We’re approaching a time of year when temptation to spend money is everywhere. However, whether you want some inspiration for keeping your costs down during Christmas, or you’re planning your approach to saving in the new year, here are 15 great ideas to get you on your way.
Stop smoking. This is a great new year’s resolution on its own but also a fantastic way to cut down on your monthly budget, particularly given that tax on cigarettes is only likely to continue to rise.
Grown your own. Whether you’ve got acres and acres of land or a few window boxes you can save yourself cash by planting and growing some of your own crops. It’s worth noting that fresh herbs are one of the most expensive ingredients that we spend out on and take up just a small amount of space to grow.
Use discount designer websites. Particularly if you have a lot of love for designer garb there are plenty of sites where you can get your favourite looks for less, such as The Outnet, which essentially retails all the items left unsold on sister site Net-a-Porter at up to 70% off. Look out for websites like Only Worn Once, where people sell at a discount designer clothes that they no longer want.
Rent don’t buy. If you’ve got an occasion coming up and you need a dress/suit/shoes/accessories then try renting rather than buying your outfit. You’ll save a huge amount of cash and you can wear something that you could most likely never have afford to wear if you were purchasing.
Use rewards schemes. We are all used to our credit card providers offering rewards depending on how much we spend but many banks are now introducing this for current accounts too. You can get cash back on bills paid from your current account or even just on purchases made. It’s an easy way to save money without reducing what you spend.
Reduce the interest you’re paying. Do a spending review of your loans and credit cards and get an idea of whether you’re paying the right interest rate and/or that your monthly payments are affordable. You may need to make changes to reduce monthly payments to avoid bank charges incurred from late payments, for example, or to find another provider who can offer you a better deal. Use our Loan Finder tool to see how you could reduce your interest charges.
Look out for freebies. From Christmas holidays to half term, entertaining children is an expensive task. However, the UK has a huge number of free attractions, from art galleries to historic sights, music courses and theatre that will help you make savings during holiday times.
Cut your travel costs. The UK is becoming more and more bike friendly and you’ll not only get fitter by ditching the car but you’ll save money on petrol too. You don’t have to buy a top of the range bike, as there are plenty of great quality seconds.
Eat your fridge contents. We throw away a vast amount of food in this country, most of which is still good to consume – and that essentially means that you’re throwing money down the drain. Don’t go shopping until your fridge is completely empty. It’s amazing how inventive you can be when you have to.
Check your council tax. It’s a little known fact that the council tax system in Britain has some big issues and many of us are in completely the wrong band. Make sure you’re not being over charged – it takes a couple of minutes to make the call and could save you £200 a year.
Pet insurance. There’s a lot of debate about whether pet insurance is actually worth it. Many of us simply buy it automatically but if you have a young animal with few hereditary risks then it may be a cost that you don’t need to think about unless a problem actually arises.
Turn off the TV. This might sound like the demand of a bossy parent but there are lots of ways in which switching off the gogglebox can help you save cash, from reducing the desire to spend in response to adverts, to avoiding buying extra ‘TV snacks’ and the cost of the TV service itself.
Introduce the ’30 day rule.’ If you want to buy anything then wait 30 days before you do it. This will save you cash by reducing impulse buys, one of the biggest ways in which we waste what we earn.
Install a programmable thermostat. It makes a lot of sense to make sure you’re only spending money on heating your home when it’s occupied, which is where a programmable thermostat is essential.
AirBnB your spare room. If you have a room sitting empty and you don’t mind the occasional guest then renting it out via a site like AirBnB can net you some tidy extra cash on the side.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley