how can we save £200 a month?

(26 Posts)
jobhuntersrus Wed 20-Jan-10 16:55:43

Ok just done a scary look at our monthly finances. Been burying my head in the sand for the last 6 months or so and not wanting to acknowledge something must be wrong as we keep going overdrawn. So the verdict is we need to make savings of about £200 a month. Food is a big expence in this house so going to see what I can cut out there. What do you feel is a reasonable shopping budget for a family of 5 plus small dog? Other than that I don't know where to cut back. Any tips or advice anyone? Going to speak to dh about tv package. Also thinking looking a consolidation loan for our credit cards to reduce the monthly cost there but at the same time hate the thought of borrowing more money.

OP’s posts: |
displayuntilbestbefore Wed 20-Jan-10 17:02:16

Definitely cut down or get rid of the tv package, that will save you a good few pounds. Do you regularly buy any magazines or newspapers that you can stop buying for a while?
Do you buy any ready meals, if so can you substitute them for home cooking to further save money?
Anything not essential to your lives could help cut back on costs until you regain control of them - gym membership, bus fare, taxi fares, petrol costs..could any of these be replaced with more walking?
The first thing you should do once you are back on track with finances is to NEVER only pay the minimum on the credit cards. Don't see them as a way of being able to pay for things if you don't have ready cash, only spend on them what you know you can pay off in full when the bill comes otherwise you are paying over the odds on interest.

AxisofEvil Wed 20-Jan-10 17:04:08

Go onto the debt free wannabe boards on If you lay out your "statement of affairs" (ie everything coming in and out) they are really good at pruning budgets for people.

peacocks Wed 20-Jan-10 17:08:58

Use cash only. Once you've deducted all the bank payments, "take" 200 out of your monthly disposable income, quarter the rest, and take a quarter out of an ATM machine every week. Don't use any cards at all. It will really help. You end up spending less without trying.

displayuntilbestbefore Wed 20-Jan-10 17:11:51

Meal plan. Planning your week's meals can save a massive amount of money and you only buy what you need for those specific meals and don't end up overspending on what you think you ought to have in the cupboards.

Horton Wed 20-Jan-10 20:38:42

And in addition to meal-planning, look at how you can use cheaper (not necessarily unhealthy) alternatives for some of your meals. Make stews and casseroles and pad out with lentils or pulses. Get into the habit of using half brown lentils and half mince for eg spaghetti bolognese or shepherds pie. Don't throw food away. When you meal plan, allow for leftovers and use them for lunches or a whole meal the next day. I found that cutting our meat purchasing down made a huge difference to our food bills. Take a calculator to the supermarket with you (or do it in your head if you feel clever) and add it up as you go round. You'll feel much more like putting things back that you don't really need when you see how much they add to the bill.

Shop around for insurance etc when up for renewal - even better ring them up and tell them you are thinking of switching. Many companies will offer a lower price if they think they may lose your custom, especially in the current financial climate.

Definitely agree with walking where you can instead of bus or car. Saves a lot for me, and it's good for you, too.

Take up baking. You can make cakes and biscuits that are tons nicer than bought alternatives for not much money at all and maybe your children will enjoy making them, too. Apologies if you already do this but I was quite surprised at how much it saved me. Although maybe that is a function of how much cake I eat and you may be healthier!

Also agree with cash purchases only. It's a really good wake up call about how and when and how much you spend.

toja555 Thu 21-Jan-10 09:19:59

I can only second to the thoughts expressed previously. Try to cut for food by planning meals and shopping wisely.
- Me and DH used to spend over £400 for food and cleaning few years ago (we are in London). Now we are family of 3 and spending between £250 and £300 a month.
- I used to spend around £5 a day for lunch at work (totals at over £100 a month), no I am sticking with £2/a day and even less.
- I cut my commuting expenses by ruling out bus services, now only have season ticket for train and not all zones and saving £36/month.
- We switched to the cheapest energy supplier in the area and I got for it £62 cashback through quidco. Try to use cashback offers if possible.
- We got Freeview box and got rid of TV deal.
- I buy loads from ebay but I have made a decision that I only use funds that I made by selling on ebay. So I always look what to sell first and unclutter at the same time.
- Still a bit reluctant but probably would do – using BT broadband and thinking to switch to a cheaper although less reputable supplier (hope it is not mistake).
- Almost all my bills are arranged at the same day of the month, so when the bills are paid I know what I remain with until the end of month.
- This one will be funny. I need to lose quite a few pounds in weight, so I always think that when I eat less I spend less too, this somehow helps to keep the track
- Think how to earn some extra cash in addition to saving. This is still a bit of mystery to me, but I am trying…

I have some doubts of home cooking though. It supposed to be cheaper, but for me, it seems not. For example if I bake pizza at home, I spend around £4-5 for ingredients, plus gas plus time. While I can by frozen pizza for £1.20 at Tescos. I have got more examples like that…


suitejudyblue Thu 21-Jan-10 09:34:12

You haven't said how much you spend on food but my weekly bill including non food (nappies for one DC, cleaning products etc) rarely comes to over £100 for a family of 6. I don't buy ready meals but do agree with toja about pizzas. Meal planning is the key and internet shopping definately works out cheaper even with the delivery (look on the tesco codes thread for offer codes) as you only buy what's on your list.
Do your DCs eat packed lunches ? I would spend about £25 per week for school lunches and I'm sure the packed lunches barely cost £10.
What about fizzy drinks and sweets - could you cut down on these ?
It would be helpful to have a bit more info on what you buy each week.
Good luck.

janinlondon Thu 21-Jan-10 16:01:52

Are you paying interest on your credit cards? Are you a Santander customer? Because if you are you can get the new 0% fee free balance transfer zero card, which would give you a year to sort yourselves out and get back on track. (the other advice here all stands too of course)

jobhuntersrus Fri 22-Jan-10 21:05:32

Thank you everyone. All the advice is really sensible. I did our shopping on line just now and managed to only spend £65 where as usually it is over £100. Dead chuffed with myself on that one. We are seriously considering getting rid of my car too. Dh is going to look at the credit cards and see if we can get any better deals, 0% etc. I really want to ditch the tv package but have yet to convince dh on that yet.

OP’s posts: |
ArcticFox Tue 26-Jan-10 06:41:50

Be really careful when looking to switch to 0% deals on credit cards.

One trick is that they offer 0% on transfers but then quite a high rate on purchases. When you repay money they deduct it from the balance transferred first so the purchases will be accruing interest until you have paid off everything that you transferred. Therefore, if you do a balance transfer, cut the card up the second you get it and dont get a new one until the balance is zero.

LoveMyGirls Tue 26-Jan-10 07:21:01

We have also recently had to cut back, at the start of the year I did our budget and we were earning more than we spend, great I thought so why are we always overdrawn and owe on credit cards and a bank loan?
I think ours is because of christmas (even though I made lots olf the presents and cut down on who I brought for) and because my car has cost about £400 in repairs this month plus before we realised the state of things we booked our hols for the year, then yesterday I lost a customer so that's made us about £160 a mth worse off.
At the weekend I listed about 40 things on ebay.
The past few weeks I've spent less on food shopping.
Everyone is taking sandwichs.
I'm not popping to town for this and that.
We're not having take away's or drinking much.
I've had to get rid of the cleaner (a pure luxury I know, I had her because I work 10-11hours a day as a childminder and 6 children can trash the house alot more than I can keep on top of the cleaning but needs must so we'll all have to pitch in even more to help me keep on top of it)

Just wanted you to know you're not alone and I'm finding it tough yet feelingg ood about sorting our problems out rather than burying my head and also at least we have things to look forward to so its worth making the smaller sacrifices.

spilttheteaagain Wed 27-Jan-10 18:25:59

Have you checked if your gas/electricity is a good deal? Try uswitch to show you who's the cheapest provider and get on and switch. Check first if you can get cashback through quidco, we missed out on £70 cashback from Eon because I forgot this angry

Ivykaty44 Fri 29-Jan-10 11:21:35

Swap your electric and gas for a cheap deal + £200 per year

swap any life insurance for a better deal

check out your car insurance - can you get it cheaper

stop tv packages and get a free view box + save = save £200 per year

swap pet insurance for a cheap version

broadband and telephone landline? how much do you pay? what about your mobile phone - can you get free minutes and get ride of your landline and get a cable broadband - this may save you money. A lot of people just have a landline to get broadband.

i have cable broadband and a mobile - saves me £204 per year

Take the cash with you shopping and a list - use a calculator as you shop so you don't have to put anything back at the check out.

When you cook weigh every thing out to make sure you are not wasting food.

snowball debt - check all your debts and work out a list of the highest interest to the lowest - then pay all the minumum payments on the rest and pay as much off on the highset interset payment as you can each month, until that debt has gone then do this all the way down the list so that you get ride of the high interest debt first and pay less interest.

Use an excel spread sheet to work out your spending - money expert has one to download.

become anul about your spending - it will save you ££ wink

Babyonboardinthesticks Sat 20-Feb-10 13:59:16

I've always found it easier just to earn more money than cutting back.

But try what I do which is only drink tap water for a start.

Eat a lot of brown rice bought in big quantities and potatoes. Tinned sardines and raw carrots are good and also cheap.

I was going to add "eat the dog", being a dog hater.. but I'll be killed as the British prefer their dogs to their children on the whole.

Megletwantsittobesummer Sat 20-Feb-10 14:06:49

Get rid of the tv deal and get a freeview box with hard drive (about £80). You can record everything you like then catch up with it later and not have to spend ££ renting films.

321 Biscuits on the MN recipe pages are great, use half and freeze the rest.

I read somewhere that you can get scraps from the butcher for dogs.

Bit of e-baying when you get time, de-junk with a car boot sale. You might only make £30 but its a start.

The budget planner on money saving expert is quite eye opening.

Agree with peacocks with using cash only. I did the same and put each weeks worth of money in an envelope and it forced me to stick with it, even had some left over to add to the following week.

lowrib Sat 20-Feb-10 14:11:29 is a brilliant website.

Its got loads of really good tips on saving money, and all the 0% deals / decent consolodation loans will probaby be listed there.

ConnorTraceptive Sat 20-Feb-10 14:25:12

I've just switched to shopping at aldi and I cannot believe the savings. I was always very careful anyway and bought a lot of own brand stuff in tesco but I have literally halved my weekly shopping bill and I have to say so far the quality is very good.

I would also recomend getting rid of your TV package and sticking with freeview we've had it for 3 years now and really don't feel like we're missing out.

If you do need to buy things don't forget to check out ebay and charity shops

MitchyInge Sat 20-Feb-10 14:28:25

I was wondering whether it would be easier to earn a few more £££ than cut back on things that make life easier or more comfortable

Earlybird Sat 20-Feb-10 14:32:58

Can you barter or swap a service for goods?

My pal is a hairdresser, and she gives a few 'free' haircuts in exchange for goods/services. For instance - she doesn't charge the wine shop owner and then gets 'free' wine, the plastic surgeon's wife isn't charged (think they worked out 4 years of 'free' cut/colour would let her have a breast lift at no charge), etc.

JustAnotherManicMummy Sat 20-Feb-10 14:45:03

When making a big purchase go through (same sort of deals as Quidco but no annual fee)

You've already started shopping on line which is great - so much cheaper. Tesco actually have a function that shows you the cheaper options, but just check the quantities aren't a lot smaller than you were buying before. Buy your fruit and veg loose. Package produce is £££ more!

Buy staples (rice, flour, pasta, cooking oil etc) in bulk and decant into storage jars (don't leave open packets in the cupboard or you could get moths or weevils - yuk!)

Don't be afraid to consoldate all of your credit cards into a single loan - just don't borrow more than you have as a debt. If you do need to take a little extra to get a better deal put the extra into a savings account to use in emergencies ONLY.

Start saving. Sounds mad, but if you and your DH each transfer £25 a month into a savings account on pay day then you'll have £600 to spend on xmas/birthdays. Also save for birthdays and holidays instead of sticking it on the credit card.

Cut up the credit cards.

Go shopping to the supermarket half an hour before closing (especially good on Mondays). They start heavily discounting anything that is going off the next day. Only get things you'll use - like mince/chicken etc but you can freeze it and then use it when you need it.

I think meal planning has been said and I'll second that cooking from scratch saves a fortune. Get rid of Sky/expensive mobile deals/gym memberships and change energy suppliers.

Can you remortgage to a cheaper deal? Lots of people leave their mortgages running and never check if they can get a better deal.

Shop around for home and motor insurance and use the cashback and comparison sites. And telecoms.

Ebay any unwanted bits or if you've got lots of childrens toys/clothes you don't need any more you could get a table at your local NCT Nearly New sale. Check the NCT website for details of upcoming sales.

If you have any savings use them to pay off debts so you can start from the best possible debt position.

We did all of that and managed to live off 60% of our previous income after I had DS.

linconlass Sun 28-Mar-10 20:14:46

Im in same sitaution at the mo as our council has cut our wages !!Does anyone have any really cheap meal ideas 4 veggies that wont be boring - we alredy do lots stews and soups and im getting a few complaints from the dd and ds - I do bake to compensate!!thanks !!

expatinscotland Sun 28-Mar-10 20:18:51

If you smoke or drink, now's the time to stop! That'll save a bundle.

If you can get rid of a car, DO! The savings on insurance and tax alone will be worth it. And petrol's getting more and more expensive.

If you belong to a gym, try to get out of the contract.

How about snowballing on the credit cards instead, throwing the max amount of money over the minimum you can at the one charging the highest interest?

Do you buy magazines off news agents? It's much much cheaper to have a yearly subscription.

Monty100 Sun 28-Mar-10 21:10:26

OP - some great advice here. I do hope you manage to get through this.

Lincoln - pasta bakes with nice bread and salad?

Mimile Sun 28-Mar-10 21:20:17

I used to do a lot of consumer surveys online, it all adds up and generate a few ££ every months (I think I got the links from MSE).
I use for cheap online shopping.
I get loads from TKmaxx.
plus a lot of big sunday cook-ups to last the week.

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