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Best ways to save money

Learn how to cut the cost of eating out, household bills and more with our comprehensive list of the best ways to save money.

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 Save on beauty and clothing

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 45 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 that 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 left to spend on the fun things in life.

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

1. Transfer your credit card debt

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

However, the interest tends to jump 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 had to alter 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 (effective annual rate) 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.

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 the marriage allowance, 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 build points every time they make a purchase. These points can be converted into money-off vouchers.

Many cards also offer one-off deals or discounts 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 you've 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

There are thousands of mobile phone deals so 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 your call, text and mobile web use 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 use 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 budgeting apps

The days of a pen-and-paper budgeting book are long gone thanks to the large number of mobile phone apps that’ll help you fix your finances. 

Using open banking, many of these will let you add accounts from multiple banks so you can keep track of the bigger picture. 

Find out more: open banking budgeting apps

9. Share your subscriptions

In this world of never-ending entertainment, it’s likely you have several subscriptions to streaming services. 

You may be able to save on these by taking out what most of them call ‘family plans’, allowing you to share accounts with people living in your household. Spotify, for example, offers six accounts for £16.99 under the Premium Family plan.

Find out more: best music streaming services

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Save money on food

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

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

10. 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. We recently found own-brand crisps, mayonnaise and oven chips tasted better than the big-name alternatives.

11. 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 1.25 points for each £1 spent at John Lewis or Waitrose, but you have to spend £4 at other retailers to earn a point.

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

12. 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

13. 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

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14. 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 warehouses across the UK. 

There is an annual membership fee of £15 for online shopping, or £26.40 for business customers to shop in person.

Other wholesale retailers to consider include Makro and Bestway.

15. Use price-match promises

Tesco and Asda 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

16. Get into using vouchers

Shoppers can save huge amounts by actively searching for vouchers 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. 

17. 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 toothpaste and shampoo are a good example, as are toilet rolls.

Find out more: where to buy cheap toiletries 

18. Check the 'reduced' aisle

As long as you know you’re going to use them before they go off, you can make big savings by buying discounted products that are near the end of their life cycle. You’ll usually find these in a special aisle with a yellow sticker on them and sometimes sprinkled throughout the supermarket shelves. 

Find out more: the best time to shop to land discounts – our statisticians crunched over a million prices to uncover just how much, and how often, prices change.

19. Don't shop on an empty stomach

Several readers have told us shopping while hungry leads to overspending. Try shopping after a meal or a quick snack to avoid this. 

Find out more: tried-and-tested money-saving tips from real savers

20. 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, so 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 most of us enjoy from time to time, although it can sometimes prove expensive.

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

21. Order takeaway direct from a restaurant

If you’re having a fine dining experience at home, it’s often cheaper to order food directly from a restaurant, rather than through an app delivery service such as Deliveroo or Just Eat, according to our research. 

We found one meal that cost £11.62 more from an app than it did from the restaurant. 

Find out more: the hidden costs of the food delivery revolution

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22. Click-and-print restaurant vouchers

Many restaurants offer online promotional vouchers. For example, Pizza Express regularly runs two-for-one 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 deal websites, such as Groupon and Wowcher, for restaurant deals too.

23. Book your night out online

Websites such as Opentable, Lastminute and 5pm specialise in two-for-one deals, 50% off offers and promotions where wine might be included with your meal. You can search for the deals 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.

24. 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.

25. Join a dining club

Become a member of a loyalty scheme and save up to 50% at participating restaurants.

Tastecard offers a free 60-day trial and costs £19.99 for six months or £34.99 for a year after that. The Gourmet Society also offers a 60-day free trial and renews at £6.99 a month thereafter. Both 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, 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 seven tips to help you save hundreds of pounds on your travel costs.

30. 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?

31. Buy flexi train tickets

Do you commute to the office for only part of the week? If you do, National Rail’s new flexi season ticket initiative could help you save.

Find out more: flexible train tickets on sale now – how much could you save?

32. Walk or cycle where you can

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

Find out more: how to buy the best bike

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33. 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 speed of arrival, customer satisfaction and value for money.

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

34. 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.

35. 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.

36. Invest in 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.

Those buying a new petrol, diesel or hybrid car will likely have to pay more car tax. But those investing in electric cars are now exempt.

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

37. 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 nine tips that could help cut the cost of keeping your home warm.

38. 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. 

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

39. 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

40. 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 up to £215 per year in energy bills depending on your home. 

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

41. 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

42. 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.

43. Switch with Which?

You can cut your heating bills by switching energy suppliers.

In April 2021, the cheapest deal on the market was £974 a year for a medium user. This is a £264 saving on the current price cap. 

In October, the price cap is being increased on some deals by £139, which means you could see your bill jump if you are on your supplier's standard tariff.

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

44. 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 reduce the rate of heat loss in these rooms.

45. 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.

Save on beauty and clothing

Clothes and beauty products can be pricey. Here are five tips on how to save.

46. Recycle old clothes

If you have some old threads gathering dust in your wardrobe, you could hand them into a fashion retailer for a future discount. 

H&M will give you £5 off your next shop (if you spend £25 or more) for dropping off a bag of old clothes from any retailer. 

Oxfam will give you a £5 M&S voucher (off a £35 spend on clothing, home and beauty in M&S stores), if you donate at least one item of M&S labelled clothing. 

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47. Make your own face masks

There might be an abundance of face coverings on the market now, but making one yourself can still yield good results. 

Our step-by-step guide will teach you how to do it. 

Find out more: how to make your own face covering

48. Make do and mend

While you’re in a crafty mood, why not fix up old, broken clothes instead of buying new ones? 

You can buy needles, thread and spare buttons for a fraction of the price of a new shirt. Many garments come with spare buttons anyway, so you may as well put them to good use.

49. Buy longer lasting beauty products

Your money will go further if you buy products that last longer. That’s why you should try our Editor’s Choice lipsticks, which our rigorous testing has proven have more staying power. 

Find out more: which lipstick lasts longest?

50. Wash clothes at the right settings

We all know washing clothes at a lower temperature is good for the planet, but it’s also good for our wallets. 

Washing at 20°C instead of 40°C could save you 62% on running costs. 

Our myth-busting guide to cleaning clothes in a washing machine clears up all questions you might have about different temperature settings.

You might not even be washing your clothes at the right temperature already, so it’s worth checking labels carefully to find out if you could turn down the dial and save money without making any sacrifices. Find out how to read washing machine symbols so you can check for yourself.

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