Tristan at Find Financial Freedom has posted some basic frugal living tips – the kind of things that are very simple to do, might only save a little at a time, but could save you quite a bit of money in the long term, without having much of an impact on your life.
Here are some of my thoughts on the tips:
- Downgrading to a less expensive supermarket – try out some of the less expensive supermarkets (such as Aldi and Lidl) and you may be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, and very pleased by the savings you get on the items in your trolley. If you’re not prepared to change supermarkets, try downbranding, where you substitute premium quality items for a cheaper alternative (for example, buying Tesco’s own brand or value baked beans, instead of Heinz). With some trial and error you should be able to find items that taste as good as the higher priced items at a lower price. We’ve downbranded quite a bit, and I reckon you could save in the region of 10%-15% on your weekly grocery shop this way, without too much trouble. We did try downgrading from ASDA to Aldi once (I know, not a particularly big jump down!), but weren’t particularly impressed with the range of items available, so have stuck with ASDA. We definitely notice the difference in cost if we ever shop at Waitrose.
- Check for the cheapest petrol prices in your area – sign up to PetrolPrices.com, and you’ll be notified of the cheapest petrol and diesel prices in and around your postcode. Don’t go out of your way to buy cheap petrol though, because you will probably eat up any savings, but be aware of the cheaper petrol stations in your area – are they the big name petrol companies, independent garages or supermarkets?
- Eat in – eating in will usually be much cheaper than eating in restaurants or buying takeaways, but of course it’s nice to do the latter every now and again. By the way, I’m not sure Tristan is right about takeaway food being VAT free – if the food is hot, then VAT should be charged on it, as far as I’m aware (but I’m not VAT expert). If you’re that way inclined, there’s an “interesting” discussion about this issue here.
- Take sandwiches to work – “brown bagging” isn’t some dubious pastime*, it’s a term used for making your own sandwiches (typically in America these are taken to work in a brown paper bag), and is usually one of the first frugal ideas to be recommended to those looking to save some money. If you can motivate yourself to do this each night/every morning, you could save yourself in the region of £10-£15 per week. It might not sound like much, but that’s the equivalent of giving yourself a pay rise of as much as £700 per year.
- Switch suppliers – mobile phone bills, broadband, satellite television, utility bills – these are all ripe for money saving. In the past I managed to slash my mobile phone bill by 60% and will be looking to reduce the cost of my broadband in the coming months. We also cancelled our Sky Movies and Sky Sports packages once the introductory rate expired (although unlike Tristan, we haven’t ditched Sky completely yet). All you need to do is look at your regular bills, check that you’re in a position to switch (not tied into contracts), search for similar, cheaper services and then get on the phone to your current supplier to see if they’re willing to match the competition to keep your business. Sometimes you’ll have to haggle and be prepared to call their bluff (play service switch chicken with them, threatening to switch to their competitor, seeing how far both you and they can go before somebody gives in), but all’s fair in this game!
* Actually, a quick Google does throw up some “interesting” definitions.
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