1. Take advantage of cashback and reward credit cards. NatWest is offering Cashback Plus credit card-holders 5pc cashback on all spending in department stores (online or in store) between January 1 and March 31, 2015, while Santander 123 credit card holders can earn cashback on everyday spending, including 1pc cashback at all major supermarkets, 2pc cashback at major department stores and 3pc cashback at all major petrol stations, National Rail and TFL.
Both cards have a £24 annual fee – so they are better suited to those who will earn enough cashback to offset the fee. [Best cashback credit card deals]
2. Recycle old mobile phones, DVDs, CDs and clothes.Mazumamobile.com is one of many websites you can use to sell your old mobile phone. It will pay up to £45 for a fully functional iPhone 4, or £10 for a faulty handset. MusicMagpie.co.uk will give you money for your old CDs, DVDs and games. You can also sell any unwanted clothes on the website, or alternatively, use sites like eBay. [eBay loophole: how you can exploit listing typos]
3. Use comparison sites to find the cheapest supermarket prices.Mysupermarket.co.uk compares the prices of individual items at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Waitrose, Asda and Aldi so you can get the best deals. For example, the site today shows Innocent’s Strawberries and Bananas fruit smoothie (750ml) costing £2.79 (or two for £5) in Tesco, but £1.39 (on offer) in Waitrose.
4. Use balance transfer credit cards to transfer debt from your current credit card that charges a high rate of interest, to one that charges 0pc interest. Barclaycard’s Platinum credit card is currently offering 0pc for 35 months, with a one-off fee of 2.49pc.
5. Buy own-brand goods at the supermarket. Tesco’s Everyday Value baked beans in tomato sauce costs 24p for 420g. Heinz baked beans in tomato sauce costs 68p for 415g. Quite often, these non-branded options can taste better.
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6. Cancel your yearly gym membership and opt for monthly pay-as-you-go instead if there is a strong likelihood that you will stop going. Around 2,200 gyms – more than a third of all gyms in Britain – have signed up to “pay-as-you-go” (PayasUgym.com), allowing you to buy discounted day, 30-day, 90-day and class passes. If you want to try a different gym, or to stop altogether, you won’t lose the money that you would have lost with a contract.
7. Bulk-buy foods that don’t go off, particularly if they are on offer. For instance, Morrisons and Tesco are both offering packs of eight 330ml cans of Coke Zero for £3, or two for £5. If you bought 10 packs of eight cans on offer it would cost £25. If you bought 10 packs seperately over the year – if it remains at the same price and not on offer – you would spend £30.
8. Switch energy suppliers. Households could save up to £405 if they switch energy suppliers, but millions don’t. In fact, only around 15pc of homes change their gas and energy tariff each year. The process is simple. You can check to see if you would save with our comparison tool.
9. Use discount websites to save on days out. Sites likegroupon.co.uk, vouchercodes.co.uk and wowcher.co.uk offer daily deals and discounts on events, activities, travel and restaurants, to name a few.
10. Cycle/walk to work (if possible) rather than drive or take the tube. Getting the bus will often save you money too. A single bus fare in London is £1.50 using an Oyster card whether at peak time or not. Travelling at peak time on the tube will cost a minimum of £1.70 one-way (with oyster), and can cost up to £9.20. There is also a daily price cap of £4.40 on oyster cards when using the bus, meaning your fourth bus ride will be free.
11. Grow your own herbs. Keeping pots of herbs in your kitchen can save you money on having to repeat purchase packs of herbs. A basil plant costs £1.25 at Sainsbury’s, and will survive as long as it gets sunlight and water, and is kept away from draughts in winter. A 28g basil bunch costs 80p from Sainsbury’s and will only last a few days. Growing from seed can be even more cost effective.
12. Pay less for your holiday in 2015. Falling oil prices and changes to Air Passenger Duty mean holidays should be considerably cheaper in 2015. For the best deals, check out Telegraph Travel’s best holiday deals, new tours and offers. Right now, for instance, you can get a seven nights’ all-inclusive stay at the four-star SENTIDO Cypria Bay on the south-west coast of Cyprus in Paphos, costing from £399 per person. The price includes a return flight from London Gatwick departing on March 24.
13. Find cheap flights for your holidays this year. Look on websites likecheapflights.co.uk or skyscanner.net for the best deals. Make sure you delete your cookies (which can normally be found under Tools – Options on your browser) after visiting each site as prices often go up if you visit a website multiple times. Kayak.co.uk is another comparison site, and offers a useful guide on how to get the lowest air fares. Read it here.
14. Rent a new dress rather than buy one. If you have a big event in 2015 but don’t want to fork out for a new outfit you’ll only wear once, there are a number of websites you can go to to hire a new dress, for a fraction of the cost of a brand new one. GirlMeetsDress.com has hundreds of dresses to search through, and for around £50 you can rent a designer dress (often retailing for hundreds of pounds) for two nights, or pay slightly more for seven nights. If you sign up to the website’s newsletter, you’ll get £10 off your first order.
15. Share travel to cut costs. You can join websites like liftshare.comor GoCarShare.com to meet other people who wish to share long-distance travel in order to cut costs. Drivers and passengers can benefit from travelling together, with the driver getting contributions for petrol costs, and the passengers saving on expensive train fares.
16. Put your savings into a current account. Savings rates are continuing to tumble, meaning we must now work harder to get decent returns on our money. But there is some good news for savers. Banks and building societies are offering their customers the chance to earn as much as 5pc on the money they hold in their current account. Even after tax is deducted, it is likely you’ll earn much more interest with a current account than with an Isa.
For example, putting £15,000 into today’s best-buy instant access Isa (NS&I’s Direct Isa paying 1.5pc) will earn £230 in interest over the year. Putting the same amount into Santander’s 123 current account(paying 3pc on balances between £3,000 and £20,000) will earn £360, after basic-rate tax is deducted. There is a £2 monthly fee with the account, but even when this is deducted from the interest, you would still earn £106 more than with the Isa.
17. Go without a TV licence. A TV licence costs £145.50, but do you need one? If you watch catch-up TV you do not need a licence, so BBC iPlayer, Channel 4 on Demand and ITV Player are all free to use if you are watching shows that have already been broadcast. You also do not need a licence for watching DVDs and videos or to stream Netflix and Lovefilm. There are concessions in place for those aged over 74 and for partially sighted people. More: The legal way to avoid paying the TV licence fee
18. Use a slowcooker for cooking stews. Using a slow cooker to make a stew is both easier – you can leave it to stew while you’re at work all day – and cheaper. It costs around 10.5p to use a slow cooker for around eight hours, while using an oven will cost far more at 30p for one hour. Full article: How much cheaper is a slow cooker than an oven?
19. Do online surveys in your spare time and earn money. Here’s our list of the 10 best sites.
20. Check to see if your children are entitled to any benefits, including free school meals and uniforms for children. MoneySavingExpert’s benefits check up tool will tell you if you are eligible for any help. The information also covers carer’s allowance and other support payments.
21. Make sure your child isn’t paying tax on their savings account. Parents can save money into children’s accounts and earn up to £100 a year tax-free. However, HM Revenue & Customs automatically taxes every savings account at 20pc, regardless of whether tax is due. Children under 18 can earn interest before tax, but their parents must fill in a special form, called an R85. Form R85 stops 20pc tax being deducted at source, so the saver receives all the advertised interest. Call HMRC on 0300 200 3300 for more details.
22. Don’t buy bottled water, fill up a re-usable bottle with tap water. Not only is buying bottled water bad for the environment, it is also expensive. Lobby group Tapwater.org claims that the average British consumer gulps their way through £25,000 of bottled water in a lifetime. Furthermore, an estimated 30pc of supermarket bottled water is tap water anyway. If you do buy it, we explain the cheapest way to buy bottled water here.
23. Remortgage onto a better rate. Save thousands by remortgaging what is probably your biggest debt – your mortgage – on to a better rate. Remember it’s not a good option for everyone. The early repayment fees could be crippling if you need to move house before the term of your mortgage ends. >> The REAL best fixed rate mortgages: two, three, five and 10 years.
24. Find the cheapest way to spend abroad. If you go on holiday in 2015 make sure you are careful with your overseas spending. Pick a credit card that doesn’t charge an ATM fee for withdrawing cash abroad, for example Halifax’s Clarity credit card, or use a pre-paid card.
25. Stock up on Christmas decorations now. Christmas themed wrapping paper and decorations went on sale around Christmas Eve/Boxing Day, so stock up now and save on the cost next year.
26. Have a dry January. If, according to figures released last year from the Office for National Statistics, you are an average British household that spends £15.20 a week on alcohol, by not drinking for the entire month of January, you could save over £60. One analysis even suggested a “dry January” each year could eventually add £20,000to your pension, if saved.
27. Use supermarket loyalty cards. People are using their loyalty cards less, but using a supermarket loyalty scheme could save you money on your weekly shop. Tesco’s ClubCard, Sainsbury’s Nectar Card and Boots Advantage card, among others, offer points for every item purchased in store. This is then turned into money off your next shop. Tesco, for example, offers customers one point for every £1 spent in store. Every point earned equates to 1p worth of vouchers, so 500 points will be exchanged for a £5 voucher.
28. Buy discount cinema tickets. With EE taking the decision to end its popular two-for-one “Orange Wednesday” promotional deal in February, cinema-goers will have to find new ways of cutting costs at the cinema. Cineworld, which has more than 80 cinemas across the country, offers tickets for £1.35 on the weekend and during school holidays for adults and children who book online. Tickets cost £1.50 if bought at the cinema box office.
Vue cinema offers the same deal for children aged two to 12 and accompanying adults, with tickets costing £1.75 each. Odeon cinemas charge a little more, at £2.50 per ticket.
29. Use a spreadsheet to budget your household finances. Make a spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel totting up every household expense you will have to pay, including mortgage/rent, groceries, transport, utility bills, insurance, phone bills, and everything else, to ensure you don’t overspend. Google “house budget template” for more help.
30. Turn electrical appliances off when not in use. In 2012, the Energy Saving Trust revealed that across the UK, households werespending between £50 and £86 a year on gadgets in a “non-active” or standby state, equivalent to 9pc to 16pc of the average electricity bill.
31. Use energy-saving gadgets to cut costs. A radiator booster for example, costs £25, but can cut heating bills by 10pc. Test labs have found the booster heats up a room more quickly than without it. For five more quirky gadgets that cut energy bills click here.
32. Swap books rather than buy new ones. Once you’ve read a book, you can swap it with someone else for a a book of theirs that you haven’t read yet, rather than paying for a new one. Readitswapit.co.uk has hundreds of thousands of books available for users to choose from. Alternatively, charity shop books are very good and of course, always check your local library or ask if they can order the book you want.
33. Pay your children to do jobs around the house. Get your children to earn their pocket money by doing their bit around the house. Cleaning the house/car, taking the bins out, ironing some clothes or walking the dog will save you money on professional help, and will teach your children the value of money.
34. Make your own meals rather than buy take-aways. Save money on buying take-aways, which you can make yourself or buy from the supermarket much cheaper. A medium Margherita pizza from Domino’s costs £11.99, while a 270g Stone Baked Margherita pizza from Tesco costs £3.75.
35. Avoid the January sales. Even though you might feel like you’re getting a bargain, it is likely you are buying something you never really needed, and would never have bought in the first place had it not been on sale.
36. Check out websites for freebies. Go to websites likeGumtree.co.uk or Freecycle.org for free bits of furniture, old electronics, books, clothes and other unwanted items. Here’s our pick of the five best freebie websites.
37. Shop at discount supermarkets rather than higher-end ones. According to a poll of 30,000 households in 2013, more than half of British shoppers were buying their groceries from either Aldi or Lidl. Figures in November revealed that German-owned Aldi’s sales grew 25.5pc and Lidl’s grew 16.8pc, while Tesco sales fell by 3.7pc, Morrisons dropped 3.3pc and Sainsbury’s 2.5pc. So why not join the masses to see how much you could save on your weekly shop?
38. Use coupons. A teenager from Essex found fame in 2013 for “Extreme Couponing” which saw him pay 4p for a £600 shop at Tesco. Another extreme couponer, Natalie Cooper, saves around £150 a month on her shopping bills by using coupons and discount codes. Read her story here.
39. Rent out a spare room. Millions of bedrooms in owner-occupied households across the country are currently lying “idle”, according to research conducted by flatsharing website easyroomate.co.uk, and renting out a spare room in your house could make you several hundreds of pounds each month.
40. Go green. The Government-backed Green Deal scheme has been overwhelmingly popular since it first launched last year. The scheme helps home owners make energy-saving improvements to their properties by offering loans which can be repaid through a home owner’s energy bills.
This year, home owners will again be given the opportunity to enter the Green Deal scheme. Up to £120m will be available for home energy efficiency schemes from April 2015, the Government has confirmed.
41. Try and rope your neighbours into a “sharing economy”. Families can save hundreds of pounds a year by being part of the “sharing economy” which embraces everything from recycling second-hand goods through to hiring them out to other families on your street or “swishing” – hosting parties where guests bring a range of items to swap around. More: ‘Sharing saves us £20,000 a year’
42. Buy your electronics at ‘fast sale’ auctions
Auction houses are using Facebook to advertise “fast sales” of items that have previously been owned by bankrupt individuals or insolvent firms.
Samsung smart televisions are often sold for between £300 and £700, while iPhone 5’s start from £150. Similar Samsung televisions sell on Amazon for upwards of £1,300. The latest iPhones sell for £300-plus online. More on ‘fast sales’ here.
43. Buy a ‘passive’ fund over an ‘active’ one. If you are an investor, buying a “passive” or “tracker” fund is typically much cheaper than buying tradiitional funds, as there is no need to pay a professional to manage your money. Numerous studies have suggested that vast numbers of professional investors fail to beat the average return from the market in which they specialise. Critics argue that random selection would be just as successful – and cheaper. For instance, a tracker fund can cost as little as 0.1pc where an “active” fund typically charges 1pc.
44. Collect loose change and pennies in a jar and cash them in at the end of the year. Without even realising you could have saved £40 or £50.
45. Get cashback for shopping online. Cashback sites likeQuidco.com or Topcashback.co.uk give you cashback on your purchases once you have created an account with the respective site. You can browse High Street and online retailers using the websites and once you buy an item, you will receive a percentage of the value of your shopping as cashback which will be paid into your account.
46. Follow retailers on social networking sites like Twitter. Amazon, Asos, eBay and Debenhams are some of the retailers who tweet about their latest deals or sales on their website and in store.
47. Install a smart meter. Energy companies claim that smart meters can cut bills by up to £150, by giving owners more control over their heating. Can the savings really add up to as much as £150 a year? Our poll of more than 170 readers who had installed a smart meter revealed that the majority of people (58pc) had saved less than £50, but the rest (42pc) had saved between £50 and £250. READ: Turn off your heating from the pub – but can you really save £150 with Hive?
48. Don’t waste food. The average British household wastes £470 worth of food each year, or £700 for a family with children. This is equivalent to around £60 each month, says lovefoodhatewaste.com. The website outlines ways you can cut down on food waste, which in turn will save you money. Plan your meals, store your food correctly, get your portions right and eat leftovers are just some of their tips.
49. Put your money into Pensioner Bonds
In March, the Chancellor announced the launch of new Pensioner Bonds to help older savers cope with rock-bottom interest rates. The bonds, which will be released in January, will pay 2.8pc for one year and 4pc for three years. The interest rates are almost double those available on comparable accounts offered by banks and building societies. The bonds are available only to the over-65s.
50. Say no to things you don’t need, can’t afford or won’t use.
This article was first published in 2014, and has been updated with the latest money-savings tips