Saving Money

A selection of articles focused on saving money.

13 UK Money Bloggers Talk Extreme Frugal Living

13 UK Money Bloggers Talk Extreme Frugal Living

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about four extreme frugal living steps I had taken and asked my readers if they would dare to go as far.  With a change to my working hours having an impact on my budget, it got me wondering if I could go further.  Were there frugal steps that I hadn’t thought about?  What more could I do?

 

That’s when I thought about asking my fellow money bloggers.  They regularly write about saving money and the steps they’ve taken in the past to achieve big financial goals or just survive.  So here they are 13 of the UK’s best money bloggers tell me the most extreme steps they’ve taken to save or make money.

 

What they’ve done

Laura at Savings 4 Savvy Mums says:

“We’ve turned the heating off in January and all wore 2 jumpers and 3 pairs of socks, wrapped in blankets as well duvets etc at night. Even the kids! When it comes to food or heating we chose food.”

 

Fiona from Savvy in Somerset says:

“In 2016 we were saving for our wedding and honeymoon and we cut our groceries bill down to £50 a month for two of us.”  Take a look at how she did it.

 

Emma at Bee Money Savvy says:

“Every Christmas me and my family keep all the gift bags that we give to each other and recycle them for next Christmas. Saving money (and the planet)! ”

 

Joleisa from Joleisa.com say:

“Recently, we collected several tubes of ‘sample’ toothpaste at the dentist’s office so we won’t need to buy any when we go on days/weekends away etc. Also, my twinnie and I took turns doing each other’s hair for 2 years so spent no money at the hairdresser!”

 

Jenny from Mummy Saver Money Maker says:

“When I was a single mum, some months were much worse than others for money. On the bad ones I used to buy two packets of pork chops for £7 from Tesco, a big bag of spuds, some carrot and Swede, pasta, porridge, jam and a loaf and that would feed us for a week (apart from my daughter needed milk as and when). We had porridge for breakkie with jam in, she’d have jam sandwich for lunch while I had jacket spud and marge and for tea every night we’d have pork and veg or if we got bored, pork and veg pasta. It would come to under £20 a week and we’d have to have the same thing every day but it kept a roof over our heads so it was worth it!”

 

Victoria at Lylia Rose says:

“I reduced my wardrobe to 50 items and I keep it that way. I wear the same outfits over and over until they are worn out, then just replace an item when it really needs it! Then I sold all the excess from my wardrobe on eBay. Now, I very rarely buy new clothes unless it’s a necessity.”

 

Pete from Household Money Saving says:

I started to sell the free vouchers you receive on cereal packets that give you half-price entry into theme parks. It covers the cost of breakfast!”

 

Mark from Not Taught At School says:

“Whenever I am looking to buy something online whether that is eBay, Amazon or anywhere else I always do this.
1 – Right click the image and click from the drop down box – Search Google for the image.
2 – Next click on the shopping tab, here it will show you all the places selling the product online and the price.
3 – Once I find the best price I then look at top cashback or another cashback site to see if I can save extra also.”

 

Emma from My Debt Diary says:

“We figured out how to go to the cinema for 70p at a time and have done it several times now. Add in some smart price snacks and you’ve got two people going to the cinema for about £2.”

 

Michelle at Time and Pence says:

I buy most of my shoes and boots used off eBay. If you shop carefully you can find the real bargains, top quality leather boots and shoes that have only been worn once or twice and look perfectly new. My favourite were some Faith boots which would retail at about £80 that I got for £9.50!”

 

Emily from My Lovely Money says:

I buy almost everything for my home from eBay or Facebook marketplace. I think I must have saved thousands just on furniture and appliances so far! The best thing I have bought is my Rangemaster oven for just £300 – they are around £1800 new so I’ve saved £1500! I think most people buy new things for the convenience of having it delivered, but for a little extra effort you can save so much money!!”

 

Jane from Shoestring Cottage says:

I buy only second hand clothes. I didn’t make a decision to do this, it just happened! It saves a ton of money and reuses things others have discarded.”  She even got a post about this too.

 

Naomi from Skint Dad says:

“I remember about our salvaged fridge freezer.

We moved and didn’t have one (in rented) but couldn’t afford to buy new. However, for some reason there was one dumped in the shed at the bottom of the garden. After A LOT of cleaning and disinfecting, we got it up and running. It worked perfectly.”  They’ve also written a post about unconventional ways to says money.

 

What have you done?

Tell me in the comments what extreme steps you’ve taken to save or make money.  And don’t forget to check out my post on this – Extreme Frugal Living? Would You Go THIS Far?

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

extreme frugal living

 

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Saving Money, 4 comments
How Working Part Time Could Make You Better Off

How Working Part Time Could Make You Better Off

This month is my first month as a part time working mum.  After my maternity leave ended I decided to that going back full time (like I did after I had my first) was just not going to work for me this time.  Therefore I did was I always do in these situations and crunched the numbers.  The result was that with both my husband and I working part time we would only be about £100 per month worse off than with just me working full time.  I was more than happy with that.  Thus, I became part time teacher and part time stay at home mum.

 

Although, I had scrutinised our income, making sure that I knew exactly how much we had coming in.  I had neglected to look as carefully at our outgoings.  Not only that but I hadn’t looked at the other opportunities that would open up to us when both working part time.

 

Financial benefits of working part time

  • The cut in pay is never as bad as you think.

I went down to a 40% role.  However, my take home pay is 55% of my full time income.  This is thanks to paying less tax and making lower pensions contributions (don’t worry, there’s a plan for this).  Essentially this means that by working less I get to keep more of my money.

  • Decreased travel costs.

I only work two days a week.  Consequently I only have to travel to work twice now.  For us, this meant that we could get by with only needing one car rather than two.  So that’s what we did.  This is on top of the savings on fuel and car maintenance with only 40% of the costs there.

  • Decreased childcare costs.

Our childcare costs are ZERO!  We have never paid for childcare and don’t ever intend to.  This is not because we are privileged to be surrounded by helpful family.  In reality, it is the opposite.  We made the decision early on that we would keep our kids at home until they were at least three.  With both of us working part time we are able to have our kids at home with either one of us at any time.

  • Less work related expenditure.

Now that I only work two days a week I need far fewer work clothes.  These are typically more expensive than my normal clothes as they need to look smart and professional.  I have about three outfits now on a rotation which is significantly less than the 7/8 I had before.

  • Reduction in household expenditure.

With at least one of us at home all the time it means that we are available to do things around the house more and are far less reliant on convenience products.  For example, we can cook fresh meals from scratch every day.  We can also do lots of little DIY jobs that we would otherwise have had to pay someone else to do.

  • Opportunities to pursue other ventures.

Being at home more means that we have more freedom to chase other money sources.  We have the time to get our side hustle on and bring more money into the house that way.  I am now able to spend more time on my blog as well do some tutoring too.

 

It is not just financially that we are better off too.  It seems that we all benefit when we work less.

 

Other benefits to working part time

  • More family time.

Although we only get one day together as a family each week, our children do get to spend every day with at least one of their parents.  Plus when I am on school holidays we get even more days together.

  • It improves our mental health.

I found being away from eldest really hard when I returned from my maternity leave full time.  That’s why I knew that I couldn’t do it again when I went back after my youngest.  I find that I am much less stressed and more able to cope with the busyness of life when I am not at work as much.

  • More time to fully commit to each task.

Whether I’m at work being a teacher or at home being mummy, I feel that I am able to fully commit to each role rather than having one creeping into the other.  With only a couple of days out of the house I know that I am going to have time to do all the things that need doing at home during the rest of the week.  This means that I am able to focus on teaching and doing the best I can whilst I am there.

  • Chance to grow personally.

When I was working fully time, I felt that there were a million and one things that I wanted to do or achieve but that there was never enough time to do any of them.  Now I work less, it feels as though I am able to nurture other interests in my life.  Again this makes me healthier and happier and improves things for the whole family.

 

Are you considering working part time?

If you are then I would urge you to look at the whole picture.  Yes, it might lead to a drop in income but likely it will lead to a drop in outgoings too.  And what about all the other things you will be able to do? Maybe you could start that business that you’ve been thinking about.  Or perhaps you could start studying part time too.  Or maybe you’ll be able to spend some real quality time with your family.  Whatever it is make sure it factors into your calculations.  It may be the best thing you ever do!

 

Have you gone part time?  Were there any hidden benefits?  Let me know by commenting below!

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

working part time

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Making Money, Saving Money, 0 comments
Things To Do Before Summer Ends To Save Time And Money

Things To Do Before Summer Ends To Save Time And Money

As sad as it is to think that the summer might be coming to an end, unfortunately all good things do.  We have had an excellent summer and have enjoyed a lot of time outside, exploring our garden and the fun activities nearby.  However, with the weather changing this means we need to prepare ourselves for the start of a new season.  My fellow money bloggers and I have created this list of end of summer household tasks to get you ready for autumn and winter.  Enjoy!

 

Pack away/protect garden furniture

Garden furniture is great!  It allows us to enjoy our gardens completely; to eat outside and to socialise outside.  However, it is exposed to the elements and this can cause damage that will reduce the life of these products.  Therefore, it wise to get protective covers or even put away any furniture that you can.  Also make sure that they are secured in case things get a little windy.  Doing this now will mean that your garden furniture is good to use again once the spring comes round.

 

Pack away/protect garden toys

Michelle at Time and Pence agrees with me on this one.  She says “make sure you clean and put away any children’s garden toys, sandpits, paddling pools etc, that have been left out. That way they will stay good as new and can be used again the following year.” And she’s right!  You don’t want to have to pay out for new toys every year just because you couldn’t be bothered to clean them up this year.  Plus doing this will mean that at the first signs of summer next year you’ll have everything ready to go.

 

Seal fences/external wood work and do any fixes

If you’ve been putting this off, well put it off no more!  Sealing fences and woodwork now will protect it over the winter months and stop any unnecessary and potentially expensive damage.  Likewise, it is time to do any niggling external repairs.  For example, we needed to refelt our shed roof as a few bits were coming loose.  Now we know that our shed will be safe from leaks and the contents will stay protected.

 

Related Posts:

Why Autumn Is The Perfect Time To Save

Christmas is coming! Is your budget ready?

 

Clear out unused summer clothes and sell on

Ruth from RuthMakesMoney.com says “At the end of the summer, I go through my wardrobe and if there are any summer or holiday clothes that I haven’t worn in 2 years, I donate to charity or sell on eBay. I always feel great having a clear out, it frees up some space and helps me to look forward to a new season.”  And she is absolutely right.  Clearing out and selling on will keep your wardrobes free from clutter in the months ahead.

 

Lee from Homely Economics goes further and says “It’s a good time to rotate your summer and winter clothes. You can help your summer clothes go through storage without getting smelly or mouldy by washing, drying and folding them neatly, and vacuum-sealing them. Most of us have more clothes than we need to be honest, so rotating them properly helps them to come out ready-to-wear and not smelling icky!”  The last thing I want when I pull out my favourite summer clothes next year is to realise that they have developed a funny smell.  Or even worse are no longer wearable.  Spending this time now will keep your favourite clothes well looked after.

 

 

Sort through kids’ clothes and indoor toys

With Christmas not too far away, it is a good time to review your kids’ stuff.  (And make sure your are ready for it.  Check this post.)  My kids have been distracted by my garden the last few months.  This means that many of their indoor toys have been neglected.  Some of them they have now outgrown and can be sold on, but others I wish we had never had in the first place.  McDonald’s toys that we have inherited or stuff that comes in party bags.  Yeah my kids love them for two minutes but now they are forgotten.  This gives me a window of opportunity to get them out of the house.

 

Clothes also fall into this category because I know that I have kept many of my eldest’s clothes from last winter but I know that they will not fit her now.  I intend to go through these and take them to our local nearly new shop where they will sell them on my behalf.

These end of summer household tasks will have you full of ideas to ready your home and garden for the autumn. Not only will you save time but these money saving strategies will help you stay on budget and hopefully leave you with extra cash over the winter. #frugalliving #diy #saving #lookingafteryourpennies

Prepare herb garden

There are two things you can do here.   The first is to bring your herbs indoors.  Creating a windowsill herb garden will give you quick access to fresh herbs.  It will also make your home feel and smell brighter and fresher with all those lovely plants around.

 

The alternative is to harvest lots of herbs and prepare them for use over the winter.  Typically, I dry lots of herbs and store them in jars.  This works well for oregano especially as drying actually enhances the flavour.  Others, such as coriander, can be frozen in bunches and are then ready to use straight from the freezer.  I find this works particularly well for soup recipes.  An even better idea that I saw here was to freeze them in varying combinations in olive oil or butter or stock.  Follow the link for suggestions.

 

Preserve excess summer fruits and vegetables

Becky at Eat Simply has this to say “Make jam from your fruit!!!”  And it pretty much summarises this section.  However, I prefer not to limit myself to just jam and recommend just stewing up your fruits for use in crumbles and pies later.  The same goes for leftover veg.  Make a few soup combinations and store in the freezer.  You’ll be grateful for them when the temperature has dropped and you want a nice warming dinner.

 

John and Emma from Tuppenny’s FIREplace say “Use your excess garden produce to make frugal Christmas gifts. I am currently bread & butter pickles with the masses of cucumbers and courgettes I’ve got and I make a mean runner bean pickle! I have orders every year from family and friends.”  And I think this is just perfect.  It kills two birds with one stone.  Uses up leftover food and saves on Christmas gifts.  Love it!

 

 

Clean house exteriors

As the weather deteriorates so does my desire to go outside, particularly if it is to clean the bit of my house I can’t see from the inside.  Therefore, I always try and give the outside of the house a bit of a spruce up.  This includes cleaning windows, doors and fascias.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go overboard as I know 6 months of rain is going to have my house looking a mess again but I like to get to a good starting point.

 

Eileen from Your Money Sorted takes this further suggesting that “It’s a great time to check that your gutters, gulley traps and drains are all clear, to prevent any issues with flooding during the winter.”  We did this last year as we were getting an over-spill from one of our gutters.  When we looked they were full of leaves and moss.  We are pleased that we sorted it when we did.

 

Tidy gardens

It may seem odd to tidy up your garden just at the point when you are about to start spending far less time in it.  Trust me when I say it is worth the effort.  Trimming back plants, trees and hedges now will mean that when they start to thrive again in the spring they will be the size you want them to be.  If you leave them they will just grow bigger and bigger, leaving you with either an overgrown garden or twice as much work to do.

 

Emma from My Debt Diary learnt this from experience.  She says “at the end of last summer we covered our flower beds in bark chips after spending hours and hours over the summer weeding them. (We moved in to the house January last year and everything was overgrown.) It slowed the regrowth of weeds right down and meant we have spent a fraction of time weeding the garden this year and have been able to spend far more time enjoying it instead!”

 

Get your house ready

As we retreat into our homes it is worth taking time to review the space that you’ll be spending the next few months in.  This might mean having a bit of a clear out or doing some redecorating.  Thinking about how you are going to heat your home should be a consideration too.  Emma, The Money Whisperer, says “Shut your trickle vents and ensure instead that you open the windows once a day to ventilate the room and change the air.“   It is also worth dealing with any drafts and boosting any insulation that you have in your home.

 

 Switch your energy supplier

With energy in mind, Helen from The Complaining Cow recommends you “look now for switching energy to allow for the few weeks it will take to change before the heating goes on and if your boiler needs a service do it now before they get busy and deals won’t be around so much!”  Your spending on energy will increase over the winter months.  Taking the time to ensure that you are paying the lowest price will potentially save you a small fortune.  For other ways to save, check out my post: 10 things you can do to save money this month and every month

 

Which of these end of summer household tasks will you need to do?

Alternatively, are there any you think need to be on the list?  Let me know below.  And don’t forget to check out my post on Why Autumn Is The Perfect Time To Save.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

These end of summer household tasks will have you full of ideas to ready your home and garden for the autumn. Not only will you save time but these money saving strategies will help you stay on budget and hopefully leave you with extra cash over the winter. #frugalliving #diy #saving #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Saving Money, 28 comments
Why Autumn Is The Perfect Time To Save

Why Autumn Is The Perfect Time To Save

Although now it may feel as though we are still deep in the throes of summer (as teacher I am acutely aware of this), autumn is not too far away.  This may seem like a negative but autumn is a magical time of year and it also presents the perfect opportunity to save some money.  Take a look at my ways to save money in autumn:

 

  1. Long walks

Spend your time enjoying the changing seasons.  Autumn is a great time to watch the changes in the trees and plants.  It is also a good time of year to catch the sunrise and sunset as the two draw closer together, meaning that you don’t have to get up early or stay up late to witness them.  Walking is free and good for you, so do a lot of it!

 

  1. School’s open

With the end of summer comes a return to school, nursery and work.  Although the summer is amazing, it can get costly with lots of days out and desperate attempts to make the most of the weather.  Once school starts again, routine returns and the children are entertained by education Monday to Friday.  Plus the autumn term is the longest meaning that there is plenty of time to get your head down and make some savings.

 

  1. Exercise outside

With cooler temperatures and still a reasonable amount of daylight hours it is a great time of year to save money on gym membership and exercise outdoors.  Whether it involves dusting off your bike, lacing up your running shoes or heading to the beach for sunrise yoga session, the autumn is perfect for it.

 

As the seasons change and Christmas approaches, autumn is the perfect time to get tips and ideas on ways to save money and improve your budget. Click through to read about why I think you save money in autumn. #autumn #fall #budget #savemoney #lookingafteryourpennies
  1. Layering up works

With temperatures dropping you might be starting to worry about the need to turn your heating on but you are not there yet.  Autumn normally is not quite cold enough to fire up your boiler so you can get away with layering up instead.  Use it as the perfect opportunity to sort through your winter clothes and get some final wear out of your summer ones before you pack them away.

 

  1. Cook soup

With the last of the summer vegetables needing to be used up and the root veg being harvested, autumn is the perfect time to reintroduce soup into your meal planning.  Soup is great because you can make large quantities in various flavours for very little money.  Last year I ate a different soup nearly everyday and saved a fortune and loved it.  Plus it is another great way to keep yourself warm when it starts turning a bit chilly.

 

  1. Slow cooker time

I always shun my slow cooker in the summer because (probably wrongly) I associate it with casseroles and stews.  But I love getting it back out in the autumn for some batch cooking.  Batch cooking is a great money saver!  You buy larger quantities of stuff making a saving when you purchase it and you stock your freezer full of goodies.  This means on those lazy days, you have a choice of wholesome foods to choose from.  Nothing is better than coming home from a long day at work or playing outside to delicious smells rising from the slow cooker.

 

As the seasons change and Christmas approaches, autumn is the perfect time to get tips and ideas on ways to save money and improve your budget. Click through to read about why I think you save money in autumn. #autumn #fall #budget #savemoney #lookingafteryourpennies
  1. Socialise outdoors

We have a small fire pit that we enjoy using in the company of good friends.  It serves as an excellent way to spend an autumnal evening.  Sitting in the garden, with a fire, a cup of mulled wine/hot chocolate and a few blankets is cheap and oh so perfect!

 

  1. Decluttering time

As you start to draw into your home more, you may find that you need to move around some clothes, furniture, toys and everything else.  Autumn presents a great time to have a good declutter and sell on some of those items that are underused.  The benefit of this is two-fold: 1) you can raise some money to put towards your current financial goals and 2) you create more space in your home to live.  If you need some help with how to get started you should check out The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo.

Related post: 

Tidying-Up Your Finances: How An Unlikely Book Can Change Your Relationship With Money

 

  1. Entertain kids outside

Outside in autumn is the perfect playground for kids, without the need for any toys.  In case it wasn’t already, everything becomes a sensory adventure that will keep them busy for ages.  Not only is the weather probably still good enough for using all the summer toys, but falling leaves, muddy paths and giant puddles are all added to the mix.  My children will happily spend a day playing in puddles if I dress them right and go for a long walk.  And mud + pots and pans = mud pies all round.

 

  1. Tea and candles

Sipping tea by candle light is the only way to spend your autumn evenings.  And the cost of this is very cheap, particularly when you compare it to a night at the cinema or at a pub.  Bulk buying tea and candles early in the season can save you even more money and you’ll enjoy every evening spent this way.

 

Now if all of the above are not perfect reasons why you should already be saving money in the autumn, then perhaps you need a little motivation.  With Christmas just round the corner, you will need to be saving money in order to ensure that it doesn’t completely mess up your financial goals for this year.  Hopefully you’ve been organised and prepared yourself for Christmas by saving regularly throughout the year.  If not you can check out my post about getting your budget Christmas ready.

 

With all these money saving strategies lined up, all you need to do now is enjoy this wonderful season.  Soak up the beautiful colours in nature, embrace the evenings sat round a fire and cosy up your home.  It is absolutely my favourite season and I’m looking forward to it already.

 

Tell me your ideas for saving money this autumn.

Do you have any suggestions?  I would love to share them with my readers to make autumn even better.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

As the seasons change and Christmas approaches, autumn is the perfect time to get tips and ideas on ways to save money and improve your budget. Click through to read about why I think you save money in autumn. #autumn #fall #budget #savemoney #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Saving Money, 2 comments
Christmas is coming!  Is your budget ready?

Christmas is coming! Is your budget ready?

The Sun is shining, my front lawn has dried to a crisp, and we’ve just had the Summer Solstice so I am asking you this question: “are you financially prepared for Christmas?”  Yes I’m being serious!

 

The big day is less than six months away and with only five pay days (or less) to go it is important to start making plans.  Christmas is a big financial event and for many people it is a time when they find themselves going into debt or even further into to debt.  For the sake of one day!  That happens every year!

 

Luckily there are some steps you can take now to soften the blow and stop December from becoming overly stressful and overly expensive.

 

  1. Work out the total cost of Christmas

Your first step is work out exactly what Christmas is going to cost.  This means the whole of Christmas!  Not just the presents but everything.  The whole event is actually a constant leeching of money but that’s no excuse.  We just need to be ready.  Here is my list of all potential expenditures over the Christmas period:

  • Presents-obviously! But make sure you include things like presents for school teachers, tips for the paper boy (if people still do that), gifts for kids’ friends.
  • If you are the sort of person that likes sending cards then factor this in.  Yeah they might only be a few quid but you need to budget for it.
  • Gift wrapping. I always forget about this one.  But it is expensive.  By the time you’ve considered boxes, bags, name tags, ribbons and bows you’ll have spent a fair bit of money.
  • Food and drink. If you are hosting Christmas this year then the likelihood is that you’ll be spending a good amount of money on food.  Whether it is those tins of sweets or to secure the turkey from the local supplier, none of it is cheap.
  • Advent calendars. I made the decision when my eldest was born not to do chocolate advent calendars and instead bought her 24 tiny gifts to unwrap.  It’s lovely but every year I forget and end up panic buying stuff late November.  Not this year though!
  • Christmas party. Does your work have a Christmas party?  What about your partner’s work?  All of these things are part of the parcel of Christmas.
  • Whether you are spending the Christmas break somewhere hot and sunny or if you are visiting relatives, there could well be unusual travel costs involved over the festive period.
  • I love seeing my girls in Christmas clothes.  I’m a sucker for a snowman tutu or a Father Christmas hat.  I also like to treat myself to a new outfit for the work Christmas party.

 

To help you work out how much you spend on each of these it might be worth taking a look at your accounts from last year.  How much did you really spend on the kids’ presents (not what you thought you were going to spend)?  What about your food shopping?

 

Write those numbers down.  Be honest at this point.  If they are big numbers and they scare you, that’s OK.  Time for the next step.

 

Whether you are trying to live frugally or aiming to get debt free, Christmas can prove quite a challenge! That's why I recommend thinking about it now and making a savings plan. Putting Christmas into your budget earlier will take the stress out later. Take a look at how to get your budget ready! #Christmas #budget #debtfree #savings #lookingafteryourpennies
  1. Reduce those costs

It is not wise to under budget.  If you expect Christmas is going to cost the same as last year then you need to be ready and have that money  waiting.  However, if you are feeling like you cannot afford that level of expenditure then there are a few things you can do.

 

  1. Aim to spend less. This one seems a bit obvious but let me explain.  If you spent £60 on your mum last year then why not aim to spend £50-55 this year.  It is unlikely that she will notice the drop in value (plus she’s your mum so she will love you anyway) and if you can do this for everyone then you could reduce your Christmas bill by 10% straightaway.
  2. Be on the hunt for bargains now! The best time to get good deals is not at Christmas.  The further away from Christmas you are the more likely you are to find a good deal.  For example I reckon Christmas cards are pretty cheap right now.  Also if you know what you want to get someone you can do some thorough research and you’ve got time to wait until it drops to a price you are willing to pay.
  3. Get your craft on. Making stuff rather than buying is cheaper, but it is time-consuming.  Luckily, because we are starting early, we’ve got time.  You can look for scraps of fabric in charity shops or sales.  Or you can stock up on card and paper.  And you can practise those cute poses you want you kids to pull for your family Christmas card.  I’ll write another post soon about with frugal Christmas crafts.  Don’t worry!
  4. Stock up on bargain vouchers and coupons. Zeek is a website that allows you to buy gift vouchers at less than face value.  Use the link above for extra money off your first purchase.)  Therefore you could start buying Tesco gift cards now with the view to use them on your food shop in December.  Another option is to save up your rewards points and use these for your Christmas shopping.  I love a Tesco clubcard voucher!

 

  1. Work out the difference and budget

Once you’ve thought about all the ways you are going to reduce your costs you need to budget for the rest.  At the time of writing this there are five (end of the month) paydays left before Christmas.  Don’t worry this is easy maths!  Take that big number and divide it by five.  Or however many paydays you have left until Christmas.  That’s how much you need to put aside EACH month.

 

OR you can do what I like doing and start my Christmas shopping early.  I buy a few bits each month and deduct this from what I should be saving.  Anything that I don’t spend I put aside ready to spend in the future.  This is probably the most practical way to approach your Christmas shopping as it will allow you the opportunity to get the best deals.  Waiting until late November/early December leads to overspending and stress.

 

Now if the amount you’ve got to save each month scares you a bit then firstly revisit the ways to reduce the cost section above.  If you’ve cut it down to the last penny then you need to look at other areas of your life.  Luckily I’ve got a few posts already written about this.  Check these out:

Things You Buy Every Week That I Don’t

10 Things You Can Do To Save Money This Month And Every Month

Extremely Frugal? Would You Go THIS Far?

 

To summarise:

  • Work out the total cost of Christmas
  • Reduce those costs
  • Work out the difference and budget

 

And as a final point don’t forget to use a cashback site like Quidco for all those online Christmas purchases.  Sign up here and get an extra £10.  Put some of your cash back in your pocket and maybe you’ll have enough for a little treat in January.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Whether you are trying to live frugally or aiming to get debt free, Christmas can prove quite a challenge! That's why I recommend thinking about it now and making a savings plan. Putting Christmas into your budget earlier will take the stress out later. Take a look at how to get your budget ready! #Christmas #budget #debtfree #savings #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Saving Money, 0 comments
Tidying-Up Your Finances: How An Unlikely Book Can Change Your Relationship With Money

Tidying-Up Your Finances: How An Unlikely Book Can Change Your Relationship With Money

I might have a mild obsession with books that promise to be life changing.  I believe every one of them.  I get sucked in.  I do all the things they tell me, then convince other people that they need to read them too.  I’m always slightly disappointed when other people don’t experience the same earth-shattering revelations that I do. They should!

 

When I reflect on some of these books, I realise that not all them were maybe sensible.  With many of them I did not need my life changed in that way.  It was actually fine already.  Most of these sorts of books are not even good.  Some of them are short, poorly-written and with little substance.

 

One book is different though.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo did actually change my life.  Well at least it changed how I view things (and I mean all things) in my life.

 

What is it about then?

At its absolute core it is a book about how to tidy up your house.  The author Marie Kondo talks you through her programme to tidy your home.  There are several elements to the process and a series of activities to complete.  The end result is a tidy house that never needs tidying again.  Great eh?

Learn how I used the Konmari method to organise and tidy up my finances. This book will get your organizing your home, your work and your budget to achieve a more joyful life. #konmari #tidyingup #budget #finances #lookingafteryourpennies

How is this actually achieved?

The book breaks down the mammoth task of organising your home into categories.  You start with clothes and work your way through to sentimental items.  Unlike other tidying up books this one recommends that you work in categories rather than rooms, so this means gathering up all the cushions from your entire house and then deciding which to keep and which to let go.  And you do that with everything!

 

Learn how I used the Konmari method to organise and tidy up my finances. This book will get your organizing your home, your work and your budget to achieve a more joyful life. #konmari #tidyingup #budget #finances #lookingafteryourpennies

How did this change your life?

Despite being a practical guide to tidying up, it is underpinned by the idea of keeping only the things that “spark joy.”  And that phrase is the most powerful part of this book.  Stop now and just look around you.  Do the things around you make you happy?  Do you love all of them?  If not, why have you got them?

 

When you start to analyse your possessions like this you realise that you will not settle for second best.  It is not OK to accept a life surrounded by stuff that you don’t love.  There is always a version of that stuff that you would like more.  There’s a version that you would love!

This sounds like it could get expensive.  Does it?

No!  For one, when you declutter your home I recommend selling as much of it as you can.  It might not “spark joy” for you but that doesn’t mean that it won’t for someone else.  I made hundreds of pounds when I Konmari’ed (that’s what its called) our house.  I sold clothes, furniture, toys, books, all sorts.  I then used this money to fund replacements for anything that I felt I needed but was not sparking joy.

 

Once you get going with the process, you will find the Konmari spreads into all areas of your life.  You look not just at physical things but at everything.  For example I Konmari’ed my email inbox.  I was getting emails from every company I’d ever bought something from and those emails annoyed me.  I got rid of them.  I unsubscribed.  Now I don’t have to look at them any more.  I did the same for my finances.  And saved loads!

Learn how I used the Konmari method to organise and tidy up my finances. This book will get your organizing your home, your work and your budget to achieve a more joyful life. #konmari #tidyingup #budget #finances #lookingafteryourpennies

How do you Konmari your finances?

Well, I looked at everything that I was spending.  I looked at the variable costs, all the little treats I was buying myself or the impulse purchases and decided whether spending that money on those things brought me joy.  I decided that at the time they brought me a small amount of happiness, but afterwards those purchases just made me sad.  Either I regretted buying that item or I had already consumed or used it and retrospectively I’d rather have had the money instead.

 

When I look at my fixed costs it was a bit more difficult.  Paying my water bill for one, does not spark any joy at all.  But I realised that I could get some joy from trying to reduce it.  Therefore I worked hard to try and bring this cost down and found that achieving that goal was where the joy could be found.

 

With other fixed costs I found that there were ways that I could get rid of them.  Subscriptions were an easy one to review.  I looked at our entertainment subscriptions and considered each one and the amount of joy it brought to our family.  There were some that we had been holding on to but weren’t using so I cancelled them.  The money brings me joy in new ways.

 

If every time you go to spend money you ask yourself “does this spark joy?” you’ll find that you’ll be very reluctant to let that money go.  You’ll actively look for ways to make your money go further so that you can keep some of it and still have the things in your life that make you happy.  But surprisingly, I found that I just wanted less stuff.  More stuff does not equal happiness.

 

Not just a tidying up book then?

Well that’s not true.  But it is not just about tidying-up STUFF.  It’s about evaluating your life, deciding what is worthy and only letting those things in your life.  When you do this throughout your life, you’ll find that there’s a lot more joy sparking moments.

 

Get your copy of the book here, and see what you can achieve.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Learn how I used the Konmari method to organise and tidy up my finances. This book will get your organizing your home, your work and your budget to achieve a more joyful life. #konmari #tidyingup #budget #finances #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Saving Money, 12 comments
Things You Buy Every Week That I Don’t!

Things You Buy Every Week That I Don’t!

Have you ever taken a look at your shopping list and thought “why am I buying all this stuff?”  Every week we buy items that we think we need.  Well, you do!  I stopped buying many of these items because I realised they were expensive and unnecessary purchases.  If you want to save money, take a look at these things to stop buying.

 

Related posts:

Extremely Frugal? Would you go THIS far?

9 Steps to Save Money Every Time You Shop

 

1. Bin liners

This is the most recent item to be removed from our shopping list.  The day I realised I was buying these bags just to throw them away was the day I vowed to stop buying them.  And we did.

 

Now we just throw our rubbish straight into the bin.  At first I thought this was going to be hideously messy and be a pain to clean up.  Then I thought about it and discovered that it is not as bad as I thought.  Firstly we hardly throw anything away anyway.  We recycle or reuse.  Food waste goes in a special bin or goes on the vegetable patch.  And secondly what does get thrown away is fairly clean.  It’s the plastic seals from the mayonnaise jar or the lids from yoghurt pots.  Anything that is a bit dirty I just give it a quick rinse first.

 

Plus it’s not as though I love my bin so much that I don’t want it to get dirty and therefore need a bin liner to protect it.  If it gets dirty I spray it with a bit of anti-bac and then squirt it with the hose.  Easy peasy!

 

2.  Laundry detergent

OK, this one I still do buy but I don’t buy anywhere near as much as you probably do.  We traded laundry detergent for an Ecoegg a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back.

 

With an Ecoegg you just chuck it in with your dirty clothes and it cleans them just like your powder, tablet, liquid or gel would.  But the best thing is they last ages!!  I’ve replaced the inside bits of my Ecoegg once, maybe twice in the 2-3 years that I’ve had it.  And during that time my clothes have come out clean every time.

 

Ecoegg comes with the added bonus of being great for sensitive skin so I love using it for my kids clothes.  It is also fragrance free, so clean things just smell clean and not like anything else.  AND it doesn’t dump a load of toxic chemicals into the environment.  Love it!

 

3.  Fresh herbs

I started a herb garden two or three summers ago and I adore it!  Not only was a great introduction to growing your own food and a great project for my daughter, but I am saving so much money.

 

I sourced my herbs from various places.  A few I grew from seeds in cut down milk bottles on my windowsill.  Some were cuttings from a friend.  And one or two I bought as established plants.  All in  all it was fairly inexpensive to set up with just the cost of soil and a few pots on top.

 

We now have a great selection of herbs at our disposal.  I love sending my daughter out into the garden to collect fresh thyme for dinner or to get a sprig of mint for my tea.  Plus when the colder months set in I take a load of cuttings and dry them out indoors to use throughout winter.  It really is quite a lovely way to save money.

 

Here are 9 unnecessary purchases that you making every week. Ditch these items from your shopping list and save money, boost your budget and help get yourself debt free. #savingmoney #groceries #frugal #budgeting #lookingafteryourpennies

4. Aluminium foil

You just don’t need it!  Honestly, think hard about when you use it, and then try to think of a way to not use it.  For nearly every situation I could come up with a better solution.  For example, wrapping your sandwiches in it.  Just get a lunch box or a reusable sandwich wrap.  What about cooking with it?  Use a Pyrex dish with a lid if you are looking to keep in the heat.

 

I’ve not bought foil in a long time and I cannot say that I miss it.  Yeah you might have to be a bit creative at the start but once you’ve figured it out you find it is easy to give up.

 

9 things to stop buying every week. If you want to save money on your groceries and become more eco-friendly then you need to stop buying these items. #savingmoney #groceries #debtfree #budgeting #ecoliving #frugalliving

5. Shampoo and conditioner

I’ve mentioned this before here.  But I don’t buy shampoo or conditioner.  At least not the normal versions that come in bottles from the supermarket.  I instead buy shampoo bars.  These last for ages and make your hair feel great.

 

I paid £6 including delivery for my last shampoo bar.  I fully expect that to last me 6 months and that is with washing my hair every other day.  The great thing about shampoo bars is that they are zero waste.  No plastic bottle.  And they don’t contain anything nasty that coats your hair in plastic or whatever.  They just let your lovely hair do its thing.

 

For conditioner I just use a little apple cider vinegar mixed with water.  It de-tangles and makes hair so shiny.  Until you try it you probably won’t believe me but it is just as good as “normal” conditioner.

 

6.  Some cosmetics and toiletries

Yeah I don’t really do make-up or fancy moisturisers or toners.  They scare me really.  I worry about what is in them and whether I want that stuff all over my face, plus I mostly just don’t have a clue what to do with half of it.

 

This said there are increasingly some great products available that are great for your skin and don’t contain all the horrible stuff that I try to avoid, but they are also expensive.  I don’t like spending money.  But you knew that already.

 

There are so many tutorials out there for making your own cosmetics from very few ingredients.  I personally am happy to go without most of the time.  I’ve got a charcoal eye liner, some natural eye shadow and lippy that I can whip out for a special occasion.  The rest of the time I just use coconut oil.  And I get that as cheap as I can too.

 

Here are 9 unnecessary purchases that you making every week. Ditch these items from your shopping list and save money, boost your budget and help get yourself debt free. #savingmoney #groceries #frugal #budgeting #lookingafteryourpennies

7.  Baby products

I’ve mentioned before that we use cloth nappies so I won’t go on about those again.  But I want to mention here that I don’t buy anything from the “baby” section when I do my grocery shopping.  Literally nothing.  To me it’s all unnecessary.

You might be interested in:  Must Have Parenting Hacks to Save Money

We don’t buy nappies. Or wipes.  We make all our own food so we don’t need purees or special baby crisps and crackers.  I breastfeed so we don’t need formula.  We don’t use shampoos, soaps or creams on our kids.  They get water and the odd bit of coconut oil (again) for most things.

 

When I walk around a supermarket, which is rare, I actually feel quite proud that there is a whole aisle that I don’t need to go down.  I turn it into a game now.  I try to find more aisles in the supermarket that I don’t need to go down by making switches in my home.  It is amazing what you can eliminate.

 

8.  Food bags

Again I don’t really understand these.  They’re a bit like bin bags.  They serve a purpose for such a short period of time then they get thrown away.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  Plus I can buy reusable food bags in so many pretty patterns, so why wouldn’t I?

 

This one is like foil.  It won’t take you long to come up with ways to replace all the things that you use food bags for.  Storing food can be switched into reusable bags and boxes.  Putting your lunch in them, you can use a lunch box again.  What else could you possibly use them for?  If you think you have a use for them that you absolutely cannot live without, let me know.  I’d really enjoy convincing you otherwise.

 

9.  Kitchen roll

Yeah we don’t have kitchen roll.  I don’t miss it either.  Visitors that come to my house seem to miss it more than me.  They will look around my kitchen and go “where’s your kitchen roll?”  I actually think it is quite funny now.

 

We stopped using kitchen roll when we decided that it could be replaced by a cloth and a towel.  Both of these things we can wash and reuse.  A cloth wipe can be used to clean anything.  And a towel will absorb any spills.  I’ve seen a few people say “what about things that you don’t want to use a reusable wipe for?”  Well if it really is something so disgusting that I don’t want to put it in my washing machine, then I have old scraps of fabric that I save from really worn out clothes and bedding.  I can use those and then throw away.  You don’t need kitchen roll.

 

What unnecessary purchases are you making?

If you eliminated all these items from your weekly/monthly shop, how much would you save?  Then work that out over the year?  Then the next ten years?  At what point would you consider it a worthwhile saving?  For me, it’s easy.  These items are bad for my budget, bad for the environment and some of them are bad for our health.  Therefore it is easy to let them go.

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Here are 9 unnecessary purchases that you making every week. Ditch these items from your shopping list and save money, boost your budget and help get yourself debt free. #savingmoney #groceries #frugal #budgeting #lookingafteryourpennies

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Eco-Friendly Living, Saving Money, 22 comments
This Is Why You Are Poor

This Is Why You Are Poor

If you are one of those people that finds themselves forever without money, then this post might just be what you need to read.  In my experience there are several reasons why people fail to improve their financial circumstances and it is not about earning potential or getting a raise.  I have found myself in many of the situations below in the past so I can completely empathise.  Have a look!  Do any of these sound like you?  Are you fed up of being poor?

 

Related posts:

Extremely Frugal? Would you go THIS far?

10 things you can do to save money this month and every month

 

  1. You don’t understand money

This one might not entirely be your fault.  I’d say that the average person in the UK understands very little about money.  We know that we need it to buy stuff and that we can get it by working.  For the majority that is where it ends.

 

If that is all you know about money then it is going to be hard work for you to make more money.  You’ll be working for every penny.  Not only that but that hard-earned money will slip through your fingers and at the end of the month you’ll be wondering what that precious cash actually got you.

 

Finance education is so important.  Unfortunately it barely gets taught in schools.  Therefore you have got to do your own research.  Read books.  Visit blogs.  Go to websites.  Even enrol for an online course.  Future Learn has some great courses that can help you get ahead with your finances.  Take a look at my recommendations page for links to useful books and websites.

 

Money is such an important part of our lives.  In order to fully understand it we need to give it the attention it deserves.  Go and get educated.

  1. You spend money you don’t have

Debt!  Pretty much everyone I know has some sort of debt or used to.  If I go back a couple of generations though, debt was far less common.  My grandparents were a rarity in the fact that they bought their own property given their working class background.  By my parents’ generation having a mortgage was considered normal.  For my generation it seems that having debt for near enough everything is normal.  But it is not healthy.

 

Most people get in debt at one point in their lives.  Maybe when they were a student or maybe they had an emergency crop up or maybe they just gradually crept into their overdraft to pay for day to day life.  If you are one of these people then you are probably finding yourself in a cycle of paying off some debt and then something else happens and you are back in debt and then you pay it off etc.

 

You will find that this cycle continues until you do something proactive about it.  Get creative and aggressive about getting out of debt.  You need to break the cycle.

  1. You have no emergency fund

Life is full of those wonderful little moments where you go “Oh great.  Now this happens!”  We call these emergencies or unexpected events but are they really?

 

What about if you tried to plan for the things that might go wrong?  For example my washing machine is making a funny sound.  It’s a few years old and it gets a LOT of use.  Rather than waiting for that to die and then rolling my eyes and cursing, I’ve got the money for a new one waiting.  Obviously I’m not going to replace it until it is definitely broken beyond repair, but when that happens I know that we are ready.

 

You can do this for all manner of events.  What about if you find yourself out of work?  How would you pay the bills?  Having a good sized emergency fund means that you would have money aside to cover that eventuality.  I recommend 3-6 months of expenses.  Therefore if that happens you’ve got enough money to not instantly go into panic mode.

 

If you are looking to get out of debt then having a modest emergency fund is crucial.  Find £1000 from somewhere.  Pull extra shifts.  Sell some of stuff.  Get another job.  Get that money from somewhere.  If you try to pay off your debts without any emergency fund then the first time that something breaks you will be straight back into debt.  Please squirrel away an emergency fund now.

  1. You make no plans for the future

When I got my first job my mum told be to save half of what I earnt, because then it was last me twice as long.  Now that is cracking advice.  I’m not sure 16 year old me really understood the value of that statement at the time but I listened and it served me well.

 

It is so easy to think about what is happening now and prioritise those things.  But what about tomorrow?  There are thousands if not millions of people living in this country that get paid, spend the majority in the first one or two weeks immediately after and then live off next to nothing until they get paid again.  When you truly think about it that is a ridiculous way to live.

 

But it goes even further than that.  How about retirement?  People give this part of their live far too little attention.  For my generation normal retirement could be 30+ years.  I need to consider that a priority because I refuse to spend those years of my life  living in poverty.

 

In the more immediate future, there’s Christmas!  Christmas is the same day every year we have 364 days (sometimes 365) to prepare for it.  But so many people don’t.  Sitting down and deciding what you will need to spend on gift giving events and making a plan to but some money aside each month will take all the stress out of it in November.

No cash left at the end of the month? Fed up of feeling poor? But don't really know why you are in this situation. Here are 6 possible explanations! #budget #debtfree #poor #savings
  1. You don’t have a budget

You need a budget!  You need to know what you have coming in each month and what you you have going out.  You need to plan what you are going to do with anything that is leftover or you need to make plans to deal with any shortfall.

 

The best way to approach this is to account for every penny.  With this budget  you aim to have £0 leftover at the end of the month.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t save anything, actually it means the exact opposite.  It means budgeting for any savings right from day one.  You take all the money you are going to have for that month and decide what it is going to do.

 

Some people do a general budget and hope that that covers them for every month.  This is better than nothing but doing it every month will be better.  This way you can reflect on what you spent last month, making tweaks to this month.  You can increase your savings and investments if you overbudgeted and found you had some left.  You can react to any increases or decreases in income or expenditure that are specific to that month. Plus making time once a month to fully review your finances is one of the best investments you can make.

  1. You let your emotions control your money

“I’ve been working hard recently I deserve [insert normally expense thing here]!”  “I’ve had a tough month I deserve a treat!”  “Ooh! [Insert favourite retailer] have a sale on!”  If you use any of these phrases then you are letting your emotions control your money.

 

I’ve used all of these phrases.  Sometimes I still catch myself saying them and it is only through an awareness that I now stop myself (most of the time) from acting on them.  You need to learn when you are using money to meet an emotional need and actually deal with the emotion.  Buying more stuff is a quick fix.  You’ll soon regret the decision and then you’ll have an item you don’t want and less money.

 

Recognising that this you do this will help you become more aware of how make decisions about money.  If you catch yourself spending money and it is emotionally driven.  Then stop!  Wait 24 hours, a week or even a month and see if you still feel the same about making that purchase.

 

Which one are you?

Or maybe you are two or more.  Or even all of them.  Acknowledging the fact that you are struggling is the first step.  Figuring out why will help you move forward and towards finance peace of mind.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

No cash left at the end of the month? Fed up of feeling poor? But don't really know why you are in this situation. Here are 6 possible explanations! #budget #debtfree #poor #savings

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Making Money, Saving Money, 0 comments
9 Steps to Save Money Every Time You Shop

9 Steps to Save Money Every Time You Shop

Never knowingly overpaying for something is my goal!  It’s my personal goal AND it’s my goal to help you too.  There are times when you get caught out and have to make a purchase of convenience.   It is normally on these occasions where you end up overpaying.  Some forward planning though and you can all but eliminate these situations AND save money.

 

Before you make a purchase, ANY purchase.  There are several things I want you to do.  Some of them might only give you a couple of pence back in your pocket but once those pence have been added up you could be a fair bit up.  Overpaying is wasteful and avoidable.  Make sure you take the steps below to avoid it.

1.  Do you really need it?

OK!  This once isn’t a way that you can get stuff for less, but it is an excellent strategy for saving money.  When you decide you are going to buy something I urge you to think very carefully about what is motivating you to make that purchase.

 

Just last week I was poised and ready to buy a new toys for the kids.  I’d even completed many of the steps below and was itching to buy it.  However I took some time to review what was driving me to buy it and decided that I felt that all my hard work over the last few months made me deserving of buying this toy.  Once I resolved this in my head I demoted said item from need to want to “just more clutter.”  Look out for my upcoming post on how emotions and money aren’t always a good mix.

2.  Do you have any vouchers?

Christmas just gone I ended up with a few gift vouchers.  I didn’t really know what to do with them at the time so I just shoved them in my purse.  A few weeks later I needed some new bathroom towels and suddenly that John Lewis voucher had a purpose.  Before I knew it I had a complete set of towels and they hadn’t cost me anything.

 

I find that I get vouchers for all sorts of things.  I got a voucher for signing up to Sky and an Amazon voucher for switching to online billing with my insurance company.  Normally I find I don’t need them straight away but when I come to make my next purchase I can check what I have available and make my shopping choices accordingly.

3.  Can you get any vouchers?

Now there’s a great website called Zeek, where you can buy gift vouchers at a lower than face value price.  I’ll write about this properly another day but the essence of it is that people get vouchers, they don’t want the vouchers so they sell them to Zeek who sell them to you.

 

What this means though is that you can buy cheap gift voucher and use these for your shopping.  Ultimately the things you are buying will cost you less.  Some of the vouchers have huge discounts so you can make a real saving.  It is definitely worth considering if you are making a significant purchase, because even 1-2% off could mean a fair bit of money.

 

If you like the sound of Zeek, you can follow this link and sign-up.  You’ll get an extra £5 for going through me.  You’re welcome!

Everyone can save money shopping. Whether you like a bargain or are committed to frugal living. Whether you buy in store or online. Clothes or groceries. These shopping hacks will have you saving money and keeping that budget in check.

4.  Is that the best price?

When I buy stuff I always have a look online to see what the best price is.  Being loyal to one company is great but you normally pay a price for that.  There are some purchases where you don’t need to worry too much about who is supplying it.  For these purchases it literally pays to shop around.

 

The first thing I do is a simple Google search.  The Google shopping results will show up the item you are looking for at good prices.  My next step is to find the company supplying that item at the cheapest price.  However it is important not to stop there.  Before I buy the item I also do a Google search for reviews for that company.  Have a read and see what people say.  If they are getting 4/5 stars and generally people are saying they are great, then go ahead and buy it.  If the reviews are a bit iffy then it is probably worth paying a bit more to ensure that you actually get the product.  Research is key!

5.  How about discount codes?

Once you’ve found a good price, it is now time to see if you can get it for even less.  Vouchercodes.co.uk is a get place to look.  You might find that you can get a few percent off the price by signing up to their newsletter or sharing their website on Facebook.  Things like this are simple and probably worth doing.

 

Things that are not worth doing are things like store cards.  Don’t get in debt just to save a few quid.  There are other ways.

 

Another lesser known way to get a discount is to see if that shop has a Facebook group.  Some shops have a special Facebook group for their shoppers and offer a discount code for the members.  Again a quick Facebook search might get you 10+% off.

6.  How are you going to pay?

Think about how you can save money through your choice of payment.  If you are using gift vouchers as above then great.  If you are not then your choice of payment could make the item more or less expensive.

 

What do I mean? Well if you are buying the item on a credit card that you DO NOT pay off each month then you will be paying interest on that item.  Or if buying that item takes you deeper into your overdraft then you will be paying interest on that item.  Most people won’t factor this in but it will make that shopping trip more expensive.

 

Paying cash will mean that you buy the item at face value.  But if you are clever you can use your payment method to save you even more money.

 

Mr Pennies and I have an American Express credit card that pays us cashback on the majority of our purchases.  We pay this off in full every month so never pay any interest.  And we get to pocket our cashback once a year.  This means that we save approximately 1% on the cost of any item we buy using that card.  Every year we have had that card we have received about £200 back.  Not to be sniffed at eh?  I’ll write in more detail about this later so be on the look out.

7.  Do you have a loyalty card?

Loyalty cards are another fantastic way to save money.  My favourites are my Tesco Clubcard and my Nandos card.  But I would say sign up for them all.  Even if it takes you years to accumulate the rewards you still eventually get free stuff.  I love free stuff.

 

Whilst doing you shopping it is worth thinking about whether you have any rewards to claim.  If you do, use that to influence your choice of shopping location and evaluate whether using those rewards makes that shop the best place to buy.

 

Or you can claim your loyalty points on this purchase and put them towards a future one.  We really like Nandos so we seem to get free chicken a lot.  Does this sometimes mean that I will go there rather than somewhere else? Yeah it does!  But I am always weighing up where I can get the best deal.  Sometimes it is Nandos.  Sometimes it is GBK.

Everyone can save money shopping. Whether you like a bargain or are committed to frugal living. Whether you buy in store or online. Clothes or groceries. These shopping hacks will have you saving money and keeping that budget in check.

8.  Can you get some money back?

I’ve talked before about how to use cashback sites to get money back on your purchases.  Quidco is my favourite and you can find my guide to getting started on Quidco below.  Quidco works best for online shopping but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a bit of window shopping first.

 

There have been several occasions when I’ve been in a shop and thought “I wonder if I can get cashback on this?”  Checked Quidco, seen that I can and bought it online instead.  Again you might be able to get a few percent back but you will need to go through Quidco first to get to the website.  AND your cashback may be declined if you have used other discount codes, such as those mentioned in point 5.

 

If you follow this link, you’ll get an extra £10 cashback on your first purchase.  Win!

 

Related Post:

The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide to Quidco

 

9.  What about the receipt?

If you’ve bought something in a shop then save the receipt and get the app: Receipt Hog.  It is a simple idea in that you upload a picture of your receipt and they give you coins.  Get to a certain number of coins and you can turn them into Amazon vouchers or PayPal.

 

This one is a bit of a slow burner but I just scan my receipts in as soon as I get them.  It takes a few seconds and then I can forget about it.  One day soon I’ll be able to trade all those coins for some cash.

10.  The bonus tip!

If you are buying something to replace an old one, have you thought about flogging the one you don’t need any more?  Yes you might think that it is not saleable but people will buy anything.  Stick it on Gumtree or Facebook market place and see if someone is interest.  You may end up with a few quid back in your pocket as a result.

Same stuff just for less

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to do all of these steps for every purchase.  But a couple of them each time could save you a fair amount of money.  If you think about how much you spend a year and then take 1% off of that.  It would probably be a nice amount of money.  What about 2%?  Or 5%?  Taking these steps will gradually reduce the amount you spend meaning that the money you save can be used for more important things.

 

What is the best deal you’ve ever got?  And how did you get it?

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Everyone can save money shopping. Whether you like a bargain or are committed to frugal living. Whether you buy in store or online. Clothes or groceries. These shopping hacks will have you saving money and keeping that budget in check.

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Saving Money, 12 comments
Extreme Frugal Living?  Would you go THIS far?

Extreme Frugal Living? Would you go THIS far?

Frugal living seems to be a bit of a natural state for me.  When left alone I will gravitate towards frugal living.  I love anything that saves me money and double points if it is environmentally-friendly too.

 

Over the last few years I (not so much Mr. Pennies) have made a few choices that could be called extreme frugal living.  Most people I know would never even consider some these choices.  But wow! I think I love them all.  I have more money and am closer to my zero-waste dream.

 

Related posts:

Your money or the environment? You can save both!

10 things you can do to save money this month and every month

Are you extremely frugal? Or are you looking for ways to slash your budget and make your debt free dreams a reality? Well with these four eco-friendly ideas in your life you could save a lot of money.

 

So here are my extreme frugal living top 4:

Cloth nappies

I’ll start tame.  Cloth nappies are almost mainstream now.  I can go to most baby or toddler groups and find at least one other parent there who is either using them or has tried them.  But for every one I find there are probably 10 others who have given me odd looks.

 

Well the joke is on them.  As frugal living tips go this one is easy peasy.  You can buy cloth nappies on the high street now and they pretty much work like normal nappies.  The only difference being that rather than chuck them in the bin to spend an eternity attempting to decompose in landfill, you stick them in the washing machine.

 

“What about poo?”  is a phrase I get a lot.  Well you’ve got a couple of choices: 1) if you can, shake it down the toilet, or 2) if it’s runny, just chuck it straight in the wash.  Occasionally we get a few “lingerers” but we just remove and rinse again.  And when it is your own kids , it doesn’t actually seem quite as bad.  Well I don’t think so anyway.

 

We use Bambino Miosolos (found here on Amazon).  They come in the cutest patterns and you can get them from lots of High Street retailers, such as Aldi, Boots, Asda etc.

 

No poo

Confession: I didn’t use shampoo or conditioner for a whole year!  No I didn’t stop washing my hair completely but I did stop buying specific products for it.  And my hair loved it!  It was clean, bouncy, shiny and just magical.  And I saved so much money.

 

Rather than using shampoo, I switched to something called the “no poo” option.  Instead I washed my hair with various things including bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar (ACV).  Both of these products were already in my cupboard.  If I ran out of either of them I would just use something else that I did have.  Like coffee or beer or fruity tea.

 

Alongside the benefits that I noticed to my hair and my bank balance, I also had far less waste.  There was no longer a collection of different plastic bottles in my tiny bathroom bin.  No poo is pretty low waste.  If you buy the basics you need in bulk they will last you ages.  This is because you can only wash your hair every four days (longer is the goal) and you use so little of them anyway.

 

Alas, two kids and a job meant that I didn’t keep this one going forever.  It was more time-consuming than a more traditional hair washing schedule so it had to go.  But I do now use shampoo bars rather than normal shampoo.  Shampoo bars are the perfect half-way house.  They last a longer time, contain fair less nasties, come in less packaging and do just as good a job as the stuff you buy in the supermarket.

 

Are you extremely frugal? Or are you looking for ways to slash your budget and make your debt free dreams a reality? Well with these four eco-friendly ideas in your life you could save a lot of money.

Reusable menstrual products

After using cloth nappies on my eldest I got a bit jealous of that cushion-y softness.  Plus I learnt that nappies are just awful for the environment and feminine hygiene products (horrible phrase) are just as bad.  It was my turn to do my bit.

 

There exist washable sanitary towels.  And crocheted tampons.  And menstrual cups.  All of these products will save you money eventually.  Like cloth nappies they involve a higher initial cost but them long term savings.  I was able to save even more money by making my own pads.

 

I’ve not had many periods (2 in total I think) since I feel pregnant with my eldest nearly 4 years ago.  But the few times I’ve used my cup or my towels they’ve been excellent.  They do everything you want them to do and are super comfortable.

 

I even went a step further and used reusable maternity pads and didn’t need to buy a single disposable pad.  I now have a lovely collection of night time pads to use when Aunt Flo decides to show up again.  Much nicer than those crunchy old things rustling all night.

 

There’s a blog post all about this brewing in my mind, so sign up to get notifications for when that manifests.  But for now I will say that you have three basic choices; pads, cups and tampons.  Pads are used like your normal disposables and normally have a popper to hold them in place.  You keep them in cold water until you are ready to wash and then chuck them in with the rest of your laundry.  Cups are used internally and take a bit of practice.  (This is the one I’ve got: Diva Cup)  They will need sterilising before use and then emptying and rinsing up to every 12 hours.  I’ve less experience with tampons but from what I hear they are inserted in the standard way and then stored and washed like pads after use.

 

This was a daunting step to take but I love them.  There are loads of great designs and every time I use them I feel like I am claiming my period back from the corporations and the patriarchy.  #feministthroughandthrough

 

Family cloth

Also known as reusable toilet roll!  Yeah we went that far! Well I did and the kids.  For me this was the ultimate.  I’d done cloth nappies and I’d done reusable menstrual products.  The big hurdle was just poo.

 

I kept a pile of cloth wipes (we used these ones from Cheeky Wipes) next to the toilet along with a box to keep the dirty ones in.  After I’d done my business I would wet a cloth and wipe and chuck it in the bucket.  When it came to washing time I would just chuck them in with the cloth nappies.

 

Now the pros of this are that it wasn’t costing me anything.  Zero cost!  I already had the wipes but I could easily have used cut up bits of old t-shirt or towel instead.  Second benefit was that I was feeling much…erm…fresher.  The use of water made me feel cleaner and there were no leftover toilet paper tails as I like to call them.  And lastly they are great for the environment.  Even recycled toilet paper needs cleaning and bleaching and goodness knows what else.  These just needed a wash.

 

If I’m being honest the reason I’m using the past tense here is because I stopped using them.  I don’t really have good reason why.  I think I stopped because I didn’t have good storage systems.  Mr Pennies would whinge that everything looked messy and in the end he wore me down.  That said I’m currently plotting the return of family cloth.  I just need some pretty baskets to store them in.

 

How far have you gone?

Would you try these ideas?  Or have you gone even further in your attempts to save money or the planet?  Have you tried extreme frugal living? Send me a message or comment below.

 

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

Are you extremely frugal? Or are you looking for ways to slash your budget and make your debt free dreams a reality? Well with these four eco-friendly ideas in your life you could save a lot of money..

Posted by Charlotte Jessop in Eco-Friendly Living, Saving Money, 16 comments