Saving money is not just about targeting the biggest expenses in your life. Taking one fewer holiday or getting rid of your cable TV could put hundreds of pounds back into your pocket each year. However, meaningful savings can also be made by targeting the small items – such as takeaway coffees and sandwiches – which over a year can cost you much more than you might think.
And, unlike the holidays and TV, making these cut backs doesn't have mean missing out. Simply making your own sandwiches, and bringing teabags to work could save you more than £1,000 a year – and you could find that you're eating and drinking better as a result.
If you're a coffee drinker, you could be spending at least £2 a day on hot drinks and possibly a lot more. A tall filter coffee from Starbucks will set you back £1.55, while a grande cappuccino or latte is £2.35. Once you're at work, even if you only buy an instant coffee or two from the machine, you're likely to be setting yourself back another £1 over the day. Tea is cheaper, but at Pret A Manger a tea is £1.20.
Making your own is incredibly cheap. Tea is about 2p a bag (assuming you opt for PG Tips or Tetley, rather than supermarket own brand), while milk will probably set you back around 5p a cup (assuming around 10 cups' worth out of a pint). So, excluding power, that's 7p a cup – a saving of £1.13 against Pret A Manger. Over a year – that's a saving of more than £271.
With coffee, the savings are even bigger. A pack of premium Guatemalan coffee from Asda costs £2.48, and should make at least 15 cups in a cafetière. That's around 17p for each cup, plus another 5p for milk – a total of 22p, excluding power, compared with £1.55 in Starbucks. That's a saving of £320 per year per cup – or £511 for cappuccino.
Spending £2.50 or £3 a day in a sandwich bar might not seem like a lot, but over a year, that's £600 or £700. Making your own costs you a fraction of this – and lets you have exactly what you want, not just what's left in the shop.
A mature cheddar and pickle sandwich at Pret A Manger costs £2.49 in London. However, following the same recipe (from pret.com), you could make the same sandwich for not much more than £1. Enough wholemeal bread, onions, vine tomatoes, red onions, mayo, pickle, lettuce and mature cheddar will set you back £1.09 by our calculations. That's a saving of £1.40 a sandwich – or a yearly saving of over £330. Our calculations are based on premium brands and produce. If you're willing to use regular tomatoes and red Leicester, you can drive the price of your sarnies well below £1.
Antony Worrall Thompson: My favourite sandwich
2 slices wholemeal bread 5p
2oz (50g) cream cheese 15p
2 tsp diced red onion 3p
2oz (50g) smoked salmon 44p
2 tbsp mango chutney 20p
4 rashers of streaky bacon, cooked until crispy 59p
1tsp cocktail capers, drained 10p
1 tsp snipped chives 5p
Ground black pepper
Total cost: £1.61
1. Spread the bread with the cream cheese, top with red onion and smoked salmon, then add a dribble of mango chutney.
2. Top this with crispy bacon and capers.
3. Finish with a dusting of snipped chives and ground black pepper.