Saving money hasn't always come naturally to me – in fact most bloggers who write about saving money have been in debt themselves. However, you can change your money mindset and make a few changes that will have a huge impact. Let me share with you some things I do every year that save me hundreds of pounds.
It's well documented that turning everything off at the plug could save you £100 a year, but did you know that turning down the brightness of your TVs and computer screens means they will use up to 40% less power?
Consider replacing your bulbs with LEDs which will knock at least 15% off your electricity bill and help the environment at the same time. There’s even a way to avoid forking out having to pay for them and get them for free.
Go SIM only and buy your handset upfront. Consider a refurbished one – I’m currently working off a refurbished MacBook Air laptop that I bought on Groupon that has lasted me over four years so far – and I paid a fraction of the price you'd pay for a brand new one.
Download apps for places like McDonald’s, Burger King and Greggs and log on every day to see what offers they have. The saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” doesn’t apply in today’s society! You can also follow your favourite brands and retailers online as well so that you’ll be the first in the know when it comes to their latest offers.
Don’t be afraid to DIY. Yes, I know it can seem scary, and I’m not exactly the most practical person in the world myself, but these days there’s an article or a YouTube video for everything. If you’re willing to take on jobs like laying your own flooring, then this could save you an absolute fortune.
Clear your browsing history and cache when shopping online especially if you’re planning a big purchase like a holiday. Clearing your cookies could mean you’ll get a cheaper ticket.
7. Taking a trip somewhere in the UK this year? It’s well worth investing in a Friends & Family railcard. which will give you 1/3 off adult fares and 60% off kids' fares. Use your Tesco vouchers to bag it for £10 instead of the usual £30. You should also check out offers from train companies like South West Trains and GWR where you can get 2 for 1 entry on Shreks Adventure, London Eye, London Dungeon and London Zoo.
8. If you’re not taking advantage of cashback yet, then you’re turning away free money! Definitely get yourself a cashback card if you're spending a lot of money on something like a holiday. Even with just 1% cash back you could save £10 on a trip costing £1,000. I have a Utility Warehouse cashback card which offers me fantastic savings and the money comes straight off my bills.
9. We’ve all heard of Airbnb but have you thought of swapping your home to live in someone else’s home for a week? Dedicated sites like lovehomeswap.com and guardianhomeexchange.co.uk are a good place to start and with any luck when it comes to your next holiday all you’ll have to pay for is flights!
10. I recently posted about the 1p Savings Challenge for people looking to save over £500 by the end of the year. But who has change on them these days? If you’re looking to save electronically try Chip – an app which uses artificial intelligence to determine how much you can afford to save. You can get a free £20 if you use this code SAVESTREAK from MoneySavingExpert - but just be aware the downside to these apps is a poor interest rate on your savings.
11. Sign up to Meerkat Movies and Meals and get 2 for 1 every week – saving you a fortune if you go to the cinema and eat out regularly. You can get an insurance product for a one-off payment of a couple of quid – I needed pet insurance so I paid £6 a month but I get free access to half-price movies and meals for an entire year.
12. Ditch the pricey TV packages and see if you can save with NowTV or an Amazon Firestick. These handy devices are so much cheaper, have lots of choice and act as your TV aerial too.
13. Clear the clutter and sell your stuff online. I’m a big advocate of listing it on Facebook Marketplace as it’s free and buyers are local – so no need to faff about weighing and posting it. However, you can also try Ebay and Gumtree. Or see if your rubbish is another man’s treasure and try swapping stuff for something you actually need on swapz.co.uk
14. Review your mortgage and save hundreds, or even thousands, over the year. Matt Colley, Director of Bristol-based Moving Experience says around £100 billion of mortgage balances are resting on a pay rate over 3.75%. With mortgage products being offered with historically low interest rates, it makes sense to review your arrangements now and then regularly in the future.
15. Ditch the TV licence if you’re only watching catch up TV. You could save yourself £145.50 a year if you ditch your TV and just watch catch up services on Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5. However, if you’re watching catch up on the BBC this doesn’t apply – so be careful.
16. Plan days out way in advance and keep an eye on discount sites like Groupon, Vouchercodes and Living Social. Many of the big attractions have special offers running on special days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day so this is when I tend to go.
17. Share travel to cut costs on petrol, bus or train tickets. Join websites like Liftshare.com or GoCarShare.com to meet other people who wish to share long-distance travel in order to cut costs.
18. Renting out your parking space through companies like Just Park and Your Parking Space can make you a bit of extra cash but you can also hire out your car to your neighbours too through sites like hiyacar.co.uk and drivy.co.uk.
19. Haggle when it comes to utility bills or conduct an online price comparison. If you’re one of the two thirds of the population who aren’t swapping suppliers religiously when your deal ends, then you will not be getting the best price. Or if you don't like haggling (and why should you have to) get in touch to find out about another option.
20. Swap your skills. If you really need some work doing but can’t afford to pay a tradesman, have you thought about swapping your skills? Just start a conversation in your local Facebook group detailing what you’re willing to give and what you would like in return. I recently saw a post from a hairdresser who was willing to give free haircuts for her garden clearing.
Have you got any money-saving hacks that you swear by? Feel free to get involved and leave a comment, Broke in Bristol - & beyond is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.