After a festive period of almost inevitable excess, thoughts are starting to turn to cutting costs. Which? members and experts share some of the ways to beat the financial squeeze in 2014.
This year is unlikely to bring any let-up in the pressure on your wallet. Indeed, if inflation continues to outstrip wage growth in 2014, the cost of living is only likely to increase.
Energy, food and fuel prices remain the top issues for people, with more than three quarters of the respondents in our monthly Consumer Insight Tracker saying they were worried about them.
To help ease these concerns, we asked more than 2,400 Which? members to share the innovative ways they are saving money.
Cut the cost of utility bills
Insulating and draught-proofing your home should be a first step – loft insulation alone could cut your annual energy bill by up to £180. Read our guide to find out if you qualify for any free insulation deals.
Which? member Stephen Bailey estimates that he saved £400 over the past year by installing a water meter. The rule of thumb is that you’re more likely to save money if you have more bedrooms in your home than people who live there.
More members are also saving money through solar panels. David Metcalf installed 12 panels on his house and earned nearly £1,200 in a year in payments from his energy supplier for the electricity he generated.
Save on shopping
Many of you use vouchers from supermarkets or from sites like Vouchercodes.co.uk. One member saved up to £150 on their annual shopping bill by waiting for vouchers on products they already planned to buy.
Audrey Perry takes it a step further. When she does a big shop at her local Morrisons, she splits up her trolley load in blocks of about £35 so she gets more vouchers at the checkout from multiple transactions. She says she saved about £230 last year by doing this.
Make sure all offers are registered at the checkout. Member John Inglis saves up to £70 a year by checking receipts and alerting staff when offers haven’t been activated.
Also, make sure you don’t pay unnecessarily high supermarket prices – you can find out the lowest ones by checking our comparison of supermarket prices.
Cut fuel costs
If you need to go on a long car journey, as a driver or a passenger, Amy Dolman recommends using a reputable car-sharing service, such as BlaBlaCar.com. This saved her nearly half her overall fuel costs.
When it comes to renewing your car insurance, it’s cheaper to pay for the policy in full upfront rather than by monthly direct debit. So follow Which? member Jackie Davies’ advice and pay for the policy in one go using an interest-free credit card. Check our tables for the .
How to make holiday savings
You might not think of using a cashback site when booking a holiday, but the savings can be impressive. Jeremy Klein has earned around £260 on booking holidays, hotels, car hire and airport car parking by using sites such as Quidco.com. Visit our guide to cashback sites to find out how to make the most of these sites.
Haggling for your holiday might also seem unusual, but Which? member Ryan Thurman saved more than £200 by getting two travel agents to compete for his custom.