Managing your household finances can be tough these days. In fact, many people are struggling to find money for the basics in life. The cost of food, cleaning products, energy and just about everything is rising faster than wages are, and that’s putting an enormous amount of strain on households.
But there are probably some very simple cost-savings you can implement in your home without feeling the pinch too much. By trimming a bit here and a bit there, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much money you can save over the course of a year.
1. Plan your meals
How many times have you opted for a take-out because you don’t have anything in the kitchen cupboards? Ordering in might be a nice treat from time to time, but when it has become part of your weekly expenditure, it’s time to make some changes.
One way to make meal planning easier is to sit down on your shopping day and write down the meals you will be preparing for the rest of the week. From this, you can create a shopping list that doesn’t contain any unnecessary purchases.
It’s also a good idea to prepare meals in advance. For instance, you can make Sunday “cooking day.” Prepare meals such as curries, stews, pasta bakes and anything you can portion up and freeze. Also, try to choose as many meals with similar ingredients as possible in order to minimise waste.
And one last tip… always eat before you go shopping, otherwise you could find yourself susceptible to impulse purchases.
2. Shop strategically
Most people still go to a supermarket and do their weekly shop in one go. However, how do you know that the lamb you’re buying in one supermarket isn’t significantly cheaper in another? You’d shop around for a TV, so why aren’t you shopping around for meat, vegetables and fruit?
There are websites available that help you to compare grocery prices across all the major supermarket chains, so use them and plan your shopping days accordingly. You might have to visit more than one store, but the money you could save over the course of a year could pay your energy bill.
3. Cut the cost of cleaning
If you rely on a lot of commercial cleaners to keep your home spick and span, your annual bill is probably huge. But you can slash the cost of cleaning by using natural agents such as baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and steam. For instance, a steam cleaner cuts through dirt and grease with ease, and it also reduces bacteria to trace levels.
4. Don’t be proud about second-hand purchases
Why pay £7 for a book when you might be able to pick up the same title at the local charity shop for 50p? If a second-hand TV does the same job, does it really matter that it’s pre-owned? Trawl the local classified ads and second-hand stores to look for easy ways to slash the cost of buying certain goods. Look for markets and car boot sales in your area. These events not only offer a great family day out, they are filled with bargains that could save you a huge amount of cash.
5. Entertain at home
You don’t need to fork out on restaurant meals, theatre tickets or expensive drinks to have a great time with your friends. Get together, and take turns in hosting dinner or drinks. In the summer, crack out the barbecue and ask people to bring their own meat. Something as simple as an evening spent playing board games can be great fun — and free!
6. Embrace the coupon
Before you buy anything, perform a quick Internet search to see if you can find a coupon or discount code. Nowadays, there are discounts to be found all over the place, including on retailers’ websites, dedicated coupon websites and in magazines. Some supermarkets, for instance, will honour discount vouchers even if you’re not buying the product they’re meant for. Never think that saving a few pennies here and there isn’t worth the hassle, as it all adds up.
7. Become a guinea pig
There are several websites out there now that offer you free stuff in return for your thoughts and feedback. You can get everything from food to beauty products for free, as long as you sign up with your contact details and commit to providing feedback. Perform a simple Internet search, and you should be able to find several online services that provide freebies with very few strings attached.