How can I cut costs?

(45 Posts)
Madratlady Tue 19-Feb-13 11:02:50

My husband and I (no kids yet) are struggling to find ways to cut our costs. Any suggestions for making money go further would be really welcome.
- we rent in an area where all housing is expensive
- lots of debt (mostly his from before we met)
- Car on finance (regretting this a lot)
- we live in a small village so get all our shopping delivered from Tesco
- we don't go out a lot, aren't big drinkers and don't spend much money on non essentials
We both earn good ages but it barely covers our outgoings. Anything unexpected like a car repair or vets bill is a nightmare.

MrsMushroom Tue 19-Feb-13 18:34:58

Well you have a why are you getting shopping delivered? Also...where do you shop? How much is your weekly bill for food and essentials like cleaning things?

Which of your bills apart from housing is worst?

nkf Tue 19-Feb-13 18:40:47

You need to break it down more. Use the budget planner on moneysaving expert. It really helps you see where you are spending and where you can save.

ssd Tue 19-Feb-13 18:41:55

is your rent very expensive, could you downsize?

Madratlady Tue 19-Feb-13 18:42:00

We only have one car and i work shifts so i'm often at work when DH isn't. it makes it much easier to get shopping delivered weekly. I also find online to be cheaper than in person because I can see all the special offers available and try and plan meals around whatever's cheap.

We usually pay between £50 and £60 for everything - food, toiletries, cleaning stuff, pet food etc

DH refuses to use Asda (is it even that much cheaper?), we live too far from anywhere like Aldi/Lidl to make it worth driving there.

We don't really get many 'treats' but I do always buy fresh fruit and veg and cook from scratch which seems very expensive.

youfhearted Tue 19-Feb-13 18:44:37

have you tried martins money, i think that is what it is called, website.

youfhearted Tue 19-Feb-13 18:45:12

oops, money saving expert is what I meanyt by Martins money

LadyKooKoo Tue 19-Feb-13 21:06:04

Yes, Asda is cheaper than Tesco and if you are really as strapped as you say, your DH needs to suck it up and start living within his means. Sorry if that sounds harsh but it is true. Clearly the main issue is with him if he is the one with the debts. Don't be an enabler.

AdoraBell Tue 19-Feb-13 23:21:31

Can you cut down the amount of meat and poultry you buy and use eggs and beans/lentils? Cheaper cuts of meat? These tend to take longer to cook but with planning it's workable. Bulk out meals with more veg, use any tired looking veg in soups, omlettes, curries etc, maybe with lentils too. Make large quantities and freeze in portions to cut the cost of cooking. A good place for ideas for food is

Does DH need to know where the shopping came from? Get Asda to deliver while he's at work and see if he surviveswink

Other than that it's a question of looking at exactly what goes out and seeing where you can cut costs or simply cut things out.

catsmother Wed 20-Feb-13 06:28:10

The Asda thing is plain silly. A potato's a potato wherever it comes from and overall Asda does seem to be cheaper than Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons I think. Some of their range is definitely cheap and cheerful but then that's supposed to be the point isn't it if you're trying to cut costs. I know that Asda have a very bad reputation for home delivery - messing up transactions and bad customer service - but if you go on you can still see all their offers (and obviously compare to other supermarkets) and write up a list (I think you might be able to print it) before going there. If you've got one nearish to you the cost of petrol would probably be equal to or less than home delivery charges. Also, IME, Asda tend to be reasonably generous with their sell-by reductions (unlike Tesco) which obviously you don't find online.

IamMummyhearmeROAR Wed 20-Feb-13 07:37:34

I love a trip to 'the Asda' as its called here. My kids see it as a day out! Definitely cheaper and its fruit is miles ahead of all my local Tescos. And the Whoopsees put Tesco to shame.

Helenagrace Wed 20-Feb-13 09:28:58

My nearest Aldi is an 18 mile round trip. I go once a month and buy for a month. That's normally a two trolley £200 shop but I save around £100 doing this compared to buying the same things at other supermarkets. It might be worth trying the Aldi option even if it's a bit further away. I buy all the non-perishables for the month and fresh stuff for that week in Aldi. I top up the rest of the month at other shops. Usually Morrisons for their 3 for £10 meat deals as I think their meat deals are better value and quality.

Asda is cheaper than tesco , sainsburys and morrisons and your OH is being very silly.

Cheaper still might be a farm shop or market. Yesterday I bought Savoy cabbage for 59p in the farm shop - 89p in Asda, carrots 70p a kilo in the FS - £1 a kilo in Asda. Over a month that's another few quid saved.

I've halved my food shop bill doing this.

specialsubject Wed 20-Feb-13 10:24:53

so he's built up a lot of debt but is still fussy about the brand name on his baked beans? Has he learned anything? If not, you need to protect yourself and think very hard about having kids unless he changes his ways.

see if anything can be done to manage your debts and reduce payments.

you say 'vets bill'. That means you have pets. Big luxury. If you can't rehome them, try to get some insurance.

car on finance was indeed a big mistake. Is there any way out of that? You can get cars for well under £1000 now and they will run for a few years.

somebloke123 Wed 20-Feb-13 10:28:11

Also review:

Car insurance
Fuel bills
House insurance

Using something like the Money Saving Expert website you can compare quotes online and often get much better deals. Sticking with the same suppliers through inertia can be costly as the prices tend to drift up.

Madratlady Wed 20-Feb-13 10:28:34

Thanks for all the advice.

We will have paid off most of the debts by autumn so I'm more worried about the next few months, after that things will be ok.

I think I'll try doing a 'trolley' with the same things on Tesco and on Asda online, without actually buying them, just to show him the price difference. Trouble is, he's insisting we should collect clubcard points so we can afford treats, we're saving all our points towards a holiday at the moment.

We don't want to downsize, we want to start a family as soon as the debts are paid off so it'd be silly moving somewhere smaller, and this house is about the same as a smaller house usually would be round here anyway, it's very cheap for the size. Also, moving would mean that we'd need a deposit, first months rent, agency fees etc up front.

Does anyone know if you can end a car Hire Purchase agreement early? That's one expense I'd like to not have any more.

I'm quite pleased at the moment because I'm changing jobs and will be paid weekly, I've just done a very detailed weekly budget, which should cover everything as long as we don't have any large unexpected expenses.

specialsubject Wed 20-Feb-13 10:54:15

'we should collect clubcard points so we can afford treats, we're saving all our points towards a holiday at the moment.'

that answers my question as to whether he has learned anything...

good luck.

Charlesroi Wed 20-Feb-13 16:01:46

No, things won't be OK when the debts are paid off. You'll need to save an emergency fund to cover car repairs, vets bill, Christmas, removal costs etc. (what if your landlord gives notice?). If you want to start a family there's quite a bit of expense there too.
Also, I think you should include the cost of a holiday in your monthly budget. If you can't save it, you can't afford it. Not sure I'd use your Tesco points for this either - there was a Watchdog-type prog on a few weeks ago which suggested that the prices offered to those paying by clubcard were at least a couple of hundred more. It might be better to trade the points in when they are offering 2-1 deals and use them on clothes etc.

Ambi Wed 20-Feb-13 18:43:26

As you're using Tesco online I'd recommend using it through its easy to compare prices.

BreadForMyBREADGUN Wed 20-Feb-13 18:49:50

Be a supermarket whore, use to make sure you're getting the best prices. Pretend to be a new customer with waitrose/Ocado/Sainsburys and get £5-20 off your shop.

Sell anything you don't use anymore, check all your utilities and energy tariffs.

Don't use your vouchers towards a holiday - save them for the clubcard exchange to go towards any old/broken household items that might need replacing.

redskyatnight Wed 20-Feb-13 19:02:36

I'd also say write down absolutely everything you spend. As others have said the spreadsheet on MSE is good. If you're not sure where your money goes, then keep a spending diary.

Once you know exactly what you are spending where then you can analyse each value and see if it can be cut down. Be absolutely brutal. You might well find there are things you spend money on that you don't even think about.

Aldi/Lidl are even cheaper than Asda I think, though you can't get everything there.

Madratlady Thu 21-Feb-13 10:53:58

I didn't know about MySupermarket and MyUtility before so thanks for that!

SpecialSubject These are debts that his ex fiancee ran up in his name years ago. It's in a payment plan which now only has a few months left on it. Unfortunately he is bad at budgeting which he admits. That is why I deal with all our finances now and he runs any expenditure past me first. He suggested this system and it works.

Our pets are family members. They will not be rehomed. I'm insuring the cats and rabbits but the rats can't be insured.

As for the car, that was my mistake when I graduated and passed my driving test. Very bad idea, I see that now. I think I may be able to give the car back in a few months and get a cheap second hand car.

Charlesroi When I said things would be OK when the debts were paid off, I meant that then we could start to save. We both have good incomes, unfortunately our outgoings are currently quite large, when we're not paying big chunks of debt any more we'll have a lot more money!

<sigh> Roll on September when we'll be debt free and I'll be much less stressed!

specialsubject Thu 21-Feb-13 17:28:35

cheers for the response. I assume if the rats get sick you won't be going to a vet! Cats are the main thing, a friend had hers die on her today a few days AFTER the very expensive operation.

hope you can get rid of the car soon. Good luck!

Timeforabiscuit Thu 21-Feb-13 17:46:28

I'd third changing your supermarket - family of four for everything including toiletries down to £75 per week very comfortably with four cut meat meals.

I did a shop in Asda and nearly had a heart attack.

Other than that does he have any other assets? DVD's, Games/game consoles, watches/jewellery - music magpie for CD collections.

What about phone contracts, utility bills, tv packages, internet, phonebill?

Do you have a large back garden where you could grow your own cheap veg - green beans/courgettes?

Timeforabiscuit Thu 21-Feb-13 17:46:59

* sorry supermarket of choice is Aldi

Madratlady Thu 21-Feb-13 19:32:58

Special I have to disagree with you about not taking the rats to the vets. Whilst I have to draw the line somewhere about how far I would go to treat an elderly rodent, I believe that they should still have as much right to treatment as the cats and rabbits. I love them and would never leave them ill without treatment. It's a necessary part of pet ownership, and something that I feel very strongly about.

Timeforabiscuit We have sold some things, and would sell anything else we didn't ant or use, but can't sell everything! I want to try growing some veg, but the back garden turns into a swamp whenever it rains. May try some pots of veg though.

BreadForMyBREADGUN Thu 21-Feb-13 20:09:00

Special - you can't actually be seriously suggesting that the op regime her pets, or not give them medical care if they need it? Really? shock

FamiliesShareGerms Thu 21-Feb-13 20:17:51

I think OP's user name is a good indication of her view of her pets!

I'm with you OP on pets being part of the family, and FWIW have never found pet insurance to be much good (the excess still needs paying every time, and the amount of pre-existing conditions and other get out clauses means the premiums cost more than saving for a rainy day)

Don't be a label / supermarket snob.

Cut out meat for at least 3-4 meals.

Cut down alcohol consumption.

Don't be completely hair shirted, or you will end up splurging to treat yourself and spend more than a monthly take away, for example

Measure out things like washing powder rather than just slopping it in

BreadForMyBREADGUN Thu 21-Feb-13 20:22:06

Obviously 'regime' is meant to say 'rehome'

LadyKooKoo Thu 21-Feb-13 21:14:14

If your garden turns into a swamp then have hanging baskets - I grow everything in them. Tomatoes. Green beans. Parsnips. Carrots. Strawberries. Blueberries. You name it, I have probably grown it!

Madratlady Thu 21-Feb-13 21:21:46

FamiliesShareGerms I agree about not being completely hair shirted. We don't eat out or get takeaways at the moment, but we go out and have 2 or 3 drinks each a couple of times a month (soft drinks for me anyways, I don't really drink). I will try cutting down on meat though, I like trying new recipes so it will be a good challenge to cook 'meat free'.

LadyKooKoo I never thought about growing stuff like carrots in hanging baskets <skips of to the garden centre>

LadyKooKoo Thu 21-Feb-13 21:27:38

They are great. Some of my baskets are about 3 foot across and two foot deep so perfect for things like carrots and parsnips. I line them with moss which helps too.

BreadForMyBREADGUN Thu 21-Feb-13 21:46:48

Don't plant carrots in hanging baskets - they're about 9p a bag, so growing them doesn't save you any money. Plant things that cost loads in the supermarket

LadyKooKoo Thu 21-Feb-13 21:49:43

9p a bag? Where are you buying your carrots?!

BreadForMyBREADGUN Thu 21-Feb-13 22:04:28

Ok, maybe not a bag, but my point was they're about the cheapest veg you can buy. Grow expensive things smile

LadyKooKoo Thu 21-Feb-13 22:05:50

Yep, I get your point smile I just like growing my own stuff. I hate that supermarkets rule the roost and there are no greengrocers within walking distance.

forevergreek Thu 21-Feb-13 22:13:22

i would def downsize property if possible. how big is it? (saying that as someone with 2 little ones in a 1 bed, out of choice due to huge savings and a better lifestyle that comes with it)

bubbles1231 Thu 21-Feb-13 22:19:42

we chabge fron shopping at tesco to shopping at aldi and our weekly shop has dropped from £100 to £70 per week. Thats a family of 4 with 2 growing lads. (and the friut & veg is nicer)

bubbles1231 Thu 21-Feb-13 22:20:05

changed from!!

PearlyWhites Fri 01-Mar-13 09:05:20

Yes we call it "the asda" are you from Liverpool Iammummy?

IamMummyhearmeROAR Sat 02-Mar-13 07:34:40

No- from the east of Scotland x

Growing things like beetroot, chilli, shallots, lettuce, tomatoes, peas, runner beans, courgettes, herbs from seed saves a lot of money.
Also, fruit such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, dwarf apple trees, blackberries do well in large pots or raised beds and fruit year after year.

Madratlady Sat 02-Mar-13 15:46:17

Well we've changed to Asda, this week's shopping cost the same as Tesco did, but we needed a lot of stuff and I could probably have got things a little cheaper by using more quorn/meat substitutes. They also do free 'click and collect' so no more delivery fees smile Next time I'm in town I'll check out ALDI.

I'm going to start looking into things I can plant soon, I like the idea of taking up gardening!

And the new budget is looking great, I also have more opportunities for overtime now I' working for the nursing agency full time, so our income has increased a bit. Only a little but it'll keep us out of the red.

To those who suggest downsizing, we can't/ don't want to for a few reasons:
1) we can't afford the cost of moving right now
2) I don't want to end up struggling for space when we have kids, which will hopefully be very soon. DH is a musician (hobby, not job) so unfortunately we have a lot of band gear to store, so we need either a spare room or garage. Not ideal but I don't see any other option.
3)Our current 3 bed house costs roughly what a 2 bed generally costs round here, we were lucky to find somewhere so cheap, and it's a nice house too.
4) We have lots of pets, we'd be unlikely to find another landlord that was so laid back with a house that we could afford.

Timeforabiscuit Sat 02-Mar-13 16:44:04

Glad the budget is going well! I found courgettes and sugar snap peas the easiest and most satisfying to grow - you get loads out for the cost and effort you put in.

Domjolly Sun 17-Mar-13 15:48:45

Instead of having a takeaway try M&S £10 meal deal wich includes wine its more than half the price of a teakeaway

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 17-Mar-13 18:00:47

There's a book on amazon called the takeaway secret. It's well reviewed, I heard about it on mse.

After I checked out our local takeaways last environmental health check I decided take aways were not for me really.

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