How have you saved on every day spending?

Hi MSE'ers!

I'm relatively new to the world of MSE but absolutely love what it stands for and seeing my bank balance hold its own. I have read lots of diaries and challenges and whilst I am not in a position to be saving £1,000s a year, I went through the numbers last night and in the last 2 years, my husband & I have managed to save £5000 using MSE tips and just pure stubbornness in not wanting to part with our cash now that we have some!

It's a long list of the small things we've done and when I saw how long the list was, I felt proud and wanted to share with others who might have similar tips to improve things further, so here I am!

Little backstory: I'm 27, my husband's 33. We've been together for 6 1/2 years and married since last September. It's only since then that I've been more of an equal financial partner (£4k difference in our basic pay, but he manages about another £15-20k in commission.... I was working for 4 figure salaries until about 2 years ago and have increased my salary through job changes by about £6-7k in that time :j)

We live in his one bed flat, hoping to move into a house in the next year or so if only we can sell because we're expecting our first baby on Christmas Day this year so it's more important than ever to us to save money, although in truth, I've never really liked paying full price for anything!

We are determined to make the most of our money and to have complete transparency in our shared finances.

So, to save money, we have:

1. Cashbacking: Both my husband and I began using Quidco when we started planning our wedding in October 2014. Now we look there before we make any purchases online and he uses it every time he books a hotel for work. So far, I have made almost £100 and he has made nearly £400 – including several hundred pounds when booking our honeymoon!

2. Started my degree part-time with the Open University in October 2015. I immediately ordered my NUS extra card at a cost of £15 a year. I have used it for the odd 10/20% off when we have pizza or when ordering DVDs online and it probably paid for itself in pizza alone.
a. But my biggest savings with it were: 50% off Spotify Premium. My £10 a month subscription is now £5, saving me a massive £60 a year.
b. Our local Premiere cinema has £4 flat rate tickets, but even better, offers £3 flat rate to students. Gone are the days of avoiding the cinema completely Cineworld’s £8+ ticket prices. Now we can both go to the cinema on any day of the week for less than a tenner – and through their loyalty scheme, we earn back a free trip every 5 visits (or every 2.5 if we go together)

3. Survey sites: I use YouGov & OnePoll. It can be slow going if you don’t keep on top of it, so I know I could have made a lot more, but in about 3 years using both these sites, I have made about £280.

4. Ditched Sky for NowTV:
Our Sky package (basic entertainment, no extras) started out at £25 in 2012 and by 2015 was a whopping £52 (+ £6.99 inc. our Netflix subscription.) I badgered my husband about NowTV and how it had all the channels we watched anyway until he caved in. Now we pay £16.98/mo to NowTV for entertainment and movies & £6.99/mo to NetFlix, saving a huge £35.02/month and we don’t even notice what channels we’re missing. We even managed to find a code for a free 3 month Entertainment pass which saved us £20.97.

I plan on wearing him down with our broadband also because that’s creeping up too!

5. I paid off the last few months of my £28/mo phone contract in 2015 and went for a £12.50/mo Tesco SIM Only deal. I got £12.50 cashback on it from Quidco.

After about a year, I realised that I was not using the 1GB data included in my plan, so switched down to the £10/month deal on a rolling basis, so that immediately saved me £15 on the remainder of my initial contract.

My phone’s on its last legs being 4 versions ago, but my husband just upgraded his, so I’ll get his S5 and keep to my £10 SIM only. I even installed a Tesco app that provided I engage with enough ads when I unlock my phone, I will get £3 off my bill, bringing it down to £8/month.

6. I plan on recycling my handset when I get to adopt my husband’s phone next week. Mine’s old and cracked, so not worth much to anyone else, but I can still make £5 recycling with Envirofone, so why not?

7. We are looking to buy a house soon and I didn’t realise that I was entitled to a Help To Buy ISA on our behalf as a first time buyer. My husband always halves his commission between our savings and debt and we’ve been able to save £1,050 in our first month and we’re going to put in a minimum of £100/mo going forward. So we’ll have a minimum of £1,600 (the trigger point for the Government 25% bonus) in there by Christmas if we attribute our cashback and survey credit to it.

This means we have £2,000 towards the move, or be able to bring our flat’s asking price down again. (Just by knowing we could have an ISA, we were able to bring our minimum acceptable offer down by £5,000 – such a relief!)

8. Using MusicMagpie to clear out old games, DVDs and books
We do this every so often. They don’t pay heaps but it mounts up and they’ll come and collect it for you. Including an order done today, my husband and I have made £67 in 3 sales and get to claim back some space.

9. I got a monthly bus pass when we moved here 3.5 years ago, because it was the best rate when commuting every day. Fair play, this cost hasn’t risen at all in that time, but for the past year, my husband has been giving me lifts to work because we work similar hours, especially now that I’m pregnant and moving is awkward. So I’ve not used the bus pass in months and kept paying for it. I cancelled it recently and instead subscribed to £15 for 10 no-expiry bus trips. This saves me a massive £33/mo which I can use on taxis whenever he isn’t available or pocket the savings otherwise!

10. Don’t pay full price for clothes. Literally everything new in my wardrobe now comes from The quality is normally good and returns are easy. They are mostly from high street discontinued lines and I’ve had many things with a New Look £25 label on them – and literally everything is £5! I’ve probably spent £500 on this site in just under 3 years – that’s 100 items of clothing for goodness sake! I wouldn’t shop any other way now. Plus it means I can buy things I wouldn’t normally consider without feeling like I’ve wasted money!

11. And when I’m done, or they are too small or I run out of room, I always bag up and use cash for clothes. Again it’s pennies because they pay by weight but it gets the clothes out the way and it’s money I didn’t have. Probably made £10 this way.

12. Never pay full price for items and never be too precious to accept second hand.
Whenever I need something new, I always look for vouchers/discounts or a reduced price on eBay first. My best examples are when I was going to replace my winter coat on catalogue credit. Checked eBay and found an almost identical style for about 20% of the price – cancelled the catalogue order straightaway and haven’t used it since.

I’ve also had a nightmare finding jeans. It turns out that Evans Skinny Pear Fit jeans and jeggings are perfect, but cost £20-£30 a pair. Bought my first pair at full price, ouch. But I bought my second pair of jeans on sale for 40% off and a pair of jeggings on eBay for 75% off.

I also have very awkward feet and find that Hotter Mystery boots are the only ones I can wear comfortably; but £95 a pair hurts! I once found a pair in my perfect (awkward) size selling for less than half price on eBay. I’ve not been so lucky since but recently bought my new pair for 25% off just for ordering through my work e-mail address. (I may well have to set up a plethora of e-mails to sustain that saving!)

eBay also saved me a small fortune on my wedding, we bought all the decor, bridesmaid dresses, flowers and personalised gifts from there and I wish we had thought to buy more!

13. Look into a rewards account. I’ve always been loathe to pay for accessing my own money. However, the Natwest Rewards account as our joint account nets us 3% on all direct debits relating to household bills in all accounts held with Natwest. It costs £3/mo, so after the annual cost of £36/year, we’re projected to make about £65/year. Not huge, but certainly not to be sniffed at!

14. Use a railcard. Will not always be an option for everyone, but certainly worthwhile where you can. I used to use a 16-25 railcard when I travelled to London a lot and made the cost of the card back in 2 trips or less. I’m over 25 now and have a Disabled person’s railcard. I don’t travel as much now, but even for the odd £5 fare, I will have recouped the £20 cost in the continual 1/3 savings easily and I will continue to keep one in my bag for this exact reason – sometimes it’s cheaper to get the train than it is the bus!

15. Transfer debt to a 0% balance transfer or similar. My husband has long held 2 credit cards. Between them, we collectively had racked up debts (moving costs etc.) of £4,100. He has been putting half of his commission towards paying down the cards. The first one of £1100 is now clear and the second (with a horrible 29% APR) is down by half to £1500. As soon as it is down to £1100 (in 2 or 3 months) he will transfer it to the low rate Natwest card and pay it down from there.

16. Groupon your experiences! First of all, you can get cashback on Groupon and best of all, all the experiences are discounted anyway so it’s win win! I’ve bought dinners out and household items but best of all, it’s meant I’ve seldom paid full price for getting my hair done! I always wait for a voucher and the £50-60 it costs to get highlights done suddenly become £29 or less – an easy 40-50% saving!

17. Use a training salon for your treats. Our local college has a training salon where the hairdressers and beauty therapists are constantly supervised by their tutors but their prices reflect their training – I paid £10 for a 30 minute massage and they offered student discount too!

18. Costco:
Makes a huge difference to our lives. Before we would spend approximately £240 a month in Tesco. Now we can do a £100 shop in Costco to buy meat and cleaning products or shampoo and loo roll in bulk every 1-2 months and spend £120 a month in Tesco or preferably Lidl. This way, we only need to top up on things like milk and bread. In the 2 years we’ve had the card, I estimate we’ve saved about £40/month, or £900 after the £25/year subscription fee.

19. Save your change in a jar. We do this for anything less than £1. We cashed up £28 towards our honeymoon spending money – and about another £25 last year. It all adds up!

As I said, very proud that our now stubborn habits have saved us £5000 so far, but any more tips seasoned MSE'ers might have are so welcome - think I might be a little obsessed with the money-saving!


  • milasavesmoney
    milasavesmoney Forumite Posts: 1,787
    Seventh Anniversary 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    Amazing list!!

    The main way I have saved this year has been through menu planning around what we already have in the pantry and freezer. I order fresh fruit and veg and only go to the store for dairy and sale items...except for chocolate. My husband does like certain snacks, but they are inexpensive and as he has amazing controll, they last a long time. I have basically cut my monthly grocery/take away bill in half from last year freeing up $500 to save monthly.

    I'm also feeling very virtuous :A because I'm not throwing out food that has gone bad. I patrol the fridge to see what needs to be used, frozen or made into something new. It's amazing how much this has helped my grocery bill, cut down on the stress of what are we going to eat tonight and caused me to be happy about being much less wasteful.
    Overprepare, then go with the flow.
    [Regina Brett]
  • CoolJeanSmith
    CoolJeanSmith Forumite Posts: 5 Forumite
    Awesome ways to save!! Thanks for sharing :)
  • m_i
    m_i Forumite Posts: 199 Forumite
    edited 4 November 2016 at 3:39AM
    Thank you Jolene89 for all your tips

    I would join Show Film First for cheap nights out (you receive emails from SFF when a company has spare tickets depending on your interests) and they also have free cinema screenings - codes can be found in the freebies section of MSE

    Taste card for the offers they have on cinema tickets and other activities + the discount they give at different restaurants Costs £30 a year - lots of restrictions on restaurants but when it works you can save more than the cost of card on one visit to a restaurant

    Before buying goods from Groupon - Google the product because many times I have found that they are cheaper elsewhere

    Use the competitions thread to enter competitions - set up autocomplete on phone, computer or iPad and then it is easy to enter lots in minutes. If you win something you don't want you can sell it.

    Use your local library for books - I have saved £100's of pounds annually because I read all the time

    If you want a cheap gym membership look into MoveGB (£50 a month basic (does not include Virgin Active)) you can suspend your membership at any time and the best bit is that you are not tied to a single gym but can use loads of different ones across the country

    Take a quick look at your utility bills and see if you can save any money

    Magazine subscriptions with free gifts - I haven't bought facial cream / serum for years and have several branded bottles sitting in a draw (I sometimes give the free gifts I receive as birthday gifts or just cos) - look at the shop don't drop forum - magazine offers - Please remember to cancel the direct debit once the first promotional amount has been charged to your account

    Shopaholics for shoes

    Pinecone research for paid surveys - I receive £4 for each one - gone down to £3 for new members I think

    Tesco club card points for British Airways or Virgin Airmiles - I have the credit card which I pay off in full monthly - I have saved loads of money on flights over the years (Tesco reduced the number of CC points so I was uphappy)

    Cash back credit cards or BA or Virgin etc

    Can't think of anymore but best of luck in your endeavours to save cash
    Nice to save.
  • me1234
    me1234 Forumite Posts: 31
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    Natwest reward account - earns about £80 a year
    MSE cheap energy club - saves me about £30 a month
    Menu plan week by week and not every item is branded
    Haggle with Sky on contract renewal - saved myself £25.00 a month
    Check for cashback when purchasing online - saved a lot
    Never buy clothes full price - I'm signed up to the Next account and just wait for their sales which are quite regular and good prices (and good quality stuff)
    Buy everything I can off ebay/gumtree
    Check hotukdeals for deals
    Annual season ticket for train saves me £20.00 a month
    Overpay on mortgage with leftover money at the end of every month
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