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

(493 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.

MadStaringEyes Sun 19-Aug-12 09:17:46

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 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 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.

ballroomblitz Sun 19-Aug-12 10:47:34

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.

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