Slash Your Shopping Bills

Posted on: 17 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Every little helps to make big savings each month.


It's easy to see how much we spend on the big things such as mortgages and utilities, with a large bill dropping through the letterbox every month.

However, high street shopping adds up too. With the cost of filling that shopping trolley mounting up under the credit crunch, we bring you a multitude of ways to save on groceries and other shopping.

Money Saving Coupons & Codes

Try to use money off coupons from websites, leaflets, papers and magazines where possible.

Several websites list discount codes to take a percentage off your bill. You normally enter this when you order and pay. It's worth checking before you order anything online that there isn't a code you can use to save money.

Discount voucher codes: www.discountvouchercodes.co.uk

Get The Best Deal

Buying something? Before you decide, spend a few minutes comparing prices online. 'Shopbots' can help, which are websites allowing you to search for a product and compare prices from many retailers at once. Even if you don't have time to trawl the shops, you could save pounds from just one quick internet search. Simply typing what you want into a search engine like Google could locate a cheaper supplier.

You can also find websites that tell you when sales are taking place.

Instead of buying on impulse, see if you can get it cheaper or wait for it to be reduced. This will give you time to decide if you really need it.

Haggle for a bargain. The shop can only say no!

Shopbot: www.kelkoo.co.uk

Loyalty Cards

You often have to spend a lot to get much back from store loyalty cards, such as Nectar. However, signing up for extra points offers, money off coupons and opportunities to get more for your points when you spend them can make it more worthwhile. You could fund those Christmas gifts from a year's point saving using a Boots Advantage card for example. Loyalty cards obviously offer the best return in shops where you spend a lot anyway such as supermarkets or petrol stations.

Store Cards

Interest rates can be high on store cards, so beware before signing up. Some offer a decent deal with extra discounts and loyalty points, such as the John Lewis card, but as with any credit card check the details carefully such as interest rate and payment conditions and only apply if you can afford the credit.

Cash Back Websites

You can join websites that offer cash back when you buy something from a retailer through their website. If you use those stores anyway it's worth signing up so you can earn extra money.

Top Cash Back: www.topcashback.co.uk

Waste Not, Want Not

Would you like to reduce your grocery bill by a third? It's tempting to tell Gordon Brown to BOGOF, after he criticised Buy-One-Get-One-Free offers and chastised us for wasting food. Yet it's true that in the UK we throw away a third of the food we buy. So buying less in the first place, storing it correctly, and cooking leftovers as our parents did can help save money. We all know we shouldn't be tempted by products we don't need or will just end up throwing away, but it can be hard to remember in an inviting shop. When purchasing food prepare a list and stick to it. Look out for offers on things you use and buy in bulk if you can.

A Cheaper Trolley-ful

Could you get your groceries cheaper at another supermarket? You can find out by filling your trolley at the website My Supermarket, which will calculate how much you could save between Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Waitrose.

Also consider investigating discount supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl.

Inside the store, it's often cheaper to buy loose rather than pre-packed. Supermarkets now display the cost per kilo or unit so it's easier to compare.

When you reach for those branded baked beans or toothpaste, consider trying an own brand alternative once. You might find it's just as good or even better, and then you can save money in future by buying that.

My Supermarket: www.mysupermarket.co.uk

On The Go

Preparing packed lunches for work is cheaper and healthier. A daily large cappuccino could add up to nearly £600 a year - enough for a holiday.

Grow Your Own

For the price of a packet of seeds, you could be growing your own vegetables much more cheaply than buying them in the supermarket. Certain crops require a lot of time and land, so it's not for everyone, but anyone can easily grow a salad instead of buying it in a pre-packed bag and throwing half away when it goes off.

Grow Your Own: www.nsandi.com/rhs

Don't Dismiss Second Hand

Buying second hand clothing doesn't have to mean searching through racks of outdated designs in a musty and dimly lit shop. These days charity shops are much more inviting. Many now have a designer rail, and Oxfam have even opened boutiques where they've done the sifting for you, and designers have turned old clothes into new one-off creations.

You can pick clothes from the comfort of your own home by using eBay. It requires a bit of searching, but you can look for a special occasion outfit by your favourite designer that's only been worn once, or is even new with tags, and save pounds. You may even be able to make some cash through eBay too by selling old clothes and other items.

If you need a certain item, you can post a 'wanted' message on the Freecycle website and if somebody has one that they want to get rid of, it could be yours for free. It's particularly good for furniture. You can be emailed offered items too. Even if you're getting rid of something, you don't have to pay to advertise or visit the tip - post it on Freecycle and if someone wants it they will come and collect it.

Freecycle: uk.freecycle.org

eBay: www.ebay.co.uk

Health & Beauty

Check the internet, magazines, papers and in-store promotions for free samples and discounts.

Hairdressers may have special offers, especially if you introduce a friend, or get a student to cut your hair for free.

Consider going pay-as-you-go at the gym if you are not getting value from the monthly membership fee.

If you've always wanted to give up smoking, maybe the credit crunch is a good time!

Housing

Look for D.I.Y. opportunities and shop carefully for furniture and appliances. Take advantage of genuine sales wherever possible.

Ensure your buildings and contents insurance is reasonable.

Remortgage to get a better rate if possible.

Leisure & Entertainment

Cutting back doesn't mean ending your social life. Draw up a list of ideas for free or cheap activities near home. There are many free festivals, exhibitions, museums and galleries. Websites and papers often offer free film screenings.

If you enjoy eating out, look out for special offers at restaurants. Keep an eye on the local paper and free leaflets when you're out and about.

The 'Invitation Book' for cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Nottingham and Derby is a bumper book of local offers. It costs £29.99 but go out once a month and you should easily get that back after a couple of meals.

Train companies often run 2 for 1 offers. You just need the leaflet and that day's ticket to claim.

Invitation Book: www.invitationbook.co.uk

Travel

Do what you can to use one car and perform routine maintenance yourself. Using economical driving techniques and finding the cheapest petrol station in your area can help cut your fuel bill.

For local journeys you can't get cheaper than walking. If you are going to town try to use public transport. Cycling is an economical option, although you may have to buy more deodorant and trousers!

Book plane, ferry or train tickets as far in advance as possible. Being flexible about times and dates can help cut the cost of fares. Use the internet to compare prices and find online-only deals.

Shop around using price comparion websites to ensure you get the best price on car and holiday insurance. Make sure you get the cover your family needs rather than paying extra for uneccessary cover or paying over the odds for inadequate cover.

Petrol Prices - find the cheapest in your area: www.petrolprices.com

Related Links

Price comparison websites

Are you or your family being hit by the credit crunch and having to cut back? Do you have any tips on reducing your bills? You can share your experiences or advice in the comment box or 50connect forum.

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