For this year we’ve rounded up 20 of our top money saving tips for a combined saving of up to £5,000, and that’s not including the potential earnings from some of them.
How much can you save?
Home and family
Switch your gas and electricity (save £250 – £290)
Last year over 7.7 million energy account were switched, and while that might seem a staggeringly large amount, nearly 66 per cent of all users still remain standard variable tariffs.
Price hikes have been announced at five of the big six energy firms, meaning now is the time to switch to lock in a cheap fix before the best deals disappear.
There are a massive number of energy switching websites arounds, but Moneysupermarket is still one of the best here.
Turn off the lights, and everything else for that matter (save up to £80)
It’s an urban myth that the extra electricity needed to switch lights back on is more than that saved by switching them off. This is not the case. Modern energy saving light bulbs and LEDs do not use more electricity to turn on than to run them, so you will always be using less energy by switching these light bulbs off when you don’t need them.
But don’t stop there. You could make additional savings by turning off appliances rather that leaving them in standby mode. The Energy Savings Trust states that up to £80 a year is wasted in the average home due to appliances left on standby, the worst offenders of which are printers, routers, computers, TVs, and mobile phone chargers.
Banking, credit cards, and savings
Switch your bank account (earn up to £200)
Switching your current account could net you up to £200, yet surprisingly only 3 per cent of personal and 4 per cent of business customers switch to a different bank in any given year. In fact, the number of switchers often fell 5 per cent last year despite the savings on offer.
Under the Switch Guarantee scheme, changing your banking current account has never been easier. All existing direct debits and standing orders are automatically switched over to your new account within 7 days.
Every quarter, the payments service Bacs releases a comprehensive round-up of how many people are joining or leaving the nation’s biggest banks and building societies. Natwest and Barclays and Barclays have been among the biggest losers, while Santander and Nationwide have both faired well with 46,000 and 25,000 new customers respectively (figures for April – June 2016).
See our guide to the best switching bank accounts
Get better savings (earn up to £225)
The current climate of pitiful savings rates means you’re losing out against inflation in real terms. Fortunately there are few inflation beating accounts out there.
The best currently is Nationwide’s FlexDirect current account which will pay 5% interest for 1 year on balances up to £2,500.
The caveat is that you must pay in at least £1,000 per month per haps from your salary or else where (you can withdraw or transfer it immediately afterwards).
After a year the 5% rate drops to 1%, but if you maximised the interest you’ll have earned £125 in interest. Additionally, if you are referred by an account holder you will both receive a £100 bonus. If you don’t have any friend or family to refer you, email us and we’ll send you a referral.
Others such as First Direct and HSBC are offering current accounts with 2.75% interest for a year.
Transfer your credit card balance to a zero per cent card (save £930 a year)
Research from Comparethemarket.com found that the average person in the UK owes £8,000 in credit card debt. And according to Moneyfacts, the average interest rate is now a whooping 23 per cent, compared to 15.3 per cent in 2006. Even taking a relative low APR of say 12 per cent for example, you could still save £930 (assuming a 3 per cent transfer fee) a year by moving your debt to a zero per cent card. What’s more, the money saved can go towards repaying the debt fast, thus compounding the savings.
The best balance transfer card change all the time, but typically zero per cent periods of up to 36 months are available, and there’s nothing to stop your transfering again after when the period is up. For the sake of your credit history, to is important to limit your applications, but fortunately most credit card providers offer an eligibility check allowing you see whether you’ll be accepted without risking a hard search on your file. Free services like Epxerian’s CreditMatcher can do the same, and provide a helpful comparison of the cards on offer.
Use the right plastic for spending abroad (save from £32 a year)
Whether it’s a holiday aboard or just buying goods from a foreign website, using the right credit or debit card can save you a packet.
Debit and credit cards from the regular highstreet banks often carry high charges for making transactions in forgien currencies such as the Euro, and even more for withdrawing cash from foriegn ATMs.
As an example a regular Barclays debit card could cost you around £32 per £1000 spent. It carries a 2.75% loading fee, and £1.50 per ATM withdrawal. HSBC is even worse with the same amount costing up £47.
Yet you can beat these charges by carrying the right plastic. In a nutshell Halifax Clarity, and Starling Bank are two of the best cards around, but see our guide for the full list of credit and debit cards to use abroad.
Health and fitness
Quit smoking (save over £1,400)
The average smoker spends over £1,400 per year on their habit (based on smoking 10 per day). If you’re a smoker, the quickest way to add years to your life and cash in your wallet is to quit. Okay, that might be easier said than done, but you if can’t go cold turkey then try some of the many anti-smoking products that are out there, or switch to an electronic cigarette to buy some time. If you’re serious about quitting, the NHS’ smokefree website is a great place to start, with providing expert advice, guidance, and success stories.
It might also save you a £50-100 fine if you ever smoked in a car with children.
Quit the gym not working out (save £300)
How many people started 2019 with a New Year’s resolution to get into shape, only to end up paying for a costly gym membership they rarely use? The average gym membership in the UK is roughly £25 per month, or £300 per year. For those that visit regularly this represents a saving on daily rate, but anyone visiting less than one a week, would most likely be better off scrapping membership altogether or visiting on a pay as you basis.
Even better, quit the gym. No that doesn’t mean stop exercising. Local leisure centres offer many of the same options as a gym, and because they are run by councils are usually not for profit, meaning the prices are lower.
Exercise outdoors. If it’s cardio that you’re into there are some great ‘free’, organised events such as Parkrun. Basically, get outdoors and enjoy the largest gym in the world.
Food and Shopping
Avoid food waste (eat better and save up to £400)
The average household throws away between £400 – £700 worth of food each year. The sad thing is, much of this waste can be avoided with better planning and storage.
Fortunately there apps, and gadgets to help reduce the amount we throw out. The Love Food Hate Waste mobile app, helps to tackle waste by providing recipes based on the leftover food in your kitchen. It can also track your shopping to help prevent over-buying, and has a built in meal and portion planner.
On top of that, devices like the FreshPod, which sit in your fridge or fruit bowl and absorb ethylene gas can help extend the life your fresh produce, resulting in less waste and tastier fruit and veg.
Always use reward cards and loyalty schemes when available
In our article titled ‘Loyalty cards, and why is pays to unfaithful,’ we revealed that by ditching reward cards you could save up to 30 per cent on your weekly grocery shop, 22 per cent on flights, and 15 per cent on cosmetics. BUT if you ever spend money in a store that has a reward card or loyalty scheme available, then it pays to sign up to the scheme even if you shop there infrequently.
Get cashback on your purchases (save/earn £280)
Savvy online shoppers can often earn cashback on goods and services bought online by using a cashback website such as Topcashback or Quidco. Cashback websites pay you when you click through to retailers via their links and buy a product or service, used wisely you can make £100s.
Online retailers pay cashback websites for referring you to them and buying their products. These site then give you some or all of the money they receive. Depending on the company and product, the amount of money you receive can range from a few pence for cheaper items, to over £100 for things like insurance, mobile contracts, and telecoms.
See the moneysavinganswers guide to cashback websites and start earning now.
Abandon your basket (save up to £460)
On average UK families spend over £4,600 per year online. Yet few take advantage of basket abandonment. Fail to finish your online order and retailers often send you codes to tempt you back. This works better with some retailers than others, but ASOS, H&M, Boohoo, Curry’s, and Virgin Wines, are just some of the firms known to entice customers back with discounts and vouchers.
Obviously you have to have a bit of time on your hands, as the emails might take a day or so to come through, and you have be prepared to not be offered anything, but on average you expect up to a 10 per cent discount to entice you back.
Rental and storage
Rent the items you need, and loan the ones you don’t (save £261)
If you’re anything like me, perhaps you’ve got a bunch of photography gear you only use on occasion, sports equipment that you rarely use, or bikes sitting in a garage. Fat Llama, is a new peer to peer lending site that allows you to rent out your unused equipment. It covers everything from DJ gear to power tools.
The site has strict quality control and vetting procedures in place, and insures your belongings in case of damage. Rental fees vary, but you could earn roughly £15 a day for bicycle rental,
On the flip side, it might pay to rent the items you actually need. Garden furniture, power tools, ski equipment, electronics, you name it. If you need something for a one off job or event, then renting it could save you a pretty packed.
Sell your old clothes (earn £5 per bag, or 50p per kilo)
Consider decluttering before you rent out a room or storage space. Most of us have old unloved, clothes in our wardrobes and draws. Some high street retailers offer up to £5 (in vouchers) per bag of clothes or pair of shoes, whilst local and online clothes re-use/cycling companies offer up to 50p per kilo.
See our guide on earning cash for clothes.
Rent out your spare room (earn up to £7,500)
Own your own home? You could make up to £7,500 by letting out a room to a lodger on a fix term or temporary basis. Okay, this isn’t a money saving tip as such, but if you’re comfortable living with a a stranger, tax breaks make renting out a room a particularly enticing prospect.
For more about letting out a room in your home, see the official Government website – https://www.gov.uk/rent-room-in-your-home/the-rent-a-room-scheme
Rent out your storage space (earn £1,040)
Similarly if you have a loft, shed, garage or other large storage space that isn’t bursting at the seams, you could earn money renting it out. Sites like storemates.co.uk make this as easy as possible, and puts in place guarantees and insurance for added piece of mind.
Savings for renters are up to 50 per cent off commercial prices, while storage providers earn £20 per week on average. Earnings increase the closer you are to major population centres, and should of course be declared to the taxman.
Travel and transport
Use these train ticket tricks (save £100 plus)
The UK’s franchised rail system has often been described as a farce. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to ticketing. The system is a mess but with a few little tricks you can beat the system and save on fares.
Firstly, book early to get the best prices. Schedules are announced 12 weeks in advance but tickets might not necessarily be on sale then. By signing up to thetrainline.com alert system, you’ll get a email as soon the cheap advanced tickets hit the booths.
The second trick is to split your tickets. Everyone must know about this now, but the train companies still haven’t got their act together and sorted it out. basically, rather than buying a ticket for your whole journey such as Manchester to Edinburgh, it can often be cheaper to buy tickets from Manchester to York, then from York to Edinburgh. Bizarrely for many journeys you’ll be travelling on the exact same train, so there’s no need to get off or switch.
Raileasy is one of the best tools for checking split tickets and powers many of the other comparison services. That being said Ticketclever is also worth a look for a belt and braces approach. By doing this it is possible to save over £100 even for non-frequent travellers.
It is important to make sure that the train your are travelling on stops at all the stations you’ve bought tickets for, and do make sure that you won’t fall foul of any peak times.
Improve your fuel efficiency (save £500 per year)
Petrol and in particular diesel prices might be increasing, but it is possible to cut the cost of fuel by using a few painless tricks.
- Keep your tyres properly inflated, an obvious safety tip, but correctly inflated tyres can be 3 per cent more efficient than those are under-inflated
- Remove your roof rack when not in use. Drag squares with speed, and the more drag your car has the less efficient it is at cutting through the air, thus requiring more fuel to achieve the same speed. By removing roof racks and other appendages it is possible to improve your car’s fuel economy by up to 10 per cent.
- Turn off the air con. Okay so you probably aren’t using it much in the winter, but in the summer it’s a big efficiency killer. It is estimated that air conditioning, especially in older cars, cuts fuel economy by up to 10 per cent.
Of course there are many more ways to save fuel, but these are probably the quickest and easiest to get you started. On average, those spending £50 per week on fuel would stand to save £500 from a 20 per cent improvement in efficiency.
Get better breakdown cover (save £10 or more and enjoy better coverage)
AA and RAC are the two most popular breakdown recovery companies in the UK. Basic coverage starts at £29 per year. This is fine if you don’t venture too far home. It usually means that your car will be fixed at the roadside (if possible) or more likely towed to a local garage. It won’t often include homestart (coverage if you breakdown within a 1 mile or so of your fixed address), nor onward travel to your destination.
If you get out and about the country more or take your car abroad you’re more likely to have a fully comprehensive package. These can be up to £145 AA and £120 with RAC. Yet you can get the same or in most cases even better cover by opting membership of Germany’s ADAC (in German). It’s basically the equivelant of the AA. Their plus membership starts at €84 or €109 for couple, and covers:
- breakdown and accident assistance all over Europe
- worldwide medical repatriation
- vehicle repatriation form anywhere in Europe
- travel expenses, spare parts dispatch, premature return home
- en-route cover and accident emergency benefits, travel liability insurance and travel contract legal expenses insurance
If you break down the UK with your ADAC membership, you will be serviced by AA. The good thing about the membership apart (from the savings) is that is personal cover rather based on a specific vehicle.
Cheaper alternatives to Sky and Virgin Media (save £240 a year)
The basic Sky TV subscription is around £22.50 per month. Yet you can get many of the same channels via the NowTV service. NowTV is a streaming service much like Netflix or Amazon Prime TV. The difference is that it ;ets you watch channels not just shows.
The NowTV Entertainment pass offers 16 Sky channels such as SkyOne, SkyAtlantic etc…
There are other passes available such as the Cinema Pass (£11.99), Sports Pass and Kids Pass (£3.99). The Entertainment pass costs £8.99, but voucher codes are constantly being handed out, so few pay the full price.
There’s up to £17 Cashback if signing up via Quidco or Topcashback as well as well as 7 day free trials, and first timer deals to look out for. On average these discounts can reduce your subscription to just £1.99 per month.
Combine this with Freesat, which broadcasts many of the free to air channels that appear on Sky, and you’ve covered most of the mainstream TV spectrum.
See our guide for the cheapest ways to watch Sky Sports
Slash the costs of your mobile phone bill (save £247)
Research commissioned by OFCOM found that the average mobile phone bill in the UK was a whopping £45.60 a month. If you are happy with your current handset, there’s absolutely no need to be locked into a costly contract. All of the top providers offer monthly rolling sim-only contracts.
For example with 3, it is possible to get unlimited data, unlimited calls, and unlimited text for £25 on a sim only deal. That’s almost 50% less than the monthly average.
If you don’t need unlimited data these prices fall even more dramatically. What’s more is that they can usually be combined with cashback from Quidco and Topcashback.