeze if you're not going to use it.

And a site I've heard of through MN - Approved Foods. its all things on clearance, with very short shelf-lives or past best before (but no fresh stuff....so all OK to eat). Very, very cheap! Haven't done it yet, but worth a look.

zookeeper Mon 20-Aug-12 18:17:14

I found out this week you can get headlice treatment and a nittygritty on prescription. This would certainly save me money.

javotte Mon 20-Aug-12 18:41:51

We have a "leftover day" (usually Monday, or Sunday if I'm too busy / tired to make a Sunday lunch). Everybody picks something from the fridge or the freezer (I freeze leftovers in individual portions if there isn't too feed the whole family).

javotte Mon 20-Aug-12 18:42:20

I meant "enough left to feed", of course blush

amigoingmadhere Mon 20-Aug-12 18:46:57

oh wow - it's discussion of the day blush

These are all so so helpful, thank you all so much. Keep the tips/ideas coming!
I am feeling so down today but am going to make myself feel better by noting these all down in some kind of organised fashion tonight when the dcs are in bed hopefully smile

SundaeGirl Mon 20-Aug-12 19:01:44

Only cook what your children will eat. Sounds obvious, but it's depressing to scrape worthy meals into the bin.

benjalamummy Mon 20-Aug-12 19:04:53

Sorry I haven't had time to read all the posts so I may be repeating something .. but three of my nearest and very dearest have found themselves in the same position in 2012 and I know how tough it has been for them. All coping brilliantly, but it's the worrying that they won't which as been hard.

Check if you are eligible for Income Support - the Citizens' Advice Bureau can help. Even if you are only eligible for a very minimal amount, I understand it opens up other things, like free school meals, legal aid etc.

Good luck with everything smile

WoodlandHills Mon 20-Aug-12 19:25:30

<marking place> as seriously need to learn to budget better and be more sensible with money.

ivykaty44 Mon 20-Aug-12 19:32:45

get a new Boots card (old one is connected to my stbxh's email account)

I buy christmas presents in boots in January when they reduce all there christams ideas - I will buy so many presents and get points, then using the points buy more presents - keep in wardrobe till christmas (never buy stuff that will go off)
- get Tesco clubcard (shop at lidl)
- get Nectar card (shop at lidl)
- always scour the internet etc. for vouchers / codes etc. (do this anyway but in a more random way)
- only ever buy presents in sales, start looking at presents now as the summer sales are on -espcially gardening presents at the end of the summer.
- when moving house, try to get as much as possible from charity shops / freecycle etc.
- use library more - set phone alarm for return date otherwise you can awful large fines
- see if Surestart still exists (a while since I used their services)
- start looking for any local free/cheap gym / sports facilities -use bikes and park - with dc, go in the evenings two or three times a week. I used to run whilst dc cycle and now it is the other way round and we play games of catch up which keeps me working harder wink

I have no tv and no landline - as it saves me 260 pounds per year

I get internet on virgin so no need for phone line and one fixed price.

We use dvd's and youtube, which you don't need a licence for however much they try to convince you you do - you don't need a licence for a laptop or pc

ivykaty44 Mon 20-Aug-12 19:41:20

We have a popcorn maker that dd wanted one christams many years ago - it is well used.

Popcorn is cheap as chips to buy unpopped and it is also good for you unsalted or sugared. We use chinese five spice and place in freezer bags - you can use paprika, thai 7 spice - the seasoning intensifies in the bags so use sparingly. or if you want salt, sugar

See if you can get a bread machine on free cycle or second hand - many people buy and then use a few times and it clutters a cuboard.

I buy flour in bulk from a local mill - I googled to find one and it costs me 8.50 for 12.5 kilo bag which makes 31 loaves of bread, so with electric and a teaspoon of sugar, yeast and salt costs me approx 35p per loaf

good price as new would be nearer 100 pounds

You can make dough and then rolls and freeze for packed lunches, pizza bases are really easy and I make pizza for around 1 pound each and they are much much nicer than the luxury style pizza you can buy.

domesticgodless Mon 20-Aug-12 19:41:55

ivykaty do you find the tv licencing people really hassle you cos they assume you stream tv through laptop? A lot of my students complain about that.

domesticgodless Mon 20-Aug-12 19:42:20

I'd happily exist without tv but my sons would riot smile

ivykaty44 Mon 20-Aug-12 19:47:34

I sorted that one DG

Write a letter withdrawing rights of access -I kept getting the threatening letters and having two dd's it wasn't mice (murder in area and a rape where the man said he was boiler man and raped a 12 year old in own home) So nice man at tv licencing told me to look it up on internet smile

I used a smith name they wrote and told me they would catch me another way - I don't use a tv so have nothing to fear. They haven't writen since.

Apparently they will in about 3 years - to repeat action will be required.

We just watch what we want when we want on youtube or itv catch up etc - which is legal. TBH very little by me but dd watches stuff - she does a lot of sport so she wouldn't ever see tv live anyway!

domesticgodless Mon 20-Aug-12 19:51:57

their harassment even of people who don't have a tv is absolutely awful!!

good on you ivy

LIttleMcF Mon 20-Aug-12 19:54:32

Also second the Matin Lewis website - I've nearly bought all our Christmas early for the very first time due to amazing deals on there.

Grow your own vegetables. We've got sacks of onions, potatoes and garlic. We've got a freezer full of courgette, sweetcorn and soft fruits. We'll soon hopefully have lots of pumpkins to last through winter. Sign up for a allotment (or a shared plot if you don't feel like taking on a while on); if you don't have space to grow at home. A half-plot where we are is only £20 per year. Grow Your Own website has a fantastic forum to assist with everything you don't know. We take the DC up to our allotment to cook sausages on a makeshift bbq and dig for 'treasure' (more potatoes). Depending on the age of your DC, there's lots to involve them with and make it fun. If you only have a windowsill, grow herbs and salad leaves.

Learn to forage - it's coming up to a lovely time of year to find sloes, berries, mushrooms etc. Me and the DC picked tons of wild garlic this Spring, and we've got a load of wild garlic pesto in the freezer now. Depending where you live there's usually someone, somewhere who does organised foraging walks to teach you about what to look for. Brilliant fun for kids too.

When you've grown some stuff, swap it - I give blackberry jam (free, in hedgerows, saved jars) and a few courgettes to a neighbour, and he gives us fresh eggs from his chickens.

Make bread (sorry, I - buy a sack of flour (Amazon have lots and deliver free) as it works out MUCH cheaper.

Good luck - sounds like you have a really positive attitude, which will help enormously.

ivykaty44 Mon 20-Aug-12 20:02:33

I will add, though not frugal, I set up different traditions when I became single.

dc have to set the table for dinner every night and we eat as late as the youngest will allow. The table is set with kitchen roll and a jug of water and glasses - so it is a real meal time for out small family to get together. We still do this now.

bath time was another big ritual and never rushed leaving one hour for bath time so it was relaxed and our time.

Don't know why but these two rituals made me feel so much better grin

Didn't cost a lot...

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 20-Aug-12 20:09:52

It's true, I mean a picnic with lovely homemade sandwiches and a wedge of homemade victoria sponge with a flask of tea is nicer than just one stingy pot of tea and a tiny slice of cake when your out and about.

If you get a blanket and a picnic set off ebay you can have some lovely days out op.

I love my picnic hamper, it was £20 in homebargains and has crockery plates and proper cutlery. It feels quite luxurious.

Loopy4got Mon 20-Aug-12 20:10:38

I went to the supermarket yesterday to buy a baguette for lunch and £75 later...........the day before I went to get milk that was about £25 later........basically I would say, follow me around and dont buy what I buy and have a giggle at how I put "on offer GU's " into my trolley when I am on the worlds biggest diet, also giggle at how I cant resist a " wine offer " when my house is full to bursting with wine......

I was hoping some humour would help... I do hope you will be ok and it sounds like you have been given some very good advice. I should probably follow it. BTW cant you use up the points on that Boots card before you go? One last little treat?? Your fav bottle of perfume for example? Would be a shame to let the points go to waste. Good luck with things xxx

NetworkGuy Mon 20-Aug-12 20:37:05

Just to recommend www.HotUKdeals.com (they e-mail the hottest deals around noon each day)

Although a fair few 'hot' items are gadgets, there are sections concerning food and clothing (and toys too, for that matter) so get yourself signed up, costs nothing and can help you find bargains.

I was low on sugar this week and while the cheapest 1 kg bag is at 99p stores for 82p (!), at least I felt it worth looking in Aldi and Lidl and bought some at 86p, not the price that local Tesco [Express] or Asda charge.

You can search it too, for specific items and general terms (eg 'Sugar Puffs', or 'mobile'). There are also tips on voucher codes for buying things online. With thousands of individuals spotting bargains and posting, there's a pretty high number of new listings each day, and of course some won't be nationwide or could be the 'manager specials' at just one store, but still worth a look, whether for run-of-the-mill purchases or gifts for Christmas (since DCs will be looking forward to something) and birthdays.

ANTagony Mon 20-Aug-12 20:38:23

Treats don't need to be expensive. For days out write down lots of things on different cards and let the kids pick. You can have
trip to the cinema ( kids am is £1 a person near me),
day out to the beach,
foraging,
pick your own ( there are things to pick April through to October in most areas), geocaching,
bike ride,
mystery tour (exploring a new area where child in front of car says left or right at the end of each road and you rotate the one in the front. My kids loved this to explore a new area and so long as I kept them roughly in the direction of where we were intending to head we didn't get too lost and learn't our way around.)
McDonalds or Pizza hut for icecream ( mine would rather just have dessert)
Proper sweetie shop for 50g their choice sweets from a jar
Pond/ stream dipping.
Sledging!
Collecting kindling for a garden bonfire, don't forget the marshmallows.

I get my kids involved in selling their old toys to raise cash for themselves to buy more. They love watching them go on eBay and are really keen on bartering at the car boot even though things aren't as tight now (I've remarried and have a third child). DS2could be called tight he negotiates things to be free with his big blue eyes and then walks away because he doesn't want to part with another toy on the one in one out rule.

The biggest important lesson for life my boys learn't when money was impossibly tight was either/ or. They understand icecream in McDonalds or pack of icecreams/ donuts from supermarket and actively enjoy making that decision.

Tesco club card vouchers were my saviour for holidays they allowed us days out that I just couldn't have justified. I didn't shop in Tesco but got points through energy supply and from my mum who had a duplicate/ the partner of my club card.

Travel lodge do £9ish rooms if you book well in advance sign up to their newsletter and you will get advance warning of when they're releasing the next lot. This in conjunction with Tesco vouchers gave us the odd mini holiday for under £20 with eating out (breakfast at supermarket, packed lunch, pot noodle type tea in travel lodge).

Money doesn't make you happy, it can make life easier but keeping control of your own money, however little, is quite empowering.

Make sure you help yourself by claiming what society says you're entitled to by going on a site like benefits checker.

Don't sacrifice yourself for your children. Whilst no doubt all of us would do anything for our DC it is vital for you and ultimately them that you look after yourself. Don't turn yourself into a second class citizen. Keep a little bit back for getting your hair cut/ buying a nice bottle of wine to share with an old friend/ getting a take away when the kids have gone to bed, getting the odd new item of clothing. You need to be happy to fully enable them to be happy.

You can be happy on a tight budget.

BoerWarKids Mon 20-Aug-12 20:39:25

This is a brilliant website. It's both money saving advice and minimalism. The man's got six kids! shock

I think minimalism as a philosophy marries really well with thrift and frugality.

I used to be very consumerist, also had the latest gadgets, frittered away a fortune on clothes, make up, takeaways, etc. I've totally changed my outlook.

CherryBlossom27 Mon 20-Aug-12 20:42:16

Hi OP, I haven't read the whole thread so apologies if I'm repeating any tips!

First of all make a list of all of your outgoings and income. Check if you are entitled to any benefits and make sure you claim everything you are entitled to. On the outgoings, look at each one individually and search online to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. It seems like a hassle, but if you do it after the kids are in bed it won't take too long!

I really recommend joining the money saving expert site, there is excellent advice on there and the posters are amazing and so helpful!

I find meal planning helps massively as I only buy what I need and I'm not wasting food. I do buy things when they are on offer e.g. toilet rolls (I never pay full price!), meat (keep it in the freezer), bread (again keep it in the freezer).

Don't necessarily buy your toiletries and cleaning products from the big supermarkets, I find Wilkinsons and Poundland have great offers and this has saved me money.

If you can get to a local market, do as the fruit and veg is cheaper than the supermarket, although I do find it doesn't last as long.

Also if you have any Indian or Chinese supermarkets near you, they are a lot cheaper than the big supermarkets and often have much bigger packs of things such as rice, lentils and spices.

Personally I avoid browsing in clothes shops so I don't want what I can't see! It's horrible not being able to buy something you want, so I avoid avoid avoid!

Surestart Centres are great as they are usually free and mine caters for ages 0-5 years. We have 3 parks within walking distance, so I usually take my baby to the park as it's free and he enjoys watching the bigger kids playing. My local cinema has a kids screening at 10am on Sundays which is £1 per ticket, I think this is brilliant value, so worth looking into for your kids as a (monthly?) treat. Arrange play dates with your children's friends as this will be as good as a day out, they can entertain each other for free!

I can't think of anything else at the moment, but good luck to you!

lucysmam Mon 20-Aug-12 20:48:43

I swear by lists. After dp having been laid off several times the past few years & I'm struggling to get back into work after not working for 5 years (SAHM).

Our weekly incoming is just over £200, on benefits. I 'allow' us £180 ish for everything...bills, food, days out, travel etc. I literally plan outgoings from Tuesday morning's bus ticket buying to the following Mondays bottle of milk for a pound. That leaves just over £20 for ice cream/sweets/beer/treats through the week, when that money's gone it's gone.

As we run out of food/grocry items I start a list so they form the basis of my next weeks online shop.

I write a list as I go from Tuesday to Tuesday of the things to be picked up on market day with the kids. This list normally ends up with a note that I can spend a few extra quid on the kids scribbled on the bottom of it.

I buy xmas cards in after xmas sales & wrap (think I picked them up for about 25p a pack & roll of paper in wilko's this year. Card factory £1 for 10 kids birthday cards. Budget of £5 for xmas/birthday presents per person (except the kids)

If you have a garden, poundland have some not too bad garden toys atm. My two will play for hours with a couple of cheapy water guns, bubbles and chalks on the path.

Try to have a stash of 'emergency money'. Our washer broke earlier this year so bought a second hand one for £90ish, was a nightmare that week & I'm glad I put a bit aside each week otherwise there'd have been no food shop /travel. Can be handy for smaller things too, we've had times when we've literally handed over a couple of quid in coppers in Tesco for bread/milk.

Oh, and I don't mind Sains basics tea bags either, go through about 3 boxes a week

iloveberries Mon 20-Aug-12 20:49:53

Haven't read all the thread so sorry if I missed this but where do you live?
If you're in south east you should sign up to do market research groups - you can earn up to £100 for an hour talking about x or y branded products.

Also - whenever you buy food or any products actually and its a bit off or not what you expected, you should complain to the retailer/company. They will always send you lots of vouchers.

Good luck op!!

girliefriend Mon 20-Aug-12 20:53:05

hello some really good ideas on here!

I would add don't be snobbish about buying smartprice/ morrisons savers etc I have been guilty of this in the past but not these days grin

I save money by being mostly vegetarian, not drinking much alcohol or smoking therefore I can justify the occasional back massage (£20) !!!

Good luck - you will be fine smile

GilmoreGeek Mon 20-Aug-12 20:55:44

Oh this thread is great! I was just doing a bit of budgeting today as I have changed job and have moved, so loads of new bills, companies etc.

Can I ask a few questions please?

Firstly to ivykaty, so did you not give the TV people your real name? So far I have always simply ignored their letters and that has worked out well, should I send them a letter?

About slowcookers, can I leave them on while going to work for the day or is that too risky?

Also I have just moved into a new property and the kitchen only has a tiny fridge, with one freezer shelf. It doesn't even fit two pizzas (tried today, needed to take them out of the wrapper). I am used to buying loads of frozen veg and everyone here talks about badge cooking and freezing. Would it make sense for me to buy a small extra freezer? I am considering it but not sure how much money I would actually save.

wellwisher Mon 20-Aug-12 21:07:43

This thread is brilliant!

OP, would it be OK to ask MNHQ to move it into the Credit Crunch topic? It would be such a shame for all this frugal wisdom to disappear after 90 days...

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 20-Aug-12 21:09:08

Gilmore, It would most likely pay for you to have a seperate freezer if you can get an A energy rated one.

You could look in your area for any catalogue seconds shop eg Birmingham has one called Borsch which dh is very dubious about but I've had a Bosch fridge from there and a washing machine with no problems at all.

I wont leave my slowcooker on during the day, I turn off everything apart from the ff. I'm sure lots of people do though.

Theres a thread about slow cookers on the food section, Mine's asdas own brand and is very good. I've got a marked down joint of pork in there that the cat is very interested in.

Organisedhome.com do some really good printable lists for things like freezer checklists etc. It wont be for everyone but might help some mners.

dementedma Mon 20-Aug-12 21:20:14

Re slow cookers. I love mine but it is too fast,even on its lowest setting to put it on in the morning and leave it until evening. Contents are mush. Best if you can nip home at lunchtime to switch it on or get someone at home to do so.
This is a great time to buy cheap glut tomatoes and make masses of pasta sauce in the slow cooker then freeze smaller portions. Add fresh basil for a lovely summery smell.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 20-Aug-12 21:30:57

You can get timers to put on the plug socket, ebays a good bet or amazon.

I think modern ones are hotter than the ones our mothers might have had. I think mines running at 190w while it's doing the pork, still cheaper than putting a 2.5kw oven on for 2 hours though.

Pressure cookers are meant to be really good too though, just a bit more expensive to start out with.

Leilandri Mon 20-Aug-12 21:34:38

www.approvedfood.co.uk/ - fab for stocking up your cupboards, and for treat items, as long as you aren't fussy about best before dates.

As the weather starts drawing in, cover cardboard with tin foil and slip behind radiators - reflects the heat vack into the room.

If handy with a sewing machine - get some old curtains/blankets from charity shops and use them to line your nicer curtains to retain heat. Also make sure any floor length curtains are not obscuring the heat from radiators.

Check your levels of insulation in your home, and apply for a free grant - www.insulationgrants.info/?gclid=CMumwo-G97ECFQFItAod-UEAxA

NEXT year (bit late for this year now) sign up to Park Xmas savings - I DD a small amount each month and get vouchers (Love2Shop/Amazon) in November so Xmas is paid for gradually - www.getpark.co.uk/AgencyOnlineWeb/?sen=WEBP13W12&link=99&home=recruit&id=200799&gclid=CIDw_vOG97ECFcUNfAodKUoAlA

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 20-Aug-12 21:39:21

I had a leaflet pushed through the door the other day saying british gas were doing free insulation for lofts in the area. You didnt have to be a customer either.

I think they are obliged to do it to prove they are meeting their green targets, eon used to send out free energy saving lightbulbs but was told it wasnt good enough.

freestuffjunction.co.uk often have offers on for free loft/cavity wall insulation.

A tip I've learnt from pigletjohn on here is that your water tank should have two jackets on if it isnt covered in certain types of foam...which explains why my airing cupboard is warm.

Xayide Mon 20-Aug-12 21:50:02

I've found www.thebookpeople.co.uk good for cheap DC presents - £10 for ten packs of books, plus at minute they have a box of cards- 30p per card for a wide variety of cards and previously they've had wrapping paper packs which were good value.

Soup, Aldi shopping, Asda clothes cheapish and good quality and getting money you need at start of week and trying to just spend that.

I'll have to comb the thread and find a few more tips.

Xayide Mon 20-Aug-12 21:50:36

£10 for packs of ten books - sorry wasn't very clear reading back.

topbannana Mon 20-Aug-12 21:54:25

RE: TV licences. You do need a licence to watch TV on a PC, smartphone etc if you are watching it LIVE. If you watch it on iPlayer, YouTube etc then you do not need a licence.
I phoned them up, explained we had a TV for the Wii and DVD but it was not connected to the aeriel and we never watched actual TV on it. I occasionally use iPlayer and checked whether I needed a licence for this and was told that I did not. They sent me a letter to confirm I had spoken to them, and explaining that they may send an officer round to verify- not a problem to me as I had nothing to hide.
Then the Olympics came and DS and I cracked on day 2 and bought a licence grin

GilmoreGeek Mon 20-Aug-12 21:54:49

Fluffycloud, thank you. I think I will try and find a cheap freezer somewhere, so far they have all looked quite expensive.

About the slow cooker, I won't have time to go home unfortunately and it might not be safe. I might just batch cook on weekends and freeze some stuff. I am doing my teacher training this year and will be out for about 12 hours a day at least it seems, so I don't want to risk anything burning. And having it all in neat servings would be good, that way I can just take it to work.

Xenia Mon 20-Aug-12 21:59:13

Perhaps don't consider the gym option and use the time saved to take on extra jobs and work.

I just drink tap water which saves money.

Cut your own hair.

See the thread about the women amongst us who earn £1k a day (much more fun than penny pinching).... Mind you we end up paying huge sums to men on divorce so may be not so wise.

Or find husband number 2 and make sure he is rich.

myBOYSareBONKERS Mon 20-Aug-12 22:00:23

OpinionWorld and Valued Opinions pay for completing surveys. I have had £20 in amazon vouchers so far.

iloveberries Mon 20-Aug-12 22:01:51

Where's that thread then xenia I'm intrigued

Xenia Mon 20-Aug-12 22:11:12

ilove, you may want to put on your hard hat before reading it as there were a few of my detractors on it - presumably people who never could in a month of Sundays earn £1k a day or were jealous or something. It started with someone saying she wanted to earn £1k a month and we went -0 well loads of women earn £1k a day - why not aim a lot higher.... I think it has a lot of interesting things on it including a summary of all the things I have done that have failed (there are a lot) but it won't be to everyone's taste and plenty of women like to assume they will always earn peanuts,pick low paid work, marry someone without much money and lead an average life on the average £20k a year pay or whatever. Perfectly legitimate choice but it can be fun to try riskier and more fun income generating things to.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/freelancers/1538634-How-might-I-earn-1000-a-month-working-from-home

Ohhelpohnoitsa Mon 20-Aug-12 22:45:36

Ooh watching with interest. Far better ideas on here than superdcrimpers - some ridiculous things on there like the lady who said put lots of clothes on to go to bed....

renlo Mon 20-Aug-12 22:46:49

If you have room for a small chest freezer, get one. We bought a cheap one from someone of Gum tree and installed in the garage. Means we can do multi buys on milk, bread, reduduced meats etc and other freezable items. My biggest money saving tip - join Costco if you have one near you, not everything is cheaper but some things are a real bargain. 10x 4 pack of velvet toilet roll for a tenner, 2x90 boxes of Finish dishwasher tablets for about £11 ish, 12 tins of chopped tomatoes for £2.99 and my personal favourite, 3x pack of Aveeno cream (the only thing that keeps my little gilr's eczema at bay) for £6 when just one cost that much in Boots! Bread is also excellent quality and a pack of two for £1.79 as as is massive kilo packs of qulaity mature chedder cheese for £4-5. Loads of other examples like bagels, peanut butter and packs of chicken breast etc which are excellent quality and excellent value. You do need somewhere to store them all though, hence the garage and chest freezer, lol! Having said that, my SIL and brother live in a 2 bed flat and she somehow finds places to keep her Cosco stuff so I guess it can be done if you have some imaginative storage ideas! We do a Costco shop every 6-8 weeks and spend about £50-80 but you can spend a lot more if you get carried away and know many people that do. Like everything else, if you stick to what you need, you're less likely to overspend.

We buy fresh fruit and veg from wherever is on offer and always buy value onions, carrots, potatoes etc. often, they are just pence and are but mishapen or have more earth on them. Inside, still the same stuff and goes down exactly the same way. If veg is reduced and still good, i buy, chop and freeze. I always buy 10kg bags of Basmati rice when on offer and last week they were £8 each in Morrisons cos it was Ramadam I think? Anyway, the two bags should last us the year at least. Cereals are either supermarket own brand whichever is cheapest or softly Aldi. The only cereal from Aldi that's a bit suspect IMHO is their version of Shreddies- they're awful but the rest are great. Nappies and wipes are probably our biggest expense, and again we look out for offers and stock up heavily whenever there is a good deal. I'm not ashamed to say I travelled 60 miles to an Asda branch recently when they were doing 9x packs of pampers wipes for £3.50 and cleared their shelves. I reckon we have enough wipes to see us through till we start potting training in about 6-7 months time (I hope!)

Toiletries and household cleaning products come from Aldi and the poundshop and Wilkinsons, as does cheap arts and craps type thingies that my kids seem to love...

I bake all our biscuits and cakes, so much nicer and I like knowing what I'm eating. I'm on the look out for a Panasonic bread maker for a good price so I can baking our own bread. I cook from scratch mostly and husband an I both take packed lunches to work. Also take in our own tea and coffee and take some milk in a bottle, ever since the work tea club hiked from £1.25 a week to £3.50 with no explanation!

I'm too lazy busy to meal plan but we set a budget of £300 for food and sundries each and we live very comfortably within this for the 4 of us.

renlo Mon 20-Aug-12 22:49:41

Meant £300 each month, not each, I wish!

007alert Mon 20-Aug-12 23:04:42

renlo your gp should prescribe Aveeno for you for your dd's eczema. Then it will be free. We have used the Aveeno bath additive, the cream and the lotion at times. All for nothing.

renlo Mon 20-Aug-12 23:13:39

Thanks 007alert. Our surgery no longer prescribes Aveeno because apparently they're not proven to be any more effective, which the pharmacist told me simply means they're too expensive. All I can get prescribed is oilatum which didn't work for us, hence why we buy. Believe me, if I could get it prescribed, I woul!

cerealqueen Mon 20-Aug-12 23:14:51

£3.50 a week for a tea club?! I hope that includes naice biscuits!

Loads of great ideas, just to add in case not said, Ebay only when it is a free listing weekend (look under announcements)

Freeze everything! Got a packet /jar of something, worried it may go to waste? Freeze it, eg pesto, whether homemade or shop bought, cheese, anything really will freeze though you may lose texture and consistency of some things, I often just google 'can I freeze....' and somebody will have tried it and said yey or nay.

Amazon is much cheaper for lots of toiletries, eg Olay stuff and usually free delivery.

Add a cup of oats to any mince dish, it will go much further

Slow cooker mush? Just buy a timer so it goes on later.

Switched extensions for plugs so you can turn off chargers etc, ebay sell them cheaply.

Cling film double glazing in winter.

Will think some more....

renlo Mon 20-Aug-12 23:25:40

cerealqueen -spooky, I just google 'Can I freeze eggs?' And found this: www.jamieoliver.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=28849 which says I can, yay! I bought a 15 pack of free range eggs from the local market for pittance on Saturday and so far only used 3 so I'm going to try freezing the rest.

As for work tea club, don't get me started. No nice biscuits but have seen the cupboards stuffed full of fancy fruit teas and infusions which no doubt explains the hike. I'm not subsidising other people's expensive tastes.

Definitely second the 'grow your own' advice, especially for the more fancy stuff that costs a fortune e.g. courgettes.

1 pack of courgette seeds (£1), a £1 growbag and a £1 bottle of tomato feed (that I've only used a tiny amount of) equals 2 courgette plants that so far between the pair of them have produced close to a hundred of the sodding things. I checked in Tesco earlier and they were £2 for 3.

I've also got runner beans and sweetcorn going in the back garden

Check out the 'ethnic' foods aisle of the supermarket- things are almost always cheaper there than in the spices aisle next door.

Investigate your local butcher. I find mine is cheaper than the local supermarket and tastes better. 6 chicken breasts cost me £6.15 earlier today and 1.5lb mince cost me £1.55. I freeze the mince in half pound bags and then use from frozen when needed.

If you have a local children's centre, its worth popping in for a visit. They quite often know all the local tips & tricks that may not be well publicized e.g. people living in my local postcode can get free home safety equipment from a small local charity

Your local fire brigade may well come and fit smoke alarms for free.

Forage for fruit. Blackberries are just coming into season, and apples/plums are not far behind. Blackberries freeze wonderfully, and providing apples are stored properly, they will last you a good 6 months if kept cold and dark.

Aldi nappies are better than any other brands out there.

Instead of using baby wipes at mealtimes or when out and about to clean up grubby puddies and faces buy a job lot of flannels from somewhere like primark and use them instead.

amigoingmadhere Tue 21-Aug-12 00:12:06

Have hardly had the time to read everything on here yet (summer hols with 3 dc and the mess that is my life right now) but so many good ideas.

wellwisher I will ask MNHQ to move this into the Credit Crunch topic as you suggested (how do you do that??) - I agree - I don't want to lose all this wisdom either! Am so glad it is serving its purpose for others as well.

I can see changing my ways financially is going to take up a LOT of my time - i.e. just reading about all the different price plans for things, meal planning etc. is very time consuming (which is pretty much why I haven't been more frugal until now, when it wasn't absolutely necessary).

Xenia just reminded me of the MN haircut (sorry if anyone else has mentioned too that I haven't seen) - have to try that! WIll read other thread on earning potential.

Iloveberries I am in the SE, so maybe could participate in market research.

cakeismysaviour Tue 21-Aug-12 01:31:02

If you have time, NEVER do your entire shop in one supermarket.

Take advantage of the various loss leaders in more than one supermarket.

garlicnuts Tue 21-Aug-12 03:14:26

Haven't read your thread yet, ami, and others have probably said: shop at aldi. Moneysavingexpert and Which say you save 30% compared to Sainsbury's & Tesco. It is better quality than Asda (in general) and still cheaper.

Aldi shopping is different from 'normal' supermarket shopping. It doesn't carry known brands - though most of the products are the same ones with different labels on - and stocks vary from week to week. If you're a strict meal planner you'll have problems because of the variability, but broad-stroke planning works fine.

Cook for the freezer. I've never worked out why it's more cost-effective to cook double and freeze half, but it is! As I'm on a tiny budget, I use the slow cooker a lot and have a freezer full of casseroles, bolognese & so on. I've just discovered you can bake in the slow cooker and the microwave! The less I use the oven, the more I save smile Don't bake things that are cheaper to buy, like biscuits and everyday cakes (unless baking's your hobby, of course).

Stop buying a different cleaning product for each purpose. Stop buying wipes for this & that. Use microfibre cloths with a small squirt of product. Close the nozzles on cleaning products; they evaporate if left open. Keep an eye open for cleaning tips: WD40 and glycerin clean masses of things; practically everything else can be cleaned with soda or vinegar!

Don't buy extended guarantees on white goods. If they break down, consider replacing them with second-hand ones: at around £60 per appliance, it's often cheaper than a repair.

Before buying household items from known stores or catalogues, look on ebay and amazon. Same with kids' stuff. Browse pound shops - there's often a gem amongst the tat! For clothes, find out where your local outlet shops are and use them.

You get good, weekly discounts on cinema and other family activities with Orange mobile; I imagine other providers do something similar. Look on community noticeboards and even the council offices for things to do locally with DC at low cost.

Sorry, that was miles long! Hope I haven't duplicated too much ...

Sixfeetandcounting Tue 21-Aug-12 06:18:57

Since having kids and starting up a new business we are definitely in the land of the scrimpers. Here are some of mine that I don't think have been mentioned yet.

- Buy some black machine dye and refresh all your black clothes - stops you feeling dowdy in faded black trousers and tees . I have also dyed my winter coat, I was so fed up of the thought of wearing it for ANOTHER year but now it looks completely different and like new again.
- Stick an advert in your local paper asking for second hand clothes of whatever age your Dc's are about to be. My friend has just done that and got given heaps of stuff. Take advantage of the crazy people out there who are happy to pass on their second hand clothes but would never buy second hand themselves. Offer a few quid if you feel happier doing that.
- Make sure you still go to the hairdresser at least occasionally, and while you are there have a cup of tea and read as many gossip magazines as you can. Keeps me going for another 6 months ..
- Enter every little free competition going - you never know, I have won some pretty cool stuff and just the thought of possibly winning something gives you a little boost. Was just in chemist and hoping I have now won a OPI goody bag

xx

MrsUppity Tue 21-Aug-12 07:47:57

I think I save a lot of time and money by batch cooking. Last night I made a massive chilli and didn't double all the ingredients, but just the meat and added 1 extra tin of kidney beans. I ended up with 13 massive individual portions and froze 11 of them. I also do this with spag bol sauce, lasagnas, cottage pies and pasta sauces. You can make your own pasta sauces with ANY left over veg and a few tins of tin tomatoes and freeze it. I always do all this and then have 3 months of food in the freezer. When you find you are a bit low on cash you will always have good healthy meals in the freezer.

I would also have a massive clear out and sell things you all do not need. I regularly bag up my children's old toys and sell them as a batch e.g. boys set of toys in a bag for 30 pounds. I always get loads of interest.

Also have a good look at and sort out of what you already have. We had a clear out at the weekend and I found that I had 4 bottles of eye makeup remover and 12 tubes of toothpaste!!!

Finally children do not need lots of clothes. They spend most of the week in their school uniform. Make sure they have a few sets of clothes, that's it. Most of the time their clothes gather dust and never get worn.

nipitinthebud Tue 21-Aug-12 08:27:09

If a recipe calls for just the yolks or just the whites, then keep the other bit in a small plastic bag and freeze it. You can then use it in other recipes and also if you need an eggwash for something then you can just defrost one (or hack off a bit of one to use). Hate wasting an egg for eggwashing.

Went on approved foods after reading this yesterday and I'm very impressed!!

My tips...
I tend to charge my mobile overnight. Put a timer on the plug so it only charges for say 4 hours rather than for all of the time you are asleep smile
Soap seems to last me much longer than shower gel for some reason and is cheaper to start with. I often find very cheap (for example, i tried the tesco value baby bath recently) to be quite a false economy as you need to use about half a bottle!!
I use a lamp in my living room, rather than the ceiling lights, as there are three bulbs in them and only one in the lamp (all energy saving of course). Although I try not to put any lights on if the tv is on.
Another one with lights - try to get your kids used to sleeping in the dark, rather than with a nightlight or the landing light on ;) mine are only little atm though, i realise fear of the dark may come with time, lol
Put lentils in everything!

Dont shower/wear clean clothes/brush your teeth if you arent going anywhere ;)

Frontpaw Tue 21-Aug-12 10:02:16

Can someone explain Tesco Clubcars points to me in very simple terms? I have one for 5 and am vaguely aware that you,can double them somehow. Is it just for online or on certain items?

lovesmellingthecoffee Tue 21-Aug-12 10:30:25

If you are saving all your loose change, be careful if you use the coinstar machines to add it up, they take 6% of your total money.

As far as im aware, you can do it online or in store. The way it works is that you swap your £5 voucher for a £10 clothing/toys/electrical/whatever voucher, so you can then only spend that £10 in a certain department, but on any item in that department.
Does that make sense?

breathedeeply Tue 21-Aug-12 12:29:05

Agreed on Coinstar taking 6% of your loose change (I think it's 10% in my local ASDA!). The central Milton Keynes branch of HSBC has it's own Coinstar machine, and puts your coins straight into any HSBC or First Direct account without taking any commission. I assume that larger branches of other banks in other cities must have similar machines.

notmydog Tue 21-Aug-12 12:36:56

MNHQ please PLEASE can we have this thread saved somewhere? There's a massive amount of excellent useful tips on here that really shouldn't disappear in 90 days' time!

KatMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 21-Aug-12 12:42:58

notmydog

MNHQ please PLEASE can we have this thread saved somewhere? There's a massive amount of excellent useful tips on here that really shouldn't disappear in 90 days' time!

Hi there, we've moved this to Credit Crunch now, so it won't drop off into oblivion.

notmydog Tue 21-Aug-12 12:46:34

Thanks Kat, that's fab! smile

economymode Tue 21-Aug-12 12:54:52

Great tips on here.

garlicnuts, I would, however, argue that making your own cakes and biscuits is actually more cost-effective than buying them, in general. Initial outlay for flour, eggs, butter/marg, sugar etc may be more but you will get loads from them. Unless you're talking about the value 10p/pack biscuits etc?

If you use Facebook/Twitter then Approved Foods are worth following - they did a 50% off deal on Sunday if you spent over £25. Sadly I'd just had an order delivered and resisted the temptation to buy more, but if you'd have needed to order, that would have been a great offer.

Never go to a chain restaurant without a voucher. Pizza Express, GBK, Strada, Zizzi, ASK etc nearly always have some deal on.

Also, a good phone app is the VoucherCloud one - husband needed some new shoes recently and there was a 20% off at Brantano voucher on the app.

economymode Tue 21-Aug-12 12:57:45

Oh, and as someone said further up, you can save loads of money by reducing the amount of meat you eat. I'm vegetarian and I've stopped buying meat for my husband and son to have at home. They eat it when at family etc. Since I cook, they can't really argue!

However, even if you do eat meat, try and have a few vegetarian days a week. Get some cook books from the library and scan/photocopy the recipes you like if you need inspiration - I highly rate the River Cottage Veg Everyday book, loads of interesting recipes without the need for meat.

aliasjoey Tue 21-Aug-12 13:07:13

False economies - I try to grow salad outdoors but it usually gets ruined by weather or insects. Now I've been getting ready-to-eat salads from Sainsburys, they come in small pots and will last a couple of weeks, they keep growing back after cutting.

Charity shops - some of them overcharge for basics eg. £1.50 for a mug, you can buy one new for that price! They are often good for children's clothes though, but you have to keep going, I usually go in at least once a week.

Drying clothes - outside or inside on a clothes-horse. I was about to suggest one of those hangy-up airers, but they're not cheap. Maybe get one on ebay though?

I use any lotions/shampoo which turn out to irritate my skin on something else. Free shampoo from a hotel room is used to clean the sink! I use any old lotion/cream to cleanse my face and then follow it up with a toner/facewash of my choice.

Kids pyjamas - as they grow out of them, I cut the arms and legs off so they do fine in the summer.

I shamelessly recycle unwanted presents - as long as they are in good condition and suitable for the recipient.

Freeze milk to save a dash to the supermarket. Hand out lollies from the freezer instead of paying for the ice-cream van (DD moans but has gradually got used to the idea.)

Return items if you change your mind! Most places will give money back if you have a receipt, or exchange if not.

politico Tue 21-Aug-12 13:16:38

This is a great thread.

Go through your mobile bills and work out if you're on the best package, or if your contract has expired and your bills have now been hiked. I was paying £30+/month for years after my contract expired, and recently changed to GiffGaff (which uses O2 for reception). I now pay £10/month for UNLIMITED texts and data - free internet! Wish I'd done it years ago, I could have had a few holidays. Phone up your phone provider and threaten to leave, they will either give you the equivalent discount or you can leave and be much better off.

Minor ailments for free chemist items - why pay for teething stuff, Calpol etc? It's definitely free in Scotland, but I think some PCTs in England also have this scheme, worth checking.

We've been getting monthly supplies of nappies from Kiddicare, I think they're really good value. Lidl is great - even for wine!

Only buy things in the sales, with the exception of bras. A good quality, well fitting bra will make you look and feel better. Bravissimo are good if you've got big boobs. Get fitted and JUST BUY ONE BRA from the shop, or if you are shameless, don't buy any. Then buy the correct size from ebay, it'll be several pounds cheaper. Or if you get fitted during the sales, you could grab a bargain.

Libraries tend to do kids storytime / bounce and rhyme for free.

mrsnzuki Tue 21-Aug-12 13:18:06

allotment - grow your own saves on gym membership too...
try local unis for cheap hair cuts
markets for meat bargains
drop a brand...
car boots are amazing for kids stuff...
buy stuff in bulk when its on offer like your fav shampoo or washing powder etc...

BoffinMum Tue 21-Aug-12 14:10:07

Buy a whole lamb or half a pig from a local butcher for half price meat. They will butcher it to your specifications and vacuum pack it for the freezer. With a massive sack of potatoes from a nearby farm you can eat very cheaply for the winter doing this.

Badvoc Tue 21-Aug-12 14:29:42

Our library (and I am sure all of them!) are running the storylab, a reading challenge over the summer. They get stickers, can go online and get certicates and medals at the end smile
My gym has swimming for juniorsodour on,y £5 per month....can go every day 10 times a day if they want to!! Very good value IMO.
A lot of national trust places are doing events over the summer that are either free or only £5 for a days activities.
If you go on your local council website you may find free activities run n your local area ( we have an archeology one being run this wek in our town)
I am going to start shopping at aldi having been inspired by this thread smile
Also eating more veg.
I buy a lot of my kids jeans from e bay....99p plus postage for gap and next jeans...
I use Alain a lot for gifts/cheaper items...have had lots of Barinas lately including some gifts for ds2s b day..one thing was near,y £30 in other stores by got it from amazon for £18.99!!
Shopping around really can save in the long run....
Been to ikea this morning and got 6 kids plastic beakers, a notebook for me, some napkins and a folding shopping bag for a £5 smile I love ikea smile

Badvoc Tue 21-Aug-12 14:30:50

Boffinmum...I have a slow cooker which - I will admit to my shame - I have never used.
I have never used one and am nervous...
Do you have any quick, and most importantly easy slow cooker recipes now the summer is drawing to a close?
Tia x

Badvoc Tue 21-Aug-12 14:31:44

Sorry for typos!

zookeeper Tue 21-Aug-12 14:41:48

do people think it's worth buying a breadmaker ?

Badvoc Tue 21-Aug-12 14:55:50

Hmmmm. We have one and it's in the loft...much less hassle and cheaper to make it the old fashiond way smile

Frontpaw Tue 21-Aug-12 15:05:53

I'm going to cancel my gym membership. It probably works out at £100 a visit anyway - and it is already rediculously cheap and I will never be able to get such a cheap deal ever ever again (trying to talk myself out of it...)

ANTagony Tue 21-Aug-12 15:16:29

Bread makers are great and if you shop around for your flour and bake regularly you can save money. They are one of those items you always see at car boots and in charity shops so I guess they aren't for everyone. I have a Panasonic one that bakes a really nice loaf and does well in the reviews. It doesn't come in at the low end at around £120. My latest panasonic one was purchased 6 years ago as new graded off eBay and was about £60 delivered.

BornToFolk Tue 21-Aug-12 15:18:15

I love my breadmaker! I actually won some Argos vouchers in a Mumsnet competition so used them to buy it (so free to me)

I think it depends on how much bread you eat. If I make a loaf, I had to make the smallest size and cut it in half. I freeze half and keep the other half out. It's only me and DS and we don't get through it before it goes mouldy (it doesn't last as long as shop bought bread). Mind you, when he's having packed lunches every day, we might actually get a chance to use it!

It is handy to have it as a back up though, if you run out of bread. Saves a top up trip to the shops...

CheerfulYank Tue 21-Aug-12 15:49:42

Marking my place!

Stay strong OP! smile You should be proud of yourself for being so positive.

Roxy33 Tue 21-Aug-12 15:52:23

Check out this blog - definitely someone who is an inspiration when it comes to saving money. I try to take on board some of her ideas but sometimes it all seems like too much hardwork.

frugalincornwall.blogspot.co.uk/

Scuttlebug Tue 21-Aug-12 16:02:15

Worth checking out the love food hate waste website for recipe ideas on using up nearly or out of date food.
www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

pookey Tue 21-Aug-12 16:07:38

Re breadmaker - dont use mine that often, it really crumbly so makes mess and the children don't like it! like getting reduced bread it lasts ages and v cheap (prob a bad sign)

Frontpaw Tue 21-Aug-12 16:07:56

I used a breadmaker once... it was a disaster! I prefer to do it the old fashioned way, and since a Very Nice Person bought me a half day course, I now make a passable loaf!

I stop DH shopping or coming with me to the shops (or not adhering to a list) as he is a sucker for sneaking half a dozen melons into the trolley (they were on special offer - only £1.50 each - bargain - we'll eat them... - fast forward two weeks and I am sneaking them in the bin).

Do you wear heels in work? If you do, ALWAYS wear flats/runners in and out.

Easier to walk, and you won't have to get your heels replaced.

One year I brought 3 pairs of boots to the shoe bar. Cost : €45.

Since then (about 3 years ago) I've always worn runners in and out to work. All three pairs still have full heels on them.

If I had worn them while commuting (about 15 mins on concrete each end of the train journey) they would each have needed re-heeling at least once a year. So that has saved me about €130.

Frontpaw Tue 21-Aug-12 16:17:04

For work:
I would never commute in heels these days - my oseto bill would be throught the roof!

I buy cheapo tops and long sleeved t shirts from Primark in lots of neutral colours - tie a nice scarf around your neck, and wear under a nice jacket (ah, the old suits I have dug out!) and you don't look too shabby... Cheapo jewellery (Boots so some nice bits that dont look bad at all) can make plain clothes look good too. I may be cheap but I try not to look boring!

Food from home and don't buy coffee - easy stuff I know - and stick to a budget for expenses (travel, food, even leaving cards!)

LIttleMcF Tue 21-Aug-12 16:19:32

I would DEFINATELY get a breadmaker. Ours is on every day. I just use the basic, 'loaf in an hour' setting. I buy a sack of decent flour, and any bits to go in it. The two 'buys' that will save the most money food-wise is said breadmaker, and extra freezer space. Much, much nicer than the cheap bought stuff, but same price per loaf.

fuzzpig Tue 21-Aug-12 16:24:57

Fantastic thread! Don't think I can add anything useful but I will enjoy reading it myself.

expatinscotland Tue 21-Aug-12 16:34:01

I really like Good Housekeeping, Country Living, Prima mags. So I use Clubcard vouchers to subscribe to them.

fhdl34 Tue 21-Aug-12 16:36:18

marking place to read later when I have time

professorpoopsnagle Tue 21-Aug-12 16:51:34

Eeeek as much out of packets, bottles and jars as you can. I got some jar scrapers from Lakeland and they work very well, I even open up cartons of custard, tomatoes. I cut open all plastic things carefully- toothpaste tubes, shampoo bottles, tomato ketchup etc. I leave a pair of scissors in the bedroom and bathroom so I can do it there and then. I often get quite a few days more supply.

Frontpaw Tue 21-Aug-12 16:55:33

Learn to love leftovers! I now make sure that if I have leftover pasta, rice, sauce, etc I pop it in the fridge and use it up the following day. Its amazing how much food gets thrown out.

Pilchardnpoppy Tue 21-Aug-12 18:13:35

Use Quidco to earn cash back on internet shopping in lots of well known shops, plus insurance, holidays etc. They do charge £5, but o ly take this once you've earned as much cash back.

economymode Tue 21-Aug-12 19:15:20

I'm another advocate of making bread by hand, rather than using a breadmaker. I set aside an hour one weekend morning and get all the doughs started. Then just knead them periodically and bake. Yes, it means being in/around the house all day, but I do hung loads in the freezer so if I can't make it one weekend, then it's fine. Also, we have no room for yet another gadget to clog up the worktop!

WorriedBetty Tue 21-Aug-12 19:31:01

Signing up to loyalty cards from brand retailers is NOT a way of saving money!

I have a little book of prices that shows very clearly that a lot of things in small shops and chemists are cheaper and of similar quality to brand names.

Remember factoring in the costs of generic town centre shopping (coffees, being tempted, other people with better clothes etc) makes going there pointless unless you treat it like a trip to disneyland where some of the loss is the experience.

Screws local hardware shop - £3 for 100, Homebase £5 for 25 for example
Boots simple moisturiser - same as own brand from local chemist
Johnson's baby soap from pound shop or similar 90p for three. Boots price circa 65p.

Its all like that.. Haagan Daaz in my local corner shop is £2 cheaper than asda..

Get with the programme!

WorriedBetty Tue 21-Aug-12 19:34:42

Don't buy cheap and then bung out! - buy expensive and stretch it out eg meat - really good meat will flavour much more than supermarket meat and buy black eye peas and other drieds from asian shops and make vegetable stews.. then you get protein, flavour and much cheapness all in one!

racingheart Tue 21-Aug-12 20:07:19

OP, I love your attitude - looking for things to make life better instead of feeling bitter. You sound lovely and really impressive.

Don't be shy of looking on Freecycle for everything, even Christmas presents for kids. We have given away really gorgeous toys the DC have outgrown, and have been given as-new musical instruments, skateboards etc which would make fantastic presents, along with watched once DVDs etc. Just ask.

Always put a % of money aside each week, however tiny, for treats. Even if it's just a pound a week, spend it on sweeties and eat them with the kids or buy a bag of popping corn and a charity shop DVD to have a film night. Always make it a % not a set amount, so if you suddenly have an increase in money, you get a better treat, and if you're broke, you don't stop it altogether.

Make a list of things you love to do as a family (or for yourself) that are free or almost free and do them often. Take kids to choose library and audio books once a week and read them together, go to the park, go blackberrying and make a crumble or pie, go cycling, go for a nature walk, stare and clouds or stars, build snowmen etc. Don't ever feel you are providing less of a childhood for them because you can't afford things. The best stuff is usually free, we just get too tired or down to remember to do it.

When the kids are teens encourage them to get part time jobs to pay their way.

And look for ways to earn more and to get richer, don't ever feel you are trapped in poverty because your marriage didn't work out. Could be the making of you.

Ohhelpohnoitsa Tue 21-Aug-12 20:20:57

We are lucky to have several outlet villages & mills nearby and o ly since being on maternity leave have i really bothered to go to them. I wont look back - got next t shirts for £1 yesterday and thorntons half price. Look on line for factory shops and outlets. Sometimes thw savings are worth the extra petrol to get there.

booboofanny Tue 21-Aug-12 20:24:17

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

NumptyMum Tue 21-Aug-12 21:08:33

I've not read all, as I wanted to post this suggestion while I remember - although how practical it is with 3DC I don't know. I used to share a car with a friend - neither of us needed it for work, but it was nice to have for bigger shopping trips/B&Q or holidays. We split the MOT/service cost and the insurance 50/50 (although the car can only be owned by one person, and therefore only insured by one person with the other as named driver, which meant I didn't build up my own no-claims over the 10 years we did this; having said that I think named drivers may now be able to build their own no-claims with some insurers...?). For fuel we noted down what we bought, and the mileage we did, then at various points we'd figure the ratio of miles we'd done vs the cost of fuel we bought, then settle up the difference. This won't account for the yo-yo cost of fuel in recent times, but so long as you roughly take it in turns to fill up/use the car, I figured it was no real issue, particularly the overall saving of not having to pay for all car costs on your own. It worked for us for 10 years, during which time I started my family and had 2 kids, we only stopped because last year I bought a house 10 miles away from my friend! Car share clubs might be a more formal way of doing this, and there also used to be lift share clubs/sites if you require car transport to work. eg (never used/looked at, just googled it): www.liftshare.com/uk

Some excellent ideas here, thankyou all!

BoffinMum Tue 21-Aug-12 21:12:06

Badvoc, I am probably not the best person to ask as my slow cooker recipes are somewhat anarchic and variable in their outcomes, but try:

BEEF STEW
Cubed shin of beef, sealed in a hot pan.
Add a few sliced onions at the last moment, fry all together until they are transparent.
Add root vegetables, sliced diagonally, and/or sliced red pepper.
Pour over some beef stock, or leftover red wine, or tinned chopped tomatoes, or a mix of all of them. If you have to use a stock cube, a little bit of wine takes the unnatural taste away from it.
Add a bit of crushed garlic, a bay leaf and/or some thyme.
Cook on high for 30 minutes and then low for the rest of the day (the longer the better).
Serve with rice or home made dumplings (these can be added to the stew a couple of hours before the end) - freeze leftovers.

SAUSAGE CASSEROLE
Allow 2-3 sausages per person. Brown in a frying pan.
Other ingredients and cooking as for beef casserole but for about 4-5 hours on low instead of all day.

CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM CASSEROLE
Seal random chicken pieces (can be cubed chicken breasts, for example, but best to choose meat without a bone)
Fry off some halved button mushrooms in oil (say 8oz), as well as some sliced onions.
(If you have a few porcini mushrooms this adds to the flavour)
Pour over leftover white wine and/or chicken stock and/or vegetable stock, or a mix of all of them.
Add fresh thyme or tarragon.
Cook on high for 30 minutes and low for about 4 hours.

Hopefully other MNetters will comment if these recipes can be improved - there are some hard core slow cooking queens on here.

BoffinMum Tue 21-Aug-12 21:15:22

Oh, one thing that does work brilliantly is making a load of bolognaise in a slow cooker. This is fantastic if you are having a party as it just bubbles away and guests can help themselves. It's also great for milk puddings, for example rice pudding.

Dolcelatte Tue 21-Aug-12 21:21:49

Travel off peak to taek advantage of lower fares and use family, young persons railcards etc

Have you thought of offering ironing services? I use a company which charges £30 per bag - and they always seem to be busy - also something you could fit in round DC.

And when you allow yourself a treat, the Tastecard is brilliant - just google and you can have a free trial - lots of 2 for 1 and 50% off offers at lots of restaurants from very smart to chains such as Zizzi.

ivykaty44 Tue 21-Aug-12 21:58:25

work don't like me travelling off peak as that means I am always late sad

JellicleCat Tue 21-Aug-12 22:25:55

Haircuts - local college hairdressing courses often have really good rates
Make sure you make the most of the oven when it's on - batch bake or cook tomorrow's meal at the same time. Also make sure you have full load of washing when using the washing machine.
Pull the curtains as soon as it gets dark in the winetr to help keep the house warm
If you have no money for food because of an emergency see if you have a local foodbank
Try to factor in some money for the occasional small treat - even a small pack of sweets can be a treat - and don't forget the occasional treat for yourself
Make your own ice lollies from frozen juice or yoghourt
Ensure you have the best rates for utility bills, it can be as simple as phoning you electric company and asking if you are on their cheapest rate
Minimize energy use - be strict about turning lights off in empty rooms, only boiling as much water as you need in the kettle, turning off TV, chargers etc when not being used
Before you throw out anything, think whether you can reuse it. I used to keep all sorts of packaging - great for crafting and toy making with dcs.
Sale rolls of wallpaper make really good giant colouring pads (use the inside not the side with the pattern!)- we made a fabulous picture of Noah's Ark and all the animals, it took ages and was about 10 foot long when it was finished.
Use old fashioned methods for cleaning- vinegar and washing soda can be much cheaper than "specialist" cleaning products
Buy as much in bulk as you can

Good luck

pookey Tue 21-Aug-12 23:59:51

Poundland have actually started selling some great toys, I got my son a magic set and he loved it and it was actually pretty good as were the tennis rackets, set of four tennis balls and spongebob stationary! Obviously buying a load of tat is wasteful but one or two along side a quality toy or some useful gifts can be fun.

pookey Wed 22-Aug-12 00:02:13

Above were birthday presents. but don't take them to pundland if you plan to get them pressies from there it ruins the illusion!

YakkaSkink Wed 22-Aug-12 07:35:45

School uniforms - buy in June or July as they're discounted (M&S good) and buy at least one size too big. If the school has any flexibility over uniforms go for the polo shirts as they look better in the wrong size and avoid anything white if you can as you end up replacing when it's grey rather than too small.

Get trousers with adjustable waists that are too long and then turn them up before your DC wears them, let down turn-ups the following year and then cut off the ones that go through the knees into long shorts which will last a couple more years if you have a skinnyish DC. Cut any jeans/ trousers that get too short into long shorts and they go on forever.

Shoe dye is fabulous - use to cover scuffs and to convert charity shop shoes, as it's always the other colours in charity shops, to black for school. Clarks Doodle sandals, though not cheap, will last through several kids and don't outgrow quickly as the toes are open. Buy gender-neutral clothes with things like coats so more can be handed down and just accessorise with pink/ robots.

Use nametapes so you're not replacing lost items and have them made with just your surname so you only buy one set and things will find their way back to you.

If you prioritise good waterproofs/ fleeces/ wellies for all of you there are lots of free outdoor things to do all year.

YakkaSkink Wed 22-Aug-12 07:46:48

Oh and a slowcooker is great - I stick a ham in at breakfast time Saturday to cook on in the afternoon using a time switch (buy two or three for £10 and freeze the spares), it doesn't seem to matter if it's frozen when it goes in. We have it hot for tea, then I slice it cold for packed lunches all week and use the remains for risotto or something on a Friday night. Much nicer and cheaper than pre-cooked ham.

pookey Wed 22-Aug-12 10:25:50

I think slow cookers are useful and I leave mine on when out of the house as have only ever burned porridge. Its worth experimenting with dishes to see if the meat and veg really need browning because I think thats a bit of a faff. Iuse our slow cooker for whole chicken then sometimes finish it in the oven to brown a little. It only seems to need a few hours in the slow cooker though def less than indicated in the book - bit trial and error. Must try ham in a slow cooker sounds really nice, do you add stock or does it cook in own juices? Pretty sure food hygiene would say don't put a frozen joint in though as the slow cooker might not have sufficient time to get hot enough to kill all the bacteria but clearly no harm done to your family so must be ok, guess it depends how slow your slow cooker really is. We have a crock pot one but I bought my brother a morphy richards and the food burns by the time they get home which means it doesn't really get used.

pookey Wed 22-Aug-12 10:44:13

Just had a good idea! Use alarm function on phone to alert you when library books are due back. Fines can mount up quickly and sometimes is not worth the saving on buying it second hand from amazon blush. Having an online account for renewing books also useful.

pookey Wed 22-Aug-12 10:53:30

Back to slow cooker sorry, Boffin mum what is your bol recipe please? mine was tough, watery and greasy not popular!

YakkaSkink Wed 22-Aug-12 11:33:05

Hi Pookey, I haven't tried cooking a ham in its own juices, if I did that I'd soak it first to get rid of some salt, and maybe lob in in a tin of pineapple. I have slow cooked in water then put it in the oven to bake sometimes which is also good. I just put it in water with a fistfull of dried bay leaves. If it's frozen it does have the morning in the water to defrost before the time clock starts it cooking or I'd do it for about 4-5h rather than the 3h (on high) I do for an unfrozen one. When I first did this is was a bit pink in the middle once or twice so I just served the cooked end slices for tea and put the rest back in for another couple of hours, but tbh it's horrible if overcooked so I err on the side of caution. Cool and fridge before cutting up for sandwiches as it's too crumbly hot. Probably all highly dangerous, but we haven't got sick yet grin

frankie4 Wed 22-Aug-12 11:35:43

Always keep some spare crunch bars / biscuits / bottle of water in the car and in your handbag so that when you are out and you or dcs get hungry you don't spend money on expensive snacks.

rosajam Wed 22-Aug-12 11:38:57

Avoid all bank charges by getting an interest free credit card every 12 months. never use to withdraw cash. This way any small overdraft ( which I occasionally got and paid a standard £5 plus interest every time) that may occur over the year can be ridden out. Pay off card before end of term and keep yearly cash in a saver - little bit of interest mounting. Never pay bank fees now.

pookey Wed 22-Aug-12 12:21:02

ah I see so it kind of defrosts in the pot for a couple of hours before cooking. pineapple yum!

Frontpaw Wed 22-Aug-12 12:24:48

I use my pressure cooker quite a bit to make soup, and a lovely thick meaty stew that makes one good meal of stew, and the sauce with lovely meaty bits makes a nice pasta sauce for the following day. Not for me, am veggie!

Badvoc Wed 22-Aug-12 12:33:17

Thanks Bodfinmum smile
Love your blog btw!
Am so determined to be more frugal...well, have got to be!
Am going to start shopping at aldi...any tips on what's best?
I am also going to use slow cooker when the weather turns.m
Dh and i are on a health kick ATM and have both lost weight but I am finding that the healthiermthemfood the more it costs?
Going to be using the library more instead of my kindle.
For the kids too.
I would love to ask for a sw
I would love a sewing machine for Xmas so I can alter/make stuff myself but I can hearnthenhowls of derision from family members now....smile

Frontpaw Wed 22-Aug-12 12:38:03

Healthy food is cheaper than buying easy made stuff! Well usually - I still can't get my head around why tinned sweet corn with sugar and salt is cheaper than without anything!

I cook nice veggies and grown lovely herbs in my window boxes. Look out for recipes that look interesting - lots of the food magazines have those 'ten miles for 5pm' type of articles.

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 22-Aug-12 12:44:03

Badvoc, I find in aldi most of it is good apart from the ready meals.

Dont try the toro loco pink wine, you'll never get off it.

I try everything, if I dont like it I take it back. I'm buying spaghetti at the moment for 24p and it's 100% durum wheat, not a mix of durum and soft wheat.

While your there try the body lotion in the BLUE bottle with white cap and the pressed powder.

I usually find healthy food cheaper as we pad it out with lots of frozen veg and brown bread.

Frontpaw Wed 22-Aug-12 12:47:07

Oops ten meals for 5p. Autocorrect and a whinging 8 year old!

foreverondiet Wed 22-Aug-12 13:30:28

There are things you can do which may not affect your lifestyle too much - I looked into shopping at aldi but it doesn't work for me as its far away and I work and just don't have the time:

a) Double check every penny you spend - eg I shop at tesco but buy value cottage cheese, chopped tomatoes, big pots of yoghurt, eggs (rather than small kids ones), only buy luxuries like berries / crisps / chocolate / snacks / granola bars / ice cream if on offer, and impress on the DC that its a treat and when its gone its gone. My kids take a couple of cream crackers to school as a snack. I use the points for days out - so whereever possible avoid paying entrance prices for days out.

Stop buying expensive kids products - and only dish up to your kids what they will eat, you can always give seconds; and if they don't want seconds you can have it for dinner or they can have it the next day. Never cook fresh food if there is still left-overs.

Never ever buy snacks when out and about, always more expensive. If you are working take packed lunch.

Always see if you can manage with the cheaper option - eg my DD can use tesco or boots cheap on brand hair conditioner and not feel deprived rather than l'oreal hair conditioner for kids etc. Same with handsoap (apart from maybe downstairs loo where guests see) and shower gel.

Also I go to asda roughly every 2-3 months to stock up on cupboard stuff thats cheaper there and kids clothes.

b) Boots is expensive - I hardly shop there - most stuff they want you to buy isn't actually needed, although often good three for twos. Actually doesn't matter if card is in H's name, you can still spend the points. Look out for little things that save money eg can use calpol 6+ but half the dose instead of baby calpol if your kids are aged 3-6.

c) Mooncup and never buy sanitary products again. Eplitator and never spend any money on hair removal again. Try and space haircuts out more, dye your own hair, cut DS's hair with clippers.

d) Recycle around half of the birthday presents your DC get, and buy any others needed in the sales. Look out for cheap wrapping paper and never bother with cards.

e) Stop using kitchen / bathroom wipes - and look out for cheaper cleaning products.

Frontpaw Wed 22-Aug-12 13:40:45

Wean yourself off outside teas and coffees. Take a bottle of water with you and a small snack, then you won't be tempted to nip in for a coffee and, oh alright then, a Danish pastry. Take delight in pulling our a home made muffin or slice of cake - a million times better than shop bought!

Have 'film nights' at home and make your own popcorn. Lots cheaper than the cinema and you don't have to suffer annoying people talking through the films and fiddling with their phones!

Shop with a list and stick to it. Don't impulse buy and think about what you are buying - unless there is an absolute bargain that you need so nappies or washing powder.

If you are popping out for a pint of milk, just put some coins in your pocket - don't take your purse or you can so easily be tempted to buy that bottle of wine, or a magazine.

Just practise saying 'we don't need that' and 'can we just use what we have in the cupboards' when shopping, or you will come back with loads of things you don't need.

Have a massive clear out, be ruthless and eBay stuff you don't need any more. Then you can have a sum in your PayPal account to use for buying other things. 'invisible' money really.

Encourage the kids to be 'careful' too - the best thing you can do for a child it to teach them that money does not grow on trees and 'a penny saved is a penny earned'. Let's face it, our kids generation will probably not have state pension or healthcare by the time they retire (we may not either!).

You're not being mean but sensible - remind yourself that when you pick up the own brand loo rolls! Decide what you can cut back on and what you can't I do draw the lean at cheap loo roll - I need the soft stuff on my bum!

ohnoherewego Wed 22-Aug-12 13:46:01

Worth keeping Boots Advantage card if you have a PAYG mobile. You get the points on top ups you buy there even if you don't buy any thing else.

chocolatemedals Wed 22-Aug-12 14:47:37

Hi, brilliant advice here, I'm still reading it all.

Boots card - I bought a Phil & Teds and a crib which I would have bought anyway online. They were a really good price with good service and I earnt enough points for an electric steam steriliser (Boots online has loads of stuff not in their shops.
Tesco direct - pretty much sells everything you could want and you also earn points.
Old ladies hair dressers - I changed from my usual trendy (but by no means the most expensive) london salon to one that caters more for old ladies (look for line drawings in window!) They tend to have a large weekly client base so prices are lower (they are even happy for dcs to be there when having a cut). My bill went from £120 for colour, cut and blow dry to £43. Did I notice the difference? Er, no and neither did anyone else.

False economies - beware the false economies. I recently bought a few kids clothes from primark. 6 weeks later and random holes are appearing. Better going for places like M&S or Next which are relatively cheap but last (some of that stuff has done 2 kids for me). Or good quality 2nd hand. This also applies to adult clothes (never buy anything you are not 100% happy with in the shop, no matter how cheap, you will have less clothes but wear them all).

If you do go anyway such as museums, cinema etc. ALWAYS buy your own food. Sandwiches in British museum are all over £4 and our local Vue charges £4.75 for a 'junior' popcorn.

CheerfulYank Wed 22-Aug-12 14:53:45

One thing I didn't realize that I did until someone commented on it...when the dish soap (liquid kind) only has a very small bit left I fill it with water and use it as cleaner for the table, counters, etc.

MorrisZapp Wed 22-Aug-12 15:23:41

Decant pound shop hand soap/ shampoo/ whatever into posher containers (if you have them!). Pump bottles are best for minimising waste.

If you buy a shampoo that doesn't suit your hair, use it as shower gel.

MorrisZapp Wed 22-Aug-12 15:26:44

If you like magazines, you can salvage them from the paper recycling wheelybins - if, like me, you're not bothered what anybody thinks if they see you rifling through the wheelybin!

I read all the glossy supplements each week this way without shelling out for weekend papers.

Learn to sew, even if only by hand, as said by posters above.

I was shock when a guy in work paid €5 per button at lunchtime to get 2 buttons sewn on his coat - I keep a needle and thread in my desk drawer and would have done it for him for nothing.

Badvoc come over to the arts and crafts threads, we won't laugh at you for wanting a sewing machine! ( I have 3 blush )

prinsazz Wed 22-Aug-12 16:03:18

We are 2 about to become 3 and I am making sure I become more thrifty to save before little onecomes

The biggest thing I have done to get more frugal is if you go to the supermarket take a calculator. If I see as I go round how things are adding up then I know if I am overspending. If we dont do this then our bills are a lot more expensive.

I also do coupons. All the supermarkets have magazines that have coupons, and you can print a lot online too. I only get the things that I need. I had some dettol coupons yesterday so the big spray bottles worth £3, I only paid 50p for.

I can only say lovely things about Martin and money saving expert, I have learnt so much from that website, and got lots of bargains

My SILs and I do secret santa at christmas and easter and have a limit for spend so that helps when there is a lot of you. Although now, DH and I wont get presents only baby. Card Factory has been mentioned a lot and they are brilliant. I always use them. I also use the Studio catalogue too, they have good things at good prices for christmas

I have a present drawer too. Things that I find on sale, things we have been given and its not us, or things we have won on raffles or competitions. Its all in there, and that saves me a lot over the year and I always have something to give.

prinsazz Wed 22-Aug-12 16:04:36

also thankyou OP for this, I have learnt a LOT from this thread!!

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 22-Aug-12 16:36:27

I found another one out, I have to thank Pigletjohn for this one, I didnt think of it.

Apparently one red padded water tank jacket isnt enough to keep all the heat in (my airing cupboard was suspiciously (sp) warm when we moved here) you ideally need two. I'm ordering another one off ebay.

Secondly, a water tank should heat up in 20mins, ours is a bit older but I gave it 20min this morning and the tank was as hot as if I had left it on for an hour so I need to rethink how long I leave it on for. It's only a small tank not a huge one like at the last house. Heating water is really expensive.

I have wiped £30 off our bill since last month though just by turning the tank thermostat down.

crackcrackcrak Wed 22-Aug-12 16:53:41

can i just add - i am nearly 6 months into being a single parent. i did a very itemised and anally retentive budget when it first happened because i was so bloody scared i wouldn't cope.

maybe this isnt the same for everyone but i've been able to relax mine quite a bit now.

things that ended up being cheaper if you haven't done this already:

council tax - you might get the single discount
mobile phone bill - mine dropped by £20 a month post separation and i'm about to negotiate a new tarrif.
food shoppping - my £65 a week budget scared me until i realised i dont eat that much!
gas and electric - down by lots and was able to set and stay within a monthly direct debit amount. exp couldnt be in the house without a tv/radio on - i adore quiet. more to the point exp was allergic to leaving the house whereas i am either out doing things with dd or at work while she is at nursery so we are cutting our bills that way too.
water - i have been in credit the last two quarters! dd always gets showered at the swimming pool which is twice a week and i dont bath/shower every day - never realised how wasteful exp was with gallons of water - his obsessional washing up was partly to blame though.
i got a tax rebate too - make sure you are getting all the tax credits etc you are entitled too.

meanwhile....i take dd a lunch box wherever i can get away with it - i actually eat out quite a bit ubt i haven't risked ordering for her off a menu since the split. i know its a bit pikey but shes so fussy its always wasted. otoh she will eat all sorts of leftovers out of little pink tubs. this worked well with a 2 year old - i bought lots of really funky plastic tubs (asda had a rainbow stack for 3.50) so her lunch box is always appealing. that and those chiller things you put in the freezer were worth the money. same goes for pretty plastci drinks bottles - if its a longer day take two!

if you want to sell on baby/kids stuff see if there are local selling pages on facebook. i would always use these and ebay as a last resort because of the fees. also much easier to sell items needing collection too. the city im in has tons of selling pages from kids to wooden furniture etc etc.

keep up to date with offers for lone parents. i have just discovered the local zoo has a single parent discount day every week thats nearly half price!

yearly membership of local attractons has saved me a lot and dd gets to go whenever - worth checking those out for cheap days out.

now i am on top of the money situation being in control isnt scary anymore its really bloody liberating!

BornToFolk Wed 22-Aug-12 17:13:37

crackcrackcrack - I did that "OMG, how will I survive?!" budget too. I think I allocated £200 a month for food for me and DS (previously been spending about £300 a month when exP at home so basically knocked a third off).

However, I'm actually spending way less. About £150 a month, including booze, household things and the occasional treat. I never realised how much exP ate! I used to order a jar of peanut butter and a jar of Marmite a fortnight shock. Now it's more like a jar of peanut butter a month and I've had an unopened jar of Marmite in the cupboard for months. I'm way less fussy about food than exP too. I'll batch cook something and live off it all week, or throw together a random meal from whatever needs eating from the fridge. My portions are a lot smaller too, I used to match my (hefty!) exP, now I eat to my own appetite. I'm losing weight too!

It might all change when DS is no longer being fed by nursery 5 days a week but I'm saving my pennies for now.

And I agree, it is bloody liberating being in control of your own money. Not that I wasn't before, I dealt with lots of the household finances but now it's all mine. If I make cutbacks, I can stick more in my savings or if I fancy a splurge (a very small splurge!) then I can do it without anyone being sniffy about it.

crackcrackcrak Wed 22-Aug-12 17:26:06

yes quite, born, i'm not quite sure what happened with our joint finances but we seemed to spend extortionately (exp does earn a lot) but have nothing to show for it. now its just me (and i can breathe again after the initial panic) i can buy everything we need and consequently the house looks great and dd and i have perfectly good wardrobes :-) i guess its a bit of look after the pennies logic

Fluffycloudland77 Wed 22-Aug-12 17:38:32

I used to earn a higher wage than I have now. I have no idea where it went either, It's not like we ate out every week or had holidays.

I earn a hell of a lot less now and yet I have more money in the bank.

crackcrackcrak Wed 22-Aug-12 19:11:49

Chocolatemedals - I have just done boots online it's fab! Free delivery over 30 quid do I've ordered all the nb stuff I need to get the points - was just nappies and maternity pads mostly but I got the points and saved the petrol yay!

I use washing up liquid to clean everything - unless it's the flier then I use laundry detergent - its an amazing degreaser - powder even better I learned that in here grin
I am about to buy a dishwasher funded entirely by a tax rebate, premium bonds dividends and Tesco club card voucher exchange grin

crackcrackcrak Wed 22-Aug-12 19:17:43

Plan as much as you can. I only go in to the town centre if I really have to and I have several errands to run - once a fortnight is too much! I spend a lot less now I don't browse and don't miss it. I feel better about not dragging dd too.

It used to be boots that got me into the mall but now there's one with a car park close to work - godsend!

Learn to find things to watch online - cheeky I know but blockbuster is long gone for me. I bought the leads you need to show laptop stuff on the telly in Tesco for under £20 - paid for themselves v quickly.

YakkaSkink Wed 22-Aug-12 19:25:36

Saving money when you're single is about being able to make the economies that you don't mind but someone else would object to, I reckon. I'm happy to walk a few miles rather than use the car, wear jumpers rather than putting heating on, have no TV, don't buy booze or tobacco, cook to freeze and eat lots of veggie food - exp wouldn't tolerate any of those things. Exp, I'm sure, saves money as he is prepared to wear any clothes (I tend to spend a fortune bit more on them), lives in an area with cheaper shops/ public transport, builds and maintains his own computers, will do plumbing jobs himself, and eats hotdogs, has no pets - none of which I'm willing to do. It's like a lowest common denominator of what you're both OK with when you're part of a couple.

Hi there,

- may I suggest www.approvedfood.co.uk Not involved with them other than being quite a loyal customer. It has lots of food, toiletries and some gifty things that are either out of best before date (not gone off but the best before date), have changed packaging or in bulk. So for example, for DD's birthday and a camping trip with loads of friends I bought 48 baker boy cakes, each individually wrapped for £1.99.n Obviously this is not a weekly buy but has done me well in a time I 'm nbot able to bake. DH is very keen on pickles, crisps and uses fizzy drinks for a throat issue and I buy these in bulk at very cheap prices.

Anyway, particularly good for store cupboard things and treats. be aware of weights. I got 5 tins of tomato puree for like 19p each. When they came they were MASSIVE, like catering things... but it froze well smile

- meal planning around bargains found last week and frozen

- do not be afraid of saying "Sorry, we can;t do that as money is tight... could we do..." etc. I was super doper skint about 5 yeas ago, pre recession and I feel in some ways it is easier to say that to folks now as they understand. Saving money is the GOOD parenting thing to do smile

- Agree with ironing, friend of mine was in difficult (similar to yours possibly) and she earns a mint doing ironing... and she loves it, can do it while looking after kids etc.

- enjoy free stuff smile and things you have to do - like making lunch: How ever young, put covering on floor, give out bread, small plate with a little butter, cheese, ham etc on it and see who can make the best sandwich / be chefs / waiter etc. taking older kids to nursery/school - nature walk on way back. We filled a whole morning walking to corner shop, buying come value choc for 50p, going home and making crispy cakes, decorating them then playing 'cafe'. Not always easy but I suppose what i mean is see the chid's enjoyment....

- prepare for winter now while stuff is cheaper. Have one room (lounge?) that is your warm room and buy hot water bottles, cheap blankets/sheets etc, boil kettle and leav in flask for hot drinks, warm soups etc.

- just remembered this site www.lastminute-auction.com which you can choose a group e.g. kids toys, books, housey stuff adn it will show you the latest stuff on ebay that has only a shoprt time to go and/or is very very cheap...

- Soups are your friend.

- Find a chidlcare buddy. someone who will have tyhe kids in energency etc and for whome you would do the same.

best of luck - you are in a better situation now. Being poor must be beter than your previous situation.

NetworkGuy Wed 22-Aug-12 21:10:31

mumblecrumble - www.lastminute-auction.com/uk/ might be best for UK bargains grin

Kennyp Wed 22-Aug-12 21:37:27

I turn off oven for last 10 minutes of cooking
Shower gel is put int a pump dispenser
Always tesco online, never in store. I would pay about 125 quid in store, maximum 80 online

School uniform second hand always
Boot sales for christmas and birthday presents. I find lots of stuff that is BNIB for a quid. I haggle like hell too.

Put raw pasta in boiling boiling water, turn off heat, leave for 11 minutes. Cooks fabbly and saves on gas

Socks in bed when its cold. Hat too in winter. (can you tell i am single?!?)
Kids always share a packet of crisps or organic apple

Make all cakes and biscuits. Gorgeous square cake tin, massive 8 egg cake. Cook, quarter it and freeze in quarters for lunch boxes

Get school shoes resoled for extra wear

Ebay for cheap curtains ... Make into throws, table cloths, storage bags, covers for things

Nick stuff whenever possible (joke)

Allofaflumble Wed 22-Aug-12 22:30:17

Have not read all the posts, but you can save a bit of money on using washing machine, by washing your smalls in the bath when you take one, and then spin them in a salad spinner (always seen at car boots and charity shops)!

inchoccyheaven Wed 22-Aug-12 23:03:23

Join swagbucks.com and earn points by watching videos, doing surveys etc and then exchange for vouchers. You can easily earn £15 a month ( or more) in Amazon vouchers by using this site. I joined in May and have cashed in £50 worth already and have enough for another £10 so far. Got it off themoneysavingexpert website.

There are also loads of other survey sites if you have the patience with them.

I also use topcashback and nectar.com depending on what I am buying online.

Good luck op. smile

sillymummy11 Wed 22-Aug-12 23:54:57

amigoingmadhere- I'm in the same situation....newly single 3 kids under 6. Good luck and wish you all the best. I've bought a red cashbook and am writing down what I am spending to work out what is going where and budget realistically (and keep an eye on my overdraft). I've joined the local carclub instead of having a car- sometimes can work out cheaper than the bus. I've got to agree with those that recommend Aldi- not just for food but also in the run up to Christmas last year I actually got lots of stocking fillers/presents from there without spending too much. I do an online shop for the things I can't get from there with Ocado (I'm a lactose intolerant vegetarian!) and it is easy to see how much you are spending.

crackcrackcrak Thu 23-Aug-12 00:23:29

i get free samples from sensereach - maybe i heard about it on here. in exchange you have to fill in a questionaire but its v short. lately i got a big bag of washing liq capsules and a big bottle of softner - not massive but probably saved me £5. they were nice products too it made me happy

LIttleMcF Thu 23-Aug-12 00:52:17

Re: booze. I make elderflower 'Champagne' in the summer; elderberry/sloe gin in late summer. The Elderflower fizz is so lovely - it's a real treat with a splash of sloe gin and made for the price of a bag of sugar (about 10 litres). A foraged Kir Royale!

maillotjaune Thu 23-Aug-12 08:58:36

Use half the amount of laundry liquid etc recommended. Wash on cool unless really dirty.

Assuming you're not vegetarian, try cheaper cuts if meat that go further so stewing steak, belly pork, pork shoulder and bulk up meals with root veg which are cheap.

If you can get Delia's frugal food book out of the library it has some great ideas (it was in shops when I was on maternity leave and looking to save money and u used to flick through in supermarket before buying!).

So much good advice on here is worth doing to get in the habit if as even if you have more money there are always better things to spend it on than overpriced crap.

maillotjaune Thu 23-Aug-12 09:00:54

Oh and if your kids waste apples by not eating down to core cut them up and share. One apple does my 2 younger ones this way or they would both waste about half each.

Haven't had time to read whole thread, so sorry if repeating.

See if your library has joined the Library Elf scheme - free to sign up to for the basic level of service. It sends email reminders to you 4 days before library books are due back and has saved me a fortune in library fines.

Also, don't buy birthday or Christmas cards - get the DCs to make them. Craft activity and saving all in one. If they're really into it and you have the time and patience they can make the wrapping paper too - printing on a long roll of paper by dipping biscuit cutters into paint is one idea I've seen (but not tried yet) or using hands or feet. Or wrap presents in newspaper - can look quite stylish and is environmentally friendly as well as cheaper.

Hand draw mazes, write coded messages and print free activity sheets off the internet rather than buying kids magazines. My DS (5yo) would rather have a new free sheet every few days than one magazine a week and our house doesn't fill up with the plastic tat off the covers.

IShallPracticeMyCurtsey Thu 23-Aug-12 10:55:14

Eating a mostly vegetarian diet will save you an awful lot of money. I'm not a vegetarian but my DP is and so my diet (mostly out of laziness) is 95% vegetarian. Anytime I buy meat I notice that the grocery bills shoot up.

Like others have said, you can make brilliantly healthy food quite cheaply so long as you set aside time at least once a week to cook and freeze batches. Passata and tinned tomatoes can be bought so cheaply in Lidl/Aldi, as can pasta; do up a huge pot of tomato sauce with e.g. garlic, onion and courgettes and chilllis. Buy cheap sandwich bags and freeze in individual portions. You can use the sauce for pasta, on pitta breads with cheese for a quick pizza, or as a topping for baked potatoes. Red lentils are also brilliant for soups and stews and freeze well. Buy discounted bags of almost-overripe fruit in the supermarket (pears are particularly good), take them straight home and cook them down into purees. Add to breakfast cereals or just about anything that needs sweetening.

My DP and his siblings were raised by their mum alone, on a solely vegetarian diet. They had almost no money and it was a real struggle for their mum but they ate incredibly well - she had loads of vegetarian cookbooks. They never once went hungry and had a brilliant childhood. It just takes a lot of planning and thriftiness. You can do it, OP smile

And do treat yourself occasionally - just do it wisely. I find a decent takeaway coffee feels like such a treat and it's not something I'm willing to completely eradicate. So now I do it once a week. Only buy your coffee from a company that you have a loyalty card with, and if your kids are with you, bring a lunchbox of special home-baked muffins (for example) and pick a nice sunshiney day so that you're all happy to be in the open air. That way you'll not be tempted by the menu or by the stack of shiney scones on the counter and the kids get a treat so everyone's happy.

IShallPracticeMyCurtsey Thu 23-Aug-12 10:59:17

Oh, another thing: any time you find yourself with an enormous loaf of bread, immediately slice it up and freeze it rather than letting it hang around for a day or two and not get fully eaten! A loaf of Lidl sourdough is really lovely and is lasting us for ages.

SusanneLinder Thu 23-Aug-12 12:27:30

I use hairdressers supply shops and bulk buy their shampoo. Or strangely enough, Lush shampoo bar at £5, lasts 3 girlies in here with constant hairwashing about 3 months.

If you have clothes that you want rid off and arent fit to ebay, then take them to one of those cash for clothes places, they will give you 50p a kilo for stuff.

SusanneLinder Thu 23-Aug-12 12:32:30

Oh, and if you have teenagers who constantly badger you for stuff cos so and so has it, set them up with a bank account with a debit card (available from about 12/13). Transfer a small allowance eg pocket money/clothes allowance in every month. Tell them to buy it themselves or save up up. teaches THEM the value of money, and stops the "I want".... grin

Downgrade your expensive habits - we don't eat dinner out as too expensive but we do eat tea/cake somewhere often.

SusanneLinder Thu 23-Aug-12 12:51:34

Downgrade your expensive habits - we don't eat dinner out as too expensive but we do eat tea/cake somewhere often.

See I can find that just as expensive as eating dinner out(depending where you go obviously). But then we eat out at Carvery's or places that do 2 for 1 deals rather than posh places.

Morrisons cafe have a kids eat free with every paying adult between 4-6.30pm on a weeknight.

fuzzpig Thu 23-Aug-12 14:05:26

Apologies if it's been mentioned but I thought I'd say it as lots of people aren't aware of this - if you are on low income/benefits and someone in your house has a particular condition that means they need to use more water, you can get discounted water rates. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the scheme or what the exact criteria are, but as my DS has severe eczema and needs bathing every night I think we just had to get a letter of proof from his consultant or something. Worth finding out if you think it is relevant to you. Saves us a lot on our bills smile

marchpoppy Thu 23-Aug-12 14:15:29

Well I am in a similar boat to you, though 2 DCs and no sad story behind being a single mum for me.

It is amazing what you can get at car boot sales, i got my double pram and raincover which is really good for £30. And agree with selling on baby stuff once outgrown.

The things I find most challenging are the cost of mobile phone and having time to do all the things people suggest above, such as internet coupons, going to stores at closing times, with 2 small DC and a job.

I manage but it is stressful and I think it is very important not to pass on this stress to the children whenever possible. Good luck.

Badvoc Thu 23-Aug-12 14:38:11

Just been on the Mse website and companies are offering free insulation and vouchers!
So you get free insulation and £30 worth of m&s vouchers....win win!
Next month is it for me...4 months til Xmas I am determined to get my finances sorted.
Some great tips in here..thanks op!

Pinot Thu 23-Aug-12 15:11:34

I thought of one - find your local pizza/catering supplier. Ours accepts customers at the front office and is dirt cheap.

80% meat sausages x 80 = £4.73

Catering tub of sweetcorn 2.12kg = £1.85

Same size tub of pineapple = £1.85

plus meats/haagen daaz/cheese etc etc .

ANTagony Thu 23-Aug-12 15:20:22

Having a group of shopping friends can be good. My sister, mum and I cover the main shops on different days, in different area and know what each other like. If we see bargains we let each other know and pick them up. It's good for two for one offers when you won't use more than one of something half price what you want is a far better deal than double what you need.

airedailleurs Thu 23-Aug-12 15:26:54

here is a traditional Italian peasant food recipe that is incredibly cheap to make and very nutritous - it's a top favourite in our family and even the dog loves the sauce on his biscuits!

Pasta Fagioli

www.italianfoodforever.com/2012/01/pasta-e-fagioli/

BonkeyMollocks Thu 23-Aug-12 16:02:56

Marks place

Frontpaw Thu 23-Aug-12 16:04:41

Pasta looks lovely - but you give your dog beans? Does he really really fart after that?

airedailleurs Thu 23-Aug-12 16:08:01

lol!! no I give him the sauce, the odd bean might find its way into his bowl but we haven't noticed any unpleasant pongs yet!

marymod Thu 23-Aug-12 17:57:07

Don't forget to tell your council that you are now the only adult in the property - that'll get you a decent discount on your council tax.

Xenia Thu 23-Aug-12 18:21:31

Those struggling for money might also want to look at the threads on women who earn £1k a day and also setting up a business as well as thinking of ways to cut back.
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/freelancers/1538634-How-might-I-earn-1000-a-month-working-from-home
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/freelancers/1545649-Who-wants-to-be-an-entrepreneur-Start-here-and-those-who-are-help-here-please

&#8195;
Also if you work 7 days a week you don't spend much. My oldest child who has been working quite hard says one upside is that most of her salary is being saved.

crackcrackcrak Thu 23-Aug-12 18:56:11

Can you elaborate on the hairdresser wholesaler bargains? Recommend any brands etc?

If you are a small family and don't go through fresh veg fast enough only buy frozen. Much to exp irritation I accepted a hand me down small etc freezer and only but frozen veg. Much less wasteful especially things like sweet corn and chopped onions where you can just measure out what you need.

I am getting much better at using up produce that's going off. Going to cook a load of tomatoes going soft with some of the frozen onions and some jar garlic and make a basic pasta sauce. Then I will blend a linnet of soggy raspberries with done icing sugar and freeze that too.

I replaced a broken DVD player from British heart foundation lately - £10 with a year warranty - bargain!

Lastly make sure all your billing is online - with virgin it's £18 a year cheaper

sarahtigh Thu 23-Aug-12 21:05:20

if you have to buy some more furniture try your local auction house they usually have plenty of cupboards chests of drawers wardrobes and tables/chairs could easily get solid wood dining table and chairs for £30 also rugs lamps could also easily get a whole set of china for about £30 dinner plates tea cups etc

late victorian mahogany furniture known As "brown furniture" is incredibly well made but rather unfashionable and often the same price as argos MDF crap

not good for beds

with auctions remember about extra 15-20 % comission on hammer price you are expected to pay and remove goods that day or within 2 working days for larger items

Bullseyealpha Thu 23-Aug-12 22:01:21

I had really good results selling old textbooks to Fatbrain and zapper websites, just had £100 cheque. I put any money I save from coupons and supermarket vouchers etc into the Christmas jar. Also try Martin Lewis's Money Saving expert site, it has a free email each week with loads of offers and advice. Good luck and i hope you will soon feel everything improving in your life

Iloveberries Fri 24-Aug-12 07:18:42

Buy some old furniture from charity shop
Paint it up
Selling on eBay
Everyone's going mad for shabby chic stuff at the moment..... Easy way to make money.

zookeeper Fri 24-Aug-12 08:27:28

Put carrots in the fruit bowl - saves a fortune on apples (my three were getting through ten apples a day)

newadventures Fri 24-Aug-12 08:49:53

Anyone at mnhq fancy putting all the tips together in a nice formatted print out and keep format? I.e. bills, groceries etc etc (cheeky but worth asking?!)

wellwisher Fri 24-Aug-12 09:22:55

Maybe someone on the thread can do it and charge 50p per email

FaintingGoat Fri 24-Aug-12 09:54:33

OP, sorry you find yourself in this position. It sounds like you have your head screwed on the right way though, and it is surprising how much you can economise when you need to. I've been there, as have most of us at some time or another. Once I found a pound coin in the street, I thought I'd won the lottery!

To those who use topcashback, do you get stacks of junk mail and cold callers? I am wary of putting my address and phone number on lots of things as I'm concerned it will be sold on to marketing companies, and also that it increases the risk identity theft.

FaintingGoat Fri 24-Aug-12 10:30:47

I meant to add - buy the loose veg rather than the pre-packed, it's cheaper. Abut 70p for the same quantity of onions that would cost £1 if you bought them in a bag.

dysfunctionalme Fri 24-Aug-12 11:34:01

It's a bit of an adjustment but before long you will be realising how much money you have wasted in the past, and you will gain a new appreciation for the value of money.

Rest assured that your kids will be fine if you appear confident. Kids can be very cheap, mostly they just want their parents.

The adjustments...

1. Shopping
Stay away from the shops, even the supermarket unless you absolutely have to go. You'll be amazed by how long you can manage on what's in your cupboards.

Rather than look for voucher deals, switch off direct marketing (voucher) emails. You don't need them.

2. Planning

* plan meals & shopping, batch cook & freeze
* get acquainted with meat-free meals
* bake bread, it's easy and delicious
* always take food & drinks when going out with kids so you don't end up wasting money on cafe food.

* Learn how to use baking soda as a household cleaner, it's much cheaper and healthier than chemical cleansers. Infact, you can pretty much skip the cleaners aisle of the supermarket.

3. Think sustainability

* If you need to buy something, check eBay and freecycle first
* Look for clothes online or in charity shops
* Rip up old pjs or sheets for rags rather than buying dust cloths etc
* Use storage containers rather than plastic or aluminium wrap.

4. Be savvy

Scour for the best deals on utilities and services from mortgage deals to electric companies and mobile phones.
Review regularly as they can change markedly.

Remember that you just can't afford it
If you have been using expensive skincare and cosmetic products, rethink it. There are excellent quality cheaper products. Same goes for clothes, shoes and gifts.

5. Kids' stuff
Use the libraries, parks and museums. Take your own food. Use buses and trains, kids love this.

6. Gifts and cards
Make cards and consider making gifts. Baking always goes down well.

MarinaIvy Fri 24-Aug-12 12:00:15

If you go for the "buying marked-down things at the end of the day" option, note that some shops, but not all, will combine them with their multibuy special. (i.e. orig price £3, but now 2 for £5 or BOGOF). And a lot of the end-of-day markdowns are there because the shop's ordering guy overestimated how excited people would get about the deal and got in too much.

Sainsburys does, Morrisons doesn't, I can't remember if Coop does, I don't shop at Tesco or Asda (anybody else have that input?)

hairymonkey Fri 24-Aug-12 12:04:06

This blogs very good and funny, www.theskintfoodie.com and I buy a massive bottle of cheap dry vermouth when shopping in Lidl to use in cooking. Great in spag bol that should actually use white wine as well as risottos and gravy etc.

Badvoc Fri 24-Aug-12 12:33:39

Marina if you go on the Mse website there's a table of shops and when theymstart to discount....
I love that site.
smile

alemci Fri 24-Aug-12 12:55:41

i agree about the shops Dysfunction. it is best to stick to a list and go where you need to go and avoid browsing the others. you have to be really strong. i was very pleased with myself yesterday for just buying what i needed.

i think alot of us (i hold my hand up) shop to make ourselves feel better. i have a habit of using it as a leisure activity.

maybe see a friend instead

WorkInProgress Fri 24-Aug-12 14:07:03

Dysfunction. That is a great summary of frugal living tips ! Said most things on this thread in one post.
I agree with meal planning - and either shop online or go to one supermarket at the end of the day and try and get markdowns.
It's actually not that bad living frugally. Even though we don't really need to any more I just do it as it's a habit and it feels odd not to budget, meal plan and save money. I don't think it makes life any unhappier.

Mrbojangles1 Fri 24-Aug-12 15:02:17

A fab alternive to take away is getting a nice ready meal from marks

We got a meal for four and wine for £20 much cheaper than a takeaway

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 24-Aug-12 15:27:42

Checking the active ingredients in cleaners can save you money, caustic soda is sodium hydroxide.

Mr Muscle drain/sink unblocker is about £3. It's sodium hydroxide though.

Caustic soda is about a £1 for 500g in poundland/homebargains and will do several applications.

justwantcheese Fri 24-Aug-12 15:34:23

Go to carboots much cheaper than eBay, I get clothes,school uniform,shoes,grams there. There is also a fruit and veg stall. Shop at fultons and markets. Have days out at parks take picnics. Have packed lunches if you work or kids do.

crackcrackcrak Fri 24-Aug-12 15:36:03

I used to shop to cheer myself up but once you break the habit it changes everything.

I'm def buying the caustic soda I have a big drain problem!

If your doc are quite little buy large bags of crisps etc and decant them into little containers for lunch boxes etc. this is healthier too - dd to my horror thinks wotsits ate wonderful but I'd prefer she didn't eat a whole packet in one meal! I buy the wotsit type crisps from aldi she doesn't care!

sherazade Fri 24-Aug-12 16:24:08

Learn to love lentils. Will save you ££££££. Costs next to nothing, extremely healthy, filling, cheap, nutritious, the perfect frugal family food.

*Lentil & brown rice bake*: red lentil and brown rice with sliced carrot and added sultanas baked in sainsbos basics chicken stock , sainsbos basics herbs, topped with sainsbos basics cheese.

*Lentil soup*: red lentils in veggie stock with cliced onion, carrot and celery.
serve with crusty homemade bread.

Green lentils boiled in veggie stock with onion, carrot, cumin and tomato paste. blend.
*Lentil pie*: mixed root veg and lentils cooked in herbs and tomato sauce topped with mash. serve with sainsbos basics gravy/beans.

*Lentil curry*: boil lentils with tumeric, chilli powder, curry powder, ginger, garlic, salt, add fried sliced onion when done. serve with boiled rice.

You can omit the veggies /adapt and meals will still be fairly nutritious. a packet of lentils cost a pound and is food for a week.

buy sainsburys basics where possible. I cant fault their range.

anticipate sales days , go online and buy your kids clothing first thing in the am when stuff is available in ur kids sizes..

i bought a second hand breadmaker off ebay and use it to bake my weekly bread which is delish and now one less thing to buy every week.dds wont eat any other bread.

forget crisps, sweets, choccies , juice when you shop. my dds have learnt to live without them frugal or not!

i like living frugally. We eat so much healthier. I feel like am in control of finances rather than endless mindless spending . my dds always looks well dressed and pristine because of clever, smart shopping. my house is clutter free and tidy as i live minimally. we go regularly to parks, libraries and museum which are all free. no sky tv, spend time playing actively together.
good luck x

BoerWarKids Fri 24-Aug-12 17:09:05

This is one of the most helpful MN threads ever!

Thanks to everyone who's contributed smile

stilldazed Fri 24-Aug-12 19:17:04

Great post dysfunctionalme. Can you give me your recipe for bread?

thanks!

lorisparkle Fri 24-Aug-12 19:17:07

I've been reading with interest but have not had time to read everything so hope I am not repeating

Before you spend any money think 'do I really need this' and if the answer is yes find out whether you can buy it cheaper any where else.

We have a large roast chicken on a Sunday and with careful removal of the meat can make a meal on Monday and often Tuesday as well with the leftovers (chicken risotto, chicken curry, chicken parcels, chicken pie)

Get your children used to drinking water or milk - no need for squash, fizzy, etc etc.

Our health visitor gave us the number (I think it was part of the health authority) and they come and do a free safety check of the house and will supply stair gates and fire guards at cost price and fit them for free.

Use quinoa in your cooking - I seem to remember reading that it is the best source of protein not from animal sources and fairly cheap

We are given National Trust membership as our family Christmas present from my parents and this means days out are free and interesting. They often have good parks and cheap events on during the year. We went to see Father Christmas and it cost a couple of pounds for each child, the entry was free and the present the children got was worth more than the amount we paid.

If you cut down on all the foods you don't need to buy (crisps, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, etc) and walk / cycle whenever you can you won't need to go to the gym!

Good luck with it all OP I am sure because you are seeing it as a challenge then you will succeed and may even enjoy it. I love finding new ways to economise and get feel really pleased when I have got a bargain!

lorisparkle Fri 24-Aug-12 19:21:02

Oh yeah if you have little ones in nappies check out the tiny muslin cloths from mothercare (I presume they still do them). they have saved me a fortune in wet wipes / cotton wool balls. I also get cheap flannels in Ikea and use them at meal times.

aokay Fri 24-Aug-12 21:05:15

in similar boat - shocked this holiday to realise how spoilt both myself and dc's are/ hate having to say no to things like souvenirs now when out and about - can manage ice creams but not postcards, soft toys, assorted crap in gift shop...we ended up making our own picture postcards for rellies while holidaying - (caravan instead of rented villa/house) gave us something to do and saved loads of money. I've switched all pets (we have lots) onto cheapest foods available - got loads of free hay from farmer who'se just cut meadow;and they're all eating them without complaint - saving a fortune. Thanks for all the tips, some great ones here.

crackcrackcrak Fri 24-Aug-12 21:17:41

I can't do everything on this fab thread - the physical shopping around is impossible for me but I have had a few other thoughts...

I'm going to start an amazon wish list for the dd's which I can send to the relatives who ask what to buy them for Xmas/birthdays. I'm also going to ask for money toward activities/membership to local attractions in lieu of gifts too - dd1 has so much already and prefers to be out and about anyway. I have just seen the local zoo is £40 a year - stuff like this is easier with small children who are free when you are a long parent I admit grin
I'm enjoying trawling MSE for ideas :-)

blueslipper Fri 24-Aug-12 21:24:40

Where do people find cheap dog food? I have a very unfussy mongrel with no special dietary requirements. Currently eating Aldi's own brand stuff no problems. Would be interested to hear alternatives.

Mumfortoddler Fri 24-Aug-12 21:41:04

Been a single mum for two years now and finally head above water. The main thing is that you make sure you are entitled to benefits, a few not mentioned ( I dont think from scanning the post)

Council tax benefit (single adults discount)
Housing benefit (income dependent)
thats on top of the load mentioned above. If you are on a decent salary, talk to your employer about childcare vouchers. Also speak to a financial adviser, it works to have pay in certain brackets and not in others. For example, my current salary part time as CEO, has got a higher take home in benefit value then if I were working full time. No point busting your gut full time when you could work less and spend time with the children and earn the same amount. It all depends on how much you earn of course. But also its important to work out the different thresholds. If you are staying in the family home, move the kids to share bedrooms as much as possible and rent out any spare bedrooms you might have. Sometimes its cheaper to rent a slightly larger house and then sublet some rooms to students then a smaller house for all of you. I rent out to English students and they pay me 165 per week and I have to cook for them, a good extra income. Look for local English schools in your area.

Many Councils also have supported lodging schemes for 17-25 year olds who are looking for homes, they pay well 175 per week on average, and you just need to give a bit of a kick up the motivational bum to the teenagers to help them get up and out to work or college every morning. Not quite a foster parent role but something quite a lot more hands off, good if you are good with teenagers.

AngelDog Sat 25-Aug-12 08:08:24

As others have suggested, use cheap flannels instead of babywipes. I got ours from Wilko's and my mum cut them into quarters & hemmed them so they're smaller, but you can use them full size. Apparently the average family spends something like £250 per year per baby on babywipes.

Buy children's PJs a size too big and use wonderweb to shorten the trousers for the first year or so. Then you can remove it once the legs start getting too short.

Occasionally I make cheap little activities for my 2.7 y.o. (e.g. shooters made from straws and paper, pom poms with magnets stuck to the back etc). When I do, I'm making an extra set or two so I can give them as cheap presents to my nephews / at birthday parties.

If, like me, you have hoarding tendencies, try really hard to use stuff up before buying more.

If you're going to bulk buy things like rice etc, make sure they're in well-sealed plastic containers or you could end up having to throw them all away due to an attack of mice or weevils <speaks from bitter experience>

Pinot Sat 25-Aug-12 09:31:14

Can I just add one thought I had last night - don't use being skint as an "excuse" to eat cheap crap from iceland and equivalents. Yes a £1 pizza will fill you up, but it's rubbish food with virtually no benefits and will leave you feeling down and blue in the long run.

I speak from experience - when apples and choc bars cost the same - choose the fruit. In cheap food, miserable feelings lie. You need healthy food and vitamins to be determined and strong.

Frontpaw Sat 25-Aug-12 09:32:45

12p for a banana vs 55p for a Bounty bar!

Pinot Sat 25-Aug-12 09:41:56

Exactly Frontpaw.

So easy to fall into the trap of buying cheap processed food but I really have found it makes you feel like crap. And on top of everyhting else, you do not need that.

Iceland is great for a treat meal, instead of a takeaway for example, but really not for regular use.

(Other cheap shitty food shops are available grin )

Frontpaw Sat 25-Aug-12 09:45:28

I think someone else here mentioned the M+S meal deals. £10 for a whole chicken, veggies, pud and bottle of wine/cartons of juice! Rather nice (although veggie options not great) and mimimal prep/cooking!

crackcrackcrak Sat 25-Aug-12 10:04:51

My cousin buys everything from eBay but he's v strict about it. He doesn't browse. You decide in your item, then you decide how much you are willing to pay then you only place buds in the last minute of the auctions. He says you can't be fussy and fix on one thing you like lots then blow the budget.
I gave tried this out a bit as cousin is excellent with money and lives well on a low income. It worked well when I was buying a car seat base - they are all the same! And I didn't go over budget it just took longer. Currently trying to do it with a sofa bed and I'm too fussy because they are more aesthetic!

pookey Sat 25-Aug-12 14:02:57

found a voucher at bhs where you get a £5 bhs voucher for recycling a bag of clothes before 30th sep quote bhs on 08450 722 780..

sainsos basics tea bags 80 for 23p - saw them reccomended on this thread so tried them and found them too strong because we usually get tetley decaf (£2.50) but when making I poured a tiny bit of water on swished then threw away the water before making tea as usual, this reduces the caffine - more than £2 saving thanks! App they are fair trade hmm can only assume this must mean people buying the expensive tea bags are giving sainsburys a lot of profit

pookey Sat 25-Aug-12 15:17:36

Actually had a look at themall print of that voucher and its £5 off a £25 spend so a bit meh unless you need something from there

Fieldette Sat 25-Aug-12 16:16:36

blueslipper I have a very active working spaniel and we buy working dog food from our local agricultural merchant. It would be worth trying your local ag merchant to see what they offer, Countrywide Stores also sell it I believe but I find them more expensive.

I buy this dog food, it's a dry kibble, 15kg for £14.90 and because it's working dog food there's no VAT. A big bag like that lasts us a couple of months and is much cheaper and (for my dog) much healthier than a tinned dog food.

However you will need to provide much more water than normal because they can no longer get water from their feed.

It is a high energy feed though, so unless you have an active dog I wouldn't suggest feeding it as it could make your dog put on weight.

WilfSell Sat 25-Aug-12 16:19:46

Haven't got time to read whole thread now and apologies if a million people have already posted this but... I've just bought all the new school uniform we need online using Tesco clubcard vouchers in the voucher exchange, so not only 'free' but 'free AND half-price'.

ninkynonks Sat 25-Aug-12 16:34:24

apologies if already mentioned, but break your dishwasher tablets in half - they really do clean as well as a full tab, and if you use rinse-aid replace this with white vinegar smile

crackcrackcrak Sat 25-Aug-12 17:47:41

I second the feed merchant idea. When we had a greyhound we fed her wholesale greyhound food that was dry in sacks. She thought it was v tasty and it was v v v cheap! We used to give it with budget gravy - she actively preferred it to domestic dog food - she did have a sensitive tummy though and win a lot erc too rich. She also drank gallons of water but she was the laziest dog ever - it wasn't like giving oats to horses and didn't make her any more active grin

Showtime Sat 25-Aug-12 18:09:00

Other people have mentioned already the benefits of being able to sew, and I find that being able to make simple alterations means I'm not limited to buying clothes in the right size - larger items are just as suitable, having spare fabric for small matching accessories.

My present economy food item is cottage cheese as base to a salad of any veg and fruits which go well together - it's high protein, cheap and can even be non-fat, as well as no cooking required.

fussychica Sat 25-Aug-12 18:44:15

NT membership a bargain, especially if there's a few properties close by - always take your own food & drink then it's a free day out. They also do lots of free activities for adults & familes. We go to our local place every couple of months and book free guided tours/walks where we can.

I'm not great at sewing but just bought three pairs of new M&S / Next trousers in one of our local charity shops which is having a half price sale as it's closing down(can you believe a charity shop closing as it's not taking enough!) Paid £7.50 for all three pairs & only had to take up the Next pair - result!

Blimey the tea bags are cheap - how is it possile for them to sell them at that price? Will try but must say I'm a wimp where tea is concerned so they might be too strong for me.

freerangeeggs Sat 25-Aug-12 18:54:05

Try using soapnuts for your washing instead of washing powder. They last for months.

www.soapnuts.co.uk/

Aldi also do a good concealer, apparently - my sister insists on Mac/Benefit makeup but always buys Aldi concealer. She's very fussy and has senstive skin.

Try making massive pots of soup and then freezing them. I freeze portions in plastic takeaway tubs (I save them from takeaways but they're easy and cheap to get hold of if you're avoiding those). Tomato soup and vegetable soup freeze well. I always have a few tubs ready for the end of the month.

I don't do this, but I thought it was a great tip: freeze fresh herbs in ice cube trays. There's always waste, I find, when I buy fresh herbs, so just chop up the leftovers and freeze them in ice cubes. You could do it in portions and then just pop out a portion when you need it.

boredandrestless Sat 25-Aug-12 20:25:17

I recommended the Sainsbos tea bags (amongst others) and I DO love a good strong cuppa. grin Maybe one in a tea pot would work if you don't like it strong?? I love them, I buy 4 or 6 boxes at a time!

suebfg Sat 25-Aug-12 21:34:23

Don't buy online as the online supermarkets cost way more than Aldi/Lidl. I love Aldi - it's cheap and great quality.

BelinaTheChicken Sat 25-Aug-12 22:01:32

A lot of shops will sell you brown bananas for next to nothing (I have a place that gives them to me rather than chuck them), stick them in the freezer and you can use them for banana loaf, or put in porridge.

Serve small portions and have seconds, rather than piling your plate up and wasting the leftovers, then freeze whatever is left, or make soup out of roast dinner leftovers. My granny was the Queen of leftovers, it's all she seemed to eat, but the food at her house was always amazing!

If your DC are the right age start making presents for Christmas with them, all my family this year are getting salt dough gingerbread man chains, cost me hardly anything and entertains the DC

Sorry if I'm repeating advice

crackcrackcrak Sat 25-Aug-12 22:11:18

If those soap nuts are what's in those Eco balls they were a dead loss IMO.

I make cards with dd she lives it but we did Xmas cards last year and god that was a big job! Too big really I need a quicker plan for this year grin

suebfg Sat 25-Aug-12 22:27:55

Perhaps one of the best things you can do for your children is pass on all this good advice onto them. Think of all the money we could have saved if we had been ingratiated into money saving from an early age.

pookey Sat 25-Aug-12 22:32:58

Good idea about teapot boredandrestless - will save even more money grin - or use 1 bag for flask for picnics on national trust daytrips.

Tinypup Sat 25-Aug-12 23:23:16

Bicarbonate of soda. Mix 1/2 teaspoon and a few drops of washing up liquid in 500 ml squirty bottle. Use it to clean everything from cookers to baths and stains. Haven 't bought cleaners for a year now.
Most of my baby's clothes, cot and toys are bought second hand ( a common practice here in New Zealand )
It is suprising how little you can live off if you do not have spare cash. We are living off a 1/3 rd of our previous income in an effort to both bring up baby....meal planning is essential. Few treats and lots of home baking. Once you stop browsing shops and buying stuff you never needed but wanted, you will wonder why you ever bothered. it will be ok, good luck

tryingmybest2012 Sun 26-Aug-12 08:41:02

I have tried to be frugal since becoming a freelancer as I have no guaranteed wage to depend on every month so need to be very careful in what I spend. So far my discoveries have been.

1. Aldi make-up - lovely especially if you have fair skin, the powder is better than the No7 one that I used to use. And there undereye concealer is also better than the No7 one I used to use.

2. Aldi face creams - £1.99 and a nice texture.

3. Alberto Baslm shampoos and conditnors - lots of nice scents to choose from and only £1 each.

4. Switching supermarket to Aldi for most food and buying any bits I could not find at the end from a bigger supermarket but stick to the list!

5. On each shopping trip buy any reduced items that can be freezed and worked into the week afters menu. Salmon for 25p? Yes please!

6. Visit car boot sale for childrens toys.

7. Free days out to park, library, £1 cinema at weekends (take your own popcorn and drinks etc. bought from aldi!)

blackcatsdancing Sun 26-Aug-12 09:50:29

just marking my place so i can read this entire thread when time allows - some amazing ideas! thanks everyone.

Showtime Sun 26-Aug-12 10:49:51

Idea for speeding up Christmas-card-making, crackcrackcrak, have you thought of just making one (or a few) then printing them out at home instead of struggling to make all individually?
Thanks for your comment on soap nut balls.

cheapandchic Sun 26-Aug-12 11:27:10

Get crafty and get creative. I am totally rubbish at general saving money, but I am good at being creative.

Young children do not need toys. When people give you toys for a birthday, immediately hide them and re-gift to someone else...or save for christmas.

Empty water bottles to play with in the bath. Wooden spoons, disk, pots and pans. Make shakers out of dried rice/beans in empty water/milk containers. Play catch with a grapefruit. Pillow fights and tent making out of cushions and bed linens. Use an old sheet that you might bin to paint a giant mural on. Use food colouring to dye very cheap pasta and put on string to make jewellery or glue on things to make masks. When kids want fancy dress or need it for a party, see whats in your closet, create something. Save destroyed clothing for this purpose, to cut up, re-use as part of costume.

Save ribbons that come on gifts to you or look for super cheap ones. Wrap all presents in old magazines or newspaper and tie with pretty ribbons...looks fab! Also make your own cards...people love things made by children. Or make cards yourself, simply google famous quotes, write one on paper with a note and fold like a card...people appreciate this kind of thing.

Surround yourself with genuine friends and start using each other. Create karma...I watch your kids for a few hours if you watch mine. I bake you a cake if you bring lasagne over. I will watch your dog if you watch mine, etc.

crackcrackcrak Sun 26-Aug-12 12:38:18

Show time - didnt mean to sound rude. I tried the soap it balks when dd1 was tiny and they didn't remove baby sick etc and couldn't get the smell out of exp work clothes. I really tried. Ecover refills is the best I can manage being green smile

Whilst I agree you can create toys and games from all kinds of stuff I would draw the line at taking gifts of toys away from my children. I certainly believe small children don't that many toys but I would never deny dd a gift from someone else.

dysfunctionalme Sun 26-Aug-12 12:40:33

stilldazed I have to confess I use a breadmaker, I bought it before I got poor but maybe you could find 2nd hand?

My kids like foccacia which I do with

250ml water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
3 cups plain flour
1 and 3/4 tsp breadmaker yeast

so I just make the dough in the breadmaker then press into tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle rock salt

but there are so many kinds you can make and just use the breadmaker to bake the whole thing

good luck

BoerWarKids Sun 26-Aug-12 13:14:41

I bought soap nuts but haven't used them yet. I think I read on here once that you can use them to wash your hair?

I bought Sainsbury's Basics tea bags last night, I kept reading about them on here grin

AngelDog Sun 26-Aug-12 13:19:15

Soap nuts are different from Eco Balls - they work much better. They're supposed to be as good as non-bio (we used them though we had to revert to industrial strength bio to get DS's eczema cream out of his clothes).

You can use them for general cleaning, hair & hand washing too.

We like Sainsbury's teabags. We like average strength tea and 1 bag does 1.5 cups.

BoerWarKids Sun 26-Aug-12 13:27:30

Last night in Sainsbury's I bought nearly everything I needed from the Basics range and a couple of loaves reduced to 19p to stick in the freezer for toast. Took home a massive bag of food for less than £7.00 smile

I'm new to being frugal and I'd always assumed I'd feel like a pauper going to the till with reduced and cheap stuff. I didn't at all! Maybe because I'm older now and more secure in myself.

I've really changed my outlook on how I live, and spend money. I'm trying to look for experiences to make me happy and fulfilled, rather than stuff.

BoerWarKids Sun 26-Aug-12 13:30:24

Thanks AngelDog smile

I've also used ecover washing up liquid to wash my hair. I wouldn't do it every time as might be a bit harsh.

I mix bicarb with my shampoo to make the bottle go further.

BreastmilkDoesAFabLatte Sun 26-Aug-12 13:33:03

If your kids and transport arrangements will allow it, go to the supermarket ASAP before closing time in the evening. Lots of fruit, veg, bread etc gets discounted...

crackcrackcrak Sun 26-Aug-12 15:37:32

Right you are - maybe I will give soap nuts a try then. Where did you buy them? Seen any small samples?

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 26-Aug-12 15:56:17

When I was little washing up liquid was used for baths on a regular basis.

My mother denies this.

crackcrackcrak Sun 26-Aug-12 16:30:52

Meanwhile....any ideas about printer ink? I used to use a refil service but the shop has closed down. It's a HP photosmart fecking ink guzzler!
Anyone know where it online you can buy it cheaper?

Badvoc Sun 26-Aug-12 16:41:59

Is the 25% off st sainsburys still in tomorrow??

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 26-Aug-12 16:44:36

Crackcrackcrak, I know this sounds expensive but I got a laser printer off amazon for about a £100, BUT, toner only costs me £40 a year and I print out loads of business stuff and money off coupons whereas the HP would run out of ink in 3 months costing me a fortune.

Showtime Sun 26-Aug-12 17:20:20

Depends on type of printer Crackcrackcrak, Tesco's agrees with my Epson, have used cheaper on-line but had problems with it, sorry no experience with HP printers (and been talked-out of doing own refills).

crackcrackcrak Sun 26-Aug-12 17:27:36

Fluffy.... That reminds me! I suggested to exp years ago that we bought a black and white only big standard printer to use got all our uni/business stuff which would be much more cost effective wrt ink. He wouldn't allow it and scoffed. I may do just that since I am contemplating a phd - thanks for digging that out of my frazzled brain grin

blueslipper Sun 26-Aug-12 17:32:03

Well thanks to the tips on here I am proud to say I have made some changes already (newly single parent).

No more kitchen roll - use a cloth
Snapped a dishwasher tablet in half, and used the eco cycle - no difference in cleanliness at all.
Set clothes washing to cooler, shorter wash with less powder - again, no difference in cleanliness.
Turned down the thermostat on the hot water, and have reduced the time the hot water is on during the day.

I can't believe how much product and energy I have been wasting!

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 26-Aug-12 17:43:21

Crack, you were right!. Toner seems so expensive but it does 1200 copies, I always change mine to 300dpi everytime I press print so I might get more than that. I have the predecessor to this one, I checked the cost of toner out before I bought it and brother send you a prepay label so you can send the empty toner back for refilling.

Blue, If it's a small tank eg not a big 5' tall one you only need 20 mins or so. Thats my new discovery this week. Turning my stat down saved me £30 straightaway.

Always, always check your washing machine manuals. Mine uses more electric for 30 than 40.

Try tesco daisy powder for the dishwasher, I've been using the same box since last November. One tablespoon per wash.

crackcrackcrak Sun 26-Aug-12 18:41:02

I have yet another boiler with no thermostat that I can find. I can turn the heating down but not the water temp! Will give turning the time down instead.
Thanks forte printer info. I don't printing ATM but I will be grin

I need to work on cutting food down now. I was ok working but now I'm on leave and eating at home more suddenly bills are shooting up.

ingletina Sun 26-Aug-12 19:55:59

Set budget, have excel spreadsheet with different tabs for each category (bus / housekeeping / pressies etc) and stick to it rigidly.

Keep every receipt and log in excel spreadsheet. Helps with tweaking of budget.

Explain to friends you can't afford b'day pressies for them for a while.
Explain to family the same or, if nec, tell them you have a reduced budget (ours is currently max. £5 for a niece/nephew, £10 for sibling/parent incl. postage and b'day card).
They should understand.

Take calculator if you go food shopping so you can work out best value easily.

Get rid of telly (save at least £12 per month on license fee) - you can watch iplayer etc online without license (as long as you aren't watching live telly).

Get rid of credit card(s).

Aldi / Lidl / Home Bargains.

Buy clothes on ebay (if you can resist bidding wars).

Good luck!xxx

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 26-Aug-12 20:30:18

Crack, the water thermostat is usually on top of the hot water tank if you have one under a plastic round cover about 2" deep with a screw fastening it to the tank.

If you havent got a water tank download your boiler manual and see what it says.

crackcrackcrak Sun 26-Aug-12 20:41:53

Nope can't find anything will have to find the manual - thanks though grin

Leilandri Sun 26-Aug-12 21:28:22

Badvoc Yes 25% off TU at Sainsbo's is on til END of tomorrow grin

CanoeSlalom Sun 26-Aug-12 22:51:43

Buy everything on eBay.

JTaylor1985 Mon 27-Aug-12 02:27:28

Hello! I live in New York and have a 9 week old little boy. My husband and I are going to be in Enfield for two weeks to visit my husband's family and introduce the little one to his British family! I don't want to bring our carseat (I have heard they get really damaged from being checked on an airplane and are no longer safe to use). We will need a carseat for the couple weeks we will be in the UK, but I was hoping to find a used one! I know in New York there are websites where people pass along their used baby things. Is there something similar in the Enfield/Southgate area? My husband's family could come and pick it up anytime in the next month. Any advice on where to find one would be so appreciated! - Jacqueline Taylor

Badvoc Mon 27-Aug-12 08:06:56

They could try freecycle or their local facebook selling page.
Have a nice trip!
You can buy new ones from places like asda for £30 also.

crackcrackcrak Mon 27-Aug-12 08:26:58

Asda or Argos then you could sell it again afterward? Facebook baby selling page locally best though grin

Brickle Mon 27-Aug-12 18:06:54

Boots "Natural Collection" make up is really good and are £1.79 each or £5 for 3 items. They really are all excellent products (especially the mascara). I know make up is probably way down on your list of things to buy, but, sometimes we all need a treat and these are good value smile

BornToFolk Mon 27-Aug-12 19:09:42

Oooh, the MUA range from Superdrug is really good too, especially the eyeliner. Most of the things are only £1 too.

Badvoc Mon 27-Aug-12 21:14:32

So...have ordered a lush shampoo bar for my hair. Will order some astonish cleaner and soap nuts for the laundry.
Anything else?
Which sort of astonish should I get?
Any tips for cheap face care?
I have very sensitive skin...
Have any of you got a Lakeland heated aired? Are they good/worth it?

Badvoc Mon 27-Aug-12 21:16:41

Went to sainsbos btw and got dc some nice clothes - stuff they really needed.
Hat, scarf and glove sets for £2.50 instead of £10!!
pj sets too.
Can I have some recommendations of stuff to get from aldi btw?

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 27-Aug-12 21:32:01

Poundshop/savers/homebargains for astonish stuff, it's more expensive online.

Most things are good in aldi tbh. Even the foundations and powder.

crackcrackcrak Mon 27-Aug-12 21:44:32

What's this astonish stuff?

booksinbed Mon 27-Aug-12 21:54:08

crackcrackcrack- please could you tell me what the lead things are you use to watch stuff from lap tops on telly- never heard of it ....thanks !!

crackcrackcrak Mon 27-Aug-12 22:46:28

oh gawd now you're asking me.....you need an audio lead - these are like double ended headphone jacks. if you plug an ipod into your car through the headphone socket its the same lead. the other one you need is smallish and flat and has screws either side you have to tighten up. you need to look on the back of the tv to see what kind you need but the laptop end of it is standard. tbh i asked in tesco and the chap working there told me - they weren't dear though..see if i can find a link
http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-connect-your-laptop-to-your-television

OhLimpPricks Mon 27-Aug-12 23:38:54

Bboksinbed. Some laptops need different leads. I have two sony vaio lappys and they need differnt leads. Take a photo of both sides of your laptop with your mobile, so you can see all the holes. Take your phone into maplins or your local currys etc show them, and ask them to write down the name of the lead you need. Maplins are good value, a lot cheaper than other stores.

AngelDog Tue 28-Aug-12 08:02:45

I get soapnuts from Living Naturally. I think they do a free sample - if it's not them, it's the other main company who sell them. I think if you google 'free sample soap nuts' it should come up. I got a sample a while ago anyway.

Badvoc Tue 28-Aug-12 08:07:00

Thank you.
Have ordered some. Hoe does one use them!!? smile
Anyone got any tips on drying clothes without using the tumble dryer???
I have an airer but its not massive and I have 2 young dc so LOTS of washing...
I figure if I do a load each evening and put it on the airer it might be dry by next evening????
I do love my TD but it costs loads to run and has shruck some of my stuff (even though it said you could TD them!)

AngelDog Tue 28-Aug-12 08:30:11

You put some in a little bag (you get sent one, but you can also pop them in a sock) and pop them in the drum of the machine. You're supposed to soak them in warm water for a couple of mins before you first use them, though I don't always remember. You can re-use them a few times before composting.

Re drying, I either line dry or use a Lakeland dri-soon heated airer in a room with an extractor fan (it's supposed to be cheaper to run than a TD). We used to just hang things indoors on airers and they did dry (apart from in the winter - but that's because we don't really use heating). However, we have issues with damp in the house, and that was making it worse in winter.

We used just the airer, but we started to get mould in the room it was used in, even with a dehumidifier. DH put a cheap cobble-it-together-yourself extractor fan where our big airbrick/vent used to be, and it made a huge difference. A normal airer in a room with an extractor fan apparently works well.

If you have an extractor fan in the bathroom you can hang things in there, although obviously if you have to have the light on at the same time, that's a lot more expensive than if you can have just the fan on.

Hi. Sorry haven't read all the way through, but I finally have managed to save some cash!
On musicmagpie, I have just got rid of 65 dvds for 30 quid, and an just about to do a wii game and some cds. They collect free, and pay by different ways.

starfishmummy Tue 28-Aug-12 09:41:06

When i was growing up, bread and butter were on the table for every meal, meaning she could get away with smaller portions of meat.

A favourite pud of mine was custard with (broken) biscuits in it. It was only when i grew up that i realised that it was an economy pud when the cupboards were almost bare!
Also she only ever bought plain biscuits as they were cheapest!!

starfishmummy Tue 28-Aug-12 09:42:38

Oops, she being my Mum!

Frontpaw Tue 28-Aug-12 09:45:06

Looking at the Soapnut site!!! What shall I buy?
They have a £2 started pack.

Will it all work on manky London water?

Badvoc Tue 28-Aug-12 10:17:06

Have ordered soap nuts and astonish cleaner.
Have also looked at idea and another cheap airer for clothes...washing line is broken!
September will be an interesting month! smile
My mum used to fry spam! We loved it (being kids of the 1970s) but I realise now that a couple of potatoes for chips and a couple of slices of fried spam was all she could afford at times....
My fave our was sliced banana and custard smile
I have tried baking my own cakes etc but tbh with the price of ingredients it doesn't work out much cheaper...what am I doing wrong?
Have alread started getting little bits for Xmas...otherwise no one would get anything!!
I only buy plain biscuits too starfish...digestives, custard creams, rich tea etc.
Off to aldi in Friday for my first aldi shop (excited)

crackcrackcrak Tue 28-Aug-12 10:35:42

My mum always tuts that a cake is expensive if it requires lots of eggs!
Maybe tray bakes are cheaper? Flapjack etc. fridge cake must be cheaper - no baking - you know rocky road type stuff - worth a go with basic digestives and basic cooking choc? What you think? I might make some and price it up. Also it's quite rich so you can cut it small.
I shall ask the mother oracle (WI president no less!) about cheaper cakes grin

blackcatsdancing Tue 28-Aug-12 11:12:20

badvoc the problem with cakes is you're comparing like with like. Look at the ingredients in cheap shop bought cakes and you won't recognise what half of them are. Moving up to the better quality ones and the price rises. Also catering companies buy in bulk ingredients so even when you do recognise an ingredient- like flour or eggs its hard to compete with them on price alone. Taste and quality is another matter.
I'm an avid cake maker but still buy small cake bars from time to time as they are cheap and convenient. Where i'd never buy is for birthday cakes or larger cut and come again cakes or things like rock buns/scones. What do you want the cakes for? I might have some suggestions to add to any others.

Badvoc Tue 28-Aug-12 11:17:59

I just do flapjacks and cupcakes really.
I made millionaires shortbread the other day but ds2 prefers the shop bout ines sad
I will be baking a cake for fils b day in sept though...
I am a bit fussy wrt baking though...I will not bake using marg (must be butter) and didn't use baking choc...must be good quality choc! smile
I am NOT good at frosting however!

Frontpaw Tue 28-Aug-12 11:19:06

I make banana bread and cakes with the manky old bananas from the fruit bowl (you can freeze bananas to use up later) and thats quite nice.

They are better value as you would normally throw them out anyway and banana bread - more like a loaf of bread with bananas and carumum - is passable as cake!

blackcatsdancing Tue 28-Aug-12 11:37:37

shop bought millionaires shortbread can be great- i like thorntons one and whenever its on special offer i buy!!

Hmm well i'd do the obvious, buy extra butter when its on offer/ at sell by date and freeze for later cake use. Same with chocolate. I too have a serious green and blacks and any other quality chocolate habit and every time i go into a supermarket i check the chocolate to see if it is on offer, same with menier choc in the baking aisle (often on offer and good). I just keep them in a tin for later use.

blackcatsdancing Tue 28-Aug-12 11:39:36

you'll definitely save money by making a birthday cake and it will taste nicer! Just start looking out for butter/ sugar offers and stock up.

blackcatsdancing Tue 28-Aug-12 12:01:41

what frosting is going wrong ? i may be able to trouble shoot. i'm planning a cake today for my dad so am going through cake books for inspiration. Think i'm doing a lemon cake with lemon curd filling (i have an open jar to use up) with white chocolate ganache (i think)

Frontpaw Tue 28-Aug-12 12:17:44

drooooool!

I am finishing off an orange polenta cake which I made at the weekend (BBC Good Food website recipe) and it is so lovely - a million times better than shop bought (a result of the recipe, not my baking!) and not as tooth-achingly sweet!

I had the ingredients in the cupboard already, so it didnt cost much to make really.

Badvoc Tue 28-Aug-12 13:15:37

Haha yes it's the the thorntons one my son likes smile
I am going to attempt....ahem....one of those huge cupcake shaped cakes (got the mould already)
I could out lemon curd in the middle actually, fil loves lemon curd!
I make buttercream frosting and I always get it not quite right and yet I can't find a definitive recipe for buttercream iyswim? How much butterntomhow much icing sugar?
Argh.....

blackcatsdancing Tue 28-Aug-12 13:23:26

ooh yummy!! i'll have a look for that, love polenta cakes.

just remembered in Paul Hollywood's book-How to bake, which i have out from the library , he recommends Bournville chocolate for his Chocolate almond cake, he says " it has just the right balance of sweetness and cocoa flavour and is a very stable chocolate that's easy to work with". He goes on to say you can use any good chocolate as long as it isn't over 72% cocoa solids.
Just thought i'd mention as it is a much cheaper option than Green and Black's or Lindt. I don't like Bournville to eat but haven't tried it in a cake, i will now though.

crackcrackcrak Tue 28-Aug-12 13:29:51

I have to put buttercream in the fridge to set its always too runny. You can make v easy cupcake frosting with sour cream and icing sugar- it works if you have leftover sour cream from something else as you only need a spoonful or so

blackcatsdancing Tue 28-Aug-12 13:29:59

its half butter to sugar. So 250g unsalted butter to 500g icing sugar (sifted well). Then whatever flavouring you want to add. For the above it would be 1tsp vanilla extract or more if you really want to up the vanilla.

i have my book in front of me and for lemon curd buttercream you add 275g lemon curd into the above basic buttercream mixture.

for a chocolate ganache buttercream you make a ganache with 175 g dark choc and 125g double cream and then add that to the basic buttercream mixture. Great as a filling and frosting.

Badvoc Tue 28-Aug-12 13:31:16

Ha!
So nigella is talking out of her arse then!
I always suspected as much....
Thank you.
Will try the lemon buttercream.

blackcatsdancing Tue 28-Aug-12 13:47:20

there are variations, Peggy Porschen says its equal butter to sugar but i've used the ratio i gave above for the past 20 + years and it always works !
The lemon curd recipe is from Mich turner (of Little venice cake company).

somebloke123 Tue 28-Aug-12 15:56:48

Can I recommend the regular "Tips for Meanies" column in the Oldie magazine. You can see it online - no need to buy it.

A couple that stick in the mind:

Budget Cola is an excellent toilet cleaner and cheaper than normal cleanser.

Items in the infants' section of supermarkets are often better and/or cheaper than elsewhere e.g. cotton wool, wipes, baby oil etc.

crackcrackcrak Tue 28-Aug-12 17:47:56

Lemon curd buttercream.......drools - I am officially on mat leave I can do stuff!!!!

hoppityhoppity Tue 28-Aug-12 17:59:27

We had a budget downsize recently and a couple of things I find useful:
Meal plan and stick to that when shopping, but add one cupboard essential onto the list each week, even if you don't need it immediately - means you don't run out of everything all at once
When relatives/friends ask for suggestions for presents for DCs, think more broadly than toys to things they need, are extra expense to you and they will enjoy having as presents/being able to think of who gave it to them, eg sports equipment (leotard, swimming costume, ballet shoes, tennis racket, football), stuff for school (lunch box, school bag, winter coat), stuff for their rooms (new bedding set, lamp), paying for extra curricular activities (lessons, musical instrument hire)

Frontpaw Tue 28-Aug-12 18:01:31

I have started breaking my dishwasher tablets - it actually works just as well! Shame I can't easily get cheapo white vinegar... malt just doesnt look like it will clean so well!

Agree with presents, often relatives are keen to give soemthing they will like. I politely send a letter to Santa from our little one to close family. It has sugestions of things she likes including 'every day' things that she enjoys receiving in perhaps an 'upgraded' version.... such as Dora Explorer pants and socks when i would usually get shops own etc..... Good idea about stuff for activities and schools - will remeber than in next few years.

Also, DD got lovely stuff /accesories for her bedroom which we prob wouldn;t have afforded for a little while.

Agree with dishwasher tabs.... seems to work as well.

Porbably been mentioned but our present drawer saves us money and spreads out the cost of Xmas and Birthdays throughout the years. We have a drawer underneath the bed and when ever I see bits and bobs suitable for kids DDs age, Xmas, relatives etc at a good price i get them and pop them in the drawer. We had DD's birthday today and last week we opened the drawer. We had just about everything we wanted to give her: books/dvds, second hand from ebay but in good condition, craft bits that i found reduced, few toys bought in jan sales etc.

Freeze every scrap of clean leftovers = free meals.

Will enjoy reading this thread...

Showtime Tue 28-Aug-12 23:15:55

When we had two dogs and a cat, I kept a bag in freezer compartment of fridge for meat and cheese bits, cooked fish skin, leftovers etc which when full provided a "Scraps" meal now and again which was real favourite, and free, without risk of over-feeding pets on extras.

blueslipper Tue 28-Aug-12 23:38:54

Showtime - I do something similar with scraps for the dog, but I take pleasure in reducing his normal dog food to compensate. Win win.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 29-Aug-12 00:16:07

Those talking about dark chocolate for baking- go to Aldi, theirs is amazing. Think the 70% Moser Roth one is 99p a bar, 50% Dairyfine one is 30p. (Adding this because it is a frugal thread!)

blackcatsdancing Wed 29-Aug-12 09:26:47

ok. i'm trying aldi today for a midweek top up. what usually puts me off are the queues at the checkouts, but i think i'll have enough to justify the wait. Can anyone recommend an instant coffee from them that's good? i'll get some of that chocolate too!

NorthernGobshite Wed 29-Aug-12 09:44:50

Sell old toys/clothes on ebay or do car boot sale
Sign up to Money Saving Expert email/voucher code sites
Shop in Aldi and buy any 'must have' brands when on offer elsewhere
Meal plan for week and stick to it when shopping
Walk where you can, don't use the car
Charity shops
Use toy libraries
Phone Sky etc and haggle over prices (I got my monthly Sky sub down from £60 a month to £40 a month when dh lost his job)
ANd finally, good luck x

dysfunctionalme Wed 29-Aug-12 11:00:38

I think also remember that you don't have to do all these things at once. Start with one money-saver and when you've got the hang of it, add another.

Heading into single parenthood is a big change and you need to allow yourself time to make the transition.

crackcrackcrak Wed 29-Aug-12 11:10:29

I think aldi choc is excellent too - I buy the big bags of small choc bars for dd lunch box etc and they last us months - dd is only 2.10 grin
If you like after 8's they do a slab of dark choc with mint cream filling that I think is v yummy.
Probably an obvious one but I have a cupboard I fill with recycling junk - plastic tubs and kitchen roll tubes etc then I just use it for craft stuff with dd grin - time to get ready for Xmas crafts so saving it all up - I get excited he he

Frontpaw Wed 29-Aug-12 11:12:13

Tesco cheapo chocolate is really nasty
Sainsbos toffees are yummy. I got them to top a sticky apple cake and ate them all!

economymode Wed 29-Aug-12 13:17:42

Talking of cheap chocolate, the Sainsbury's basic dark stuff is good (I use it for baking, and eating) - 32p for 100g I think.

I've been really impressed with sainsburys basics recently.
Bread 50p a loaf - if you go through a lot of bread can't go wrong IMO.
Tea cakes again 50p
Baguettes for the oven- lovely!
Bacon- great for a carbonara
Parmesan- can't fault it
feta cheese again good
Chocolate-like mentioned already great for making cookies
Salad- I find it great for making up Jamie Oliver salads
Peppers- great
Apples- great
Bananas- great
Tinned toms (these are in cartons though) great for sauces
Other sauces ie mint etc I find ok too.

Badvoc Fri 31-Aug-12 12:19:51

So.
I drew £100 out of the bank this morning for the weeks food...and after a trp to aldi and asda there is £12 left sad
Got some stuff I won't neediest week I guess like loo rolls and bin bags and dishwasher tablets but all other stuff was things that we will need to replace next week...salad, veg, etc
So...come on...how do I make £12 last the rest of the week?
(will need salad, veg, bread, milk etc)

crackcrackcrak Fri 31-Aug-12 13:19:02

How essential is the salad?

Frontpaw Fri 31-Aug-12 13:46:13

Round lettuce... I have avoided it for years and now realise that sliced thinly it is rather nice and foes further than a cos!

Badvoc Fri 31-Aug-12 16:26:37

Quite essential..dh and I are on a diet! smile
I am not keen on iceberg lettuce at all sad
Oh dear....

Badvoc Fri 31-Aug-12 16:30:51

Am going to make flapjacks and choc chip muffins tomorrow.
That should last til end of next week...
Will do pancakes for breakfasts next week and omelettes and beans on toast.
Ds2 has porridge and fruit usually.
I will not have breakfast - am on a diet.
Will try and stick to potatoes, veg/salad and meat, pasta etc
I think £100 should feed 4...it's £25 a week each.
Bought asda own brand condensed milk and smart price oats for the flapjacks..hope they are ok....also bought aldi own brand butter (am a our pack girl) hope ds1 likes their pizzas! Only 90p each!!

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 31-Aug-12 16:39:50

I'm just surprised you managed to spend a £100 nearly in Aldi, I had a voucher for £5 off a £35 spend and had to buy an extra chicken, pack of mince and cat food to qualify.

I think our actual shop for the two of us is £24 this week.

Have you tried approved foods for snacky stuff? Smart price packet batter mix is actually nice, I've used it on DH who is very vocal if he dosent like something and it passed with flying colours. You can do pancakes or yorkshire pudding with it.

Badvoc Fri 31-Aug-12 16:44:19

I spent £60 in aldi and £27 in asda.
I was shocked too!

Badvoc Fri 31-Aug-12 16:46:55

I suppose I got some things I won't need next week...dw tablets, loo rolls, scourers etc
But still...
Also treated dh to a breaded Camembert thing.
Bought myself some plain choc.
Boys got some biscuits.
That's it, really, can't think of anything I bought that was fancy or unnecessary.
Did buy a couple of once monthly things in asda too so will probably only be £10 next week there...

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 31-Aug-12 17:02:24

I've found out today that Sainsburys basic bubble bath is 40p a litre and BUAV approved (cruelty free).

So I can refill the hand soap pumps with this instead of buying aldi hand wash at 55p.

boredandrestless Fri 31-Aug-12 18:12:04

Perhaps if you have spent more than you wanted try to eek out what you have in.

If I'm wanting to wait a few more days or even a week before I do another shop I write down everything I have in. I then write down meals from the ingredients, crossing the ingredients off my stock take list as I put them in meals I have written down. I always come up with a surprising number of meals! If I've run out of salad I will do meals that are ok with frozen veg, or tinned sweetcorn (or I take out some coins but not my purse and card so I can only buy salad stuff).

Do you have any independent fruit and veg shops instead of supermarkets? I have one nearby that is soo cheap. 2 for £1 on stuff like tomatoes and mushrooms that would be 80p+ each in asda, and cheap strawberries, cherries and blueberries, usually 2 for £1.50 rather than 2 for £3 in asda. Always worth checking little shops out to see what their prices are like.

economymode Fri 31-Aug-12 18:45:15

Off topic, but don't skip breakfast because you're dieting, badvoc - you're more likely to get the snack attacks later if you do. Could you do scrambled eggs on toast for yourself? Not sure if you have eggs in...that'll fill you up.

Back on topic, how about tinned fruit if you get stuck, rather than fresh? If you buy own-brand, basics style stuff in juice, rather than syrup, it's not bad for you and is cheaper than fresh.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 31-Aug-12 18:51:09

Sainsburys basic tinned fruit was in juice last time I bought it. Really cheap too, cheaper than aldi.

economymode Fri 31-Aug-12 19:00:21

Yep, their basics fruit salad in a can is actually pretty ok. And I think 16p or thereabouts. Aldi pineapple is in juice, but all their other stuff is in syrup, which does annoy me. I got loads of tinned fruit in juice from Approved Foods a few months ago which is now running low. They didn't have any when I did my last order, annoyingly.

Badvoc Fri 31-Aug-12 19:04:14

I live in a village so no shops at all unless you count hairdressers, second hand furniture shops, boutique type shops and a small co op sad
Am going to go through the freezer later to see what We've got...I know there is some frozen veg in there somewhere!!
I have a whole line of washing out and it just started pissing it down...sigh.
I feel thwarted at every turn....smile

I made a shopping list on the computer with tick boxes next to the items. It lives on the fridge and I tick when we run out of stuff. Quick and easy to know what we need in our weekly shop.

pookey Sat 01-Sep-12 00:13:55

Badvoc if you have a sainsburys nearby they do plain choc for less than 40p a bar - its quite good and I always use their milk choc for baking with good results (don't work for them btw but bit of a fan as we don't have an aldi or asda nearby)

crackcrackcrak Sat 01-Sep-12 00:21:37

Wow purple that's pretty damn organised! grin

pookey Sat 01-Sep-12 00:25:21

just seen sainsbury's choc already mentioned! we used it to hold our gingerbread house together at christmas and it worked a lot better than icing.

blackcatsdancing Sat 01-Sep-12 08:13:00

fluffycloud £24 for two of you! that's amazing. my finances change radically over next couple of weeks- i'm waiting to see what housing benefit i get before i do a budget and the only thing i can reduce is food and new clothes and books from amazon. I'd like to keep the books if i can - i already use the library as much as possible and don't buy many clothes. Food budget seems obvious place to make cuts. I've always been very frugal with everything else- don't even have a TV.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Sat 01-Sep-12 08:51:52

Fabulous thread! Depending on the ages of yor DC, ANtagony's advice was excellent - my DC(14 & 12) take great delight in checking supermarket prices and gleefully explaingin that they bought two small ones instead of the economy size becasue the priice per 100g was cheaper (supermarkets have to display this so worth checking). Is very good for them as life skills to make choices/decisions, and understand the relative cost of things.
Definitley second the idea of taking own food for picnics we originally did this to save the queing for food when I had a baby and toddler, but also saves a fortune, and also meand the DC have a reasonbaly balanced nutriton, and if tehy only like plain ham you don't have to root through a load of overpriced sandwiches with tomato in them grin
Also, you do an awful lot with tinned tomatoes, garlic and whatever veg you have - make loads, for some reason sauces/casseroles etc taste better the next day.
Water down juice, milk, wine - a bit of water added does not reduce the flavour - we always dilute fruit juice and makes it less calorific as well.
You can make a fantastic virgin mary with V8 (lasts ages, often on offer eg £1 a litre in ASDA), diluted 70/30 and worcester sauce.
A bit of grated cheese added to vegetables make the kids more inclined to try unfamiliar ones, or familiar ones they are not keen on.

AngelDog Sat 01-Sep-12 09:34:47

Sainsbury's Basics fruit cocktail is quite expensive now - about 35p a tin, but peaches are much cheaper (and are in juice, not syrup).

I never buy salad as it's so expensive. e.g. one portion of veg is a whole big cereal bowlful of salad, while the same portion of veg is only 3 tbs of frozen peas or 1 fresh tomato (much cheaper). We eat a lot of cheap veg from the market e.g. carrots; cabbage is very cheap at the moment (30p/lb at our market stall).

I agree on the breakfast issue - have eggs on toast if you can manage the time - will fill you up loads more than something without protein, and if you have a decent breakfast you're more likely to stick to your diet, and less likely to end up eating expensive snack foods later. smile

Showtime Sat 01-Sep-12 17:16:38

Growing own salad leaves in a couple of pots means it's not expensive, Angeldog, and the cut-and-come-again stuff does exactly that, with different leaves/flavours. Salad to me includes various grated veg apart from carrots - try sprouts with spoonful of dressing, really spicy raw & grated, left-over veg mixed with saladcream or mayo is also good cold, (remember macedoine?) as is par-boiled cauliflower (nice topped with plain yognurt), potato salad of course, and am about to make my French friend's recipe for grated courgette cooked in seasoned egg/milk mixture like quiche filling, also good hot.

SilkInsideAChestnutShell Sun 02-Sep-12 19:35:15

Frozen garlic, ginger, coriander, chopped onions, baby carrots make cooking faster and cheaper (no waste), and just as delicious, esp in stews and curries.

(not sure if this has already been mentioned)

Badvoc Sun 02-Sep-12 20:52:16

Where do you get frozen chopped onions from???

suebfg Sun 02-Sep-12 20:52:46

smile

boredandrestless Sun 02-Sep-12 21:10:21

Badvoc I buy a bag of fresh smartprice onions and chop and freeze them myself, I do the same with fresh peppers and mushrooms.

I think you can buy them ready chopped and frozen though.

Badvoc Sun 02-Sep-12 21:28:15

Oh!
I get the smiley face now!
(sorry its been a long day!)
(blush)

suebfg Sun 02-Sep-12 21:29:21

I wasn't sure if it was intended to be a joke or not - made me smile anyway!

Badvoc Sun 02-Sep-12 21:34:49

smile
Honestly, I am not normally so slow on the uptake....
smile

boredandrestless Sun 02-Sep-12 21:46:47

grin

SilkInsideAChestnutShell Sun 02-Sep-12 21:55:36

I don't get it confused

suebfg Sun 02-Sep-12 21:57:46

Question was 'where do you get frozen chopped onions from' - you chop them and freeze them, probably only amusing as on a frugal thread.

SilkInsideAChestnutShell Sun 02-Sep-12 22:06:45

smile I blame baby brain!

night night.

Badvoc Mon 03-Sep-12 09:48:19

Not just me then silk!
smile

crackcrackcrak Mon 03-Sep-12 10:31:40

You can buy them already chopped in Tesco too.
I may achieve a nsd today but then again I might go and buy a fish tank for dd - fail!

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 03-Sep-12 10:38:59

Asda do frozen chopped onions.

Dont buy a fighting fish crack, we had a lovely one with real character and he died, I never got a fighting fish to have a long life and it made me really upset when they went.

I even mourned when the clam died. You cannot get less interaction from a pet than a clam.

Frontpaw Mon 03-Sep-12 10:44:39

How could you tell if it was alive or dead anyway?

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 03-Sep-12 10:56:56

It opened up. They dont do that when alive as it has a muscle to keep it closed.

It still makes me a bit sad now.

Badvoc Mon 03-Sep-12 12:31:02

sad
Never thought I would feel sad about a dead clam....

Frontpaw Mon 03-Sep-12 12:59:42

Did he have a name?

crackcrackcrak Mon 03-Sep-12 12:59:57

Aww the clam!
The plan is to buy a tank and some nemos - yes I know they are called clown fish grin
Dd loves them and always goes straight to them at the aquarium. There is a helpful man at the garden centre up the road who quoted me for setting the tank up etc etc

Mind you dd also really likes rabbits and we had a lovely time playing with babies at an agricultural
Show on sat but I don't know if I'm just making huge amounts of work for myself when what I rally want is a cat sad

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 03-Sep-12 19:27:15

Cant you have a cat?

No the clam didnt have a name, we didnt have that sort of relationship. He did his thing and I did mine but we had an understanding.

Frontpaw Mon 03-Sep-12 19:47:29

Well, I hope he had a decent burial.

HardlyEverHoovers Mon 03-Sep-12 22:42:55

Lots of people have mentioned ebay, I also find it great for getting a bit of money in case I need/want to buy something not budgeted for, or making ends meet if it's a tricky month!
I get most of my clothes from ebay or charity shops. Also have very fun 'clothes swap' parties with friends, where everyone brings things they don't wear, everything gets put in a big pile and you have a rummage. It's a good night and I normally come away with lots of new things!
Shopping-meal planning saves SOOO much money, we shop at the local market for veg, about 1/3rd price of supermarket (we normally spend under £10 on all out fruit and veg for a week for a family of 3), and shop in REALLY cheap shops, the type with lots of freezers in that you get in the cheap end of town, for other stuff. They tend to buy in stuff that other shops have bought too much of and can't shift, from what i can gather, so you get good brands very cheap. For example today we got big slab of mature cheddar for 1.95, large tub margarine for 80p.
We also get alot of other stuff from the market now, cleaning stuff, spices, and it's all cheaper than any shop I know of.
We don't have a TV, we watch stuff on iplayer and the other catch up websites, as long as it's not live you don't need a license,
Most other things we do have already been mentioned. What I would like to add is that living on a budget doesn't have to be depressing. It can be a challenge sometimes, but quite fun to go scouring round and making the most of things. See it as a shift to a less material way of living!
Hope you and your DCs settle into your new way of life and are very happy.

crackcrackcrak Mon 03-Sep-12 23:55:19

I can I think - ll just said no to a dog but no cat flap. I took dd to see cats at a rescue place and she was quite keen but they wouldn't let me adopt before I've had the new baby. Again it might be too much to take on just now. Anyway I really want a Siamese. I might treat myself when I get my divorce settlement grin

pookey Wed 05-Sep-12 00:42:30

I have used supermarket bagged frozen onions and they are really watery and don't brown even if I microwave first, does it help to defrost them for a few hours? Idea of an organised freezer filled with home chopped fresh veg is very appealing (mine is full of stray peas and fishfinger crumbs )!

pookey Wed 05-Sep-12 00:46:17

Hope your doing ok amigoingmadhere?

LieInsAreRarerThanTigers Wed 05-Sep-12 16:07:00

I agree about avoiding supermarkets when trying to be frugal: my latest discovery is the 'no time' shop - if you only need one or two things go when you literally HAVE to be in and out in ten minutes - before school run, an appointment or whatever. This works for me - got just the milk and whatever the other item was and dashed out again. I felt quite a sense of achievement.

I have been a frugal liver (sounds disgusting) for years, mainly through being an eco-nerd, now I have fallen on harder times with marriage breakdown and unemployed ex, I am grateful for the savings I built up over the 'good' years. I'm not sure how I do it but I do a lot less washing than most people, have low bills etc, just by being careful. Change beds, towels etc less frequently, especially if nobody is looking! Don't iron. Always used cloth nappies, sponge/Mooncup, second hand baby stuff, kids' clothes, toys, books etc.

To earn extra money this year I have had language students to stay - hard work catering and clearing up, but concentrated into short periods of time, and it is quite fun and nice for the children. I had four at once for a few days (kids can double up or younger one shared with me for short spells). Got some more coming in October and will earn £500 in two weeks give or take some extra food/heat/water etc. It's tax-free up to several thousand pounds, but I think I will have to declare it on tax credit form.

amigoingmadhere Wed 05-Sep-12 21:58:05

Thanks for asking Pookey .. I'm doing ok. Things all moving quite slowly for various reasons. This thread has been so useful.. quite a challenge changing ways so drastically but I have already made use of a number of suggestions on here. I keep meaning to make a list of people to thank individually but haven't had a chance yet. I have found this thread immensely supportive, even though people aren't necessarily posting in any kind of personal way. I feel that there is a whole community of people rooting for me somehow, which is good.
I am determined to stay positive about everything (as much as I can) and agree with posters who have said that having little money can be a fun kind of challenge to oneself.. i just hope it can stay that way.
Keep them coming anyway - this thread has literally changed my life (albeit as a byproduct of other lifechanging events sad)

crackcrackcrak Wed 05-Sep-12 22:17:45

Ami - so pleased this has been supportive and helpful - lets keep
It going grin
I have checked with the landlord there is no method to turn the blooming hot water down in my boiler! Damnit!

Ll has finally replaced the curtains in my living room though so at least I have some insulation this winter.

Now I am on mat leave I'm
Saving a lot in fuel. A tank is lasting me nearly 3 weeks instead of barely 1 grin

I reckon I need to make a task list before the winter though. Does anyone do that foil behind the radiator thing? If yes is it actual foil or a special thing you got from b and q? And does it really work?

How can you save on heating in a big airy house?

pookey Thu 06-Sep-12 01:23:50

Think your determination to get on with making changes and already acting on some of the ideas here is really inspiring amigoing.

ccc if you haven't already you could just shorten the amount of time the hot water is on for or turn it of manually and time it well? maybe you could make some of those snake things for the bottom of your doors to keep out drafts? Maybe turn radiators off in certain rooms and keep the doors shut as much as possible in rooms you want to keep warm so the living room heat isn't escaping into your hallway for example. Don't think you need special foil, its to do with the heat reflecting off the shiny foil and back into the room .

pookey Thu 06-Sep-12 01:27:52

one (pos only) advantage of a small terrace its def warmer when neighbours have their heat on grin

Badvoc Thu 06-Sep-12 07:39:18

Well I would say by doing the following...
Only heat the room you are in. I turn radiators off in other rooms if we are int using them.
We have a pn oil fired radiator in the conservatory - only use it from oct-march.
After you have cooked the dinner leave oven door open to heat kitchen/diner etc....this really works!!
Ring the number in the Mse website for FREE cavity wall insulation and loft insulation and a £30 m and s voucher! I have and they should be coming it to see me soon!
Seriously...it's free!
We have lined hevy curtains which we keep closed from about 4pm in winter!
We are also getting a door curtain too this yer fro the front door...
Keep doors closed in rooms you aren't using.
Erm....that's all I can think of for now....

Badvoc Thu 06-Sep-12 07:46:30

Still don't know what I am doing wrong wrt food shopping...sigh.
Spent over £90 last night at tesco and asda...have to go to tesco for GF pasta etc...
Argh.
Only bought 2 x cold meat and some bacon so it's not like I buy loads of meat.
Bought potatoes and veg and fruit.
Frozen oven chips and some ice cream.
cling film, kitchen towels, deo for dh.
Yoghurts, butter, some muffins for ds2, flapjacks for ds1.
Milk, UHt milk, UHt apple juice, squash....I buy asda own brand stuff too.
come in...what am I doing wrong?
(GF pasta, porridge etc is enought to last for the month btw...)

boredandrestless Thu 06-Sep-12 07:55:05

How many people are you feeding Badvoc?

Amigoingmadhere - Glad to hear you are still here, this thread really took off didn't it! smile I think just making a few changes at a time is a wise idea, will give you chance to gradually adjust.

I have door curtains, and when I lived in a house with single pane windows in rotting frames I lined all my curtains with fleece blankets that I bought very cheaply. I just safety pinned them to the tops of the curtains and they made a huge difference.

I have a large immersion tank heater, and another (combi?) heater. I have the immersion tank one turned off permanently at the wall, and the combi one just heats up water as I need it.

blackcatsdancing Thu 06-Sep-12 08:01:43

i like the idea of fleece blankets being used to line curtains! My DC is off to uni soon and worried about thin curtains in new acc. I'm worried about the cost of getting heavy lined ones to keep out the light and keep place warm. that sounds good (especially no sewing bit)!

boredandrestless Thu 06-Sep-12 08:07:35

Yes pinning them up means you can remove them in summer. I'm in a double glazed house now so don't need them but they really helped in my previous house. You could really feel the difference.

Badvoc Thu 06-Sep-12 10:35:38

Sorry...me, dh, ds1 and ds2.

racingheart Fri 07-Sep-12 14:51:37

badhov, the GF stuff is soo expensive - that's what's hiking the price up. Can you have more potatoes and sweet potatoes, or buckwheat pancakes, and cut out the bread and pasta? I wanted to get some and it was nearly £3 a packet! We had baked spuds instead.

racingheart Fri 07-Sep-12 15:06:39

Another tip: always look at cost per kilo. I just bought organic broccoli in this week's shop, as it was on offer far cheaper than the 'basics' range. Same with several other things. never automatically buy basics ranges. Shop around.

Badvoc Fri 07-Sep-12 15:13:47

Yeah am going to go back to normal pasta for the boys and just not have any myself...
Picked up some GF oats to make some flapjacks with and omg! I nearly dropped the pack!
£3 for 500g!!
Robbery......

Badvoc Fri 07-Sep-12 15:18:05

....some got the asda smart price oats which were 60p for 1kg!
smile
I'm not loving the soap nuts sad they aren't getting the clothes clean.
Have fine back to co op own brand non bio gel. It's ine of the cheapest and best IMO.
Got some good bargains for Xmas today form amazon, boots and debenhams clearance....

Badvoc Fri 07-Sep-12 15:18:27

I have found that too racing. Very confusing!

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 07-Sep-12 15:27:35

TBH I've heard bad things about soap nuts on MSE but I didnt want to say anything.

Oddly though, laundry gloop gets good reviews.

Badvoc Fri 07-Sep-12 17:08:44

Hmmm...glad its just not me...not impressed at all sad

crackcrackcrak Fri 07-Sep-12 21:41:25

Ouch gf must be a pain to budget around. What's laundry gloop?
I have super sensitive skin so I'm sticking with my Ecover refills but Aldo washing liquid is pretty good IMO and I'm fairly sure it's cheaper.
I like the Tesco daisy range for v cheap household cleaning stuff exist they do washing liquid too?

My next mission is to buy a huge roll of fat furry draught excluder and do all the doors with it before I touch the central heating. I'm getting retro sausage dogs for the doors too - that will amuse me for ages grin

pookey Fri 07-Sep-12 22:50:14

crackcrackcrack - sausage dogs, cool - energy efficient and a cheap pet!

Badvoc you could use some of the budget oats to make the flapjacks, food processing them first makes them stick together better. this is from jamie oliver site 250g Porridge Oats
125g Butter Lurpack is 2 for £2 in tesco grin
125g Brown Sugar
2-3 Tablespoons Golden Syrup (Depends how gooey you want it)
Put it in a food processor, then put it in a tray and bake until golden brown (about 20 min).

Not sure if this is actually cheaper than buying them though - pos not! You can also try using budget museli to make them.

I like shopping in a few diff supermarkets (time permitting and within reason) remembering prices is helpful; We tried LIDYL today and although we didn't buy them they had parma ham for about half the price as in sainsburys and parmesan was also much cheaper, however I bought the kids yogs without checking, assuming it would be cheaper, and they were approx 1.50 as opposed to £1 if I had got the same quantity in sains or tesco. If you could be bothered you could check the prices of more expensive items on my supermarket before decidinng where to shop? DP insists on right guard and its always on offer somewhere so I stock pile - at the mo its on offer in sainsburys.

Ooh and don't forget to complain/return things you are not happy with at the supermarket or wherever; they might give goodwill gestures (dp loves complaining blush )

BoerWarKids Sat 08-Sep-12 00:05:05

I'm sure i read on here once that you can use soap nuts to wash your hair?

I've got some in the cupboard, was going to use when my washing detergent runs out.

Badvoc Sat 08-Sep-12 08:18:00

Draft axcluders are ace smile
We have a sausage dog!
I actually think its cheaper to buy flapjacks tbh...the ingredients are expensive.
Made my fils b day cake last night....hope it's ok!

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 08-Sep-12 08:54:40

Laundry gloop is a grated bar of soap, borax and something else I cant remember right now...The recipe is on mse.

Apparently it's really good though for laundry.

flubba Sun 09-Sep-12 08:35:34

Have been reading thread with interest because we're skint and I'm a tightarse because I'm also concerned about our impact on the environment and lots of the things we do to save money also help the environment.
So, over the past week I have;
a) turned the hot water tank temp down to 55 degrees (I read that it shouldn't be lower than 130/55 to prevent bacterial growth, such as Legionnaires disease.)
b) snapped my dishwasher tabs in half and it's tackled curry plates very well smile
c) added vinegar to my rinse-aid, topped up the machine (as it was begging me to!) and no different smell or taste on my plates etc this morning. Yay!
d) bought a t-shirt from the £1 rail and made two lots of leggings for my girls which they love
e) made some bread rolls for our bbq today
f) using my own firestarters for the bbq today
g) made DH's birthday present with the kiddies this morning ~ kind of saltdough key ring with their fingerprints on

What else can I get going on? grin

pookey Sun 09-Sep-12 22:47:50

wow flubba you have been busy! Very impressed that you made leggings out of a t shirt! Will check my heating and make sure its high enough, didn't know that thanks.

crackcrackcrak Thu 13-Sep-12 22:19:34

just been looking at borax.....wat was it for again and what was that other cheap cleaning stuff someone metioned?

sorry i can look this up myself it was just better than writing bump

flubba Fri 14-Sep-12 12:47:18

thanks pookey here are the leggings if you want to have a nosey.
I'm going to have to turn the water tank temp up a bit when the weather gets colder I think - shower was a bit on the cool side this morning >>pathetic emoticon<<. Wondering whether I can keep the temperature higher, but remember to turn it on and off once in the morning (for mine and DH's showers) and once in the evening (for DCs' baths and washing up)? My timer is an old fashioned one and the shortest time I can have it on for is over an hour. Anyone else do this?

crackcrackcrak Fri 14-Sep-12 12:56:11

Set an alarm on your phone re the boiler?

I tried to turn mine down in the end phoned the plumber who works for my letting agent. It's impossible but he did advise that I must turn the hot taps in full power as this reduces the temp/energy rather than less power which creates scalding/wasted water. Ah well I tried.

My next task is to reduce the price of dd lunch box. She is 3 and has a packed lunch at least 4 times a week (too giddy to risk restaurant food even if I was loaded). I realise this is quite an expense because I buy her things in sealed packets because she is often do awkward I can't risk the waste if she turns things down on the day and they come home again.

Things I buy separately are jelly, yoghurt, cheese, pouches (Ella's kitchen), sometimes chocolate bars but she will accept own brand multi packs so this is ok.
Might attempt jelly in old weaning pots with lids but not sure what else I can do?

flubba Fri 14-Sep-12 13:02:38

Good idea - will give that a go. I have no idea how quickly it takes to heat up, but unless I try, I'll never know!

My DDs' lunchboxes are cheap, cheap, cheap poor things. I buy two loaves of bread at once (usually on offer), and do a whole loaf in one go and freeze (we currently need 9 sets of sandwiches a week), and it's also then cheaper on ham etc as you can use up nearly a whole pack so none goes to waste.

You could surely do lumps of cheese in pots?
We also do pots of breadsticks, raisins, biscuits if they're very lucky and that sort of stuff.

crackcrackcrak Fri 14-Sep-12 13:05:59

Do the sandwiches survive ok if you freeze them?

flubba Fri 14-Sep-12 13:53:34

Yes - if you get them out in the morning they're fine by lunchtime (I put a couple we had left over in the fridge this morning and we had them for lunch today at home - they were fine). So far I've used ham, chicken (ham-like chicken slices) and cheese and philadelphia equivalent (cheapo from Sainsbury's basics). Have been advised against mayo. I don't put salad stuff in them.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 14-Sep-12 13:55:09

I only put our hot water on for 20mins now, the tank is below waist height as opposed to the 5 foot high one we had before.

I worked out our last months use was 23 units or £8ish. It was £25 a month before on the old tariff.

crackcrackcrak Fri 14-Sep-12 13:55:56

Genius! Going to try this straight away as would save me do much time grin thanks!

boredandrestless Fri 14-Sep-12 14:35:15

For pack up stuff I go to Heron Frozen Foods, I'm not sure if they are a national chain or just regional but their stuff is way cheaper than the supermarkets. You can usually get kids yogs (petit filou, frubes, etc) 2 or 3 packs for £1, big packs of naice ham for half the price of asda, baby bels/cheese strings type things 2 or 3 multi packs for £1. I got 3 multi packs of philadelphia and bread stick dunkers for £1 the other day. If Heron aren't national I'm sure there will be another similar type of store in other places.

I put the yogs in the freezer and take them out for pack ups in a morning so none go to waste and they keep the pack up cool. I also portion up the nice ham as only me eating it so will put half in fridge, and the rest in freezer in little pots for sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, etc.

Another thing I do is put a little portion of something into a small tupperware pot stuff like microwave popcorn, dried apricots, raisins, chunks of sausage, chunks of cheddar, etc - stuff that can be bought cheaply if you buy a big pack.

flubba Fri 14-Sep-12 14:55:36

Good to know, thanks Fluffy.
Right, have set alarm for water heater and have turned it off totally. I'll give it half an hour tonight and if my DCs turn into freezer blocks, I'll give it 35 mins tomorrow and so on until they stop being blue... grin

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 14-Sep-12 15:20:30

Main problem Ive got is that the bastard hot water comes on whenever the heating goes on. I'm going to have to turn the stat right down when the heating is on.

flubba Fri 14-Sep-12 16:35:16

Ohh! That's crapology and I think mine may be the same.

crackcrackcrak Fri 14-Sep-12 16:39:09

I predict I have the same problem. Maybe we can crack it together! Got a few weeks before heating needed grin

OliviaLMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 14-Sep-12 18:17:45

smile

Virgil Fri 14-Sep-12 20:57:28

Buy whole milk and add water. Double the milk for the same cost as the semi skimmed

flubba Sat 15-Sep-12 07:06:15

I have a cunning if slightly convoluted plan crack - when the heating's on and needed, but the hot water isn't, turn the thermostat on the water down (but apparently not lower than 55 confused but maybe it's okay to go lower than 55 when you're not using it confused confused), and remember to turn it up to a higher temp for when you need it??

Anyone wiser than me on the temp. thing?

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 15-Sep-12 09:59:19

If your not using it theres no harm in turning it right down, when you turn it up again the bacteria should be killed.

flubba Sat 15-Sep-12 21:47:43

That's what I thought too. Am a bit worried though that either the kids or their friends would use the hot tap in the day without me knowing. Hmmm....

An FYI though, I put the water on for half an hour this morning and it wasn't enough for our crap shower, but was good enough for the handheld shower attachment. Will up it tomorrow smile

pookey Sun 16-Sep-12 00:09:42

Flubba the leggings look really expensive!!! love the button detail smile

pookey Sun 16-Sep-12 00:26:52

Flubba you are clearly a fabric genius, can I ask some advice grin what can I do with my supersoft skinny jeggings they wear out because of my thunder thighs so I love them but can't afford to keep buying them all the time? Should I patch them or turn them into something? Is there something I can buy and spray on them to make them tougher?

Anyone with very old boiler/ heating system who is on benefits should check out the warm front grant if - website lists the benefits covered by the sceme www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Energyandwatersaving/Energygrants/DG_10018661 . Not sure if you have to own the house to be eligible but seems quite likely.

Re packed lunches, I bought a pack of differently shaped little cookie cutters. DS1 would only eat Cheese Strings for a bit and 'didn't like' normal cheese but was quite happy with normal cheese cut into stars, little people, etc and put in a weaning pot. DS2 has been turning his nose up at sandwiches recently but will quite happily eat them cut into hearts, stars, etc. Even DS1 who is 9 now likes a bit of variety in his sandwich shapes so I buy packs of mini-rolls, little croissants, mini pita, etc and fill them all in one go to freeze. I am totally chaotic in the mornings so it helps to be able to just grab a box from the freezer the night before and stick it in the fridge to defrost.

Homemade popcorn with butter and a little spice (cumin and coriander is good) mixed through is very cheap and easy to make and will keep till the next day. It always goes down well as a snack or a lunchpack extra with my boys.

When DS1 became besotted with smoothies I used to buy Asda's cheap version and decanted into plain drinks bottles with a home-made label - he was into Horrid Henry at the time so I googled HH pictures and pasted them into a label with made up juice names (Horrid Henry's Stinking Strawberry Smoothie for example) and printed them out on label sheets.

We also got a set of alphabet cutters with a birthday gift of playdough years ago and I make cheesy biscuits cut out with DS1's initials. He likes them being especially HIS biscuits that no shop sells so he is happy to eat them. And they are v cheap to make! He's past the stage where I can kid myself they are educational though... When he started school and was missing his mum a bit I also used to make cheese scones cut with a big heart cutter and he loved these as a reminder that mum loves him even when he is at school. In P1 he referred to these as Love Scones but when he started to refer to them as Humiliating Scones in P3 I dropped the heart cutter grin. That was two years ago but cheese scones are still referred to in the Ancient house as Humiliating Scones.

crackcrackcrak Sun 16-Sep-12 11:18:46

Oooh ancient, thanks! I am a but obsessed with cookie cutters and I already have alphabet ones and a few others. I will be trying the cheese/sandwich cutting forthwith!

crackcrackcrak Sun 16-Sep-12 11:35:00

I'm applying for the warm front grant - I can't make sense of whether I am entitled but noting ventured. I looked up the water bill one too but down here you need3 kids to qualify - gits!

Badvoc Sun 16-Sep-12 18:17:59

On the Mse website there are companies (tesco, mands etc) offers free cavity wall and loft insulation and vouchers/points too.

justwanttobehappy Mon 17-Sep-12 14:22:22

This thread took me days...and...days to read in between all the other things I need to do as a busy mum. I don't have the time to go through them again blush but was intruiged to read that you specifically need to live in the SE for market research jobs.

Please could someone tell me how to find more about this, it would help the hole in my pocket immeasurably! wink

It may have been on one of Xenia's threads - I'd love to meet her, she sounds awesome and where I'd like to find myself some day soon. I just wish I knew where to start, I have also faced so many closed doors! confused

justwanttobehappy Mon 17-Sep-12 14:40:07

Forgot to add blush that I wrote down a vast amount of amazing hints and tips, so wanted to thank everyone for their thoughtful contributions as they will help me to save loads! smile

crackcrackcrak Mon 17-Sep-12 15:28:52

I do product testing but it only amounts to free stuff now and then.

I have also loved this thread and dd1 had flower shaped sandwiches today!

<hangs head in shame> my own two are off with normal sandwiches today.

crackcrackcrak Wed 19-Sep-12 11:31:21

My house is freezing. There will be no heating until I've been to b&q later. Hear me roar!
Had a great haul on eBay of winter clothes for dd. I had hand me downs until she was 3 but she's out of them now and realised I have to actually buy all her clothes - meh! She now has a pile of gap and Boden clothes 2nd hand :-)

Virgin telly box is broken sob that's it - it's going.

Mse email this week had cheaper landline deal for 7.99 going to see of I can get that too grin

Molepom Wed 02-Jan-13 11:23:17

Can I add a weird one?

If you can turn the temperature off on your washing machine for a white wash then do so. They are still clean but for some reason whites do come out brighter. (found this out when my old machine decided to play up a bit at a time) saves a little on electric but also on any bleaching agents you use ie, vanish etc.

Virgil Wed 02-Jan-13 13:29:35

If you shop in tesco make sure you keep your receipt and go onto the price promise website after your shop. They price check and give you a voucher for the difference if your shop would have been cheaper elsewhere.

Twinkletoes91 Mon 14-Jan-13 22:48:40

Marking place smile

maigwa Thu 25-Apr-13 14:39:46

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

milk Sat 04-May-13 12:11:08

I go on the Quidco "no brainers" section smile I got £4 for joining Match.com smile

gracehurley1990 Sun 12-May-13 20:26:26

www.mystockstalker.com emails you when products you choose from online retailers drop in price. Its free to use. I dont buy anything until it goes into sale smile

MostlyCake Wed 03-Jul-13 13:12:32

If you are changing your mobile check if your company uses the mobile network supplier for company phones - i know Vodafone do it (as i just got my mum a new contract) and you get a discount if your company is there. You can also add (I think) 4 other people. You do need your employee number but you should be able to get this easily from HR or payroll.

Sorry, can't remember the discount but it's worth asking about!

MostlyCake Wed 03-Jul-13 13:15:39

Also, if you work for a reasonably sized company you might be able to persuade them to start a discount scheme where employees can get cash back or discounts e.g. www.perkz.com/ or www.asperity.co.uk/.