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50 ways to save money

Learn how to cut the cost of eating out, household bills and more with our comprehensive list of useful money-saving ideas.

In this article
Video: five easy ways to save money Fix your finances Save money on food
Save money when eating out Save money on transport Save money on heating

The interactive guide below contains 50 of our favourite money-saving ideas, including tips on how to reduce the cost of food, eating out, motoring and heating your home.

If that’s not enough, we’ve also suggested 50 ideas for generating extra cash.

 

 

Video: five easy ways to save money

In this short video, we round up five easy ways to save money which could help you pocket an extra £1,300 a year! Have a watch and see if they could work for you.

Fix your finances

There are few things more frustrating than needlessly giving away your money.

Yet most of us are guilty of doing this by failing to organise our finances. By spending a couple of hours fixing your finances, you could dramatically increase the amount of money you have to spend on the fun things in life.

Here, we suggest 10 quick financial fixes to help you make the most of your earnings.

1. Transfer your debt

If you're making large interest payments on debt, it might make financial sense to transfer it all onto a credit card with a 0% balance transfer deal.

These credit cards won't charge any interest on transferred debts for a set period, giving you the opportunity to repay any money owed at no extra cost.

However, the interest tends to skyrocket at the end of the promotional period, so make sure you pay off the balance in full before this happens.

The Which? Money Compare credit card comparison tables let you search all available cards, from providers large and small, to choose the best deals, based on the quality of service as well as cost and benefits.

Find out more: the best 0% balance transfer credit cards - compare dozens of cards

2. Organise a free overdraft

Most banks changed their overdraft fees when regulations changed in 2020. 

While you won’t be penalised for going into an unarranged overdraft, you’ll now see charges of up to 39.9% EAR for going overdrawn.

Luckily, there are bank accounts that offer free authorised overdrafts up to a certain amount. Which? Recommended Provider First Direct could be a good bet - it currently offers a £250 interest-free overdraft as part of its 1st Account. M&S Bank’s current account has the same deal.

Find out more: best bank accounts for authorised overdrafts - compare borrowing options

3. Reduce your tax bill

You can keep hold of a bigger chunk of your earnings by claiming all the tax reliefs you're entitled to. 

Reliefs such as annual investment allowance (AIA), rent-a-room relief and potentially exempt transfers (PETs), can all save you heaps of money, yet relatively few people are aware of them.

Find out more: 35 ways to save on tax - this guide covers the obscure tax reliefs you need to know about

4. Use price comparison websites

Price comparison websites let you compare hundreds of financial products and ensure you choose the best one for your circumstances.

Whether you're looking to buy car insurance, credit cards or a broadband bundle, there is normally a huge difference between the cheapest and most expensive providers, so it's worth browsing for the best offers on these websites.

The Which? Money Compare tables go beyond just comparing rates. You can also see how thousands of people rate providers for the quality of their service, with our unique customer scores.

Find out more: Which? Money Compare - our tables are updated daily

5. Sign up for loyalty cards

A whole host of retailers, restaurants and supermarkets reward customers by allowing them to store points on a loyalty card every time they make a purchase. These points can be converted into money-off vouchers.

Many cards also offer one-off deals or discounts in order to tempt you into signing up in the first place.

Find out more: loyalty cards - we review some of the UK's most commonly used loyalty schemes

6. Cancel unnecessary direct debits

If you don't regularly read your bank statement, it can be easy to miss direct debits that you have forgotten to cancel.

A quick browse of your monthly statement can help prevent any unnecessary payments lasting for months or even years.

Get into the habit of logging into your online bank account once a month and making sure you're not shelling out for services you no longer need or use.

Find out more: how to cancel a direct debit or standing order - a step-by-step guide

7. Get a better mobile phone deal

With thousands of mobile phone deals out there, it can be difficult to find the right one for you and providers can often be unhelpful when it comes to offering existing customers a better deal.

Take a couple of minutes to check your bills to make sure that your call, text and mobile web usage aren't consistently above, or a long way below, your allowance. If they are, you may benefit from asking for a more suitable deal that matches your usage from your provider.

Find out more: how to get the best mobile phone deal - would you be better off on contract or pay-as-you-go?

8. Use personal finance software

Personal finance software can help you track where your money is going, making it easier to see where you can make potential savings.

Many packages allow you to set savings goals, and some will even suggest a clear path towards hitting them. Others can highlight your spending habits in detailed reports, as well as letting you monitor all of your bank accounts and investments in real-time.

This can be particularly useful if you tend to go into debt by spending more than you earn, or if you are struggling to save up for a major purchase.

Find out more: personal finance software reviews - find out which packages fared best in our tests

9. Learn to haggle

Which? research has proven that you can reduce the cost of most products and services by haggling over the price. However, many consumers are too nervous to even try.

Our guide takes the mystery out of haggling by revealing how much money you can save by negotiating over services. It suggests tips for haggling with retailers, car dealers, travel agents and many other service providers. We even provide scripts to help improve your chances of securing a discount.

Find out more: haggling - learn how you could save around £500 a year

10. Plan your expenses in advance

Expenses such as car insurance premiums, line rental or gym membership fees can often be cheaper if you pay them annually instead of monthly. You could save a bundle by ensuring you have enough money stored away to pay these annual bills in one go.

Also, there are plenty of products that tend to cost less at certain times of the year. If you can plan your major purchases to coincide with these discounting periods, it's possible to make big savings.

Save money on food

Doing a shop that will keep everyone in your household satisfied can be an expensive task, but there are loads of ways to save money on food and drink.

Here are nine tips that could save you a fortune over the course of a year.

11. Don't dismiss supermarket own brands

Buying supermarket basic and budget ranges can produce significant savings - and you may find that avoiding big brands doesn't mean compromising on taste.

We regularly put big brands, such as Heinz and Kellogg's, up against supermarket-own brands in our Which? taste tests, with surprising results.

Find out more: the best oven chips - check how own brand chips fared in our taste test

12. Get rewarded for your spending

When shopping for treats, choose retailers that offer good reward schemes.

John Lewis and Waitrose typically perform very well in Which? satisfaction surveys, and offer a credit card reward scheme for customers that gives one point for every £1 spent in its stores, and one point for every £2 spent elsewhere. 

From September 2020, however, you’ll earn 1.25 points for each £1 spent at John Lewis or Waitrose, but you’ll have to spend £4 at other retailers to earn a point.

Find out more: top reward credit cards - find a great deal 

13. Try cheaper cuts of meat

Choosing a cheaper cut of meat, such as braising steak rather than fillet, doesn't mean missing out on a tasty meal. A slow cooker can gradually break down the fibres in cheaper meat, giving great taste at a lower cost. The best slow cookers are easy to set up, use and clean.

Find out more: slow cookers - find out which slow cookers are rated as Best Buys

14. Make your own

Many people drink smoothies as a healthy shortcut to their five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables, but there's nothing healthy about the price of these drinks. 

Buying a smoothie maker or jug blender and blending your own could save you a significant sum if you're a regular smoothie drinker.

Find out more: jug blender reviews - find out which models our Which? experts rated highest

15. Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk is a simple way to save. If you own or manage your own business, it's worth signing up with a wholesale retailer or membership club such as Costco, which has 28 warehouses in the UK. 

There is an annual membership fee of £26.40. Other wholesale retailers to consider include Makro and Bestway.

16. Use price-match promises

Tesco, Asda and Ocado all offer discounts to customers if their shopping could have been bought cheaper from certain rivals, so make a habit of swiping your loyalty card or registering your receipt online after every supermarket shop.

Find out more: best and worst supermarkets - discover how thousands of customers have rated the big names

17. Extreme couponing

Shoppers can save huge amounts by actively searching for coupons and discount deals. There are a number of very good discount deals and extreme couponing blogs which post dozens of offers on their social media pages every day. 

18. Don't be duped by discounts

Special discounts, such as buy-one-get-one-free deals, can offer good value, but be careful. Only buy items you actually need and are likely to keep and use - toiletries such as toothpastes and shampoos are a good example, as are toilet rolls.

Markdowns on perishables at the end of the shopping day are another way to bag a saving, but only if you know you'll use whatever you buy.

19. Keep food fresher for longer

Make the most of your fridge and freezer. Freezing leftovers instead of binning them will save you money and time, as you've got an instant meal for a day when you don't fancy cooking. And storing food properly in your fridge will give it a longer shelf-life.

For example, cucumbers turn soft because the fridge is too cold - wrap them in a tea towel to keep them crisper. And avoid putting milk in the door rack, as it's warmed whenever the door is opened.

Find out more: fridge reviews - see which fridges were rated as Which? Best Buys

Save money when eating out

Eating out is a luxury that most of us enjoy from time to time, although it can sometimes prove expensive.

Here are 10 simple tips that could slash the cost of a restaurant meal.

20. Use the Eat Out to Help Out discount

During August 2020 only, you can get 50% off food and non-alcoholic drink in more than 53,000 cafes, pubs and restaurants across the UK. 

The deal is valid from Monday to Wednesday each week, and discounts are capped at £10 per person. 

However, there’s no limit to how many times a day you use it, so you could eat multiple meals out if you really wanted to save big. Just remember to follow social distancing measures to stay safe.

Find out more: Eat Out to Help Out rules explained

21. Click and print restaurant vouchers

Many restaurants offer online promotional vouchers. For example, Pizza Express regularly runs 2-for-1 deals on main courses.

Check newspapers for vouchers regularly and make sure you visit websites, such as VoucherCodes, HotUKDeals and MyVoucherCodes, to check for discounts and deals before you go out. 

It can be worth checking daily-deals websites, such as Groupon and Wowcher, for restaurant deals too.

22. Book your night out online

Websites such as Opentable, Lastminute and 5pm specialise in 2-for-1 deals, 50% off offers and promotions where wine may be included with your meal. You can search for the deals that are currently available in your area, then book a table at your chosen restaurant. 

When you arrive at your dinner destination, you'll simply need to remind your server that you booked through a special deal online.

23. Sign up for chain restaurant discounts

Joining some chain restaurants' own clubs can save you a lot of money. These tend to be free to sign up to via email, and are run by large chains such as Gourmet Burger Kitchen, La Tasca, Pizza Express and Wagamama. 

Once you're on a company's mailing list, you'll get details of special deals sent straight to your inbox as soon as they are launched.

24. Eat out 'off-peak'

If you're flexible, you can eat at some great restaurants quite cheaply. For example, many offer a pre- or post-theatre menu that is cheaper than what's on offer during peak hours.

25. Join a dining club

Become a member of a loyalty scheme and save up to 50% at participating restaurants. Tastecard costs £34.99 a year and is accepted at thousands of restaurants. Annual membership of The Gourmet Society is also £34.99 and can be used at more than 6,000 restaurants.

26. Bring your own bottle

There's a raft of restaurants around the country that allow you to bring your own bottle (BYOB) to have with your meal, and going to one could save you a tidy sum. A typical bottle of house wine costs around £15, whereas you could pick up an equivalent one from a supermarket for around £5. 

See the online BYOB directory on the Wine-pages website for a list of BYOB restaurants. Some charge a corkage fee of around £2, so check before you go.

27. Don't buy expensive bottled water

Establishments that serve alcohol are now required by law to give customers free tap water, so don't be shy about asking for it. Some restaurants charge more than £3.50 for a bottle of mineral water, so twice-monthly diners could save almost £100 a year by switching to tap.

28. Remember your doggy bag

There should be no stigma attached to taking home leftover food. You paid for it, so why waste it? People commonly over-order in restaurants, so it makes sense to ask for a doggy bag and take your leftovers home. This will save you money on lunch the following day.

29. Be social

If you regularly eat at a particular chain or have a favourite restaurant, then sign up to its Facebook or Twitter account. That way, you won't miss out on any special offers or deals.

Save money on transport

The cost of running a car seems to keep rising – as do prices for train tickets – but there are a few ways to put the brakes on your spending.

Follow our 10 tips to help you save hundreds of pounds on your travel costs.

30. Get a car insurance refund

Some car insurers have offered refunds to customers since coronavirus has changed driving habits so drastically. 

If you’re with Admiral, you should have received £25 credit at the end of May. As an LV customer you may be able to claim £20 to £50 if you’ve been made unemployed, or otherwise suffered financially as a result of the pandemic. 

Even if your insurer isn’t offering refunds, if you’ve found yourself driving less this year, calling them or going online to reduce your annual mileage could get you a cheaper premium.

Find out more: Admiral and LV offer car insurance refunds

31. Fix your bike for less

If you have a bike that needs patching up, you can apply for a £50 voucher from the government to get it fixed. 

Anyone who has a bicycle in need of repair in England can apply, but there are a limited number of vouchers, so only do so if you really need it. 

Find out more: Fix your Bike Voucher Scheme at gov.uk

32. Cut the cost of your MOT

There's a maximum test fee of £54.85 set by the government for car MOTs, but service centres often run half-price deals. Check what's on offer in your area before you book.

Some garages try to attract customers by offering reduced prices. To avoid the cowboys, choose a garage through a personal recommendation.

Find out more: Which? Trusted Traders - find reputable garages recommended by Which?

33. Save on train tickets

Turning up and buying a ticket on the day is almost never the cheapest option when it comes to train travel. 

Trains have a set number of ‘advance’ tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. Booking one of these weeks or even months in advance of your journey could save you up to 87%. You can sometimes still buy them the day before if they haven’t sold out. 

You can also save money by taking a longer route, travelling off-peak or buying a railcard. 

Find out more: 10 ways to save on train tickets

34. Walk or cycle where you can

Once you’ve fixed up your bike with your £50 voucher, make sure you ride it whenever you can. 

Walking or cycling, where possible, can save you money on fuel or public transport tickets. And it’s better for your health.

35. Buy your car insurance online

If you're looking to save money on car cover, it makes sense to buy online. Our last survey showed that it's generally much cheaper than buying over the phone.

Also, be sure to review your insurance costs each year and consider switching to a Which? Recommended Provider for the best cover and service.

Go further: Which? car insurance reviews - see which insurance company is rated highest

36. Get better-value breakdown cover

Join a breakdown service to help you cut costs if your car packs up. Our car breakdown cover survey rates providers on both speed of arrival, customer satisfaction and value for money.

Find out more: breakdown services survey - we name our Which? Recommended Providers

37. Make money from your parking space

There are plenty of websites that allow you to rent out your empty driveway or garage to motorists needing a place to park.

You normally pay a one-off registration fee to have your space advertised - the cost of renting a space is up to the space owner.

38. Join a car-sharing scheme

Joining a car-sharing scheme could halve your fuel costs. According to liftshare.com, sharing a daily commute can save you more than £1,000 a year.

39. Grab a green car

Cars with the lowest CO2 emissions are exempt from car tax charges, while the worst gas guzzlers could incur annual fees of hundreds of pounds.

From April 2020, those buying a new petrol, diesel or hybrid car will likely have to pay more car tax. But those buying expensive electric cars, costing more than £40,000, will now be exempt.

Find out more: car tax explained - our all-inclusive guide

40. Find cheap car parts

For discount car parts, try AutoTrader's used car parts finder.

You can search a database of more than 450,000 quality used car parts from nationally recognised salvage experts.

Save money on heating

Energy prices have been rising for some time, but there are plenty of actions you can take to keep your bills under control.

Here are 10 tips that could help cut the cost of keeping your home warm.

41. Turn down the heat

If you are walking around indoors in a T-shirt in winter, you are burning cash. A simple but effective way to cut heating costs is to take control of your central heating thermostat. Reducing room temperatures by just 1°C could cut your heating bills by almost 10%.

Adjusting your central heating timer to switch off at night and during the day if the house is empty will also minimise fuel consumption.

Find out more: home heating systems - the most efficient ways to heat your home

42. Block up unused chimneys

A working fireplace looks great, but when it's not in use it can feel as if you're heating a room with an open window. When the fire's out, keep the damper closed or buy a chimney balloon for around £20, which can be inflated in the opening above the fire to reduce draughts.

Find out more: wood-burning stoves - find out which stoves are worth your money

43. Install insulation

Up to a third of heat disappears through the roof, so it makes sense to add insulation. Installing loft insulation if you don’t have it already could save you £130 per year in energy bills. 

From September 2020, you’ll be able to get up to £5,000 of vouchers for green energy-saving home improvements from the government if you live in England.

Find out more: how to buy loft insulation - see our expert guide

44. Ensure your boiler is efficient

Installing a more efficient boiler will lower your heating costs, particularly if you buy a condensing boiler. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a condensing boiler could save you as much as £310 a year - although installation costs can be higher than for a conventional boiler.

Find out more: boiler reviews - find out which brand of boilers are rated as Which? Best Buys

45. Don't overuse extractor fans

Extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens burn energy if they are left on longer than necessary, so adjust the timer or switch them off manually to save energy. Some ventilation units have heat-recovery systems to reduce energy loss further.

Find out more: creating a safer bathroom - a list of useful additions for your bathroom

46. Deal with draughts

Tackle draughts by filling any gaps around window frames, door frames and pipework that passes through external walls. This can be done using draught excluder strips or expanding foam fillers. Loft hatches should also be insulated, as should the edges of the loft opening.

47. Wrap up your tank

If you live in an older house and have an uninsulated or poorly insulated hot-water tank, you are wasting money every time you switch on your hot-water system. 

Wrapping it up in a British Standard cylinder jacket that is at least 75mm thick can reduce heat loss by 70%. Jackets are available for as little as £10.

Find out more: water-saving products - a list of tools to help you save water

48. Switch with Which?

You can cut your heating bills by switching energy suppliers.

In July 2020, the cheapest deal on the market was £788 per year for a medium user. This is a £339 saving on the current price cap. 

Find out more: Which? Switch - compare gas and electricity prices

49. Don't heat unused rooms

If you have a spare bedroom that is rarely used, turn its radiator down to the lowest setting without turning it off completely. Fitting reflective foil behind radiators on external walls will also help to reduce the rate of heat loss in these rooms.

50. Get an energy audit

Getting expert advice to help you save money needn't be hard work - you can carry out a free, online home-energy check on the Energy Saving Trust website, energysavingtrust.org.uk.

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