Follow these simple money saving tips and you'll be quids in!
Money. It may be the root of all evil, but most of us would undoubtedly like a bit more of it. But unless you're lucky enough to receive a large inheritance, or to be given a huge bonus from work your income will not increase.
The thing is however, that most of us can make ourselves richer, simply by spending less. By organising your finances you can end up with a healthy sum at the end of each month that can make you feel very rich indeed!
So why not try these tips, tackle a few costs and see how much richer you can end up?
1. Save some water....
Boring though it sounds, if there are fewer people in your home than there are bedrooms, chances are you could save by having a water meter fitted. In fact, it's reckoned that some households could save up to £200 per year from switching to a meter.
Of course, metered water means you'll pay for what you use, so you'll find yourself keeping tabs on how many baths/showers/ washing machine loads are carried out each week. But there are ways to reduce your water usage -- fit a water hippo/save-a-flush (available free from most councils), collect rainwater in a water butt and use that for watering the garden, and have showers rather than baths.
Maximum saving: £200
2. Be rewarded...
If you're the sort that says "afraid not" to the girl at the checkout who asks if you have a loyalty card, you could be missing out. Many shops give away these bits of plastic and pay points for every pound spent in-store -- shop at the same place regularly and you could earn a stack in no time.
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You can usually use the points as cash off your shopping, but a far more lucrative approach is to take up the many deals and offers available. Points can be used to pay for days out, meals at restaurants, cinema tickets, Eurostar tickets, theme park tickets...you name it and you can probably save money at it!
Having a loyalty card does of course mean that retailers will know a bit more about you than you may like, but if you can put up with that there are numerous things to be had for very little. Best of all, if you sign up for the store's credit card - great examples being the Tesco Clubcard credit card and the Sainsbury's Finance Nectar credit card - you not only benefit from a fab bit of plastic, but earn even more loyalty points, no matter where you do your spending.
Maximum saving: Potentially £100s
3. Become a Mystery Shopper
If you fancy getting something for nothing, why not check out mystery shopping?
There's a whole world of retailers out there desperate to know what we think about their products or services; sign up as a mystery shopper and you could try out supermarket food, meals in restaurants or even a stay in a hotel, for free. Plus you'll usually be paid a modest sum for your trouble, too (you will typically have to write a short report or questionnaire on your findings though).
4. Cheaper lighting
Switching to energy saving light bulbs can make a big difference to your lighting costs. Each bulb will last around 12 times longer than an ordinary bulb, and can save you around £9 per year in electricity costs (not to mention 38kg of carbon dioxide).
Maximum Saving: £90/year (for every 10 bulbs you replace)
5. Bring lunch to work...
Buying lunch each day can be an expensive business.
Spend five or six quid each day on lunch, and it can add up to £1,300+ a year -- not to be sniffed at, especially if you can make your own lunch for about a fifth of the cost.
Maximum Saving: £1,000+
6. Unplug your electricals...
It sounds incredible, but some electrical units - things like cable TV set top boxes - can use just as much energy when on standby as they do when they are in use!
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So that's my next tip -- unplug all appliances you can when they're not in use (or fit timer switches to do so automatically) and reduce that electricity bill.
7. Share and borrow where you can...
Rather than buy a specific tool that you may use only once, why not see if a neighbour has one you could borrow?
You could probably return the favour and you'll both save money. Likewise with books -- why buy new when your local library can lend them for free, and why not set up a book swap with friends and neighbours so you can all read each other's? And if you love your magazines, swap them around when you've read them and you could read three or four for the price of one.
8. Use credit cards to your advantage...
If you thought credit cards were foul evil things that should be used with caution, you're probably right.
But if you manage your finances quite responsibly, you could use your card to your advantage and make the most of a 0% card for new purchases. Move your normal spending to the card, stash the cash in a high interest account (making sure you make your minimum payment each month) and you could get up to a year's worth of interest, for nothing.
Alternatively, sign up to the American Express Platinum cashback card which offers 5% cashback on your spending in the first three months, then up to 1.25% cashback. So long as you pay your bill off in full each month you can earn some serious cash by using it for all of your spending.
9. If you must buy something, pay less for it...
Of course, we all need to buy things every now and again.
But you can hang onto more of your cash by shopping around and aiming to get the best value possible for every pound you spend. Use comparison sites such as Kelkoo and Pricerunner but don't forget to factor in postage. And check out BumbleBeeAuctions -- this is a site set up by the police to dispose of property that has been seized but the police cannot find an owner for. It runs in a similar fashion to an eBay auction -- and if no one else bids by the closing date, you get the item for £1.
Finally, it should go without saying that you should be sure to check out Frugal Friday each and every week to get the best bargains and discounts around.
10. Don't waste that lunch hour...
And finally, keep on top of your finances by using your lunch hour wisely.
Be sure to keep up to date with the latest developments in the financial world on lovemoney.com, and make use of our various centres to ensure you have the best credit card, home insurance, energy deal, mortgage or savings account for your circumstances.
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