Money saving tips: 21 ways you can cut food, domestic and travel bills

Read this and live for less

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The Independent Online

There’s a lot to be said for interesting times. Inflation is high, interest rates are low, house prices and rents are rocketing, and wages are stagnant. It doesn’t help the little matter of getting by though.

In a climate like this then, every little gain matters. So here are 21 ways to save small, with big end effects.

So we’ve started our savings list by looking at the kitchen and how to save some serious cash.

Food

1. Meals. Making a meal plan can save you some real money. If you know exactly what you’re having then there’s much less scope for waste. It also allows you to limit the number of times you visit the supermarket, meaning there’s less potential to make impulse purchases. The Change 4 Life website has recipe suggestions that feed four adults and cost about £5 to put together.

2. Cabbages. Buy loose items instead of pre-packaged. Loose fruit and vegetables can be cheaper than those that have been ready bagged and considerably cheaper than pre-prepared veg.

3. Bread. Know your best befores. It’s not always necessary to throw food out if it’s past its best before date; that is about quality and does not mean the food is unsafe. Trust your judgement and see how it smells and looks. However, a “use by” date has to be taken more seriously; once the date has passed the food could be unsafe even if it looks and smells okay.

4. Groceries. If you go to the supermarket in the evening you’ll often find that items have been marked down in price so if you can eat them that day then you can save some serious money.

5. Veg. If you are on a budget then buy frozen veg instead of fresh. It’s cheaper and it allows you to just use what you want and leave the rest for another day.

6. Household items. Shopping online may mean you pay a delivery fee but it reduces the chance you’ll buy items you don’t need. What’s more, the website MySupermarket.co.uk allows you to compare the price of your specific basket of shopping, letting you find the best deals on non-perishables and order them in bulk, meaning you can save money without lugging them home.

At home

Energy bills, water bills, council tax bills… homes cost money. But you can also make some serious savings; here’s how.

7. Lighting. Switching energy providers will almost certainly save you some money. It’s probably the most-ignored money-saving tip ever, but most homes could save a few hundred pounds by changing to a better deal, yet many people never do.

8. Bath-time. Not every home can save money with a water meter but many can, especially if you have empty bedrooms. The Consumer Council for Water says that 50 per cent of people who visit its site could save money by moving to a water meter and it has a calculator to help you work out if you could. Some people can save more than £100 a year.

9. Showers. Once you have a water meter, you can save water with some freebies. Most water companies offer customers free gadgets to save money, from shower timers to cistern bricks. You can find out what your water company offers here.

10. Toilet flushes. Use your “grey” water twice and you won’t pay twice. Waste water that isn’t polluted can be reused, saving houses on water metres some serious cash. Bath water can be used to flush the toilet – just keep it in the bath, scoop it up with a bucket, and pour it down the toilet to flush.

11. Telecoms bills. We all spend a lot more these days on TV subscriptions, phone packages and broadband and the consumer champion Which? Says the average home could save £156 on those bills simply by haggling. Ring your providers to discuss whether they can give you a better deal. If you have found some good alternatives you can use those to apply some extra pressure.

Travel

Whether it’s car insurance, train tickets, holidays or fuel, prices are only going up at the moment. So saving when you can will help insulate you against the hikes.

12. Parking. The cost of parking can be a major daily expense for anyone commuting into a city or trying to park near a popular event. Websites like YourParkingSpace or Park On My Drive can match you up with residential parking for much less.

13. Train journeys. For some unfathomable reason it is often cheaper to buy a series of tickets for a long journey rather than simply booking the entire journey on one ticket. This is called split-ticketing and can cut the price of travel considerably, especially for longer journeys. Try websites like Trainsplitting.co.uk and MoneySavingExpert for help splitting your journey and cutting the cost.

14. Commuting by car. You can halve the cost of your daily commute by car sharing with a colleague and many companies provide a workplace scheme for encouraging that. If yours doesn’t then you could look for a car share match close by via a website like Liftshare.com/UK

15. Petrol. The website PetrolPrices.com helps you find the cheapest fuel near you. Just be careful that the journey to the cheapest pump doesn’t wipe out your savings when you get there!

16. Petrol again. As well as finding the cheapest fuel you can save money by using less of it. We don’t mean walking (although obviously that works) but simple tips like driving more efficiently by changing gear sooner, leaving earlier for work to avoid sitting in traffic, checking the tyre pressure is optimum and removing unnecessary weight from the boot can massively cut the amount of petrol you burn.

17. Flights. Protect yourself against price hikes on flights by deleting cookies from your computer before you book them. Often, if a website can tell you have visited before, it will hike the price just before you buy.

18. Travel. The pound’s value has fallen and this is affecting the cost of travel outside the UK. However, you can get a good deal using websites like Skycanner and Cheapflights.

Treats

With all the price hikes mentioned in this article, you might think we’re all better off spending less on treats. But it’s unrealistic to imagine you won’t occasionally want to spend some money on yourself, so here are some ways to cut the cost.

19. Books. You don’t need an article to tell you that libraries are a good way to read books for free but they are not the only way. The website Readitswapit allows you to exchange books you have finished with. There are more than 290,000 books available at any one time.

20. Stuff. If you have a bike but you want a scooter… or you have a mobile phone but you want a hamster cage then you could use a swapping website like Swapz.co.uk. You can swap, trade and sell to either local people or nationally.

And one for luck – 21. Gym. A gym subscription can be a pretty serious financial outlay, with some requiring a 12-month commitment. But you can save money by joining a more no-frills gym that only charges a rolling monthly amount and allows you to quit if you stop using it, taking the pressure off if you decide to slack off for a month or two here and there.

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