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

(492 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

ladasha Wed 31-May-17 21:29:54

Ooh - I also second baking/making your own stuff when you're going to a friend's/event. The Hairy Biker Cheese Straws are always a winner and are dirt cheap. I once won a baking competition at a party with some Sainsbury's cookie mix that was reduced 😂

I find people are fooled easily if you package them up nicely. When I was absolutely broke I bought some cheap £1 (for loads) mini gingerbread men from Iceland and took them out of the pack and wrapped them up in leftover cellophane and ribbon from another gift. People went crazy for them!

ladasha Wed 31-May-17 21:12:06

I love this thread!

One of the best money saving tips I have ever received was via Mumsnet - when making a chilli or bolognese etc, half the mince you'd use and top up with lentils instead. I use 250g with 100g dried red lentils in a dish where I'd usually use 500g mince and it makes 4 generous portions. Freeze the remaining 250g mince for another 4 person meal! Good compromise if you have fussy eaters who miss the meat in fully veggie meals.

I think my best tip is learn to cook and the frugal stuff comes easily. You can go far with Basics/Value chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, baked beans rinsed to use in the place of expensive haricot/cannelini beans etc. You just can't justify buying branded cupboard essentials like this when on a budget because when it's all boiled up it tastes the same. Especially if you learn how to season well. Look at recipes and see what can be substituted for Basics ingredients or left out altogether. It's not worth adding that one single strand of saffron at £2 if it's going to triple the cost of the meal. My SIL is a bit of a Waitrose snob and absolutely loves my cooking, completely unaware it's Basics/Lidl products!

Freeze anything that's going off for another day. I always cook double for us 2 and then have two portions for packed lunch the next day. I have a scrapings pot in the freezer for any decent plate leftovers which will be added when I make a veggie chilli as it all boils down together. DP always goes mad for it when I make it and she can be snobby about no meat or leftovers.

Build up a spice store cupboard and buy your dried herbs and spices from the Asian aisle too - you'll get a 100g bag of spice for around 80p when the 30g glass pots you'll get from the supermarket brand are about £1.

I'll second the Sainsbury's Basics range - especially the tea bags. I think they're 30p now. A well off friend came to visit, tried them and loved them so much she made us take us to Sainsbury's to pick some up for home! My weekly shop always contains their Basics bubble bath, flour, chocolate for baking, Greek salad cheese (better than feta), chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, bin bags, peppers and we eat well with lots of veggies and scratch cooked food. Buying a delivery pass and getting shopping delivered has saved a lot of waste, unnecessary purchases and hassle.

Frozen veggies are great. My fave is frozen spinach. You can whack a couple of cubes into just about every one pot meal and it gives a good vitamin boost.

Love her or hate her, Jack Monroe's blog has some great bargain recipes that are all easily tweaked to add or take away ingredients you have leftover/don't have. Some are a bit crap and it's a bit trial and error, but her mushroom stroganoff, vegetarian chilli, veggie bean burgers, tarka daal and sag aloo are huge favourites here. Just remember to season much more than she suggests.

People that haven't tried baking bread before - Delia's basic white and brown loaves are dead easy and involve minimal faffing. Always come out well even using Basics flour and Lidl yeast too.

I love my slow cooker. The main thing I use it for these days is bubbling away for a few hours on high cooking something I'd otherwise be watching constantly on the hob. I also got a cheap timer plug from Argos if I don't want it to overcook. Mine has a lightweight metal insert so you can start off the dish by frying and then transfer the whole thing to the heating element. It's so much less clunky and cleans like a dream and the non stick is still going strong after nearly two years. Think I paid about £20 for it on Amazon.

Try out non-branded products to see what you like. I can use most supermarket own brands on toiletries etc, but still use Simple moisturiser. But I only buy it when it's on offer - it's usually £2 somewhere and lasts ages. I remember the glory days when it was buy 1, get 2 free at Tesco! Same for Heinz ketchup. The Aldi fake Touché Eclait concealer is as good as the real thing. Boots own brand 75p shampoo and conditioner and curl cream is great. A friend who has the nicest hair I've ever seen once admitted she uses Tesco's cheap brand at 50p a large bottle so it just goes to show!

Proper coffee lovers - I buy the bags of Lidl ground French or Italian coffee. Put it in a 2 litre jug and fill with water to the top. Leave out overnight on the countertop. Strain it in a strainer with a bit of kitchen roll in into a pouring container that will fit in the fridge (always available in Poundland). You then have for £1.75 about 20 servings of cold brew coffee concentrate - what they charge £3.75 PER SERVING for in Starbucks. It's much less bitter too! Keep it in the fridge. When you want a hot coffee, pour about an inch into a mug and top off with boiled water. Instant Americano! For an iced coffee, I put an inch in a glass and top up glass with ice and add milk to the top. It's honestly so good, portable to work in a plastic coffee cup and will save you pounds and pounds. It lasts me a week to two in the fridge and I drink one to two a day.

I'm terrible for buying stuff I don't need by mindlessly using my contactless card. If I take out cash of a limited amount for the month and budget for cheaper weeks and more expensive weeks, I spend much less and actually enjoy saving a little.

Lastly, ease yourself into it. There's no point buying dirt cheap stuff that you'll end up throwing away and getting a takeaway. Beware of false economies. I have countless friends who've decided they can't afford the £8 a day Pret lunches any more and instead spend £2 on ingredients to make a bland soup that's supposed to last them a whole week. They usually last 2 days before it ends up in the bin and they're buying expensive food again. Try things and don't buy again the stuff you didn't like. You can do it and it'll become second nature. And this is coming from a previously wasteful crazy spender so anything is possible.

MugwumpJism Sun 21-May-17 12:01:39

Bump because I luffs this thread

lilacclery Tue 24-Nov-15 14:57:13

Manopaws grin at poo when out and about, that's taking things to the extreme

Manopaws Sun 15-Nov-15 21:56:28

Get a log burner. And collect scrap wood wherever you find it

Led lighting maybe look at turning all lighting into 12v and run off batteries and solar panels.

Buy a caravan kettle low wattage and small.

Poo when out and about

PurpleCrazyHorse Sat 07-Nov-15 13:05:09

Sorry not read 20 pages, but our frugal thing has been buying a chest freezer for our garage. We're already freezing more leftovers, buying larger more economical joints of meat etc. I freeze milk, bread, crumpets, so there's always something to make lunch from. It'll pay for itself in about a year especially as I bought an A* rated one to minimise the electric it uses. Obviously you need to have the money to buy it, but it it has been one of our best purchases.

kafkesque Fri 16-Oct-15 17:50:00

I read this book recently, which confirmed a lot of what I knew and made me a great deal happier about my frugal ways.

"Happy Money" "offers a tour of research on the science of spending, explaining how you can get more happiness for your money. Authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton have outlined five principles—from choosing experiences over stuff to spending money on others—to guide not only individuals looking for financial security, but also companies seeking to create happier employees and provide “happier products” to their customers. Dunn and Norton show how companies from Google to Pepsi to Charmin have put these ideas into action.

Along the way, Dunn and Norton explore fascinating research that reveals that luxury cars often provide no more pleasure than economy models, that commercials can actually enhance the enjoyment of watching television, and that residents of many cities frequently miss out on inexpensive pleasures in their hometowns. By the end of this “lively and engaging book” (Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness), you’ll be asking yourself one simple question every time you reach for your wallet: Am I getting the biggest happiness bang for my buck?"

kafkesque Wed 14-Oct-15 12:12:34

I'd love a spreadsheet too please.

For me, being frugal is about knowing where to shop and being flexible.
I am sticking to Aldi/Lidl/B&M

Charity shops, Carboot, Ebay,

Supermarket Diesal

This covers most things. Am I missing anything?

mugglelady Sat 19-Sep-15 11:06:32

The spreadsheet sounds like a great idea - definitely something I would use smile

AnotherShirtRuined Fri 18-Sep-15 18:34:02

I would also love a spreadsheet! I love all the creative tips on money-saving that can be found on here, and a spreadsheet of them all is a great idea <another spreadsheet geek>

Picolette Sun 06-Sep-15 08:55:44

PorcupineNecktie I'd definitely be interested!!! I'm a spreadsheet geek too smile
If u let me know if u put it together, would be great!

PorcupineNecktie Sat 05-Sep-15 17:06:42

I've just read through this whole thread and it was absolutely brilliant.

If I were to make a Google doc spreadsheet of the tips etc. would people be interested? (I might have already done this... I'm a spreadsheet geek...) otherwise all too easy to forget to look at it!

Another couple of things I don't recall seeing on the thread (apologies if they're here already, I've been reading for hours!)

- If you have the time and the inclination, blogging can be a great way to get free samples. I write a book blog and get a lot of free books before they come out - the kids' ones do for dcs and adult ones get recycled as gifts, as they're new when they come to me! Lots of opportunities for all different products though, there are several companies out there that'll update you when they have things to review.

- I like to buy cheap stuff and then put it into non-cheap-looking containers, e.g. buy a nice glass soap/shampoo dispenser and then fill it with tesco 40p shampoo. Guests never know the difference!

siblingrevelryagain Sun 14-Jun-15 08:43:24

Don't buy buttermilk for bread/cakes. Add 2tbsp lemon juice or vinegar to 200ml milk, leave for 5-10 mins. This can then be used whenever you need buttermilk in a recipe (like the fab bread recipe below):

Soda bread:

3 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1tsp salt
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix dry ingredients well in a bowl, add buttermilk and bring together to form a dough. Shape into a domed round and make a cross on the top with a knife.

Bake at gas 7 for 30-35 mins.

Makes a beautiful soda bread for eating with soups/casseroles. Can also be sliced for sandwiches.

spababe Mon 08-Jun-15 18:01:28

Sorry if this has already been said but a great frugal activity is geocaching. Suits children from primary school age to teenagers and gets you all out and about. Need a smartphone for the GPS though. Instructional videos on the geocaching website.

lilacclery Sun 07-Jun-15 20:53:36

zook I've gone one step further. I buy a litre of cheap bath foam & I refill the soap dispenser with that.

Wotsitsareafterme Sun 07-Jun-15 12:57:10

Mostly cake that's a brilliant tip I'm researching knocking my bill down and my work phone is on orange. I am on it!

Zook Thu 04-Jun-15 06:37:26

I know this is a somewhat outdated thread but it came up on a search and I could easily spend hours reading them all through, I can't wait to get started!

Here's my two pence worth - buy a foaming handwash (kids love it too!) and when it's finished just decant normal liquid hand soap into the old dispenser (about a 1/4 full) then top up with water. It does exactly the same job and foams nicely. I wait for the nice creamy handwashes to go on offer and use them (though bog standard liquid soap works just as well) getting 4 times as much for my money :-)

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. or

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!

gracehurley1990 Sun 12-May-13 20:26:26 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

milk Sat 04-May-13 12:11:08

I go on the Quidco "no brainers" section smile I got £4 for joining smile

maigwa Thu 25-Apr-13 14:39:46

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

Twinkletoes91 Mon 14-Jan-13 22:48:40

Marking place smile

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.

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.

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