Life can be expensive - payday rolls around and before you know it you've paid your rent, bills, done your weekly shop and have little left for yourself! Gym membership, hair appointments, socialising with friends - life's little essentials and luxuries all add up and can leave you scrambling for cash to get through the month. We're huge fans of finding creative ways to save money, and we though we'd share with you 98 tips that will help you keep some pennies for a rainy day (or an exotic activity holiday this summer!)
Bills, Bills, Bills
#1. Clear credit card debt
Pay off the cards with the highest interest rate first, and consider a low-interest consolidation loan to clear your balance, if you can't afford to pay it off.
#2. Switch providers
With the average gas and electricity bills around £1,500 a year (1), switching your utilities supplier could save you over £300 a year - and it's easy to find a new supplier and switch online.
#3. Install a water meter
It's easy to forget that we're paying for the water we use at home - it costs around 2p every time you flush the loo! You could halve your yearly bill by installing a water meter, especially if you're living with friends or have a large family.
#4. Cut the contract
Contract phones are great (how else are you going to afford an iPhone?) but if the end of your contract is nearing, you may want to think about keeping your handset and switching to pay-as-you-go. With the average phone contract costing £50 a month, that's 600 a year you're spending just to have a phone!
#5. Shop around for insurance
Whilst it isn't essential to have household insurance, it is advisable, particularly if you have kids or pets. Make sure you shop around for the best deals - use a website such as Compare the Market, and always check to see what's covered and what the excess for the policy is.
#6. Get cheaper breakdown insurance
We've all heard of breakdown insurance from the AA or RAC - many of us already have it. But there are other, cheaper providers out there that could save you a few quid on your breakdown insurance!
#7. Get rewarded
If it's time for a new credit card, consider a cashback or reward card such as Santander 123, which offer you cashback on everyday spending (2).
#8. Make yours a 0%
If paying off credit card debt isn't an option right now, don't stress. Transfer your balance to a 0% interest rate card, such as Barclay's Platinum, gives you longer to pay off your debt and costs you less.
#9. Cancel your TV licence
There's a rumour going around that soon we'll all have to pay for a TV licence to watch catch-up services. But until that happens, do you really need to pay the £145.50 a year to watch live TV? Catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and 4OD are free, and there are subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video available too.
#10. Check your benefits
Many of us are entitled to benefits we don't even know about, such as Working Tax Credits or free school meals and uniforms for your kids. Use a benefits check-up tool such as the one on Money Saving Expert's site to find out what you're entitled to.
#11. Consider remortgaging
For most of us, our biggest debt is our mortgage, so consider remortgaging onto a better rate. This could save you thousands, but it's only a good idea if you're not planning a move anytime soon.
#12. Draw up a budget
Use Microsoft Excel or Open Office to draw up a household budget spreadsheet, which allows you to see all your household expenses in one place. This helps you keep track of your finances and see areas where you could reduce your spending.
#13. Turn it off
#14. Invest in energy-saving gadgets
LED bulbs, electricity meters and radiator boosters can all save you money - radiator boosters can cut your heating bills by an estimated 10%!
#15. Enter the Green Deal Scheme
This government scheme was launched in 2014 and aims to help home-owners make energy-saving home improvements through the provision of a loan, which can be repaid through your energy bills. You can apply for this year's scheme from April 2015.
#16. Install a smart meter
Installing a smart meter could save you between £50 to £250 a year as it gives you more control over your heating.
Eating and Drinking
#17. Buy own-brand
Don't be afraid to buy own-brand products at the supermarket - you even find you prefer them to your usual branded products!
#18. Don't waste food
Did you know that the average household in the UK wastes £470 a year on food? This rises to £700 for couples with children. Avoid food waste by planning your meals at the start of every week, and storing leftovers in the fridge or freezer. By doing this, you could make significant savings!
#19. Cook meals from scratch
We're all guilty of relying on ready-meals from time to time, but buying things like fresh soup or tomato pasta sauce could be costing you more than you realise. It's so simple to make your own at home, and you'll find home-made versions have fewer additives and less sugar!
#20. Bulk buy essentials
Essentials that won't go out of date, such as tinned food, pulses, pasta and even toilet roll, can be bought in bulk from discount stores - provided you have the space to store them.
#21. Be loyal
Make sure you have a loyalty card for the stores you shop at the most frequently. Collecting Sainsbury's Nectar points or Tesco Clubcard points will give you money off the things you buy the most.
#22. Avoid bottled water
We know how important it is to stay hydrated, but buying bottled water is not only bad for the environment, it's also expensive. Just fill up a re-usable water bottle with tap water to take to the gym or for your run!
#23. Save on booze
According to the Office of National Statistics, the average household in the UK spends £15.20 a week on booze. By cutting out alcohol for a month, you'll save over £60 and it will do wonders for your energy levels too!
#24. Steer clear of takeaway treats
Ordering pizza on a Friday night is tempting when you're tired, but not only is it bad for you, it costs lots too. With a medium cheese and tomato pizza from Dominos costing £11.99, consider how cheaply you could make your own healthy pizza - or even pick one up at your local supermarket.
#25. Shop at discount supermarkets
Aldi and Lidl have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and they have some great deals available, particularly on fruit and vegetables.
#26. Head for the local market
If you're lucky enough to have a market nearby, it's a great place to stock up on fresh produce such as meat, fish and fruit and vegetables, which will usually be locally sourced. For example, at our local market in South-East London, you can buy 3 aubergines for £1, compared to 80p each in Sainsburys!
Save on Socialising
#27. Double-up your activities
Instead of meeting friends for lunch or dinner, suggest an activity that also doubles up as a workout! Why not meet at a yoga class or try bouldering together? This costs much less than a meal out, and has the added bonus of keeping you fit.
#28. Cancel your gym membership
*Gasp* Are we really recommending you do this? Well, yes, if you've been paying every month for the last year and have only been to the gym a handful of times. A contract might not be the right choice for you, so consider finding a pay-as-you-go gym, or even better, sign up for drop-in classes such as yoga or pilates; there are alternatives to the gym!
#29. Use discount sites for days out
Days out with friends and family can be expensive, so look for deals on sites such as Groupon.co.uk or Wowcher.co.uk, where you'll find great discounts on everything from travel abroad to theatre tickets.
#30. Save on your summer holiday
Booking your flight, accommodation and transfers separately, rather than getting a package deal, can save you money. Shop around for the cheapest flights and consider alternatives to hotels, such as renting a room or apartment through a site like Airbnb.co.uk or organising an activity holiday with homestays and hostel accommodation.
#31. Don't be a control freak
Changing when you do something could be the key to saving money. Instead of going out for a meal with your partner every Saturday, why not have Sunday brunch or lunch on a Saturday instead? Many pubs and restaurants offer fixed-price menus that are only available earlier in the day. With cinema tickets, you'll find many cinemas have one day of the week where they offer 2-for-1 tickets.
#32. Go online for day out savings
Most cities have plenty of free museums and galleries to explore, or you could always join Artfund - pay a small annual fee and you can access over 200 historic houses, castles and museums for no additional charge. Keep your eyes out online and in local press for half-price tickets to theatre shows, events and attractions.
#33. Book in advance
Booking your flights well in advance could save you money. Low-cost airlines only sell a few seats at the lowest prices, so make sure you book early.
#34. De-clutter your home
Instead of spending your free time spending more cash, why not de-clutter your cupboards; it's good for your stress levels! Plus, if you find lots of clothes, gadgets, books and DVDs, you could sell them on eBay to make a tidy sum.
#35. Exercise for free
Rather than pay for expensive gym membership you can't really afford, or book a block of pilates classes when you know you're never going to make EVERY lesson, why not go for a run around your local park? It's fun, it's free and it gets those endorphins flowing!
#36. Cut out drinking
Nights out with your friends are great, but cutting out alcohol (or cutting down on how many alcoholic drinks you have), could save you hundreds of pounds a year that you could put towards a holiday.
#37. Rent, don't buy
When it comes to movies, rather than buying the latest DVDs, why not subscribe to a service such as Netflix, Now TV or Amazon? You'll save money, and you can cancel at any time.
#38. Limit your Facebook time
If you're enjoying a peaceful weekend, Facebook could leave you feeling like everyone else is having a more exciting time than you. Following the crowd means you'll spend more money, so don't be afraid to do exactly what you want with your free time, whether that's going for a run, cooking, catching up with friends or some DIY.
#39. Shop around for flights
Check out websites such as skyscanner.net for the cheapest flights around; you'll be surprised as you can often save hundreds of pounds this way!
Shopping - Avoid Temptation
#38. Ask yourself if you need it
If you don't need it, can't afford it or won't use it - don't buy it! Those £80 heels might SEEM essential, but if they sit gathering dust in your wardrobe, they're a waste of money.
#39. Use social media for sales
Keep up with the latest deals and sales from your favourite retailers by following them on Twitter - retailers such as ASOS, Topshop and Debenhams regularly tweet about discounts and deals.
#40. Buy your gadgets online
If you can't live without that new 42" flatscreen, then don't get it on the high street; you'll pay more for the privilege of instant gratification. Ordering online from sites such as Ebuyer or Amazon could save you hundreds of pounds!
#41. Look out for freebies
Websites such as Freecycle or Gumtree are great places to look for free furniture, household goods and electrical items, perfect if you've just moved house!
#42. Avoid seasonal sales
If you don't need new clothes, avoid the sales. You'll only end up buying something just because it seems like a great deal.
#43. Swap it
Clothes and books swaps are popular ways to get something that's new to you by swapping your old, unwanted things. Chances are, a swap group exists in your area, but if not, sites such as Readitswapit.co.uk are a great place to start.
#44. Rent your ballgown
Heading to a black-tie event and don't want to invest in an expensive new outfit you'll only wear once? Websites such as GirlMeetsDress let you hire designer dresses for a fraction of the cost of buying a whole new outfit.
#45. Out with the old
You can recycle your mobile phone as well as clothes, CDs, games and DVDs on sites such as Music Magpie or Mazuma Mobile, and depending on what you're recycling, you could make a fair bit of cash.
#46. Avoid designer labels
Your self-esteem isn't tied to which designer you're wearing, so avoid designer labels and look for copycat styles on websites such as ASOS or in high-street stores such as TK Maxx. It's much more important that you feel comfortable and confident in your clothes.
#47. Learn to say 'no'
Shopping with the family can be stressful, and saying 'no' to a screaming three-year-old is enough to leave anyone in need of a meditation session. Try to leave the kids at home when you're shopping, but if you have to take them, don't be afraid to say 'no' as always giving into demands will just make it harder in the future. Teach yourself to say 'no' to temptation when it comes to shopping for yourself too. A good way to do this is to keep a savings jar and put the money you would have spent, had you given in, away in it. At the end of the month, you'll be surprised how much you've saved!
#48. Remember it's not what you have, it's who you are
Don't be fooled into keeping up with the Joneses - just because your neighbour drives a £30k sports car and owns all the latest gadgets, doesn't mean they are happy. Try to be grateful for the things you do have; keeping a gratitude journal can help.
#49. Buy gifts in the sales
Buying birthday and Christmas gifts in the sales doesn't make you cheap; nobody will ever know, and you'll actually appear more generous!
#50. Avoid shopping and get a new hobby
If you're guilty of spending your free time shopping, or engaging in retail therapy everytime you feel sad, a new hobby can keep you occupied. Bonus points if it's cooking something healthy, learning a new language or taking up a new type of exercise, like martial arts or aerial fitness!
#51. Shop online
There's a reason why internet shopping has become so popular - it's cheaper! No need to stand in busy queues all day long; and you could save hundreds of pounds, particularly on electrical items.
#52. On your bike
Cycling to work (or to the supermarket) could save you a fortune in commuting costs, not to mention it's great exercise and could even reduce your stress levels, provided you don't live in a busy city!
#53. Trade-down your car
Your top-of-the-range sports car may be flashy, but if it's also costing you a fortune in fuel, perhaps it's time to switch to a cheaper option? Discount car supermarkets are a great place to find a budget vehicle that won't cost you the earth.
#54. Use cheaper public transport
There's a certain snobbery surrounding buses, and many of us would rather take the train than have to commute to work on the bus. But give the train or underground a miss and you could find you make a healthy saving on your daily commute. In London, monthly bus passes cost £80.70 (for all zones) whilst a monthly travelcard for the tube and train (zones 1-3) will set you back £144.80 - over the year this adds up to a substantial saving!
#55. Look at MPG
When it comes to shopping for a new vehicle, consider the MPG (miles per gallon) carefully. You'll usually find that Diesel cars are more economical than petrol, and if you have a long commute to work each day or can't rely on public transport, you could save thousands of pounds a year in fuel costs by choosing a more economical car.
#56. Get off a stop early
Getting off a few stops early could not only save you money, it's also great for your activity levels, and that pre-work walk could fire up your creative juices.
#57. Fight parking tickets
When you get a parking ticket, it's easiest to roll over and just pay it - but if you feel it was unjust, fight it! You could find you save money that would otherwise have been wasted.
#58. Shop around for fuel
You might find that the petrol station five minutes up the road offers a cheaper rate than the one on your doorstep, so don't be afraid to shop around for the best possible price to save cash.
#59. Walk to work
Walking is the cheapest mode of transport there is - so walk everywhere you can; to work, to the gym, to meet friends. Walking is also a great workout and tones your lower body, strengthening your core. If you put on your trainers and power-walk, you'll do your body even more good!
#60. Get your food shop delivered
Yes, it might cost you between £1 and £5 to have your groceries delivered, but you'll probably spend this on fuel and car maintenance costs travelling to and from the supermarket, not to mention it costs you in time and stress levels too. Having your groceries delivered saves you time AND money.
#61. Take a vehicle maintenance course
We're not suggesting you get qualified as a mechanic, but taking a basic vehicle maintenance course can help you to save money on the little things that go wrong with cars; you should be able to fix these things yourself without paying someone else to do it!
#62. Stay closer to home
Joining a gym or getting a job on the other side of town might seem like a good idea - but unless that job comes with a substantial payrise, you could find you spend most of your money commuting to and fro. Try to look for options closer to home that won't cost you money and leave you suffering a stressful commute.
#63. Buy in advance
When it comes to travelling across the UK by train or coach, operators such as National Rail and MegaBus usually have a limited number of cheap, discounted tickets available. Sign up for special offers by email and make sure you book your travel well in advance to ensure you get the best price.
#64. Opt for a car-share
Sharing the commute to work with a colleague or friend can cut your travel costs in half - not only will you have less fuel to pay for, but you'll save on vehicle maintenance costs too.
#65. Put the kids on the bus
If there's the option of a school bus to take your kids to school, leave the car at home and let them travel to school independently. You might want to go with them the first few times, but once they get the hang of the journey, you'll find it's much less stressful than queuing in rush hour traffic!
#66. Find a new job
It may seem extreme, but if you find yourself spending a fortune commuting to work, and you're not particularly happy, you might want to look for a new job closer to home!
#67. Work remotely
More of us than ever before are working remotely, so why not ask your boss if you could work from home? Even working from home a couple of days a week will save you cash on commuting costs and work lunches.
#68. Consolidate your hours
Have you considered working longer days but fewer days? Four 10-hour days rather than five 8-hour days could save you a significant amount in commuting costs over the course of a year.
#69. Check your tyres
Ensuring that your tyres are properly inflated not only makes your car safer to drive, but it could also save you money on fuel costs.
#70. Mix it up
Don't feed your pet the same brand of food all the time - whilst it's not a good idea to mix their diet up too much, alternating between a couple of different types of the same brand ensures that their tastes will remain varied; and it means if one type is on special offer, you'll save money!
#71. Shop around for pet insurance
Pet insurance premiums can vary greatly from one provider to another, and the age of your pet is also a factor. Whilst you shouldn't necessarily choose the cheapest option, visiting a comparison site to check out prices is always a good idea - make sure you're aware whether new conditions are covered for life, or just for 12 months.
#72. Avoid premium-brand food
Premium-brand, organic pet food made with 'natural' ingredients also comes with a premium price tag. Getting your pet into the habit of eating this everyday could double your monthly cat or dog food bills! Use these foods for an occasional treat, and stick to the best food you can afford, rather than over-spending.
#73. Make home-made treats
Avoiding expensive shop-bought treats and making your own for your dog, cat or furry friend means you'll save money, and you also have the fun of making it - plus you know exactly what's going in it too!
#74. Try pound shops for essentials
Essentials such as cat litter, treats and dog bones can be found in pound shops and discount stores for reasonable prices; and your pet will never know the difference.
#75. Make sure you have pet insurance
Vets bills can quickly add up if your pet is ill or injured, and you don't want to risk being unable to afford emergency medical treatment. You should always insure your pet, but make sure you look around for the best possible deal on insurance.
#76. Take out home insurance
A lively puppy or naughty cat could cost you, if you don't have accidental damage on your home insurance! That new flat-screen TV isn't going to be much use if the screen is smashed, so make sure you are protected before the worst happens.
#77. Get creative with toys
We've all spent money on the latest treats and toys for our cat, only to find they're more interested in the box it came in. Make your own toys at home - a scrunched up ball of tin foil, a rustly bit of paper, a feather or even a curtain ring can provide hours of entertainment, and it won't cost you a penny.
#78. Go for lunch, not dinner
If you're trying to save money, you don't have to miss out on dining out. Go for lunch rather than dinner, or weekend brunch. You'll usually find special deals, set menus and happy hour on offer earlier in the day!
#79. Enjoy healthy fast food
If you're looking for on-the-go eating that's healthy too, check out some of the healthy fast-food options available in major cities. Leon in London offers delicious, healthy food served fast - it's affordable too.
#80. Fixate on fixed-price
A fixed-price menu or set menu eliminates the urge to order every dish you fancy - and you'll usually find you get more for your money (although in some restaurants, portions may be slightly smaller).
#81. Stick to one course
Instead of having two or three courses, have something light to start, like some bread or olives - these are usually a cheaper option than a starter and can be shared with friends. By ordering only one course, you'll save on money AND calories.
#82. Explore your neighbourhood
Most of us have plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes in our neighbourhood that we've never checked out. Avoid the train and bus fares and check out a local establishment for lunch or dinner - it could become a favourite!
#83. Split the cost
Sharing a main course or dessert with a friend is a great way to cut the cost when dining out - it also means you'll eat less.
#84. Visit discount sites
Sites such as vouchercloud.com regularly have discount codes available for popular chain restaurants such as Ask and Pizza Express. So whether you're looking for a 2-for-1 deal or a free portion of dough balls with your salad, check out the latest deals before you go out for a meal!
#85. Sign up for newsletters
Many restaurants and bars offer discounts to those who sign up to their mailing lists - this way you'll hear about any special offers and you may be sent deals such as free drinks on your birthday or money off a meal for two.
#86. Don't be afraid to complain
If you've suffered sub-standard service in a restaurant or have come down with food poisoning after a meal, don't be afraid to complain (nicely) to the restaurant manager. In some cases, they may offer you a complementary meal or money off your next meal as way of an apology.
Opting for restaurants where you can bring your own bottle is a great way to save money on expensive drinks, particularly if there's a group of you going out for dinner. This way, everyone can bring along what they want to drink - whether that's a nice bottle of red or a couple of Belgian beers.
#88. Get a doggy bag
Don't be afraid to ask for any of your leftovers to be boxed up, so that you can take them home with you. If you've only eaten half of an expensive Chinese meal, you could enjoy what's left for lunch or dinner tomorrow; that means no cooking!
#89. Follow your favourites
Following your favourite bars, restaurants and cafes on Twitter means you'll be the first to see about any discounts, offers or events.
#90. Share the love
Tweet about your experiences at a restaurant or leave a bar a review on Facebook - who knows, they may reward you with a discount the next time you visit them!
#91. Let them know it's a special occasion
If you're celebrating a special occasion such as a birthday or graduation, let the restaurant know. They may throw in something for free, such as a cake, dessert or a few drinks.
General Money-Saving Tips
#92. Use cash
Get into the habit of paying for things with cash, rather than cards. By withdrawing a set amount of cash per day or per week, you'll be more aware of what you're spending. Using cards often doesn't feel like 'real' money.
#93. Check your statements
Make sure you're aware of what's coming in and going out of your bank accounts. A regular quick check of your statements will spot any unusual transactions and also ensures you're never at risk of going overdrawn and being charged.
#94. Keep on top of your direct debits
Did you know that the average person in the UK wastes £210 a year on direct debits for services they no longer use? Gym membership, home insurance or charity donations are all easy to forget about, so make sure you regularly check your list of direct debits and cancel any you are no longer using.
#95. Save with a separate bank
Keeping your savings and current accounts with the same bank is convenient, but seeing how much money you have stashed away every day can make it tempting to withdraw some. By opening a savings account with another bank, you'll find it's easier to save, as the money is less visible!
#96. Keep a change jar
Get into the habit of emptying your purse or pockets of small change on a daily basis, and putting it into a jar, maybe on top of the fridge. At the end of the month, this 'extra' cash could be used to save towards something bigger, like an activity holiday or a new car.
#97. Give thoughtful, not expensive gifts
When giving gifts, it can be tempting to opt for something expensive, as we believe it makes us look more generous. Most people would rather receive a thoughtful gift that matches their tastes. Whether you make something yourself or choose something special, you don't have to spend a lot.
#98. Cut back on luxuries
We might all need appointments at the dentist, hair cuts and the occasional treat, but we don't all need weekly manicures, pedicures, spa treatments and organic groceries delivered to our doorstep. The key to saving cash is to work out which little luxuries you can't live without - maybe one or two things - then work at cutting out the rest, or at least cutting back on your spending on them.
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