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Do you have a top money saving tip?

Piggy bank £20

Maybe you’re a super coupon collector or perhaps you’re particularly creative with loyalty cards. What are your top money tips and what do you do to keep your finances looking nice and healthy?

We find that our members are often the source of great advice when it comes to tips on keeping finances in check. Over the past year we heard some great tips on ways to save money, and make money too. So we’ve rounded up some, maybe slightly more unusual, highlights from 2016.

Quality pet food for less

Members reported saving an average of £73 a year by choosing to buy pet food online. Prices were not only lower, but the range of food available surpassed the choice in supermarkets or pet shops, as they were able to choose from European brands too.

They could also order larger quantities taking the hassle out of shopping and carrying heavy bags. Popular sites were Zooplus.co.uk, MonsterPetSupplies and Pet-Supermarket.co.uk.

Choose a refurbished laptop

An increasing number of brands and retailers offer refurbished products. These products may have been used for display, have minor cosmetic imperfections or been previously owned, meaning they can be considerably cheaper.

One member saved £350 on his 27 inch Apple iMac with Retina display, purchased via Apple’s certified refurbished store.

But before you buy a refurbished computer, check the retailer’s warranty. Apple offers a one-year guarantee on its refurbished products, while CeX (Computer Exchange) offers two.

Put your house on TV

Renting your house to a film or television production company is likely to be something you’ve never considered before, but one member earned £7,000 after BBC3 borrowed his home for two weeks to film a comedy series.

It’s not just large or particularly special homes that are needed, companies require a huge range of properties.

According to jjlocations.co.uk, homes within the M25 are particularly desirable, as are those with plenty of natural light. Other agencies listing homes and spaces include creativeengland.co.uk (for properties outside Greater London), locationworks.com and lavishlocations.com (which cover most areas in the UK).

Get free wine glasses for your party

Hosting a party isn’t cheap, but you can cut costs by hiring glasses for free through the supermarket or even a local shop, without any obligation to buy drinks there.

One member borrowed tumblers and champagne flutes from her local Tesco, saving £69 on the cost of buying the stores cheapest glasses. Waitrose and Morrisons also offer the service, but phone your nearest store to check availability to avoid disappointment.

You’ll need to pay a deposit (you’ll be charged for any you break) and run the glasses through the dishwasher before you return them.

What about you?

Do you have a great money-saving tip we’ve yet to discover? How much do you think you’ve saved?


Ready meals? Are there any really nice ones out there. The ones I have tried have been gross. Can’t go by buyers comments, most of them just say anything.

Dennie – If you can’t go by buyers’ comments, how can we help with your question?

We occasionally use Indian and Chinese ready meals from Waitrose, M&S and Sainsbury’s, as well as some traditional British meals from time to time, and have been satisfied. We’ve had worse in pubs and restaurants.

Nice can, of course, be a relative term.

I agree with John, i.e. inexpensive pub food could be a useful basis for comparisons here.

From that, in no particular order, I’d say M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s & Tesco certainly all do some nice ready meals.

If I am allowed to include fresh (i.e. chilled not frozen) pizza here, then Sainsbury’s certainly do some very nice ones.

For more general meals, a company called City Kitchen used to do some really nice ones that we bought online from Tesco. We really loved their “spanish chicken” but it is no longer sold by Tesco. Perhaps the fact that you had to oven cook it militated against its commercial success.

There are very nice ready meals out there! We buy them regularly, for a number of reasons, from M&S. Many “meals for one” will do two quite nicely at lunchtime – shepherds pie, moussaka for example. Their prepared chicken breasts – provencale for example – are substantial, not from reformed, and tasty. They give us variety we would not otherwise get so conveniently. We rarely eat out and, when we do, think we could have had a meal that was a nice, or nicer, from the ready stock. It’s a job to find decent eateries these days that don’t themselves use ready-prepared food.

Having lived off many ready meals in the last couple of months (no kitchen), there are some decent ones out there. We don’t have an M&S near us but most supermarkets stock something decent. The budget ranges can leave a lot to be desired, but their top ranges are quite good and they are usually on offer in one place or another. Not readily available, but Kirsty’s do dairy-free, low carb meals that are quite good.

I can remember when going out for a steak was a real treat as it was rather a very expensive meal. They were always like chewing through leather, and it wasn’t until I went to the USA, I discovered what steak should really taste like. These days, I never have steak out and defy any restaurant to serve one as good as I can now do it.

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They certainly know how to do steak in the US.

The ‘latest craze’ in restaurants is to prissy up cheap nothing and charge you a fortune for it. We struggle to find a menu we like other than Indian or Thai these days. And more pubs are doing designer rubbish as well.

We like TGI Fridays in the US, good food, good price. Some years ago after having BBQ ribs in one, just had to have them here when we saw a TGIF. YUK!!! They were awful, small, tough, bad sauce and twice the price. You would think the name would insist on the same quality but they are nothing like the US restaurants.

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I am sure you are right, Duncan, but until all the doorways in the UK are widened to American dimensions I suppose we are going to have to put up with minute steaks.

I certainly agree with Alfa on the way pub food is going and I am appalled when we go into independent free houses that now have a completely unrecognisable menu. It reminds me of that TV programme where people turn up with a bag of bits & pieces and odds & ends and they have to turn out something edible and half-presentable from it. Over the last ten years or so the catering colleges have been passing out thousands of ‘chefs’ who have been snapped up by every roadside tavern that fancies itself as a tyre-maker’s star-laden gastro-lab. These nascent Escoffiers think that a bit of samphire and some quinoa with anything with the word squash in it will suffice as a wholesome repast with pan-fried this and drizzled that and the jus of who knows what. Not called The Olde Bull for nothing, of course.

I hear what Alfa and John are saying but there are still many great pubs out there where landlords, their families and other staff plan the menus and serve great food.

Last summer, in Barmouth, we enjoyed the locally produced steaks in The Royal so much that we ate there twice. In the same general area, we also had some really nice steaks at Spooner’s Bar in Porthmadog a few years ago.

Totally agree, Derek – and when we find such an establishment we keep it to ourselves!

A couple of years ago my sister took us one evening to a homely inn in a North Yorkshire village where we enjoyed the best steak & kidney pie in short-crust pastry that I have tasted in years. So we went back for more.

Unfortunately, our home stamping ground of East Anglia is starting to suffer from too many metropolitan influences.

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Get rid of your Credit Card if not pay when the bill arrives you have 2 or 3 weeks to do it in

Don’t subscribe to satellite tv, don’t buy clothes you don’t need, haggle insurance, AA, buy decent quality goods that last, use Which?Switch to find your best energy deal, holiday in the UK and rent a holiday home, do your family wedding reception in the village hall and get a local small-scale caterer to look after the food, ditch the daily newspaper, do’nt buy Christmas and birthday presents that no one needs……………………………………You can save money in all sorts of ways, but if doing so makes you – and those around you – miserable then you’ve gone wrong. Life is for living, and we only live once (using our current assets).

Good list, Malcolm. I would just add Pay As You Go and try to wear any new clothes more than once.

Duncan recommends Do It Yourself and I certainly endorse that [so long as you don’t spend what you save on buying new tools]. The most important part of DIY is finishing the job, which is why so many people get someone in. It’s the most Frequently Asked Question [FAQ] in the house — “When are you going to finish that room?“.

When we had the shell of an extension built, I laid the floors, did all the wiring, plumbing, central heating, built-in cupboards, made a fitted kitchen, built the double garage……..the list goes on, and all out of economic necessity. The hardest part was to keep up the momentum – home from work, change into old clothes, get stuck in, every night. Once you thought “I’ll have an evening off” it became two…three and it was an effort to get back into the habit. But there comes a point when all the jobs come together, you are on the home stretch – literally – and one day it is finished. But don’t forget those very last jobs – replacing a cracked tile, that extra coat of paint where it’s a bit thin – or they’ll never get done. Saves a fortune, the tools pay for themselves time and again, and immense satisfaction – but at a social price. You need an understanding family. Money saving comes at a cost.

Very impressive, Malcolm. Of course, in those days you probably didn’t have Which? Conversation to keep you occupied!

This weekend I am finishing a bathroom make-over. Not a complete refit but new flooring, additional wall-tiling, repaint, new lighting, some new fittings and repositioning of others. I had a tiler do the wall tiles because it was important to ensure they carried on perfectly from the existing ones and there were some tricky cuts to do. I have done lots of tiling in the past and always felt it was very rewarding. The flooring suppliers got rid of the existing material and laid the new flooring. I always enjoy painting, and the more intricate it is the more I like it [strangely], so for painting the interior of a cupboard, for example, I would always do the back, sides, and shelves in different colours which is fun in the corners where they meet. Being a bathroom it has to be done in a compressed time frame. Right now I am waiting for some paint to dry before putting on the final coat.

We have freesat, but to be honest there is so much rubbish on tv why not just turn it off when it is not worth watching, or put on a dvd or use iplayer, listen to some music, read a book, indulge in your hobby? I concede that for sports fans it is worthwhile. But tv should not be the mindless entertainer in the corner – although it often is. 🙁

Sky is expensive. Freesat, Fire, iPlayer and the family of internet TV companies are all a good buy. Another alternative is to build your own media server and subscribe to a DVD rental service, such as Lovefilm. You can quickly build a library of everything offered on Sky (except live sport, obviously) and it’ll cost a pittance by comparison.

My two sons have BMWs – by no means new – and I must admit I was surprised at their local garage’s attitude towards doing work. They are quite happy for the boys to provide their own genuine parts – from oil to brake discs and pads – that they source from the likes of Eurocarparts, Mr Auto and so on – and then just charge for the labour. Can save them a fair bit of money.

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Actually, we didn’t bother switching but have built a media server library of all the best shows we enjoy.

Jessica – Some of us don’t have Sky, have never had Sky, and don’t want Sky. There is more than enough of the remaining services to keep us educated, informed and entertained. We don’t have to look for alternatives to satellite TV and there’s too much sport available on terrestrial channels anyway. Our TV is rarely on for more than two hours a day so additional content would be surplus to requirements.

Each to their own I suppose. Today, sky has brought me a large collection of blue tits arguing over pecking order for bird feeders. The robins are terrestrial. There’s not much on at night.

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We looked at Netflix as one son had a trial subscription, but were disappointed in the limited films offered. Decided that if we really wanted a film to our taste we could watch a dvd. Or do something else instead of watching television! We never had Sky so have not saved any money, just not spent a lot unnecessarily 🙂

That’s right, Malcolm. I was wondering how it could be thought we had saved any money by not having Sky, and how one could be saving any money by not watching terrestrial TV.

We gave over 300 DVD’s to a children’s hospice charity in our grand clear-out last year because we found we rarely watched them more than once and that most decent films come round on the regular channels within a year or two so if we recorded them on the PVR we could then choose whether to save or delete them. We now don’t buy any DVD’s which is a genuine saving and we also gave the DVD Player to the charity. It seems that simplifying our domestic arrangements is the best way to save money.

Jessica – Notwithstanding our slight difference over this matter I do appreciate your joining in the Conversation and responding to our contributions.

A little gentle housekeeping will help balance the books. If it’s not in the larder, you can’t snack on it when you feel “nice hungry.” Cooking with basic ingredients is usually less expensive than buying prepared food and batch cooking to freeze instant meals can be a good alternative to supermarket ready meals at less cost. Looking regularly at the bank statement and deciding which purchases were essential and which luxuries can help the future budget and develop a mind set to ask before reaching for the credit card. Designing car use so that several tasks are done with one outing, helps save fuel. It is possible to be savvy without being penny pinching and striking the right balance provides the feel good factor of money well managed. Of course I’m talking from a “middle class” perspective and when each coin counts priorities change. I’ve been there too and that makes saving subservient to survival.

I am a keen DIY enthusiast. I often help friends and family and they help me in other ways. When I was staying with friends over Christmas I did a collection of minor repairs to pass the time when the weather was not good enough to go out.

‘Fresh’ soup is about the only ready-meal I buy, but I have a friend who loves cooking and I receive regular deliveries of home-made ready-meals. 🙂 I have been able to help her by putting up shelves and curtain poles, installing light fixtures and dimmers, and sorting out computer problems.

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What I enjoy most is encouraging others to learn to help themselves. It takes a couple of minutes to learn how to re-pressurise a boiler and that can avoid being left in the cold.

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Well I can’t possibly add to any of the above, except to say I do save a lot by cutting my own hair. There are lots of useful tips on how to go about it on YouTube. I also save by making my own shampoo using Castile soap. One bottle lasts ages.

Before Christmas I went into the garden armed with secateurs, snipping away at bits of variegated evergreens and conifers and put together my own fresh door decoration plus a table decoration for Christmas lunch. I already had some red candles and oasis, so both decorations cost me absolutely nothing. The door decoration was removed on the 12th night, still as fresh as the day I made it, so it now has pride of place in the centre of the coffee table in the conservatory where it will keep fresh in the cool temperature and I can enjoy it for much longer.

A useful tip to remove sticky tape decoration residue from glass doors. Rub the residue with a few spots of eucalyptus oil on a piece of kitchen paper and sticky stuff all gone in a matter of minutes. Finish off with a little soapy water. I have always done my own painting and decorating in the past but although all body parts still work, I do run out of energy much quicker nowadays as it takes a lot longer for me to complete a room, and ceilings are definitely now a no go area.

I used to knit my own jumpers in the past which last much longer than bought ones, but have now switched the knitting needles for tapping into Which?Convo where I frequently find myself up against a bunch of very knowledgeable regulars, often with opposing views and opinions to my own for my sins. but as long as a good sense of humour is maintained this normally helps to keep the momentum going until someone oversteps the mark or veers away from the original topic and moderators deem it necessary to intervene which, come to think of it is exactly what I am doing! Better hang on to the knitting needles as a standby! Anyone in need of a new sweater?

That begs the question why female hairdressing is so much more expensive than male hairdressing; obviously styling, colouring and other treatments account for some of the extra cost, plus the occupation time in the salon, but for a top-money saving tip why not try a sex change? You might also get free racing tips and football predictions as well as more up-to-date newspapers and a holiday interview.