by Gauk
Wed, May 30, 2018 1:29 AM

Here's heaps of ways to help you count - and cut - the cost of living.

Around the house

1. Your mortgage is the big one - but savings can be made, especially if you took yours out when interest rates were higher than the current historic low. If you're able to switch lenders or schemes, it could save more than £1,700 a year on a £150K mortgage: take a mortgage check at, then speak to brokers London & Country on 0800 953 0591.

2. Fixing mistakes by cowboy builders has cost Brits £3.7 billion in the past five years. To be sure of getting a good tradesman, check references, check qualifications and check your paperwork.

3. People fail to insure pets because of the high premiums, but it's a false economy. A dog can cost its owner more than £20,000 in vets' bills during its life.

4. A really good jacket on your hotwater tank could save £40 a year - and much more if you have an immersion heater. It will cost you £15 and should be an easy DIY job to fit.

5. If you want to move, speak to three estate agents to get the right asking price for your property. Always haggle for a better deal on commission rates, as this could save hundreds. The sluggish property market is a pain for us but it's a disaster for estate agents so remember - they need your business at the moment.

6. If your pet needs a vet, ask around for quotes - prices vary and your regular practitioner may not be giving you the best deal in your area.

7. Why not form a pet-sitting circle with friends, and take turns looking after each other's animals when you go away? You'll save a fortune on kennel bills.

8. The Energy Saving Trust has an amazing tool on its website that shows you how to cut your water bills ( saving trust.

9. First-time buyers should consider a Barclays Family Springboard mortgage, which lets them buy with a 5% deposit if family members put an additional 10% into a Barclays Helpful Start savings account, which they can get back after three years.

10. Water meters are installed for free (although sadly not in Scotland) and once you have one, your bills are based on the amount of water you use, rather than being a fixed amount each year. If there are more bedrooms in your house than people, you should consider one.

11. You pay more for a faster broadband connection but many households can't receive high speeds, so don't pay for more than you can get. Check the maximum speed possible for your home at classic.

12. Phone, TV and broadband are all substantial costs but you can save hundreds by bundling them in one package from a single provider. See

13. Most broadband packages charge you based on how much data you use, so choose your package wisely to avoid getting stung for exceeding your limit. Downloading a film - as an increasing number of families do nowadays - can use 1GB but some packages allow only 2GB for the entire month, so be careful and study the terms of your contract. You can calculate likely usage online at

14. Even if your power is coming from the cheapest provider - and it's essential to make sure that's the case - are you getting their very best price? Something as simple as the way you pay your bills could net you a useful saving, so if there's a discount for direct-debit payments, for example, make sure you get it.

15. Knowledge is power, and understanding how much energy you use can make a huge difference to your bills. By using an energy monitor (below) you can see for example that leaving your telly on standby is costing you £35 a year, or that your child's computer is costing you more than you thought. Then you can start making some serious economies. I like the energy monitor from OWL (

16. Have a lightbulb moment and switch on to the benefits of LED lighting. Just one 7W LED bulb (equivalent to an oldfashioned, power-hungry 50W halogen bulb) could save you £8.97 in a year. And how many bulbs are there in your house?

17. Changing your power provider is easy and can be very lucrative. These days it pays to look outside the "big six" companies for the best deals. See letssavesomemoney. com/1-minute-guide-toswitching-utilities.

18. Cavity-wall insulation is always a good investment, while insulating your loft is estimated to save £175 a year on bills. Loft insulation is cheap - all large DIY shops sell it in huge rolls and it's child's play to install. Just think how smug and warm you'll feel afterwards.

19. Almost a quarter of households do not have contents insurance but replacing your possessions after a fire or theft always costs a lot more than people think. Get yourself covered at

20. Why buy when you can rent? A lot of people think like that these days but did you know that you could earn £15 a day by renting out your lawn mower, £6 a day renting out a bike and even £20 a day renting out a designer handbag? These days you can rent out pretty much anything (so long as it's legal!), from your car through to DIY equipment, DVDs, clothes and pushchairs, all of them earning you some handy extra cash. Two good sites are and They are free to register and in some cases, you can register through Facebook, too. There are lots of rules to read but both sites give you plenty of tips to guide you through the process. What's stopping you?

21. You can also make up to £1,000 a week by renting out your house as a film or TV location at location-collective. or locationpartnership. com. It's money for nothing - and just imagine how exciting it would be to see your home on the screen. OK, it's unlikely to be Daniel Craig sipping cocktails on your lawn or Keira Knightley reclining on your sofa but it's a talking point - and who knows, possibly a selling point one day too.

22. Use eco balls in your washing machine ( A replacement for detergent that works just as well, these save £255 per 1,000 washes (ie £72 per year or £6 per month).

23. Your washing machine may be a labour saver, but at a high price. If you're buying a new one, energy efficiency is graded from A to E and the best designs are all "cold fill". And don't run any machine until you have a full load of clothes. It will still do its job just as well and you could save up to £63 per year (£5.25 per month).

24. Hang your washing outside and avoid the tumble dryer during the summer months. Help yourself to some free solar energy and save £15 (£1.25 per month) on the average bill.

25. An amazing 75% of mobile phone users overpay by £200 per year because they're not on the right contract. Check if you are getting a good deal at www.billmonitor. com, where they will analyse your usage and match you with the cheapest deal that suits your lifestyle.

75 per cent of mobile phone users overpay by £200 per year


26. Planning is everything. Work out your menus for the week, take a shopping list to the supermarket and stick to it.

27. Be aware of supermarket layouts. Bargains are placed at the ends of the aisles while costly temptation is placed by the checkout. Resist it!

28. It's not such good news for the hard-pressed high street but my ultimate tip for saving on your weekly shop is to go online. I save £1,200 a year using www.mysuper, which taps me on the shoulder as I do my online shop and points towards the best offers that week. Try it - it's wonderful.

29. Stop buying drinks at work. Instead, use a "bobble" (pictured right), a water bottle that filters tap water as you drink. Buy one on Amazon for about £8 and never waste cash on water again.

30. Consider cheaper cuts of meat like ox or pork cheek. They are really tasty and so much cheaper than buying steaks. Find recipes at

31. Batch-cooking for the freezer saves oceans of time and money. With four kids and a busy life, my freezer is my lifeline.

32. At the heart of the savvy saver's kitchen is a well-stocked store cupboard. Rushing off to the shops every time you need a single ingredient wastes money because it's so easy to buy more than you planned to. A few spicy flavour-enhancers like anchovies, olives and chillies are a good way to jazz up cheapies like pasta and noodles, too.

Batch-cooking for the freezer will save you time and money


33. Nectar points are usually worth more if you spend them on the Nectar website, where you'll find no end of great deals and offers. For example, your points are worth twice as much if you put them towards tickets to Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, meaning that 500 points will get you a princely £5 off, rather than the usual £2.50 discount. Tesco Clubcard points can be exchanged for Clubcard Reward vouchers worth up to four times more, so £5 worth of Clubcard vouchers will give you £20 off at Pizza Express. With a family to feed, that is not to be sniffed at.

34. Members-only shopping sites such as, and are free to join, and you'll find they offer luxury fashion and homeware brands at up to 70% off. Beware though - they are addictive!

35. Brands like Benefit cosmetics, Boden and Karen Millen tell their social media fans about offers first. So it's worth spending an hour clicking that "like" button - I got discounted January sales stuff 24 hours in advance, just by hearing about it on Facebook.

36. A fair few shops advertise that if you find the goods cheaper elsewhere, they'll beat that price or refund the difference. This is not just an empty promise and it is definitely worth following up on. John Lewis - famous for being "never knowingly undersold" - Currys, PC World and Mothercare all run schemes like this, so make sure you take advantage. Supermarkets like Asda and Sainsbury's offer refunds and price promises too. It's not quite as simple as it appears, however - you'll need to be able to back up your claim, and most high-street retailers - including John Lewis - will decline to match the price of an onlineonly retailer (which is only fair, considering the vastly higher overheads they face).

37. Use cashback websites like Topcashback and Quidco when shopping to earn hundreds of pounds a year. Topcashback paid out £36 million in 2012 alone and recently launched a toolbar on its site (www.topcashback. to make sure you never need to miss out on any hot deals.

38. Haggling in shops is a way of life in some cultures. It's incredibly difficult for British people to do but the first time is always the hardest and in the current economic climate you'll be pleasantly surprised by the number of people willing to cut you a deal. So go on - make the first move. The worst that can happen is they say no!

Health and beauty

39. Your local beauty college will do beauty treatments with a trainee at half price or even less. It could be a great money-saving deal but don't forget - they're learning their trade.

40. Many gyms lure you with introductory offers that initially sound great but human nature being what it is, you may want to cancel after a few months. That's when you find out that you're tied to an expensive 12-month contract - so check small print very carefully before you sign up.

41. Smoking is seriously bad for your wealth. A typical 20-a-day smoker could save £2,700 a year by giving up. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, you might say!

42. Buy cheap supermarket own-brand shampoos - some are as little as 30p, while premium brands can be £5 or even more. Then use some of the savingto splash out on a nice conditioner, which is what makes your hair shiny and silky anyway.

43. Salon chain Wella is always looking for models for haircuts and colours. You're likely to be seen by a qualified stylist who is just learning a new cut, and you'll pay only £7 for a cut and £17.50 for a colour. Other hairdressing chains have similar schemes: check out for hair models needed in your area.

44. Head to the baby aisle for cosmetics. Baby wipes are far cheaper than make-up remover wipes, while cotton buds are sometimes a third of the "grown-up" price. And Waitrose does an amazing moisturiser called Baby Bottom Butter that's brilliant for grown-ups too (on your face, that is!).

Benefits and tax

45. Don't claim child benefit if you are no longer entitled to it, as procedures are very tight these days. You will have to pay it back and you won't have budgeted for that. Any household where at least one person earns more than £50,000 will have their benefit reduced on a sliding scale, or stopped completely if one person earns more than £60,000. But if it is your combined salaries that take you above the £50,000 threshold, don't worry - your benefits will be unchanged.

46. It may seem difficult to believe but many state benefits go unclaimed - so don't miss out on your legal entitlements. It's easy to get an estimate of what benefits (which might include Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance) and tax credits you could get, by logging on to

47. It can be a nasty shock when that regular pay cheque stops coming in - so if you're about to retire, don't be too proud to claim what is rightfully yours. Make sure you're receiving all your benefits, such as Pension Credits and Attendance Allowance. You've paid into the system all these years so it's only fairto get some back.


48. For most young women, one of the biggest items they'll ever buy is a wedding dress but eBay ( and Preloved ( both have gorgeous second-hand dresses at a fraction of the original cost. Some designers donate to Oxfam's Bridal Collection, where you could get the dress of your dreams for less than a few hundred pounds.

49. You can't put a price on love, so instead of splashing out on presents for your anniversary, make a collage or scrapbook full of memories. I once put together a book of "50 Reasons Why I Love You", with a picture or photo for each one. It was full of all the great fun things we'd done and it's the best present I have ever given or my (now) husband has received (he takes this little book with him whenever we're apart). Websites Photobox, Snapfish and Printerpix can all help for not much cash but it's a great DIY project that needn't cost you a single penny.

Saving, banking and budgeting

50. Try not to go overdrawn, as the average overdraft rate is now 19.65%, which is nearly 40 times higher than the base rate. If you had an overdraft of £1,000 for a year, you'd pay £196 in interest alone. If you're nearing your limit, speak to your bank before you exceed it. It should be sympathetic and you'll avoid being hit by huge fees.

51. Use, the pocket-money website, to help children learn financial responsibility. Parents set the spending limits while kids get the freedom touse their own personal debit card (which can't go overdrawn). Teach them wise spending now, and it'll save you a fortune in years to come.

52. When it comes to saving, don't forget that an ISA account allows you to accrue interest tax-free, up to a set limit. For returns higher than a standardsavings account, go for a cash ISA; for the chance for higher returns but with greater risk of your investment going down, go for a Stocks and Shares ISA. Banks start offering their best ISA deals in February, so don't miss out. You can see good deals at but anything over 3% is excellent. Some ISAs can be opened for as little as £1 and you can invest up to £11,280 before April 5, tax-free, with a limit of £5,640 for a cash ISA. The taxman hardly ever gives something away, so make the most of it!

53. Asda's Christmas Savings Card is a savings scheme that allows customers to put aside a little bit extra for the next festive season. Customers can saveup to £144 on each card, for which Asda will pay a tiered bonus if the money remains on the card until the bonus day in November 2013. This bumps the total up, and will beat average interest rates as the maximum bonus works out at a generous 5.21% of the initial amount saved. How's that for a happy Christmas?

54. Got any cash in an ancient account that you've forgotten how to access? A brilliant new website - - is a free service offered by the banking industry that helps you track down all those missing pennies. And who knows? With all those years of interest, they could even be pounds by now.

Nights out

55. January and February are great times for tucking into juicy discounts on eating out. The website has some great two-for-one offers and money-off deals from popular highstreet chains including Carluccio's, La Tasca, Loch Fyne, Frankie & Benny's and Strada. Alternatively, book yourself a table at one of the growing number of places that allow you to bring your own wine - which is always the really pricey part of your restaurant bill (ask any restaurateur what the profit margins are and you'll immediately feel in need of a strong drink).

56. Fun is often the first casualty when people tighten the purse strings but sites such as and have some superb deals on hotels, restaurants and theatre tickets, so why not be spontaneous and whisk your loved one off for a night away? You can easily save more than £100booking trips like this just a few days before you want to go. Try secret hotels on - just cut and paste the description into Google and you'll unveil the "secret" of a great bargain getaway.

57. They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but sign up to a mystery shopping site like or grassrootsmystery and you could find yourself sent to "road test" a restaurant, pub or shop, all expenses paid. For more, take a look at

58. If you're sociable and you like dining out, it needn't be an expensive habit. Have a look locally for dining clubs. In our area there's a group of restaurants who have joined forces and will offer you 10 per cent off, just for being a member of their club. It's a great way to meet new people and discover new dishes - without eating into your bank account.

Apps, deals and discounts

59. Why not put your smartphone to work? Use voucher apps and sites like vouchercodes. and to get the latest info on local discounts. Easy money.

60. If you're web-savvy, there's a whole new world of bargains out there and does exactly what its title promises, helping you grab stuff for absolutely nothing. Just make sure you're on a UK site, as you may not have access to US offers.

61. If you like entering competitions then UK Prize ( and Loquax ( are for you. They give you daily information about new and exciting competitions from all sorts of companies. You have to be in them to win them!

62. Smart shopping can be all about timing. Buy barbecues in winter and sledges in summer. Out of season is the way to go if you want the lowest price possible.

63. An app from cash king Quidco pays up to 25p, just for "checking in" at certain shops.

Save hundreds by finding deals online


64. Flying away? Book airport parking in advance - even the night before will cost less than doing it on the day. It can be cheaper to stay overnight at an airport hotel and park there, rather than choosing a car park-only deal. Even valet or meet-andgreet parking can be competitive (Google "meet and greet" at your chosen airport) but be warned: the first offer to pop up on your screen will rarely be the cheapest.

65. The average UK household spends £2,487 on holidays a year - but you can often save around 40 per cent on the exact same holiday. Look online, check with tour operators and use flight comparison sites - and then haggle! You can usually knock the price down once you know what others are charging. Then you can enjoy your holiday without worrying over how you're going to pay the bills on your return.

66. Want to keep in touch with work, or friends and family, while you're abroad? If you plan on making calls on your mobile phone, there are cheap ways todo it. You can speak to your mobile provider and get an add-on for use overseas. Alternatively, you could consider switching SIM cards to a local pay-as-you-go network or - even better - look for an app that allows cheap calls. Skype and Jajah are two great smartphone apps that my friends use while working abroad.

67. Don't wait until the airport to get your money. A whopping £21 million a year is wasted through poor foreign exchange rates. Ice ( is good for currency but a credit card specifically for use abroad, such as Halifax Clarity, or a pre-paid card like myTravelCash, will save you unnecessary charges.

68. Every little helps when you've splashed out on that dream holiday - so remember to switch data roaming off on your smartphone - unless you have spoken to your mobile provider and secured a special deal for using it abroad. Charges are capped in Europe but can be sky-high elsewhere.

69. For big savings, grit your teeth and fly at unsocial hours. OK, no one wants to get up at 3am but you'll forget all about that once you're on the sun lounger. Avoid travelling in school holidays wherever possible, too.

70. There are people all over the world with big holiday plans and small budgets so why not get together with like-minded folk and grab some free holiday accommodation with a house-swap? See

71. If you plan on driving abroad, check your car insurance to make sure you're covered in the event of an accident. Most policies give you basic cover but this may not be enough. To avoid a drama turning into a costly crisis, speak to your insurer before you go and increase your cover.

Second-hand nation

72. Upgrading your mobile? Recycle your old phone with the help of website mazuma It's easy and you can recoup some serious cash. An iPhone 3GS can go for as much as £50, a Blackberry Curve for £40 and a Nokia N8 for £60.

73. An amazing 2.3 million unwanted Christmas presents were sold on uk on Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year. Someone out there would love your cast-off DVDs or CDs - and they're willing to pay good money, too.

74. Can't find anything to wear, even though your wardrobe is full to bursting? Your friends may be the same, so organise a "shwopping" party where they bring all their old clothes and you swap. It's a great way to declutter, update your look and have a lot of fun, all without spending money. What's not to like?

75. Sell before you buy! If you haven't used something for a year, offload it on eBay, Gumtree or Amazon. Research says that we each have more than £1,000-worth of unwanted stuff at home and there's always someone willing to buy it.


76. Benefits are under pressure just like every other source of income but there is still plenty of help for working mothers. Childcare vouchers can save you hundreds of pounds a year - you are entitled to claim £243 per month in these if you're a basicrate taxpayer and £124 per month if you are a higher-rate taxpayer. Anyone who works can claim like this - it's not related to the amount you earn. Find out more at

77. School uniform is just one of the many extra bills that parenthood entails but some local authorities provide grants to help hard-pressed families afford it. You can see if there's one available to you at the local Government website If you're struggling, you could also apply for a grant from Family Action ( uk). They will give up to £200 to low-income families with children, particularly families on benefits or where a parent has just lost their job.

78. Children nagging you to take them to the latest blockbuster? Cinema outings can cost a fortune, especially for larger families, but your local Vue or Odeon both offer tickets for as little as £1 at weekends and many extend this to the school holidays too. If you are an Orange phone customer, remember they do 2-for-1 on Orange Wednesdays.

79. Another way to cut the cost of uniforms is to use sites such as Patched Elephant ( and Uniform Swap (www.uniformswap. which both run eBay-style listings. If your children are into clubs like Brownies or Scouts you'll be amazed how much you save.

80. If you have a young child and want to save for their future, the good news is that you have plenty of time to build up a nest egg. A little goes a long way - thanks to the wonders of compound interest, start saving and investing just £10 a week when they're born and at an annual rate of 3 per cent it will be worth £11,420 by the time they're 18. If your child was born before September 2002 or after January 3 2011, you can start a Junior ISA on their behalf, which is a tax-efficient way of saving or investing up to £3,600 a year. And don't be daunted by the complexity of all this - nowadays there are companies such as Nutmeg ( who can do all the hard work for you.

81. Parenthood makes a big dent in your finances - there's no sense in pretending otherwise - but the costs needn't be crippling. See Bounty. com/letssavesomemoney for some top tips to save you hundreds. As a new parent you won't get much sleep but at least you won't be awake fretting about bills.

82. If you're a family of diehard film fans, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial from Lovefilm. It's £4.99 a month after that but you can cancel at any time (always a crucial benefit to look out for) and they will often give you further offers to entice you into continuing your subscription. If you want to play it really smart, you can then switch to the free trial from Netflix and see which you like better.

Find second-hand school uniforms online and pay half the price


83. BlaBlaCar ( connects people looking for a lift with drivers making that journey. It's great for one-off journeys and light-years better than hitching. It even has a ladies-only service, so there's no safety worry.

84. Petrol continues to be a huge expense for the average household. If you use the website, you can get an email every week telling you the best deal in your area, or you can check en route from your phone. You could save 5p per litre which is better than most supermarket offers.

85. If you have a car that you don't use that much, yet you're still forking out for insurance, parking permits, garage bills, MoTs and all the numerous other costs of motoring, then joining a car club like Zipcar or Whipcar could be the answer for you. If you drive 5,000 miles or more a year, you might still be better off owning a car, as you'll be hard-pushed to find a car club where you can travel for less than 70p per mile but for those who do less than 3,000 miles a year, it appears to be a no-brainer.

86. Have a look at liftshare. com to see if there is someone doing the same regular car journeys as you. There's a great savings calculator that tells you how much it really costs to travel somewhere and how much you will save if you share the journey. The site has more than 367,000 journeys available to share, so hopefully you'll find someone to help you out. According to the AA, most people could save more than £80 per month this way.

87. If you really want to buy a new car (nearly-new is a much better idea,) wait until the next registration plates come out and buy a former demonstrator with the old plate. It'll be a great deal cheaper!

88. Never auto-renew your car insurance, you'll just be sleepwalking into a lousy deal. Insurance is a volatile market so always shop around at a comparison site - you could save as much as £400.


89. Cut the cost of train travel by booking around 12 weeks before you travel. The National Rail website has a great table telling you the cut-off dates for buying advance tickets from each train operator, and trainline has an excellent alert system ( you can sign up toreceive an email telling you exactly when the advance tickets are available to buy. It is a brilliant tool and last year it helped customers save an average of 43%. If you spend more than £84 a year on train tickets then you should seriously consider investing in a railcard, to save a third off travel. If you're not familiar with these, there are several different types, including a Young Person's card and a Senior Citizen card. We love the Family and Friends card - if you travel with a child between five and 15 years old then you're eligible. It costs £28 for a 1-year Railcard or £65 for a 3-year Railcard, and saves you a third off adult and 60% off children's fares.

90. Get fit and save money by swapping four wheels for two. Statistics from state that the average commuter saves more than £600 a year in car-running costs by switching to a bicycle. With some 640,561 car journeys being replaced by bikes in the past week alone, just think how much safer and less congested the roads will be.

91. If you can bear to add a couple of hours to a long journey, swap the train for the Megabus (uk.mega Many long-distance fares cost only a few pounds.


92. Never take out a payday loan. Some companies charge more than 4,000% APR. To put this in context, the average credit card APR in the UK is around 20%.

93. Check your credit rating. Research shows that half of us risk being turned down for credit and missing out on the best rates. See check your score for free.

94. More than £5,000 in the red? It may be worth consolidating your debt and taking out a loan. Lots of big companies have slashed their rates since Christmas and there are some good deals from Tesco, Sainsbury's and Derbyshire. Be wary: you may not get the advertised rate. See www.letssavesome

95. If you are paying a high level of interest on your credit card, switch to one of the 0% balance transfer credit cards currently available. To give you an idea, transferring a credit card bill charging 18% APR to an interest-free deal for the next year will save you £22 a month on a £1,500 bill. There will be a fee for doing a balance transfer so make sure you check whether it is worth doing. We like Barclaycard, NatWest and Tesco. Check out www.moneysupermarket. com/credit-cards for the best deals.

96. If you have a big purchase pending and can afford to clear your balance in full, use a cashback credit card such as the Santander 123 ( uk/123), or seek out a 0% purchase card from Tesco (see and click on the 'Clubcard Credit Card' section). American Express also offers competitive rates with its Platinum Cashback Credit Card (visit www and click on 'Cashback Cards').

For the future

97. It takes a bit of time but writing a will is essential, especially if you have children, as it can help alleviate any IHT duty on your estate.

98. Don't just buy your annuity from the company you saved your pension with - shop around for the best rate. Customers have the right to buy their retirement income from any pension provider, so exercise your 'open market option'.

99. Allianz Global Investors says that, at current interest rates and inflation levels, the 'real' value of savings could reduce by 23% over 10 years. Bad news for those who are dependent on their savings to top up state or company pensions. Consider 'real assets', such as multi asset funds, to protect against future inflation.

100. When it comes to planning for retirement, time is your friend. Age UK says that almost a third of oversixties are feeling uncertain or negative about their financial situation, with 18% citing their lack of planning for retirement. The earlier you start, the longer your money has to grow. A man who starts saving at age 40 would need to put aside £290 a month to get a pension of £10,000 at age 68. The monthly figure would be just £149 if he had started saving at 30 and would go up to £661 if he started at age 50. Seek professional advice and the right products and services to meet your needs. Standard Life suggests trying to increase your regular pensions savings when you can or pay in a lump sum after a windfall, such as a bonus.

published by Gauk



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