I’ve recently been invited by Voucher Codes
to take part in their new Life Hacks challenge! I’m sure you’ve all gathered by now that I’m quite the bargain hunter and a general all round thrifty being. I love to get a good deal, and I never buy anything without first making sure I’m getting the most for my money. I think this used to be thought of as a bit stingy, but I’ve noticed in recent years, this kind of thing is generally more accepted.
There was probably a time when some people wouldn’t step foot in a discount store for fear of being looked down upon, but I think these days, people are more interested in saving money. This is probably down to the credit crunch years and a big down turn in the economy, people were looking to save money any way they could. So now it seems everyone is pretty welcoming to find the best ways to spend their hard earned wages. I did a similar blog post to this one last year, so here’s a few new updated life hacks to help you save money!
Use the internet
Ah the sweet World Wide Web. In recent years loads of websites have sprung up to help you save money, so use them to your advantage! You can find discount codes
for almost any store, which you can then enter at the checkout online, or you can even get printable vouchers to use instore. There’s also a range of price comparison websites which you can use when you make bigger purchases, such as car insurance. This year I managed to find my car insurance for £100 cheaper than my renewal quote by shopping around.
I am also a lover of cashback sites, and I use Quidco for almost all of my online purchases. It’s really easy to sign up, and you simply click through their website to the retailer and then purchase as normal. Website cookies will track your purchase and give you a % back as cashback. There are even websites such as Cloud Freebies listing lots of daily free stuff! You can get loads of stuff delivered to your door for free.. from cat food to perfume samples. It’s a great way to try a product before you buy. I hate buying full sized products and then not liking the product much and regretting the purchase!
|Freebie samples & sachets I’ve collected
Try new shops
I much prefer real life shopping to buying online. It’s so much more fun, and there’s so much to explore! But I know that some peoples idea of fun isn’t exactly traipsing around the high street. However, it doesn’t hurt to introduce yourself to some new shops now and again. It’s only recently I discovered the delights of places like B&M and Home Bargains, and they’ve now firmly become my favourite shops! You can get almost anything there, for super low prices. Then there’s my old favourites; Poundland, Wilko, 99p store, where again you can pick up loads of stuff, from household items to beauty stuff and toiletries. I also tend to stock pile my most used toiletries if I see them on special offer or they’re reduced. The shampoos, shower gels, and cosmetics I buy are often on 3 for 2 in Boots, so when I see them on offer I’ll buy them before I run out!
Poundland is a particular favourite, as the last year or so has seen a large increase in proper branded items, especially cosmetics and nail polishes. They’ve been known to sell Rimmel, Maybelline, Sally Hansen, and Revlon, for only a fraction of the price of Boots. It’s a great way to experiment with new looks and nail designs without splashing £6 on one bottle. And don’t worry.. they’re not all manky old/damaged/gross items; they’re all brand new, just like you’d buy from Boots, but are usually discontinued or imported. Even with clothes stores and supermarkets, why not try popping into Primark or Lidl/Aldi if it’s not a place you’d usually frequent. I promise you you wouldn’t regret it! Check out all these beauty products I’ve bought from pound shops recently. Branded products at a fraction of the normal prices, and often can still be found in Boots etc. Why pay more? You can get so much for £1!
Everyone has hobbies and things they like to do, and they usually always cost money, and can add up to being pretty expensive. Even simple things like listening to music and watching movies has a price. So here’s how I keep my leisure time as cheap as I can:
I use Spotify
to listen to my music. I pay £9.99 a month and it means I can listen to as much music as I like, online or offline, from my laptop, smartphone, or iPad. It has literally every song you could ever need on it, and you can create playlists and share tracks with your Facebook friends. You can sign up for a free 30 day trial, and there’s also a free option which uses audio ads.
Netflix: Again, you can sign up to a free trial of Netflix to watch all of your favourite TV shows and movies online. This is so great to have on my iPad, I don’t know what I’d do without it, and it’s only £5.99 a month. And if you want to find out how to watch US TV shows (aka Desperate Housewives!) from your UK Netflix… click here!
Holidays/Hotels/Flights: It’s not often I get to go awaysomewhere lovely, but whenever I do book a trip somewhere I always tryto ensure I’ve got the best deal. There are tonnes of ways to find cheapbreaks and holidays online (LowCostHolidays ismy favourite). Booking online can often get you the cheapest prices,but remember to always try booking with the hotel directly or seeing if atravel agent can do you a better deal.
Whenever I go out for dinner with Liam or my family or friends, I always check to see if there’s any printable restaurant vouchers
available. Although using these would probably be frowned upon on a first date, my friends and family equally love to save money as much as me! Vouchers are often 2 for 1, which effectively makes the main meals half price!
|Delicious starter @ Prezzo using a voucher
On to less fun things, matters such as banking, loans, bills, mortgages etc are all expensive, but there’s sometimes ways to cut costs and make the most of your money. Make sure your bank is right for you; does it offer the best interest rates/lowest charges/a suitable overdraft limit? The interest rates really just applies to savings accounts rather than current accounts, but if you’re saving up, then make sure your savings account or ISA is offering the best rate. This often changes annually, so each April, check what your interest rate is and if it’s fallen from last year, see if you can switch to another bank. Earning interest is a free and effortless way to make money.. and the more you save up, the more you will earn!
And make sure you’re not losing money through bank fees. They will often charge you if you go over your limits and if payments get rejected. Try to minimise this to begin with, ask for an agreed overdraft extension, or find a bank with lower fees. Also, don’t get sucked into borrowing money from payday loan companies unless you’re really desperate. If you need to borrow money, consider a low interest bank loan or credit card instead, just make sure you know the fee’s and charges that apply, and make sure you meet all of your repayments.
Have you ever tried budgeting? Don’t be afraid or worried about looking at your bills. It’s a great idea for you to work out your exact outgoings each month. You could make yourself up a spreadsheet listing all of your outgoings (utilities, rent, phone, gym etc). Then you will be able to work out how much you have left over, and then work out how much you can spend each week on food, going out etc. It’s always a good idea to check your bank statements often so you know exactly what’s coming out. And if you don’t use your gym/magazine/cinema subscriptions anymore, then cancel them. Don’t waste money on something you don’t need or use.With regards to general household bills, try to make sure that you’re being charged correctly and that you’re on the cheapest tariff available that suits you. For your mobile, you can download apps which add up your data, call, and text useage. You can then compare it to your tariff allowances and you can see if you’re overpaying for a phone you don’t use as much as you could.When it comes to your renewal date, check around for a better value offer. Also, do you really need Sky TV these days? Freeview has so many channels, that paying £40 a month for a few extra channels seems a huge extra.
Finally, if you’re on a low income or unemployed you’re likely to be entitled to some form of welfare benefit. If you’re entitled, there’s no reason for you not to claim these. Even if you’re only out of work for a few weeks, you could receive over £50 a week just in Job Seekers Allowance, and could possibly have your rent paid for if you’re a private tenant. If you’re on a low income (and over 25) working tax credits can hugely boost your income. And if you live in your property with no other adults or you’re a student, make sure you have a single person discount applied to your council tax bill. Thinking of buying a house? Order a free copy
of MSE first-time buyers’ mortgage booklet to help you on your way.
Do It Yourself
I’m quite handy and creative when it comes to DIY stuff. I’m quite into painting and renovating things, as I find it such a buzz when I give something a new lease of life and it makes me proud to have something I’ve created put to use. DIY often saves money too! If you’re setting up your own home, there are enormous savings to be made by buying your furniture second hand, and then you can often spruce them up with a lick of paint or replacing the fabric. Instead of throwing things away such as wooden furniture, no matter now darkly stained or unstylish you think it is, it can almost always be sanded down to its natural colour and then painted and styled to make it as new again. Check out all of my DIY projects here.
And if you often splash out on things like haircuts, manicures, decorators, car washes etc.. Do It Yourself! I trim my hair myself and take care of
it using bargain hair oils and treatments. I even colour it myself and it’s in better condition than ever! Manicures can be done at home, and
I’m sure you could paint your own walls and wash your car.If there’s something you pay others to do, such as make a birthday cake, it can often be cheaper and more fun to do it yourself! And who doesn’t love a home made cake.. they’re so much tastier than shop bought ones! Even if it doesn’t look professional, it will probably still taste better and the thought will make it extra special. And it’s often cheaper to make your own sponge cake than buying from the supermarket too!
|One of my first ever attempts at making a birthday cake for my Mum! This was a couple of years ago.. I like to think my skills have improved since then!
Check out my most recent DIY project. Last week I won this solid wooden cupboard on eBay for only £12.50 (similar ones are over £100 in Argos!). And it wasn’t far from me, so my Dad went to pick it up for me (luckily he has a big Land Rover!). I wanted it to fit in the gap in my fitted wardrobe, but unfortunately it was too wide. But my lovely Dad sawed the edges off and wedged it in so it just about fit in! Then I gave it a sand down and painted it white so that it matches the rest of the furniture in my room. It’s perfect for storing my heels in and some books, and my little boxes fit on top too, which are filled with make up and nail polish! It’s not perfect, but it is just what I needed and provides lots of extra storage space.
What are your top money saving tips?