/ Money

What are your top money saving and making tips?

In the words of Simply Red’s lead singer Mick Hucknall, money’s too tight to mention for a lot of us at the moment. So what interesting and innovative ways have you come up with to help make ends meet?

At Which? we know that fuel, food and energy prices are among your three biggest concerns and I am no different.

As a result, my shopping and spending habits have changed quite a bit over the last few years in a bid to save myself some money here and there.

I’ve sold my car, for example, and I try to take packed lunches to work as often as I can. I also like to think I’m a savvy shopper as I only seek out the best offers, snubbing expensive brands for cheaper alternatives and making good use of any reward cards I hold.

I’ve also become accustomed to checking cashback sites and group-buying sites but these are all fairly well-known ways to make savings. So what I’m interested in are the creative ways you’re balancing your budget.

Balancing the budget

When we asked our Which? Money followers on Twitter recently about how they’re saving and/or making money, we had a few interesting responses. Sylvia Herbert ‏(@Sherb13) said:

‘Buy value own brands and shop at best time for stuff being marked down (much can be frozen on day of purchase).’

Similarly, Andrew Smith ‏(@Andrew_F_Smith) suggested:

‘Keep a list of what’s in the freezer ON the freezer. And buy and freeze two-for-one offers.’

Lucy Haughey ‏(@PlanBPartners) said they fill a change jar with pound coins and silvers, which gives them a pot to dip into at the end of each week. While Jules Benning ‏(@PureLakes) thought her money-saving tip was good for her purse as well as the planet: ‘In soft-water areas use only half a dishwasher tablet – half the cost and good for the environment too.’

Meanwhile, if you’re style-conscious you might find it hard to take James Barr’s (@197cricket) advice:

‘Have haircuts every six weeks instead of every four. If a tenner per haircut, saves you nearly 50 pounds a year!’

Weird and wonderful tips

I’ve noticed that if you spend a lot of time online you could get paid for taking part in surveys, reviewing music, putting adverts on your blog, or even sharing links on Twitter and Facebook. You can also make money from your home, including some quirky and creative methods, such as registering your humble abode to be used as a film set or the backdrop to a photo shoot.

These interesting and innovative ideas are what really interest me. So come on, don’t stay silent any longer, how are you saving and/or making money in these tough times?


Don’t spend more than you can afford. Don’t buy things you don’t need. If you like fashion, don’t be blinded by dubious celebrities’ bling and bad taste. Coco Chanel herself said, “Quand la robe est réussie, on ne voit que la femme”.

“When the dress is successful, we see only the woman”

Save money on Dishwasher detergents! I use a 30 minute programme on my Bosch slimline dishwasher which is not long enough for tablets to dissolve, so I use powder [Daisy – Tesco own label I think] which works just fine and is soooo inexpensive by comparison.

Learn how to fix things, so that you don’t have to spend money on replacing anything that has a simple fault.

Drink less, eat less, walk more.
Make your own sandwiches.
Drive below the speed limit, anticipate traffic ahead, go easy on accelerator and brake.
Get decent electric clippers and cut each other’s hair.
Friends – give each other manicures.
Turn the thermostat down a notch – put on an extra layer of clothing when cold.
Check price per kilo in supermarkets – big packs aren’t always cheaper.
Don’t be fooled by multi-buy offers, they’re not always cheaper.
Get free loft and cavity wall insulation while you still can.
Pay off credit cards each month.

Love these! not sure about the manicures though!

P J Thornburgh says:
9 November 2012

For many years now I have been purchsing my fuel from Tesco’s supermarket petrol stations. I pay for the fuel with a cashback credit card and every month clear the card so as not to encure any charges, so as well as recieving cash back I also recieve the tesco’s points which then can be used to purchase more fuel or food

I used savings to pay off all debts I had which was the best return I could get as savings accounts are not a great investment at the moment then I used the balance to generate some monthly income. I invest in a balanced fund with Fidelity and take a minimum 4% gross return as they are wrapped in ISA’s as a monthly income and the fund has matched inflation over the last 2 years. I get £90 per month ( not to be sniffed at).
Spend a day looking at all expenses and use comparison sites to check the best deals. I unbundled my Virgin TV,phone,Broadband etc so I could understand the exact costs as the bills seemed to be out of control. I like the itemised bill from Utility warehouse and have gone back to Sky
Cancel all memberships if they are not used like gym memberships for a monthly saving
Use Which switch to check for cheaper gas and electric. I went with the Utility warehouse but there were others cheaper. I liked the other advantages.
I also took over responsibility for household shopping as supermarket visits add about 25% to the cost due to the array of enticing offers. Shop on line to save time (delivered)and money ( you only buy what’s on the list

Sam says:
1 March 2013

I have signed up to a cashback shopping site called cashbackers.com. They have a really good referral system that pays me 25% commission on everything my friends earn for life. I have also found some great new stores and loads of discount vouchers.

John England says:
17 January 2018

After cleaning oil-based white paints with white spirit, instead of throwing the discoloured solvent away, let it stand in a lidded jam-jar and after a few days it is usually possible to decant off 90% of the solvent to use again. The thick deposit at the bottom of the jar can then be scraped out with a spoon and discarded. The recovered solvent will be slightly discoloured by the white paint pigments but is perfectly suitable for cleaning the next brush with. I reckon I use 90% less white spirit than I used to – much kinder for the environment.

If you clean as much paint off the brush before putting it in white spirit or brush cleaner there will be less deposit in the jar of solvent.

I use water-soluble paints as much as possible so avoiding the use of white spirit.

Water-based paints are becoming much more common but solvent-based paints are still widely used by the trade. I bought a tin of Crown water-based gloss and obtained a refund because the finish could not honestly be described as gloss.

I’m sure that water-based paints have improved since then. Which? no longer tests paints, so perhaps you could give us a recommendation for an oil-based white paint that is gloss and does not yellow, John.

” Dulux Trade and Crown Trade products are the main paints that deliver great reuslts for the money you pay for them. Also colour choices are pretty much to what your heart desires with 000’s of choices. ”

We have around 55 litres of matt emulsion and satinwood ready for this spring/ summer painting. There is pretty good unanimity that the trade paints are the way to go. We bought it from a reliable on-line source paintdirect.co.uk.

I realise that I asked John for a recommendation for an oil-based gloss white paint when I meant water-based. Careless.

I’m not looking for matt paint, Patrick. The quotation you have provided seems to be from a discussion about internal walls.

I cannot recommend a water-based white paint because it is a long time since I have personally used any white paint. I have not yet repainted any of the interior of our home since it was built in 2012. The builders used Dulux Trade Brilliant White Gloss on all the doors, window frames and other woodwork, but in many places it has yellowed [particularly on the insides of doors to spaces that have no direct light like cupboards and the bathroom and en-suite shower room]. We prefer to use other shades for internal woodwork because it does not show signs of yellowing so obviously as white gloss does. Modern Dulux water-based coloured gloss paints aimed at the DIY market are not very glossy so I prefer to get Dulux Trade or Professional paint and, like Patrick, have used Paint Direct with satisfaction; it is delivered promptly with good packaging. After taking delivery charges into account I don’t see much saving over the normal retail price but unless you have a trade paint stockist nearby covering the full colour and paint-type range it is a convenient way to buy paint offering a number of brands as well as special coatings.

We had the exterior repainted last year and our painter used Dulux Trade Brilliant White on the window frames and doorcase and achieved an excellent finish.

I find Crown paints give mixed results. Their emulsion paints for walls and ceilings are good, easy to apply, and give reasonable coverage but two coats are always required. Their gloss and satin paints come in various types with both water-based and oil-based paints in the same colours in many cases. The water-based paints for woodwork and metal are satisfactory but not as good as Dulux paints in my opinion. The oil-based paints are very glossy, quite thin and fugitive, and always require two coats.

Thanks John. I can certainly relate to gloss paint yellowing inside cupboards and that was where I decided to experiment with water-based ‘gloss’. At least the ‘Trade’ paints are readily available, which was not always the case. I used to assume that they were the same as household paints but sold in larger quantity at cheaper prices.

Which? no longer tests paints. Maybe by the time the durability can be assessed, new formulations will be on the market.