If somebody asks “what’s the best way to save money”, it’s an impossible question to answer. Not because there isn’t one, but the fact there is so much to cover. From personal finances, to banking and even couponing – there is so much to do if you want to take charge of your finances. Here are our 25 simple tips to help you save money.
How to manage your personal finances to save money
Let’s start off with the basics. In order to get your finances in line, you need to get the fundamentals right. Here are our 5 tips around managing your personal finances:
Tip 1: Damien’s Money MOT
To truly be in control of your money, it’s important to know where things might need improving. Much like you get a yearly check-up on your car to check everything is fine, it’s worth doing a similar thing with your money. Damien's Money MOT is a great tool to help you understand your finances, it will help pinpoint the areas that need improving and even let you know how you shape up compared to everyone else that has taken the MOT.
By answering a set of simple questions, you’ll be given a personalised rating based on your finances. You can find out what perhaps could be worked on, and what things you’re doing well.
Even if you think you’re on top of everything - it’s worth taking the MOT, as it could give you suggestions on things you hadn't considered, such as insurance you may need or benefits you may be eligible for.
Tip 2: Budget from your phone
If you struggle to keep track of where your money is, or want to work out where your money is going, it might be worth downloading a budgeting app for your smartphone. There are plenty for you to choose from, all of which have different features.
Most budgeting apps allow you to view all of your accounts in one place, so you can always see where your money is. It may also show your credit cards, loans and any other debts you may have.
Some budgeting apps divide your spending into different categories, so you can see how much you’re spending in each area. For example it’ll tell you that you’re spending £100 on Nando’s a month - which might be the shock you need to cut back.
There are both free and paid apps you can choose from but each have pros and cons. See our best budgeting apps guide to help you decide which one is best for you.
Tip 3: Automatic saving apps
If you’re not good at remembering to put money away at the end of the month, having a savings app on your phone might be the answer. There are plenty to choose from, all of which save your own money in small increments so you don’t have to remember - and it builds up over time.
If there’s something big that you need to save up for, you can chip away at it in small amounts. Depending on the app, you can either move small amounts of money over regularly, or round up everything you spend to the nearest pound, and save the difference.
All the apps are free and it means you can save money passively without you even thinking about it. See our best savings apps guide for all the info you need.
Tip 4: Keep a check on your credit score
The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be accepted for financial products, such as credit cards and loans - but you’ll also get access to better deals and lower rates.
Although checking your credit score won’t save you money, it’ll let you know what you need to do in order to improve it, so you can get better deals. There are lots of credit checking agencies out there and it is possible that you will score differently on each, as each website will have its own scoring system.
Tip 5: Get free money by switching bank
If you’re not happy with your bank, or just want some free cash, you can take advantage of switching incentives provided by a number of banks.
Right now, switching to NatWest bank and HSBC will get you £175, while First Direct will pay you £100 for switching.
Switching banks is quite simple, simply head into the new bank that you want to switch to, and they will do all the work for you. Your direct debits and salaries will be transferred to your new bank - and you get the cash for free.
Best ways to save money on your Bills
Keeping track of all your bills can be tricky - but add them all up, and they likely make the biggest proportion of your monthly expenditure. That’s why reducing your bills (or controlling the cost to start with) can end up saving a good amount of money. Here are 5 tips:
Tip 1: Auto-switching your bills
If you regularly forget to switch your energy bills, there are several websites which will do it for you. By signing up, it’ll monitor the price of your bills, and when your renewal comes around, will automatically switch you to a cheaper tariff.
This does come with a caveat though... auto-switching services do not always have the best deals. Often they’ll switch you to a tariff which is the cheapest that they can negotiate, but there may be cheaper tariffs which won't be touched. There are however some auto-switching services that charge a monthly or annual fee and by doing so, they guarantee access to every tariff ensuring you are switched to the cheapest deal.
If you think you’re on the ball when you’re due for renewal, you could save more by switching yourself. However, if you’re always forgetting... auto-switching could save you a fair bit of money. See our run-down of auto-switching services.
Tip 2: Earn money off your bills by scanning receipts
Did you know there’s an app on your phone which can get you money off your bills? This includes broadband, phone, energy, water or even council tax. It’s called ZIP ZERO and allows you to earn money by scanning in receipts.
For every receipt you scan, you’ll get 1% of the total back into your ZIP ZERO account. Once you reach the threshold of £1, you can redeem your cash towards a bill, which you link through the app.
This means, you’ll need to scan £100 collectively in receipts to cash out at the minimum amount. If you do this over time, scanning every receipt as you go - it’s a good way to get money off. Make sure to put big spends on there too for a nice payday.
The way they make money is through data collection, but your personal data is safe and secure when using the app.
Tip 3: Haggling over the phone
If you’re confident enough to pick up the phone, you can often save a lot of money just by asking for it. Whether you’re coming to the end of a contract, or you’re still in the middle of one, there is no harm in asking for a discount.
Often, the best time to haggle is toward's the end of a contract. You’re likely already checking around for cheaper prices, which you can use as a weapon to go to your current provider and ask them to match or beat it.
You can haggle in the middle of a contract too! If your phone bill is rising in price for example, you can always ring them up and ask them for a discount or threaten to leave. This might just prompt them into giving you a discount.
The important thing to remember is that the very worst they can do is say no. Even if you ring up a company and don’t get a discount, you haven’t lost anything. But if they do manage to discount your bills, it could mean a massive saving over the year.
Tip 4: Cancel direct debits you don’t need
It’s worth going through your bank account once a month, conducting a 'direct debit audit'. Always check for direct debits for things you don’t use, or things you had forgotten about or that you might have signed up to by mistake.
Be completely honest with yourself. If you’re not using your Amazon Prime subscription, or your Netflix is not being watched, consider cancelling it. You may think it’s only a small amount of money a month, but it’s just going down the drain if you’re not using it.
If you know you’re going on holiday for two weeks somewhere too, it might be worth pausing your subscriptions. If you’re not going to be at home to accept Amazon parcels, and you know you won't be ordering, then that’s a wasted £7.99.
The more frequently you check your bank statements, the easier it is to spot and stop payments going out which might not be yours. It’s not uncommon for fraudsters to take money out of your account without you knowing and so the sooner you act, the better.
Tip 5: Passively save money on your phone bill
One of my favourite apps at the moment is Airtime Rewards. It’s a simple app that gets you money off your phone bill through your normal spending.
Once you link your Visa and MasterCards to the app, every time you spend at one of the retailers listed, you get some cashback. Rates can vary, but most of the time it’s between 1-5% on your purchases - and you don’t have to do a thing.
Once you’ve built up £5 or £10 (depending on provider), you can withdraw your cash which will be sent towards your mobile phone contract or pay-as-you-go credit.
Retailers include Boots, Primark, Waitrose, Argos, Papa Johns, Pizza Express and many more. Once the app is downloaded, you can forget about it and let it do its magic.
Best ways to save money on Travel
Everybody loves a holiday, but it is likely to be one of your most expensive purchases. As it is such a big expense, however, there are usually some big savings that can be made. Here are our 5 travel tips to cutting costs on travel:
Tip 1: Collect frequent flyer miles
If you love to travel, it’s worth collecting frequent flyer miles. Whoever you are flying with, make sure you create an account with the airline’s loyalty scheme so that you can start to amass some air miles.
You can accelerate your miles earnings too by getting an airline credit card, transferring Tesco Clubcard points or booking hotels through Rocketmiles. Once you have enough miles, you can exchange them for free flights, upgrade to business class or even get hotel stays for free.
The best way to start earning miles, is by getting a British Airways American Express credit card. It can get you into business class for not much money at all. See our British Airways American Express credit card article for all the details.
Tip 2: How to find the best exchange rate
If you’re heading on holiday, you’ll probably want to take some spending money with you. But with exchange rates so volatile, it’s hard to know where to go and when to purchase your currency.
Luckily, a tool called TravelMoneyMax will tell you which bureau gives you the best rate in your local area. Simply enter the amount of pounds you’re willing to spend (or the currency you need), and it’ll tell you where to go for the best rates.
If you travel abroad often and want to consistently get good rates, it might be worth getting a specialist card that doesn't charge transaction fees. Check out the best cards in our holiday tips article.
It’s important to note... NEVER buy currency at the airport before a flight - because this is where your guaranteed to find the worst rates on the market.
Tip 3: Find the cheapest flights
Finding the cheapest time to fly to your destination can be a bit of a minefield, however there is one website that should give you all the information you need to get your flights for the cheapest price.
Google Flights will present you with a calendar and tell you what day is cheapest to fly on, plus, it will give you a choice of airlines as well as allowing you to filter by times, connections and airline groups.
If you don’t know where to fly to, you can search on the world map and see the flight prices for destinations worldwide. To see more about how it works, see our five cheap holiday tricks guide.
Tip 4: Cashback, Cashback, Cashback
If you’re booking a hotel, you can get over 10% cashback when booking through Hotels.com. Booking a longer stay means this could add up to a lot of money. You could also get small amounts of cashback on flights, or get cashback on package deals through Expedia.
You won’t get the money back straight away, as it may take quite a few months to become available. However, it’s a large enough amount that it’ll be worth it when you get it.
In order to claim the cashback, signup to one or both of the cashback sites recommended above and search for the retailer you’re about to book through. Then click through the link and purchase as normal. Your spending will be tracked and your cashback will be logged. Simple as that.
Tip 5: Book now for the cheapest flex fares
If you’re looking at holidays for the summer, you can book fares on major airlines with flexible booking completely free. This means if you’re flying with Virgin or British Airways and you wish to change your date of travel at a later date – you can do so and not pay the usual fee. It goes without saying that booking holidays during a global pandemic comes with risk and so make sure you check the terms and conditions and buy your travel insurance as soon as possible.
Best ways to save money on Food/Eating out
Everyone needs to eat, but the costs can mount up. Just heading out and getting a main course at a restaurant will set you back at least £10. That’s before drinks, puddings and tip! That’s why it is worth figuring out if you can down the costs before you head out.
Here are a few options for you:
Tip 1: Always use a voucher
Before you go out to a restaurant, you should always look for a voucher. Quite often you can find 2 for 1 on main meals, 25% off, or even free desserts - and all it takes is a quick google before you go.
Make sure you search on websites such as MyVoucherCodes, MoneySavingExpert or a restaurant chain’s offers page to find the best deals. You can often find vouchers at Pizza Express, Frankie & Benny’s, Zizzi, Chiquito‘s and many more.
Tip 2: A year's worth of 2 for 1 meals for £1
If you’re not a member of Meerkat Meals – you need to be. This is an offer that you unlock by purchasing insurance through Comparethemarket.com. You get 2 for 1 starters, mains and desserts at restaurants nationwide from Sunday to Thursday. You can claim this at restaurants such as Prezzo, Pizza Hut, Frankie & Benny’s and thousands of local Indian and Chinese restaurants.
There’s a trick to get the deal if you don’t need insurance too. You’re able to buy any insurance on the website to unlock the offer, and this includes the cheapest one you can buy…
If you head onto travel insurance and purchase 1 day of travel insurance in the United Kingdom, this should cost you around £1 (or £1.01 to be exact). Pick any day you like for the cover, as it doesn’t matter if you’re going away that day or not, it’s just to unlock the deal.
After your purchase you’ll be emailed a code to unlock 2 for 1 restaurants for a whole year… and you only spent £1.
Tip 3: Free groceries at the supermarket
If you visit the supermarket each week to do your food shopping and want to save some money, there’s an app that can help you save money. Shopmium is a supermarket cashback app, which gives you money back on specific items when you upload a picture of your receipt.
Scroll through the list of offers for the various products that are on offer that week and if you see one you like, head into the supermarket and buy it. Scanning a picture of the receipt will prove your purchase and the money will be transferred into your bank or PayPal, whichever you prefer.
You can often find freebies on this app too, including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and yoghurt as well a range of products with money off. If you see anything that you usually buy, scanning your receipt will get you some money back - so it’s always worth checking.
Tip 4: Free ‘would be wasted’ food
With OLIO, you can trade food, canned goods, extra bakes and more with your neighbours, when the food would otherwise have gone to waste. You can collect food for free, or give it away if you aren’t going to eat things yourself. It’s basically a free Facebook marketplace for food.
Too Good To Go gives away food from various high street brands at the end of the day for reduced prices. You can often get a bag of baked goods from Greggs, expiring cakes from Costa, and much more from independent brands. You do pay for these items, but it’s vastly reduced – and it stops food from going to waste.
Tip 5: Email companies for coupons
If you really love a brand, have you ever thought about telling them? It sounds a bit crazy, however, getting in touch with them may end up earning you some coupons for free products.
I do this quite often for my supermarket shopping. Companies love compliments and in return, you might get something for free out of it.
The more effort you put into your complimentary emails, the more likely they are to send you something. I once sent a 4 line poem to Innocent smoothies and as a thank you, they sent me £20 worth of coupons in the post. All of that for five minutes of work.
If you get coupons directly from manufacturers, these tend to be higher value meaning free products when shopping - and everybody loves a freebie.
Fun money-saving tips
Here are some bonus fun ways to save some money. These might not be for everyone, but they could all add up to a lot of money in savings individually.
Tip 1: Get a coffee/tea for 1p every day
Did you know you could pick up a tea or coffee for just 1p every day with a little trick? It’s very easy to claim and will save you £2-3 pounds on your daily caffeine fix.
If you’re signed up to Waitrose loyalty scheme (called MyWaitrose), you get a few member benefits. One of them is a free hot drink when you make any purchase in store, so long as you scan your MyWaitrose card.
The trick with this is that there is no minimum spend, which means you can pick up the cheapest thing in the supermarket, scan it through the till and you’ll be able to get your free tea or coffee.
You could pick up a banana for 10p, a carrot for 5p, or even a brussels sprout for just a measly penny! So just a 1p spend can net you a free drink.
Tip 2: Start complaining!
For one reason or another, us Brits are very tightlipped when things go wrong. But if we don’t complain to brands when things aren’t up to scratch then how can they improve? There is no better way to solve your issue than contacting them directly.
If there’s something wrong with your meal - speak up! If there’s a hole in your brand new jacket, send it back or request a partial refund. If that crisp packet is stuck to the side of the multi-pack meaning the contents are stale… you better tell them!
All of these things should be fed back to the manufacturers and they almost certainly appreciate you telling them, as it could alert them to a bigger problem that they were not aware of. In return, you're likely to get monetary compensation, coupons, or a fully functioning item for free - which should make things much better for you as a consumer.
Tip 3: New customer code hopping
If you’ve shopped online for your groceries before - you’ll know that supermarkets offer large incentives to new customers who sign up and complete their first shop. Have you taken advantage of them all?
If there is an online supermarket that you haven’t used - why not do an online shop with them and get between £10-25 off your shopping? The main players with new customer codes are Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado, Morrisons and Iceland - so if you haven’t shopped at any of them, switch for a week.
If you’ve never shopped online before - then you can start code hopping, by doing one offer every time you need to buy some more food. Collectively, you could save well over £100 by using them all.
Tip 4: Make money surfing the web
Seeing adverts all over the place when you’re trying to read an article can be very annoying. Luckily, there is a way that you can change these ads into nice pictures, and get paid for viewing them.
It’s a browser plug-in called Gener8 Ads, which will overlay adverts throughout the web with pictures of pugs, sandy beaches and things that make you feel good. They get paid for you making impressions on these ads and give some of it back to you.
You’ll be paid in tokens, which you can exchange in the marketplace for Amazon vouchers, electronics or donations to charity. It’s a great way to make your browsing more entertaining and rewarding.
Tip 5: Earn Amazon vouchers through JobSpotter
If you’ve ever walked down the high street and seen a 'We're hiring' sign in a shop windows, you might have missed out on earning money from them. There’s an app on your phone which pays you money for submitting a picture of them.
It’s called JobSpotter, and it’s powered by Indeed - the job website. It’s basically a way for them to find out about new job adverts by getting you to do the work for them. But every time you snap a picture of a hiring sign, you’ll get paid for it in Amazon vouchers.
Some people have made £100+ just from taking pictures of them when they’re in town, as you can get paid between 5p and £3 per sign, depending on whether it has already been spotted before.
You can cash out at any amount, so even if you do a few one weekend, it’ll get you a few quid off your next Amazon order.
So there we have it. Those are our top 25 tips to save you some money. You don’t have to do every single one, as it is unlikely that all of the tips will fit with your lifestyle, but getting your personal finances in order just takes the one step. The rest will soon be history...
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