Want to save, but don’t know where to start? The first rule is that little things can mean a lot. If you’d like to take saving seriously, you should also look at your regular bills, learn to switch and deal with debts, but some relatively simple lifestyle changes can start to make a difference without forcing you into a hair shirt.
Each of these tips could save you £20, and that’s going to add up pretty quickly.
1 – Free stuff in your high street
Libraries are under threat from the current public spending squeeze, in fact they need you more than ever. And why would you not start meeting your reading needs for free? Borrow rather than buy three or four books and you’ll almost certainly have £20 in your pocket.
There are book share clubs online too – bookcrossing.com is one – where you can swap and talk with fellow book lovers.
2 – What’s in a name?
Are you a brand shopper? If you love the familiar packaging and think there really is a great difference between Kellogg’s cornflakes and the supermarket own brand you’re probably paying at least 50p more. Switch to the ‘basic’ lines and you’ll really start to save.
You don’t have to change everything, some brands really are better, but make a few changes and you’ll soon be quids in.
3 – Dine out and cut costs
A life with no treats is no life at all, but put vouchers on your dining menu and you can enjoy meals out with real savings.
Lots of the big names offer a regular voucher programme, try Pizza Express, Giraffe and Zizzi’s to get started. Foodpedia.co.uk, Lastminute.com and Toptable.co.uk have sections dedicated to offers.
With all such offers, beware of any voucher deal that wants you to spend more to save.
4 – Help educate!
Lots of professions need to learn on the job. It helps the trainee start their career and the businesses bring up the next generation. It can also help you save.
The most obvious example is hairdressing, where a trainee cut will save you a fortune. Yes, there is a tiny risk involved, but no-one is allowed near the public’s hair if they’re not well on the way to success.
If you live in a big city with teaching hospitals, then check their websites for the dental and optician’s services they offer – you could get check-ups for free, and you’ll be helping students complete their training. Opticians in particular give you a fabulously detailed test, better than you’ll get on the high street.
5 – Make your own
The do-it-yourself, upcycling and recycling world is becoming massively popular. There’s a reason – two in fact – it can be great fun and save you a fortune.
Almost every area of your spending can be cut down in this way. Home grown, home cooked and homemade should be your watchwords. You can even make your own cosmetics, take a look at makeyourcosmetics.com for example, and there are literally thousands of craft sites. Personally made gifts mean much more and you can decorate your home without having to take on the tastes of some London designer.
Saving should be fun. If you become a joyless, penny-pinching miser you’re not doing things right, but start to make some simple changes and you can head off for that Amex Travel holiday with plenty of spending money in your pocket and a clear conscience.
Sweet saving to you!
About the Author: Lara Ryan is a saver and writer of financial stories for a variety of websites across the world