What are your best money saving tips?

(21 Posts)
WindInThePussyWillows Wed 02-Nov-16 14:06:16

Our landlord has put our rent up 4% and it's going to leave us very tight month to month.
Our home consists of 6 month old twins, 2 cats, DH and myself.

What are your best money saving tips and tricks? We really need to tighten our belts and I'm looking for ideas on how to start.

DaughterDrowningInJunk Wed 02-Nov-16 15:49:18

Food is the easiest way to cut down.

Frozen veg is a lot cheaper than fresh, and isn't any less nutritious.
Lots of meals can be bulked out with lentils, grated carrot, or frozen peas.
Freeze milk so that you can benefit from offers.
If you have 6 month old twins it is likely to be hard to get to the supermarket at the time things are reduced in the afternoon but you can get real bargains at about 10pm.
Try value everything. If you don't like it you can move up one level next time.
A slow cooker will only save you money if you like to eat the sorts of foods easily cooked in a slow cooker, but they are really economical especially when compared to having the oven on.
Don't use kitchen roll if you can avoid it - cut up old t shirts to make rags.
Have one type of multi-purpose spray cleaner, or make your own with vinegar.
Use less washing powder than it says on the box. People become immune to the smell of their own washing powder the same way they do with perfume. Don't use fabric conditioner.
Bar soap is a lot cheaper than shower gel, and less plastic in the environment too.

Use washable nappies (you can get them second hand as the initial outlay is quite high). If you can't manage washable nappies, try washable wipes. Don't buy anything fancy, just some really cheap flannels, or again, cut up t-shirts/fleece.

Check you are on the best tariffs for all your utilities, but be aware of any tie-in periods if you change suppliers.
Check you are not paying ober the odds for mobile contracts.

Have you checked you are getting anything you are entitled to?

Consider selling baby clothes as and when the twins grow out of them. You won't get loads doing this but it can be useful especially as people tend to give you naice stuff for newborns. If you are keeping baby stuff for a future baby you could get rid of one set. Thinking about it, that is probably a sure fire way to guarantee another set of twins!

WindInThePussyWillows Wed 02-Nov-16 15:55:15

Thank you so much! All great ideas.
Especially the frozen veg, we have started weaning and I'm making it all myself and freezing it but have been using fresh veg.
Soap instead of shower gel is another great one we can definitely start.

As for clothes, I have been selling them on our local twins page but very very cheap as the idea is to help each other out, will definitely look to eBay some of the nicer/more expensive stuff and see if I can make a bit extra that way.

I bought DH a really expensive watch a few years back before I was made redundant and could afford extravagant gifts should have saved and we are thinking about selling it but it's his absolute pride and joy.

Everything is just so expensive and we are really struggling now. A 4% rise on the rent has taken all 'disposable' income away sad

DaughterDrowningInJunk Wed 02-Nov-16 16:28:53

The thing is with selling the watch, that money will soon be sucked up in paying for your increased outgoings, and once it's gone, it's gone. Although it is a solution, try to minimise your outgoings by cutting back wherever possible.

One key thing with saving money is not to think you are making savings when you are not. The most obvious example of this is buying an item you probably wouldn't otherwise have bought, because it was reduced.

Plan ahead as much as possible so that you never have to buy food or drink on the go. Always know what you are going to have for dinner so that you aren't tempted to have a takeaway.

If you are a member of a library borrow books on cheap cooking. There are loads.
Don't read magazines, ever, whether you pay for them or not!

Is there any way you can increase your income? Do you have any skills you could use to do freelance work, assuming you don't already work outside the home?

Do you have anything like gym memberships or sky? Cancel if you do, but remember that it is not forever, and you can always re-subscribe once things have improved.

Read the money saving expert forums for inspiration.

Don't forget the psychological aspect of saving money. If you go round feeling deprived all the time, you will quickly become disheartened. If you are working hard to save money you need to look on it in a positive way, as you would a hobby, or investment. I don't want to imply that anyone should find it fun being skint for much of the time, I dont! But I do get an odd satisfaction from doing things cheaply and trying to think outside the box.

Oh and lastly, value toothpaste contains the exact same amount of fluoride as the more expensive ones, so it is totally fine to use. Some people prefer the milder flavour.

Bluepowder Wed 02-Nov-16 16:30:54

avoid the shops as much as possible.

Bruicer Wed 02-Nov-16 16:42:46

Buy bulk..I buy washing powder in 10kg sacks. Also broken dishwasher tablets. Everything works great.

Change to aldi or lidls. Their food (and nappies) are great.

Keep the one thing that's your treat. Ours is twinnings tea! It just perks you up whilst scrimping else where. Xx

champagneplanet Wed 02-Nov-16 16:49:52

Meal planning definitely brings your shopping bill down, look in the cupboards before you go to see what you can use/add to make a meal. Look to see what's on offer that week and base your meals around them. Have a couple of meat free days and make soup.

I saved money by doing DDs own dinners in little pots when she was weaning. There's loads of ideas online, potato & veg with chicken gravy and stewed apple and pear were easy and kept well. Don't be a snob and try the basic ranges, some of the stuff is perfectly fine.

I'm a big believer in shopping around for deals on insurance/utilities. You can save a fortune.

The key, as a PP have said, is to enjoy saving/getting a bargain that way it won't become a chore.

Mummyshortlegz Wed 02-Nov-16 16:52:32

If you are selling clothes look for Facebook groups specialising in the brand.

It's hard to advise really well without a breakdown of all your outgoings. Go through your direct debits and cancel anything you don't need. Set a good budget for food / fuel / fun and stick to it religiously.

Chottie Wed 02-Nov-16 16:57:23

Join your local www.streetlife.com there are often people giving away lots of stuff from home grown surplus vegetables to baby equipment and clothes.

woowoowoo Wed 02-Nov-16 17:02:51

Following with interest

NattyTile Wed 02-Nov-16 17:04:57

Walk rather than use the car where you can, saves wear and tear, fuel and parking costs.

Don't go shopping. I find if I walk into a shop for "just one thing" I'll nearly always come out with a few other things on top, so that £1 pint of milk becomes a £5-6 of stuff we didn't need. I now try to do without whatever we've run out of, rather than just nip out to replace it.

Move your shopping to lidl or aldi - I switched from waitrose earlier this year and honestly I've cut my grocery bill in half. Some of that is to do with limited range, so fewer treaty nibbles, but the rest is just sheer bargains (£38 yesterday in aldi for a full truly; virtually identical shop in sainsburys 3 weeks ago was £69).

Check your direct debits - are you paying out for warranties on dead items, or sponsoring charities you'd forgotten about, anything like that?

Don't eat meat every meal, and when you do, go for cheaper cuts and bulk it out with other stuff.

Eat what's in season - youve probably missed the blackberries but see if there are any unadopted apple trees all forlorn and lost (we have some which have grown from discarded apple cores in a local park); we've found chestnut trees too.

Make as much use of your freezer as you can, and check when local shops discount stuff. Our local coop reduces meat joints at around 3pm on a Sunday, once it's too late to cook them for lunch. But that's half price for the week after if you go at the right time.

ChipmunkSundays Thu 03-Nov-16 10:02:57

I think it´s better to look around for any possible big gains first, and smaller money-saving habits only second. Partly because the first is more efficient, and also because it can be soul-destroying if you are constantly wondering "but can we afford it" about every little thing. Don't sell the beloved watch if you can possibly avoid it: you will get only a fraction of what you paid for it new. So in terms of making more money:

- Are you and DH both full-time employed already? If not, could either of you increase your hours without major damage to family life?
- Are you on paid maternity leave, or were you made redundant too early? Do you have plans to go back to work? If so, is there any family support or possibility of swapping childcare favours with friends to cut down on childcare costs and maximise your income?
- Are there any benefits you might be entitled to that you´re not claiming?
- Are you and DH good at career planning? Would it be feasible for either of you to aim for a promotion, or look for another position that would give you a step up on the salary ladder?

And in terms of saving money:

- Look at your bank statements. What are your direct debits and big expenses? Can you cancel any of your direct debits outright?
- With utilities, household contents insurance, car insurance, internet provision, are you with the cheapest company on the best contract? If you can find a cheaper contract, start by calling your company and explaining that you are going to leave them. Quote them the new package you have found. They may try to match it, which saves you the hassle of transferring companies.
- Mobile phones: do you have expensive contracts, or unnecessarily expensive phones (e.g. lots of people have iPhones just because they always have done, rather than because they really use all the Apple features). If you already own an adequate smartphone outright then Tesco do seriously generous minutes/texts/data packages for just £10 a month or even less.
- Do you have expensive subscriptions or habits that you could just live without? Sky, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions etc. can be replaced with e.g. catchup TV services, running, and library books. Try taking up new hobbies that are free or cheap: anything from learning a new language with Duolingo to hillwalking to cooking and knitting. Use your local library, park run, any free services like that that are on offer. If either of you smokes, now would be a great time to quit and save a fortune as well as improving health.
- Do you buy much pre-prepared food, or regular takeaways? You can get tastier, healthier, cheaper food if you buy and make it yourself. Take inspiration from other food cultures where food is often simple to prepare but good (fresh bread, Parma ham, baked camembert, and olives is good for a lazy indulgent Friday night supper, for example, and way cheaper than a takeaway).

If you´re trying to save money on hobbies and habits then I would always focus on trying to improve your life rather than just live without the thing, whatever it is - hence the focus on taking up new, positive hobbies to replace expensive subscriptions, or trying to replace expensive but poor-quality food items with cheaper but nicer versions. It´s crap if you just feel deprived and miserable all the time, whereas if you feel that you are making positive choices that give you more opportunities for the good things in life then that can help.

SpookyMooky Thu 03-Nov-16 13:56:37

Some very wise "big picture" posts here, I think.

Bar soap applies for handwash too. We have handwash for guests but mostly use soap ourselves. If you leave it unwrapped for a couple of weeks before use, it will harden up and last longer without going slimy/mushy.

I would recommend the Hugh FW Veg book for an alternative way of eating pretty cheaply without feeling deprived. Some of the recipes look a bit blah - just toms, onion etc - but actually taste incredible.

I agree Aldi/Lidl would be a good shout but failing that, I pay £6pm for tesco delivery saver and reckon this saves me money (as well as time) over going to the supermarket myself. Look into 5aDay veg box - it'll be more than aldi but it certainly competes with supermarket prices.

For the babies, I used to freeze single flavour mush in ice cubes then mixed and matched to give them different meals. A weaning baby is great as any veg can be served as finger food. if you do HM stuff from early on it helps avoid ending up with loads of expensive pouches. HM soup made from random leftover veg is healthy for adults, and can be thickened up with a bit of baby rice to make it easier for little ones to manage.

Grumpyoldblonde Thu 03-Nov-16 16:48:16

If you swap any of your providers go through Topcashback- I had over £100 back for swapping broadband providers plus a cheaper monthly bill. I use it for all insurances, everything.
Frozen veg is fine, halve your laundry detergent, small wins.
If you can find an hour an evening, join nectar canvass, short surveys for nectar points, I make round £80 a month doing surveys, a free weeks shop or treats but it is time consuming.
I used to freeze baby meals after cooking up a storm every other weekend so there was always something ready.
Go through all direct debits to make sure there is nothing you can live without. We swapped to Now TV from SKY. Our phones are capped at £10 a month.
Do you have a circle of friends you can swap items and skills with? E.g I will babysit if you trim my hair, swap books, clothes, magazines. Invite each other round for a glass of wine and crisps, its all socialising.
Could you maybe take a Saturday job? Retail is busy this time of year.
Try to have a little 'cream bun' money - small treats are vital when scrimping.

mortgagefreesoon5 Fri 04-Nov-16 04:57:50

Great advice above op
My big saving tip is meaplan before your weekly shopping.
Try and avoid mid week shopping, it's easy to get carried away. (ie needing milk and ending up spending 20 pounds on "bits and pieces ")
You don't need to spend a fortune on Christmas, children are too small to notice, get family/friends to buy you useful stuff, honestly you ll save a fortune (plus toys have an habit to reproducegrin )
Also I don't stock up on Christmas food, I prefer to buy everything a couple of days before and include it on my meal plan, shops are only close for one day!

WindInThePussyWillows Fri 04-Nov-16 09:05:46

Thank you all so much for these great ideas.
Made a proper meal plan for the first time ever yesterday and saved £25 on our average weekly shop, if it wasn't on the list I didn't buy it and I went for mostly store brand goods.
Also bought frozen veg and have stocked my freezer with at least one weeks worth of baby food for the twins.

Cancelled sky tv it's a rip off!
Extra layers for everyone last night and heating turned down 3/4 degrees.

I think a lot of this is mindset and getting into habit.

I'm so grateful for your advise!

Grumpyoldblonde Fri 04-Nov-16 09:42:25

Take a look around the credit crunch boards and the MSE 'Grocery' boards where you will find lot of recommendations on which cheaper/value brands are worth a go. Some are fantastic, some ok/pretty good and some really not worth buying. For more expensive items (coffee, laundry detergent) it's worth checking on Mysupermarket.co.uk to see who has the best offer at the time, I never pay a fiver for my brand of coffee, I buy 2 when it's half price.

Letmesleepalready Sat 05-Nov-16 14:04:17

These are such great tips! Mine is a savings idea: I transfer £5 a week into our savings account. Ok, might not seem like much, but it's over £200 a year, and if I didn't I would have spent it on "nothings". It comes out automatically, so I don't have to think about it. DH also transfers a set amount but it's earmarked for the car (mot, insurance etc). We used to always struggle to come up with the lump sump, but now we take all year to save it up, so it's much less noticeable. And they say that if you do it as a priority you're more likely to actually save. I don't think I'd have £20/month to save by the end of the month, as I tend to spend what I have, so this helps. psychologically for me £5 a week is easier than £20 a month, and we don't get paid weekly (I know some people prefer to do it all just after pay day, so see if that works for you)

Bordersarethebest Sat 05-Nov-16 14:45:16

I can second a lot of what had already been said. Food was a major expense for us so recommend strict meal planning for the week, but with mini batches so you can freeze half for next week e.g. lasagne, fish pie. Be ruthless and do it straight away or it might get nibbled away (I'm looking at you DH!).

Switching from Sainsbury's /Tesco to Aldi cut about 1/3 from our food bills. Again, not going too often - buy extra bread and milk and freeze for later in the week. I got fruit for the week and we ate soft fruit first, grapes and bananas/apples later. If Aldi not convenient, value brands are fine. We eat mainly veggie food using lots of pulses e.g. In chickpea curry or veg chilli with wraps.

I was able to walk to work so we cut down to one car, (not possible for everyone) and I took my packed lunch with me. I bought a portable cup and carried it with me as I walked.

Also second looking at your energy / broadband providers. We went to Utility Warehouse which was much cheaper for us. I have a card that I preload and get cash off the bill if I use it in Sainsbury's and M&S.

If you've got and credit card balances there might be cheaper ways to borrow. Check with your bank. Or a different bank. If you've got a packaged account, check the value of what you actually use.

Oh, and Freeview not Sky, obviously.

blueshoes Sat 05-Nov-16 15:13:37

Great tips on here.

Totally agree with Chipmunk that it is a better solution to earn more money than to try and scrimp too much. I appreciate that is not always an option.

bunnybleu Sun 06-Nov-16 11:37:06

If you pay your council tax over 10 months, see if you can change it to 12 months. We did this when DH was made redundant and it helped a lot. We must have done it about this time of year so that the last two normal payments got halved and then from the April payments were about £25 a month less than they had been which paid for my car insurance DD which we couldn't afford to pay as a one off sum like we would normally do.

When you go food shopping, take a list and stick to it. Before you go to the till, go through the trolley and make yourself put back anything that's crept in or that you know you can get away with not buying for another week (like washing powder)

Good luck x

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