Over the past few months, we’ve been talking to Rest Less members about their best tips for keeping costs down in their everyday lives, and received some really useful ideas.
To round up our ‘Thrifty over 50’ series, we’ve pulled together some of our favourite tips we received from community members online, as well as the best bits of advice we heard from the members who chatted with us at length.
Thank you so much to all of our fantastic members who took the time to comment with their ideas or talk with us about their thrifty tips, and if you have any other suggestions do feel free to add your thoughts at the end of the article.
Our commenters’ best tips
When we put out the call for money-saving tips on our community forum and Facebook page, we received some great responses.
Lots of suggestions came in on ways to save water, which are especially timely as water bills are due to rise by 7.5% on average this April. One commenter said:
“When I boil the kettle for my morning cuppa I put any unused boiled water into a flask and use that for hot drinks throughout the day, to save turning on the kettle again”.
You can find more ways to save water in our guide How to reduce your water bills.
As a way to bring in a bit of extra cash, one commenter suggested using the app Vinted to sell old clothes and accessories:
“I just started selling stuff on Vinted. It’s free to do. I made £20 in my first week! Every little helps!”
Another member had lots of great advice for keeping costs down through detailed meal planning and batch cooking:
“It can be more economical to buy a larger piece of good roasting meat (or a whole chicken) and use the leftovers to make other things for the rest of the week.
“Batch cook, and freeze. Lasagne, chilli, stews, casseroles and crumbles. Cook them, cool them, put them in foil dishes in portions (either individual or family) and stack in the freezer. Then when you come home from work, cook from frozen with only the need to boil rice/pasta/potatoes and some veggies if required.
“Oh, and plan your meals. Forget the moan ‘I may not want to eat that then’, you can swap about a bit if you really must, but if you’re working long hours knowing what you’re eating that night, AND knowing you’ve got the ingredients to hand, takes the stress levels down.
“Honestly, this is a tried and trusted way to reduce your spend, and your wastage. It takes a little effort to get started, but if you plan a month, and buy by the week (except any staples you can afford to buy in bulk) you can keep it seasonal, and know your diet is balanced. You can allow for treats, knowing that a cheap meal will compensate later/earlier in the week, and you can allow for special occasions without going over budget.”
Ray Parr’s best tips
When we spoke to long-term Rest Less member Ray, he had some great tips for home cooking, with benefits for both your wallet and your taste buds.
“Cooking oils are expensive at the moment, but to make it go further I like to put olive oil into a spray bottle and do a very light spray with that. It’s enough to fry an egg with it, and if you put the lid on the frying pan – fry it for a minute – take it off the heat with the lid on and leave it for another minute, you get a perfectly fried egg with virtually no oil and less energy than usual.”
Ray had a few appliances to recommend for the kitchen, such as air fryers, pressure cookers and slow cookers. While there is an upfront cost for buying one of these devices, they can actually lead to savings for the amount of energy you save by not using an oven. Ray reckons the food tastes better too.
“I wouldn’t buy the top-end air fryers, because you’ll never make that money back, but generally, they are cheaper to run than your oven and for certain foods, they’re far superior for cooking. Anything you can do in the oven you can do in the air fryer.”
Our article 13 best air fryers 2023 might be of use if you’re interested in getting an air fryer but don’t know where to start.
“I’ve also bought myself a pressure cooker, and recently made some soup in it and rather than taking 15-20 minutes, it took 6. Depending on how much cooking I’m going to use it for, I’m saving two-thirds of the energy.”
Dee Darrell’s best tips
In our chat with Dee, she spoke about her holistic approach to saving. Rather than focusing on one area of her life, she makes small savings across the board which add up and help fund the things she really values in life.
“I think doing an audit is really important and actually asking ‘where is my money going?’. With the situation that we’re in now, with the cost of living and my personal situation too, looking for those things like subscriptions that you don’t really use could help you save money in one place to use somewhere else.
“For example, one of the things my daughter will do is set the washing machine on a timer so it comes on at midnight or four in the morning when it’s cheaper.
“I also changed providers for my gas and electric, when it was possible to make savings from doing this, and I’ve got a smart meter which I didn’t have before. Generally, I’ve been doing more shopping around and I’ve started using comparison websites and comparing prices to find the best deals. I’ve changed my mobile phone tariff too. I rang up my provider and told them I was leaving as it was too expensive and when you do that, they start offering you all these deals to stay.”
Kirstin Higgins’ best tips
Kirstin spoke to us about the importance of reusing and repairing things, instead of always being tempted to buy new.
“We’ve had our washing machine repaired a few times. There’s a repair cafe setting up in the next couple of weeks and there’s a library of things people can borrow rather than buy. People can join the library for an annual fee and come in and borrow things like a power drill, a stepladder, a party setup and so on. You don’t want people to be buying new every time and not using it again.”
She also advised finding a refill shop to fill up on particular groceries, instead of buying them in packets from a traditional supermarket.
“Volunteering in the local shop made me realise that when you go to the supermarket and you buy something in a container, it’s more expensive than if you just take the container to a refill shop and fill it with what you need.”
Kirstin had an interesting tip for slashing bills in the summer months as well.
“Since the weather was hot at the time, we stopped using hot water. We have an electric shower so we stopped having baths and using hot water to wash our hands or wash up, and our gas came right down to £8 a month.”
Anna Hart’s best tips
Anna shared a range of tips with us, covering everything from extra sources of income to winter-proofing her home.
“The windows let a draught through and I was freezing. So to stop it, I bought some white duct tape and taped over all the draughts around the windows and it dramatically cut them down. In the summer I’ll take it off, but there’s no mould or build-up. I also have draught excluder strips that go around the doors – I’ve amazed myself with how well it’s all worked and I’ve found that keeping doors shut also helps.”
Anna also offered the unusual tip to try making your own personal care items, instead of spending loads at the pharmacy.
“I was using this brand and I looked at the ingredients list and thought to myself that I’ve got a bathroom full of essential oils, I could definitely make my own, so I did. I’ll make a mix of a general emollient cream, essential oil, rose hip oil and salicylic acid.
“I’ve gone down the route of really expensive face creams in the past and these are better than any I’ve used.”
Thank you again to Ray, Dee, Kirstin and Anna for speaking with us and offering such great advice.
If you have any tried and tested money-saving tips that you’d be happy to chat with us about, or you’d like to be interviewed for our ‘Thrifty over fifty’ series, get in touch with us at [email protected] or leave a comment below.
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