Saturday, 20 April 2013

30 Ways to Save £1

Did you know that 21st April marks the 30th anniversary of the pound coin? I'd assumed it was much older (because anything that happened before you were born = ancient history, right?), but according to my grandmother it still seems like yesterday that everyone was walking around with pound notes and poodle perms (thankfully, today's only legacy is the peplum). Anyway, to celebrate, MoneySupermarket have challenged bloggers to share their top 30 money saving tips - this is a post I've had in the works for a while anyway, since, if there's one thing I'm nearly as good at as spending money, it's hoarding, er, saving it! So here are mine (most of which will save you quite a few round and shiny coins, not just one!)... They're aimed primarily at a UK audience, so apologies to my lovely international readers!

Shopping, Fashion, Beauty and Eating Out

1. Sign up for Daily Deals emails - every day, my inbox is deluged with incredible offers on everything from £4 yoga classes to £250 4* all-inclusive trips to Venice (including flights)! My personal best buy so far is an online web design course, usually almost £1,000, knocked down to an incredible £80. Get on the mailing lists for Wowcher, Groupon, LivingSocial and dealcloud now!

2. I never miss an email from MyVoucherCodes, or VoucherCloud either - between them, they round up most of the best fashion, beauty and food discount codes, some of which are exclusive to them. Never buy anything online without checking for a code first - if there's nothing in your inbox, Google, Google, Google - kind people often share codes on forums. And check for printable vouchers before heading out to eat, or hitting the high street - you can nearly always bag a hefty discount on a weekday meal at Pizza Express, ASK, Prezzo or Cafe Rouge with a little forward planning, and New Look and Dorothy Perkins periodically release vouchers for 20-25% off their wares... If you're running late, download the smartphone apps!

3. Sign up for your favourite stores' email newsletters - exclusive discount codes are often reserved for subscribers, and you'll be first off the mark when sales time rolls around... It can be worth following them on Twitter and Facebook too.

4. If you don't have a discount code, see if you can get cashback - sites like Quidco and TopCashBack pay back either a flat fee or proportion of what you spend on various sites ranging from ASOS to utilities providers, which can be quite substantial - I received nearly £200 for clicking through on my way to signing up for a new TV package online! You can also register your credit and debit cards so that you make a few pennies when shopping at certain high street stores, like Debenhams and H Samuel (hello, bling!).

5. Apparently, expressing your opinion feels more valuable than earning money (hello, fellow bloggers!) - taking part in online surveys is a great way to do a bit of both. My favourite schemes are MySurvey - you can redeem your rewards directly to your PayPal account as soon as you've earned at least £3 (so nice to be able to pay for those eBay impulse buys without having to dig into your bank balance) - and NewVistaLive, which sends you a cheque for £50 once you reach their payment threshold (most surveys pay £1-2, so it doesn't take long once you get into it!).

6. Sell your unwanted stuff. I've made hundreds of pounds selling clothes that no longer fit on eBay - it does take a bit of effort, but bearing a few things in mind makes it more productive: 
  • If you're selling a lot of clothes, invest in a mannequin (which you can buy from, ta-da - eBay, for around £20) - they make everything look soooo much better (discreetly peg at the back if they don't fit) and will increase selling prices. 
  • Make starting bids low - higher prices put people off - but not so low that you'd cry if your stuff actually went for that price. 
  • Make the most of free listings weekends so that you can start bidding at more than 99p, without paying for the privilege.
  • Write an honest but beguiling description - you do need to spell out any flaws, but still make your item seem like a must-have - where would you wear it, and what with? 
  • Read seller guides for more tips. 
Trade books in at Amazon, and check out to see how much you could get for your old phone.

7. Check out outlet stores for massive discounts - M&S have an online outlet, and many top brands sell seconds and end-of-line products on eBay.

8. Get your D.I.Y. on! With a little creativity and a free afternoon, you can save thousands re-creating your own designer dupes and customising your vintage and high street buys.

9. Make do and mend - favourite dress done the splits? Buy a zip repair kit for £5.99! Even if you decide to bring an expert on board, having a zip replaced at your local dry cleaner only costs £10-20 - how much would it cost to replace the whole garment? Ditto re-soling your worn-out shoes...

10. Hire designer threads - try Girl Meets Dress for princess-for-the-weekend dresses, bags and jewellery.

11. Rent out your own stuff! Make some money from those worn-once but too-precious-to-get-rid-of lovelies gathering dust in your wardrobe, and just about anything else, at!

12. Don't be afraid to ask for a discount - I know some people won't buy anything without asking for a discount, but I'm not that cheeky. I will, however, insist upon it if the last garment in my size is marked or has a missing button, belt, whatever (hence my £1 monochrome shift dress!). 

13. Use store loyalty cards (not store cards!) - you can save hundreds of pounds over a year of weekly supermarket shops with Nectar, and bag countless free lipsticks with a Boots Advantage Card!

14. Write reviews - make a little money back on your latest wonderbuy (or big mistake) by writing reviews for dooyoo and ciao! - you'll earn points which can be redeemed for Amazon vouchers and cold, hard cash.

15. Colour your own hair - yes, it may involve a little research and some trial-and-error, but home colourants can give results comparable to, or even better than, salon methods. Switching from a £100 full head of highlights every 6 weeks to a £5.99 packet of Nice 'n Easy (OK, 2 packets, but you know how long my hair is!) has given me more control, more natural-looking results, and more pounds in my pocket!

16. Sign up to photo printing websites like Truprint - they periodically shower you with free prints, and offer amazing deals on personalised photo gifts like calendars, mugs and posters, which are soooo much fun to create - my first port of call for Christmas shopping every year! I use Truprint to create my own Christmas cards too - usually hassle free, depending on the model's mood.

17. One of the few things I haven't tried, but which always sounds intriguing - mystery shopping! You can get free meals and drinks out of it too...

18. And talking of free lunches... you've heard this one a million times, but make your own! I'm not one of those people who smuggles a thermos and foil-wrapped cheese-and-tomato into Starbucks when I'm meeting someone for lunch (well, OK, I may have done that once or twice in my student days!) but if I'm out on my own, I'll hardly ever bother paying for a sandwich or, worse, bottle of water (unless I have so many bags that £1.50 seems a small price to pay for a legitimate place to lay my haul for a few minutes). If you really can't be bothered to spread your own Bertolli, pop into M&S or Sainsbury's for something tasty minus quite so much extortion.

Travel and Holidays

19. If you're entitled to a Railcard, get one! For example, if you're at least 1 day shy of your 26th birthday (damn you!), you're entitled to at least a year to enjoy a third off nearly all off-peak train fares, and you can save even more money and hassle by applying for 3 years at once.

20. And if you're going on a long journey, book your tickets in advance. You can save a fortune on advance purchase train tickets, and coach companies like National Express often offer their first few seats from as little as £1.

21. Driving? Find the cheapest fuel near you at Make it go further once you've got it by keeping your windows closed, clearing out your boot and going gently on that accelerator!

22. As well as those gold-dust daily deal emails (see tip 1), sign up for newsletters from travel companies like CheapFlights and TravelZoo to maximise your getaway bang-for-buck.

23. Consider hostels - travelling around the world with an average accommodation budget of £15 a day, I only spent one night minus an ensuite bathroom, and never set foot in a dorm. You can book in advance and read reviews at

Savings, Bills and Everyday Expenses

24. Always make sure you're getting the best possible deal on insurance and utilities by using comparison websites like MoneySupermarket (and don't forget to check if you can squeeze some cashback out of it too (see tip 4)).

25. Make your savings work harder by making a point of checking interest rates at the beginning of each tax year - you'll usually need to switch annually to maintain the best rate for you. And make sure your first stop is an ISA, however much cash you have to stash! Many sites have handy comparison tables - a Google search will point you in the right direction.

26. Billions of pounds are apparently floating around in forgotten bank accounts - check none of it is yours (for free) at MyLostAccount.

27. Ensure your mobile phone deal is the best one for you - again, there are lots of handy comparison tables around. If you're on a contract, remember to switch to a (usually much cheaper) SIM-only contract at the end of your minimum term (especially important if you're on a super-pricey iPhone contract). If you don't make many calls, consider Pay As You Go. I don't need an all-inclusive call plan, but what I do need are lots of free texts and unlimited internet access - for the equivalent of about £5 a month on my O2 Pay & Go iPhone tariff, I have everything I need.

28. Turn your thermostat down by 1 degree to save up to £70 a year.

29. Turn your electrical equipment off, rather than leaving it on standby - many appliances still operate at 90% of "full power" on standby.

30. Use white vinegar instead of fabric conditioner - also a lifesaver for mouldering clothes, if, one dark day, you discover your lovely new home has a damp problem!

Hopefully, as well as helping some of you out, each of these tips will save me another pound today, as Money Supermarket are paying £1 per money saving tip to the first 500 bloggers who share their words of wisdom... and one lucky frugalista will be chosen at random to receive £1,000! If more than 1,000 tips are received, the top prize will be increased to £2,000 - phew! Check out the details and T&C to take part.

What's your top money saving tip?

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