/ Money

What are your top money-saving tips?

Money falling out of jeans pocket

From buying reduced-to-clear items to taking an advanced driving course – you’ve told us about lots of wonderful ways to save money. But have you put any of them into practice?

According to the Which? Consumer Insight Tracker, a third of people are feeling the squeeze financially while a quarter say they’ll be cutting back on their spending.

But with many workers’ wages being frozen and incomes struggling to keep up with inflation, it’s often hard to see where savings can be made.

So that’s why we went to 30,000 savings savvy and financially frugal Which? members to see how they were coping and cutting back.

We were overwhelmed with the response and all the ingenious ideas for making savings big and small.

Top money-saving tips

Brian suggested scouring the internet to check prices before making big purchases. He himself managed to get a department store to match the online price of the furniture he wanted, saving him an impressive £700.

Jeff said he’d cut his car insurance costs by about £100 due to taking the Institute of Advanced Motorists driving test. And Peter said he and his wife had saved more than £450 on their annual water bill by installing a water meter.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey calculated that he had saved more than £900 over the course of a year by buying reduced-to-clear items from supermarkets and freezing anything he couldn’t/didn’t want to eat that same day.

Meanwhile, other members advocated the use of cashback credit cards and cashback sites to boost their bank balances.

Have you practiced what was preached?

Have you put any of these money-saving tips into practice? If so, how much have you saved so far?

And perhaps you have some money-saving tips of your own? No matter how big or small the savings, or how weird or wonderful the idea, share them with us – they could help others save some money.


Speaking of sales, I know a shop that drops the price of some things by half every two months. The half price runs for a month. Is that a real sale?

Join Homelink International to have longer holidays in UK, Europe and elsewhere swapping your own home. You do need to plan ahead but I have had many interesting swaps, mainly in Holland, but also Germany, France and San Francisco. There are other companies, some charge a flat yearly fee and you then arrange directly with the other family. Some charge per holiday that they help to arrange. Research carefully. It is an ideal way for pensioners 9or young families) to travel comfortably at not much more cost than staying at home. Pounce on good ferry deals when they come up. You must tell your home insurance company that you are swapping. They are usually happy that your home will be occupied while you are away. We were with Zurich.(We had to ask to speak to the supervisor each time as the minions hadn’t a clue on the subject.) Dutch houses are usually spotless, French apartments in Paris could well be grotty but a good base for exploring the city, tho a newly renovated house in Maintenon was delightful. Check there is ample free parking or go by Eurostar. The other couple or family will be just as keen to find cheap ferry or train tickets and keen to coordinate dates. We received at least six or more requests a year and had to turn down some in Italy, Australia and Vancouver. You can also swap for long weekends in England and so explore our own country. A tip is to perhaps spend the first nigh in a motel such as Formula 1 or Ibis (free breakfast) which are reasonable so as to arrive early if your hosts want to greet you and show you around before they leave for your home. Otherwise exchange keys by post.

The main ways I save money:

– Use cashback websites on everything you buy online if it’s possible. First find the item as cheap as you can, then check the chackback site for any extra free money.

-Never buy full price “food cupboard” foods. I always buy my food cupboard foods close to or just over the best before date. The food is less than half price & safe to eat. Currently I have this week bought bottled water for a penny each & tea bags at 10p per boxes of 40 for a well known brand & more pasta for 99p per case.

-I do not watch “live” tv so do not need a TV licence. I think its stupid paying £145 a year when all you need to-do is wait 1-2hours after the tv show is on air to watch it for free on BBC/ITVPlayer / 4OD etc. When something big is going on in Corrie and can’t wait for it to be on ITVPlayer (like the train crash last year) I will pop round next door to my friends and watch it live there lol

-I try and never make phone calls, I will tweet the company & ask them to call me. So I am making money when they call and also saving my phone bill. As for friends we all use skype.

-I do not use gas or mains water in my house as i refuse to pay Yorkshire Water £14 a month in standing charges. So making savings there and also cutting down my electric usage. Currently using £16 a month, but trying to get it under £15 and then it’s the £10 mark.

I’m sure there loads more, but can’t think of any right now.

Best tip for those who can manage it (without over spending) is buy everything on a credit card and pay it off in full. Nearly all my purchases therefore come with typically 30+ days interest free. And if only interest rates were higher I could be earning a few more pennies on that money too.

I try to stop myself buying on impulse, walking away even if its only for a short time, to give my brain a chance to answer objectively the question, do I need it?
I also have a rule that if the ad says “hurry” I don’t buy.
Before plastic I often had to save up for something before I could buy it. I had time to think about how useful it would be, and sometimes I didn’t buy. So take your time would be my top money-saving tip.

This is excellent advice. When my children were small it struck me that, like all parents, we were forever telling them that they couldn’t have everything they wanted, but many adults seem to see, want and buy on impulse just as a child would do, if we let them have credit cards!

My top tip is never pay full price for clothes. Buy winter clothes in January sales when it’s actually cold, summer clothes in July sales, and go to outlets like TK Maxx where good quality clothes are very reasonably priced, often just because they are ‘last season’. Second hand shops can also be a good source – some things have barely been worn.

If you haven’t been for a while, visit your local library. At mine you can use a computer free, although you will have to book, pick up recycling sacks, find out about local events, read the newspapers you cancelled because they were too dear and hire DVDs for a small charge. If you are put off by the meagre choice of books on show, worry not, you can order online at home and if anywhere else in your county has it they will send it to your library free and a recorded message to your home number will let you know when it’s in. Sometimes there is a wait if it’s a popular book. Warning :- If the librarian orders it for you I think there is a charge and there is certainly one if they have to get it from the British Library. Not all counties might do this so I suggest you phone to check if it’s not clear on their website.

The obvious route to savings is to use the internet when making any necessary purchases. We’ve saved £100 on a cooker hood, £80 on a fridge, £150 on a dishwasher, £60 on a camera, but even on smaller items – books, dvds, computer ink, light fittings – by shopping around for reputable brands there are large savings to be made. On small items just watch out for extortionate p&p charges – you can usually get them free if you search.
PAYG mobile phone costs – have you a Tesco SIM – do you know they offer a Lite tariff that is 8p a minute instead of the standard 25p/min that your SIM defaults to. Was I the only one not to know this?! 🙁

I agree there are good deals online, I saved £50 on an electric fire and a bit less on a microwave. However the best deal on a new fridge freezer (Allowing for delivery/disposal charges) when I needed one in a hurry was from a local electrical store, so it’s still worth checking the weekly free paper for special promotions.

As I was making my latest batch of bread loaves and rolls, it occurred to me that baking is not only a way to save a bit of money (although I make my own because I prefer the taste), it is also a way to help keep warm in winter at no cost. Home baking, be it bread, cakes and especially biscuits are often cheaper than shop bought of equivalent quality.

Bread, for instance works out at about 6p per 100g, whereas a shop-bought loaf is typically 10p-20p per 100g. Whilst the bread flour itself costs around 10p per 100g, water is one of the main ingredients and bread dough only loses about 10% of its weigh when cooked. Shop around for bread flour and you can make quality bread dough as cheaply as 4p per 100g.

An electric oven will use about 2 kWH to bake bread – less than 40p – so make just one 2lb bread loaf, and not only do you break even, but you have a warm kitchen for free.

I save money by doing jobs for myself rather than paying for someone else to do them and repairing things that would not be economically repairable. This year I have put new door springs on the door of my top oven and replaced the flex on my electric iron. I soldered a new rechargeable battery into an electric shaver that was over 10 years old and it is as good as new. I have done the servicing and most repairs on my cars.

Doing it yourself is a great way to save money, if you have the resources. This summer I needed a couple of bedside cabinets and a hi-fi cabinet. Would have cost around £1000, but made from oak-veneered MDF and solid oak for around £150 in total. Just don’t cost your time!

Joyce says:
15 October 2013

Don’t be brand-name slave! Certainly some supermarket-brand products are inferior, but many are acceptable, the majority just as good, and some even better than the ‘big names’. In this house we have supermarket brands of everything from toothpaste to tomato puree, washing powder tablets to batteries.

Use durable storage rather than disposable plastic bags in the freezer as much as possible. Sliced bread bags can be used several times before they fail.

Turn the thermostat down to 21 degrees and wear jumpers! Turn radiator valves down to the minimum and close the doors of rooms you can do without. Tackle draughts, they are real heat thieves.

Learn to repair things: clothes, furniture, bikes – none of it is rocket science. Just be careful of the dangerous stuff – anything mains electrical or gas, and cars – maiming people is not good economics.

Lee says:
23 April 2014

My top money saving tips are;

Always book any travel as far in advance as possible to make savings on rail and air travel.

When buying clothes online, always go to the ‘offers’ or ‘clearance’ tab to check whats on offer (savings up to 70% here)

I’ve stopped buying coffee in Starbucks or Costa while at work- Nescafe Azera is the best instant coffee and is often half price (around £2.50) and can easily stretch to 30 or 40 cups! (7p a cup instead of £2.85!) also bottled water can add up, use a bottle and just fill it from the tap.. there isn’t that much of a difference and most bottled water is just tap water through a filter any way!

Use cashback sites to make purchases online. Wowcher.co.uk/cashback offer savings just by clicking on the retailer via their website and you can get up to 20% back on purchases made which can quickly add, especially when paying for a holiday or mobile phone.

Use voucher/discount codes also found at http://www.wowcher.co.uk/cashback/voucher-codes to save on purchases. This can also help when eating out, check these sites to find pizza hut vouchers or cafe rouge vouchers, for example.

Don’t every buy 3 for 2 offers. a toothpaste can easily last 1 month, why buy 3 months worth for the sake of it, there will be another off on the next time you need to buy.

Get in the habit of paying for everything, even small purchases, on your debit card. It keeps all the change you would get from the £10 or £20 notes from the ATM in your account which might mean you don’t miss direct debits etc for the sake of a few quid! – its happened to me before 🙁

If you ever see something you want to buy impulsively when out and about, find the product number and put it into Google to see if the item is cheaper at any other retailers or online.

On a night out, just draw out the maximum you want to spend and leave your card at home. apart from being left freezing cold and stranded at 3am, 5 miles from home – whats the worst that can happen?!