The answer is possibly a little time-consuming, but should save you enough money to justify that. That solution is budgeting, shopping around and juggling! With TV shows like SuperScrimpers winning the ratings war, most of us will have some familiarity with how we can save money, yet most still haven't given it a try for themselves. Here's my top tips on budgeting and saving money:
1. Forget loyalty! Don't stick with your electricity, gas, mobile phone, broadband, home phone, or insurance provider for more than a year. At least once a year, head over to a site like uSwitch (there are many, so Google it!) and see how much you could save. If you are doing this for the first time, you will save probably save hundreds of pounds, even if you are doing it for the fifth time there will be savings to be made. You may also be able to get a discount for receiving two services from the same provider, so be sure to factor that into your calculations too.
2. Once you have switched to a new provider, make sure you opt for paperless billing on their site, meaning your bills will be sent online rather than through the post; and pay by direct debit each month. These two simple steps will save you a few pounds with each provider, which will add up across all providers over the year.
3. Check whether a water meter would save you money. The rule of thumb is that if there are more bedrooms than people in your household, you will probably save. But there are several sites you can pop the facts and figures into that will calculate your potential savings.
4. Switch to a credit card that offers you rewards on spending. Some offer rewards like tablets, laptops and home appliances, which would be the perfect treat for you or a great gift! You can also use the points to get cashback on your balance, so with every spend you could be saving money too!
5. Check what you're paying out on. there really is no excuse for not checking your bank statements. There may be standing orders or direct debits you've long forgotten about, and even gym memberships which have lapsed. If you don't recognise it, query it. If you don't need it, cancel it. My friend recently found she was still paying insurance on a phone she got rid of two years ago!
6. Use discount vouchers for anything you can. Sign up to your favourite chain restaurants and clothing shops mailing lists, and you'll be delighted with the number of discount vouchers you get e-mailed or sent through the post. Make sure you tell them when your birthday is for extra freebies too! You need never pay full price again.
7. BUT if you are serious about cutting costs, you must reconsider all the treats and non-essentials. New clothes & shoes (unless absolutely essential), take-aways, meals out, coffees on the go, new DVDs, gym memberships, new gadgets, nights out, even apps and iTunes, will all add up to a horrendous total over a year. Personally I feel terribly deprived if I cut it all out, so tend to put a bit by out of the weekly budget, which I can then either save up or splurge each week, but we are talking £10-20, not £100!! Some brave souls just cut it all out, and then reap the benefits of seeing the same cash build up in their account or piggy bank. A good feeling!
8. Which brings me to budgeting. Once you know what your new monthly bills will be, sit down and work out all your incomings and outgoings. Only then can you decide what your budget for everything else is. Then break that up into each individual component, or allow yourself a weekly amount to cover everything. We do the latter as it is easier for us with different needs for expenditure each week.
9. One of the main places you'll be using your reward credit card is the supermarket, so here are our top tips for saving money at the supermarket. First of all, shop around using a comparison site - especially useful if you are shopping online. Even if you are heading in store, getting an idea of the savings you could make before you go would be useful. When you get there, try going down one brand level - e.g. if you normally buy Dolmio pasta sauce, try the supermarket's own premium range; or swap the premium range for the standard range; the standard range for the basic one. Just try it with a couple of items each week, and I guarantee there will be a few things you won't really notice the difference with. Make the permanent leap and you'll save lots!
10. Meal plan every week, make a shopping list, and stick to it!! The only exceptions to that should be for items you use a lot of which are on special offer. If they will store for long enough, and you have the space to store them , buy in bulk. For example, if your usual loo roll is half price, it is definitely worth buying several packets, but 'buy one get one free' on huge bags of apples will only work if you are sure your family will get through that many apples before they go funny.
You'll find lots more money-saving tips on Attachment Mummy, hope we can help you save some money!!