With Christmas coming up we are all feeling the pinch to meet our monthly expenses and budget in for gifts and food and all the other, largely useless, items that seem to appear in our shopping trolley during the festive season!
Here we have compiled a list of simple tips to help you stay money savvy, for life, not just for Christmas!
- Plan ahead and make a shopping list. Dig out the cookery books and plan your week's meals and make a list of only what you need, to help void temptation in the aisles. Remember that supermarkets exist to encourage you to spend money and they have many tricks for achieving this; clever product placement, myriad offers and upbeat music are the most obvious.
- Get to know your local market. Lower overheads = lower prices. Once you discover how cheap it is to shop in the market you'll resent paying supermarket prices ever again. Also, produce is usually locally grown, superior quality and promotes healthy eating.
- When you are in the supermarket, consider their own brand products. With lower advertising costs than the big brands, and less packaging, store brands are a good way to save ££s.
- De-clutter and have a garage sale, go to a car boot sale or simply sell your unwanted stuff on Ebay. Whatever unwanted items you have lying around in cupboards, the loft or wardrobe, you can guarantee there will be a willing buyer out there somewhere. De-clutter your life and earn ££s at the same time.
- Shop around for insurance. It's very tempting just to accept the renewal price and stay with your insurer, and if you are a long-time customer your insurance company probably have little incentive to 'woo' you with offers or discounts. But if you shop around for the best price you could save yourself £100's.
- Book early for flights and train tickets to grab the best deals. A few seats on each plane or train carry the lowest price – but once they're gone the prices will start to rise.
- Don't pay full price for tickets. Wherever you're going there is bound to be a money saving option. Consider going to the cinema on Orange Wednesday, or if you're mobile phone provider offers benefits – such as 02 Priorities – keep a regular check on offers and promotions to see if there is anything you can use. Before booking theatre tickets or hotels, shop around online to find the best deals and check out websites that offer vouchers and discount codes.
- Cut down on drinking and smoking. It might sound boring, but quitting smoking in particular will save you a fortune and, of course, benefit your health.
- Reconsider your gym membership. If you use the gym regularly it is a great investment to help you de-stress and keep in shape. But, if like many of us, you can't remember the last time you set foot on a treadmill, this is a big drain on your resources. If you use the gym infrequently you may be able to find a 'pay as you go' option at your local leisure centre or swimming pool.
- Make sure you know what you're entitled to and claim benefits and tax credits. Look into the benefits available to you if you are on a low income or raising a family. Working tax credits are very easy and quick to claim. Don't worry about the 'stigma' of claiming. You pay into the system so are entitled to the benefits of it.
- Finally, if you live near a colleague, consider car pooling, perhaps one week you drive, one week your colleague drives. You will each save 50% on your monthly fuel bill!