I wasn’t sitting on a mountain of money before our kids came along but now I’m struggling to create a molehill out of the pennies while I’m on maternity leave.
With that in mind I’m always looking for little ways to cut costs so I can cover the bills and have a bit extra for the odd treat, like a drink out with friends or splurging on a new top.
If you take a few extra minutes each day you can actually make a huge difference to your monthly spend on the necessities. There are also huge differences you can make with just one phone call.
Here are some of the things I’ve tried and have worked to cut our monthly costs:
We were paying £22.50 a month for our Sky TV package (with phone and broadband this added up to more than £50 a month) and I realised we were hardly watching any Sky exclusive content. I reasoned we could pay to download whatever seasons we were interested in from iTunes and it would cost less as it would only be a couple of seasons at about £20 a go. We also have Netflix which at £5.99 a month is way better value and I prefer watching TV on demand. Is anyway. Plus the selection of movies is good. With Sky we didn’t even get the movie channels for what we were paying.
When I called to let them know we were leaving, they offered a 60 per cent discount off any package for a year. Then they offered to let us keep the record function of our Sky box without access to the Sky channels like Sky 1, plus broadband and phone for just the cost of line rental, so about £19 a month. We’ve saved more than £30 a month. It’s always worth reviewing this area and calling your provider to see what they can do.
Check your plug sockets and switches and turn off the taps
This is a little one, but every penny saved helps! Turn TVs off, rather than leaving on standby, switch off chargers when you’re not using them, check all electrical devices and see what you can switch off at the mains when not in use. Lots of things have little standby lights that use up power.
Try to stop wasting water by being aware of your usage. Doing things like not leaving the water running when brushing your teeth will make a difference when added up over the course of an entire year.
There are some great bargains to be had if you buy in bulk. We get things like pasta, rice, cat food, household cleaner, bleach, toothpaste, shower gel, deodorant, and cereals from here. They also sell some lovely cuts of meat, mince and chops on larger packs. We buy these and separate them out into portions for our family in freezer bags.
If we had a box freezer in the garage we could make even more use of the savings. As it is we are limited each time we go by what we can squeeze into our freezer around all the baby food and ice cream. The savings we make every year are worth the cost of the membership.
Meal planning and batch cooking
I spend a fortune on food top-ups at the supermarket when I haven’t planned the weekly shop properly and forgotten a load of ingredients. By meal planning you can make the best use of everything you buy, cut down on waste and even have some leftovers to freeze for a day when you’re feeling lazy.
Walk instead of drive short distances
My toddler loves going out in the buggy and now it’s summer there’s no excuse not to do it. You waste lots of petrol by doing multiple small journeys every day, it really adds up! I try to plan things we can walk to and we’re lucky enough to live within 10 minutes of a supermarket.
Switch branded nappies for supermarket own brand
Tesco’s own brand nappies are 7p a nappy compared to 14p a nappy for Pampers. They work the same, can be put on in exactly the same way and have cute designs on them. This is a huge money saver, especially if you have more than one child!
Ditch takeaways for home cooking or supermarket meal deals
A takeaway costs us between £20 and £30 from our local Indian, Thai or pizza delivery place. But there are some great recipes out there that help you recreate the takeaway experience for less than half the price at home. This pizza recipe is amazing, I highly recommend it! Also try my easy curry recipe which can be done with leftover meat, or fresh.
And if you’re feeling really lazy, most the big supermarkets do “meal for 2” deals featuring ready meals that cost about £10 and often include a bottle of wine.
Create a system so you don’t waste supermarket vouchers
I used to lose all my supermarket vouchers in the pile of rubbish that accumulates on top of my microwave along with takeaway menus and letters from the nursery. Now I’ve bought a couple of fridge magnets with large paper clips and I organise the store vouchers here. I put the ones that need using first at the top of the pile, so I can see them better.
Where there’s a free store card with perks, sign up.
We get regular vouchers for free coffee and cake at the John Lewis cafe because we have the free John Lewis store card. You just swipe it every time you buy something. Most shops have cards and although the rewards seem to be dwindling, you still find some good offers.
DIY hair trim
I sometimes give my other half’s hair a trim when it’s getting a bit untidy and he doesn’t have time to visit the barber’s. This saves us £10, which is good because I get my hair highlighted and it costs an shocking amount every few months. I’m considering switching to an at-home hair dye to cut this cost out too.
Do you have any idea for cost-cutting monthly bills? I would love some more ideas!