Soaring living costs are placing our finances under enormous strain, so many of us are looking at the best ways to save money wherever possible.
With that in mind, here are 21 simple and effective money-saving tips to reduce outgoings and help make ends meet.
- Start budgeting
- Cancel or pause subscriptions
- Reduce Council Tax bills
- Save money on your car insurance bills
- Switch to own brands
- Use apps to reduce food costs
- Buy frozen
- Reduce your other borrowing costs
- Boost your savings returns
- Cut energy bills and save money
- Consider a water meter
- Reduce buildings and content insurance bills
- Protect yourself from steep home phone and broadband costs
- Make your food go further
- Get discounts
- Keep your mobile phone bills under control
- Earn cashback when you spend
- Reduce motoring costs
- Make do and mend
- Sell your clutter
1. Start budgeting
If your income has reduced, you’re going to have to rein in your spending and one of the best ways to do this is by working out a monthly budget.
Start by working out how much money you will need to cover your monthly essentials including, for example, your rent or mortgage, utility bills, Council Tax and any other debts, such as credit cards and/or personal loans. Once you’ve done this, you should have a clearer picture of how much money you have to spend on areas such as your weekly shop. Citizens Advice has a useful free budgeting tool to help you understand what you’re earning and spending and where you might be able to save money. Our guide to Budgeting if your income has reduced provides more tips on managing your money if you’re adjusting to a fall in income.
2. Cancel or pause subscriptions
If you’re having to get by on a reduced income, your focus should be on covering essential costs such as your mortgage or rent, utility and food bills and cutting back on non-essential spending.
Subscriptions, whether they’re to a magazine, gym, TV streaming service or anything else are often a good place to start. The Money Advice Service has a useful Quick Cash Finder tool which enables you to see how much you’d save by cancelling some of the things you regularly spend money on.
It’s almost certainly worth having a quick look through your bank transactions and credit card statements over the last few months to remind you of any regular payments that come out. You may be surprised at some of the things you are still paying for, but don’t need or use any more. Find out more in our article Are you losing money on subscriptions you don’t need?.
3. Reduce Council Tax bills
If you don’t think you’ll be able to afford to pay your council tax because you’re now on a lower income or claiming benefits, you might be eligible for a council tax reduction which could reduce your bill by up to 100%. What you get will depend on where you live, your circumstances, your household income and whether you have children or other dependents living with you. You can apply for a council tax reduction here. For example, if you are the only adult living in a property you can apply for a 25% council tax discount. You might also be eligible for a reduction if you’re a carer or live alone.
If you don’t qualify for a reduction, you may still be able to ask your council whether you might be able to take a break from payments for a month or two. The support available varies from council to council so it’s worth contacting your local council to find out what help they can provide. It’s also worth checking you’re definitely in the right council tax band, so you’re not paying more than you should be. Find out more in our guide How to challenge your council tax band.
4. Save money on your car insurance bills
When your car insurance is up for renewal, be sure not to automatically accept the quote offered by your existing provider. Car insurance renewal premiums have a habit of increasing every year, even if you haven’t made a claim, so to keep costs low, it’s essential to shop around for cover.
If your car insurance is coming up for renewal soon, you can compare car insurance quotes from over 110 UK providers using the following car insurance comparison tool.
If your car insurance renewal date isn’t for several months, don’t worry, but don’t miss out – let us know your renewal month here and we can send you a reminder nearer the time.
If you’re looking for other ways to save money on car and transport costs you might want to consider our money saving guide Ten ways to save on car and travel costs.
5. Switch to own brands
When you’re in the supermarket doing your food shop, or if you shop online, choose own brand items rather than sticking to the names you know. According to research by the Good Housekeeping Institute, switching just seven branded products you buy regularly to non-branded equivalents could slash as much as around £240 a year off your shopping bills.
Check out yellow sticker shelves at the supermarket too, which are home to discounted items that are about to reach their sell-by date. Discounts are often applied in the evenings, so if you are able to plan your shop for later in the day you should be able to pick up some bargains.
6. Use apps to reduce food costs
There are various apps that can help find food at a reduced cost or even for free. For example, Olio is a food sharing app that enables local communities to share excess food with each other. When you sign up, you can start sharing food immediately.You can also find and share non-food items like household goods, crafts, toys and hair and beauty products. You can download Olio for Android here and for iOS here.
The Too Good to Go app, meanwhile, lets you buy food cheaply that would otherwise end up being thrown away. When you download the app, you can see the businesses that have food available that day in your area and buy a ‘magic bag’ from them. These usually contain a surprise mixture of products that have been put together for you, and they could contain anything from that shop. They cost anything from £1 up to £7, but you’ll always get a considerable discount on the food in the bag. You can download the app for android here and for iOS here.
Find out more about reducing your food bills in our article 18 ways to save money on your food bills.
7. Buy frozen
Try buying frozen fruit and vegetables rather than fresh options. Most of these are frozen at the point they are picked, so usually just as nutritious as if you’d bought them fresh. The big benefit of buying frozen fruit and veg is that they keep for longer, reducing waste, and they can also be cheaper, as you only use what you need. Our members report that the variety is amazing in places like Iceland, with a wide range of fruits and vegetables available, from frozen berries to peppers.
Your mortgage is likely to be your biggest monthly outgoing, so check the rate you’re currently paying and see if you might be able to reduce your monthly payments by remortgaging. If you’re on your lender’s standard variable rate, you’ll almost certainly be able to cut costs, and depending on the size of your mortgage savings can be substantial.
For example, someone with a £150,000 repayment mortgage with 15 years left to run who is borrowing 60% of their property value would be paying £1,358 a month if they were on the typical SVR of 7.12%. Their monthly payments would fall to £1,129 a month if they remortgaged to a best buy two-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.26% – a saving of £229 a month or £2,748 a year.
Bear in mind that many remortgage deals come with arrangement fees, so you’ll need to factor these in when calculating how much you’ll save.
You can use our mortgage comparison service to compare remortgage deals from the whole of the market and find out how much you might be able to save. If you are nervous about switching lenders, it is still worth filtering for deals from your existing lender so you can see how much you could save from remortgaging with them. Our mortgage comparison service allows you to compare the best rates from both your current lender and the whole of the wider market, quickly and easily.
Speaking to an experienced mortgage advisor can help you to understand your options and get a great deal on your mortgage. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, you can speak to a Rest Less Mortgages advisor and get high quality advice on residential, retirement interest-only, equity release and buy-to-let mortgages.
You can also set a remortgage reminder notification with Rest Less if you’re midway through an existing deal and we’ll get in touch to remind you nearer the date your mortgage deal expires.
If remortgaging isn’t an option as you have lost your source of income, or you’re struggling to cover costs, you might be able to move your mortgage from a repayment basis to an interest-only basis, or extend your mortgage term, to reduce your monthly costs until you’re able to get your finances back on track. If you think you might need help with your mortgage payments, talk to your lender as soon as you can about which options might be available to you.
9. Reduce your other borrowing costs
If you’re looking to cut the cost of other debts, such as credit card bills, consider switching any balances on cards charging high interest rates to a 0% balance transfer card.
For example, at the time of writing, cards such as Sainsbury’s Bank’s 34-month 0% balance transfer card and Santander’s 33-month balance transfer card enable you to repay what you owe gradually without being hit by hefty interest rate charges. Make sure you pay off what you owe within the interest-free period though, as after this period ends interest on both the Sainsbury’s Bank and Santander cards shoot up to 21.9%.
Bear in mind that there will also usually be a balance transfer fee when you move your balance across. The Sainsbury’s Bank card, for example, has a transfer fee of either 2.88% or 3.88% (depending on your credit score) of the amount you are transferring, while the Santander card has a 2.65% transfer fee. Balance transfer fees are usually added to your balance, so you won’t have to make an up-front payment.
Remember that these deals are always subject to change, and lenders may stop offering certain cards after a while. To help you keep track of the best current deals, we update our article Balance transfer credit cards and personal loans compared every week.
10. Boost your savings returns
If you have savings and haven’t reviewed how much interest they’re earning, it’s vital to check that you’re getting the best possible returns.
Although no savings accounts pay interest that even comes close to matching the current inflation rate, recent interest rate rises mean that returns have improved over the past few months. It’s possible to earn well over 2% interest a year on easy access savings, jumping to 4% if you’re comfortable typing up your savings for a year in a fixed rate bond. You can find the current best fixed savings bond rates in our guide Fixed rate savings bonds explained and the top easy access rates in our article Best easy access savings accounts.
11. Cut energy bills and save money
As energy costs continue to soar, it’s vital to look at ways you might be able to make your property more energy efficient and reduce your energy consumption.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, replacing your bulbs when you can with energy efficient LEDs on average could save you about £40 a year on bills, whilst draught-proofing windows and doors and blocking cracks in the floor and skirting boards can save around £20 a year on energy bills. Other energy saving quick wins include cutting back your dishwasher use by just one cycle per week, which will save £8 a year on energy, and spending one minute less in the shower each day, which will save up to £4 a year off your energy bills, per person.
Learn more about ways you might be able to reduce your energy usage in our guide Energy saving tips: how to reduce your bills.
12. Consider a water meter
Many people have fixed water bills which are based on their home’s size rather than the amount of water they use. Depending on how many people are in your household, you might be able to save hundreds of pounds a year by switching to a water meter if you’re not already on one.
As a general rule, if you’ve got the same number of bedrooms in your property as people, or more bedrooms than people, a meter will probably save you money. If you decide to switch to one, you’ll usually have a trial period of 24 months, during which time you can switch back to your old fixed charges. This won’t be possible in all areas, however, as in some locations compulsory metering is being introduced. The Consumer Council for Water has a helpful water meter calculator to help you work out whether you could save money by moving to a meter.
13. Reduce buildings and contents insurance bills
If your home insurance is up for renewal soon, make sure you don’t automatically accept the quote offered by your existing provider. There’s no reward for staying loyal to your insurer – in fact you’ll probably find prices creep up every year, even if you haven’t made a claim.
It’s therefore essential to always shop around for cover so you can keep your insurance costs to a minimum. To help navigate the home insurance market, we’ve written a comprehensive guide to home insurance that should help answer any questions you have about switching providers each year and getting the best deal possible.
If your current buildings and contents cover is up for renewal soon, you can compare quotes from over 50 UK providers and switch online using the following home insurance comparison tool. 51% of consumers who shopped around for Home Building & Contents Insurance from October 2022 were quoted less than £190.
If your renewal date isn’t for several months, don’t miss out – let us know your renewal date here and we can send you a reminder email nearer the time.
14. Protect yourself from steep home phone and broadband costs
Millions of BT broadband and phone customers have seen their bills jump this year, so it’s worth checking with your home phone and broadband provider to see if you might be able to move to an alternative cheaper tariff to help reduce your monthly bills. If you are one of the 40% of broadband customers that Ofcom estimates to be out of contract, then you’ll almost certainly be over-paying and potentially able to make significant savings by signing up to a new deal.
Even if you’re not overpaying, the chances are you’ll be using your phone and broadband more than normal, and you might be able to get a faster speed or an additional free calls allowance for the same money – so it’s always worth making sure you’re on the most appropriate package. If you are looking for more detailed information about switching your home phone and broadband you can read our guide on How to find the best broadband deal.
You can also compare home phone and broadband deals quickly and easily using our broadband comparison service. All you need to do is enter your postcode, and your current provider and the service will come up with the deals available to you. You can then narrow down your options by specifying your budget, the speed you’re looking for, how much data you need, and how long you want your contract to be.
Even if you don’t want to go to the effort of switching providers, it’s still worth taking a look at the best deals available on the market – as if you call your existing provider and tell them that you’ve got your eye on a great deal with another provider, you’ll put yourself in the best possible negotiation position to get a great deal with your existing provider.
15. Make your food go further
UK households waste 4.5m tonnes of food each year that could have been eaten. This food has a value of £14 billion, equivalent to £700 a year for an average family with children, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
To make sure your food goes as far as it possibly can, write a meal plan each week and make use of everything you’ve got in the cupboard. You can download and print off a free planner here.
If you’re looking for ideas, Cookingonabootstrap.com has lots of great recipes and tips on reducing food waste. Never overlook the magic of leftovers as they’ll save you both time and money. Always put leftover food into a tupperware container and save it for lunch or dinner the next day. You’ll appreciate it when you don’t have to spend your lunchtime or evening cooking an entirely new dish.
Don’t condemn overripe fruit or veg to the food waste bin either. For example, overripe bananas provide a stronger and sweeter banana flavour when used in a banana bread recipe, and soft avocados can be mashed easily and combined with a few simple ingredients such as red onion, garlic and a hint of lemon or lime juice to make a delicious guacamole. You can also blend overripe fruit into tasty, healthy smoothies.
16. Get discounts
When shopping online, always check to see if there is a discount voucher available which can get you money off your purchases too. Sites where you can see current voucher codes include Vouchercodes.co.uk and Groupon.co.uk. Simply enter the name of the retailer you’re buying from and these sites will let you know if there are any discounts available.
When you’re a Rest Less member, you’ll have access to a wide variety of discounts on all kinds of brands. So whether you’re buying something practical or treating yourself to something special, you’ll be happy in the knowledge that you’re saving yourself some cash.
17. Keep your mobile phone bills under control
If you’re nervous about overspending, ask your provider to set a spending cap so that you won’t be able to exceed your data allowances and rack up any unexpected charges. You can usually arrange this online through your account with them, or you can contact them by phone.
Another helpful tip is to always make sure you connect your mobile to your home WiFi wherever possible in order to reduce the amount of data you use. Be wary of using WiFi networks that you don’t trust when you’re out and about, as they can be used by fraudsters to steal data – but wherever possible ensuring your phone connects to your home WiFi, or to any trusted friends or family WiFi will help keep your mobile data usage, and your bills down. Find out more about data and whether you might be paying more than you need to for yours in our guide How much mobile phone data do I need?.
Mobile phone tariffs can also be really confusing and make it hard to know how to get the best deal for your usage. To help, we’ve written a comprehensive guide to demystify the mobile phone switching process which hopefully places you in a stronger position to make sure you’re not overpaying for your mobile phone.
You can also use our mobile comparison service, which compares the best SIM-only deals and handset deals in the market. Mobile costs are not something that people regularly scrutinise so if you’re out of contract with your existing provider, you might be surprised at how much you could save.
18. Earn cashback when you spend
If you’re going to make a purchase online then try heading to one of these websites first and following the link to the company that you were going to make the transaction with. If the company is affiliated with the cashback site, you could receive some money back on your purchase. According to Topcashback, members receive an average of £325 per year in cashback, which is available on a wide range of goods and services, from broadband to insurance, energy plans, and garden furniture. Cashback rates vary widely – you could get 1% cashback on one purchase and as much as £150 cashback on another from a different store.
19. Reduce motoring costs
Petrol prices are currently high, making it expensive to fill up your car, but costs can vary widely depending on which petrol station you visit. You can search for the cheapest fuel prices in your area at Petrolprices.com, which has data for nearly 8,500 petrol stations across the UK. According to the site, you could save as much as £220 a year by comparing prices before you buy and using the cheapest petrol stations near to you.
You can help reduce your fuel consumption by making sure your tyres are fully inflated. If they aren’t you’ll use more fuel because there will be more friction between the tyres and the road. Try to keep your revs down too, for example, by making sure you drive in the right gear, as this can also help you save on fuel.
20. Make do and mend
It’s important to get every single ounce of use out of the things we have already, so it’s a good idea to learn how to repair items we might otherwise have thrown away and replaced, such as clothes with holes in them or with lost buttons. YouTube has thousands of explanatory videos on how to sew and fix things for example.
You could also look at ways to save money by using items you already have rather than buying new stuff. For example, you can make your own cleaning products without forking out for them in shops. Vinegar mixed with water can be a great way to clean glass and bicarbonate of soda makes a good alternative to carpet freshener.
21. Sell your clutter
If you’ve got lots of clutter lying around or bits and pieces that you no longer need or use, look at how to save money fast by selling these things. There are lots of online marketplaces and apps where you can sell unwanted items, or if you’d rather, you can hire a pitch at your local car boot sale and sell your things there.
For example, if you want to sell some clothes, the Vinted app can be downloaded for free and once you have it, you simply take photos of your item, upload it with a description, and set your price. When it sells, your buyer will also cover the shipping costs. Find out more in our guide How to make money from your clutter.
These are incredibly difficult times, and many people are desperately worried about how they will get through the next few months. This can take a real toll on our mental health, so if you’re struggling, please read our article Are money worries affecting your mental health? which includes organisations which may be able to help.
Even if you’re lucky enough not to be feeling the pinch at the moment, now might be the perfect time to plan ahead and look at ways you might be able to save a little so you have a cash buffer in place for when you might need it. Find out more in our guide How to build an emergency cash buffer.
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