It never hurts to budget, or to try to save a little money here and there. In this economic climate, we never know what is just around the corner, and who doesn’t like reading their bank statement to find they have more money at the end of the month than they expected?!
I can’t say much for saving on utilities and suchlike, since I live with my parents and they make those decisions. But when it comes to shopping, I have much more experience!
Just the other day, Mum and I did a grocery shop in Tesco and managed to cut down our bill by a whole £40 in multi-buy savings and coupons!
So here are 10 tips for how to save money on shopping, followed by a few tips for getting free clothes! These are all pretty obvious, but can be easy to forget when you’re rushing around with other things on your mind!
- Watch out for offers especially on luxuries and perishables! Offers are a double-edged sword. Basically, it’s only worth taking advantage of them for perishables you know you’ll use before their eat-by date, and non perishables you use frequently.
e.g. we passed up on the 2-for-1 on bags of baking potatoes (they’d go bad before we ate them all) but we took advantage of the 2-for-1 on toothpaste.
Offers are there to encourage you to spend more. Don’t do 3-for-2 if you only went in for 1--or none.
- Compare Prices. This ties in with offers. In a supermarket, you might assume that the larger pack is better value than the smaller packs. This isn’t always the case, especially when offers are concerned! In the UK, supermarket shelves have the price per unit (or 100g, 1kg etc) printed in small type on the labels. All you have to do is read this and compare with the different sizes to find what gets you the best deal!
e.g. 800g mayonnaise for £3.69; 400g mayonnaise on offer at 2 for £3--you get the same amount for less by buying two smaller jars (and can use those jars for crafting once they’re empty!) Since mayo doesn’t go off quickly, one jar can be stored whilst the other is enjoyed!
- Buy what you need. This is the most obvious one but I am so guilty of buying things I want. I have a wardrobe bursting with clothes to prove it. With clothes shopping, the answer is not to do it unless you have a specific item to buy. But we all love to browse and admire! I try to use a rule when clothes shopping: if it won’t go with at least four items from the wardrobe, don’t buy it.
When shopping for food, buying what you need relates to the first tip again! Make a list and stick to it.
- Judge more expensive goods by the use you’ll get out of them. When it comes to clothing, especially coats and footwear, opt for a classic style rather than a high-fashion option that will be ‘outdated’ next year.
e.g. A winter coat costs £80. You’ll wear it for the next 5-10 years, which will cost you £8-£16 per year. Assuming winter runs from November to January, that’s just 9p-17p pence per day.
- Buying cheap goods isn’t necessarily a ‘false economy’ (some cheap goods are excellent quality!) but is definitely a retail trap! It’s all too easy to buy something because it’s ‘only £1’. But ‘Only £1’ can quickly become ‘only a fiver’ and before you know it, that £20 note you broke into is all gone!
- Don’t be led by technology. Again, look at whether you need something, and the monetary repercussions of buying something new.
e.g. Computers. You cannot completely future-proof your PC. Technology advances fast and eventually, your PC will be outdated. Opt for something that does what you need it to do--don't buy a gaming PC with a loads of memory, a meaty processor and incredible graphics if you only use your computer to check email and write letters.
- Get a loyalty card but don’t spend money solely to earn points. Loyalty cards can be a great way of earning yourself a little discount! They’re free to sign up for, all you do is hand your card over at the checkout. Shop as you would normally and watch those points add up! Sometimes loyalty card holders also get extra coupons and offers not available to other shoppers.
- Look out for free shipping deals. A number of online (and some high street) retailers offer free shipping with purchases over a certain amount, or for a set period. Leading up to Christmas, this is great if you plan to buy several gifts on one website.
- Join mailing lists for places you buy from to hear about the offers first—but don’t spend just because something is a bargain. Similarly to loyalty cards, mailing list recipients sometimes receive discount codes!
- Check voucher/discount/deals web sites for...deals and voucher codes! If you’re looking to buy something online, it’s a good idea to have a quick search on a voucher code site to see if there are any offers that will shave a few pennies or pounds off your purchase!
Free magazines from shops/supermarkets, including Christmas gift guides, can include vouchers and discount codes. Most of the vouchers in the picture above came from free magazines!
I am doing my Christmas shopping using the above tips. So far I have saved just over £50 thanks to free shipping, money off, coupons, voucher codes and special offers!
Great websites for money savers:
- Hot UK Deals lists vouchers, deals and offers available in the UK
- Voucher Codes (self explanatory)
- Groupon provides daily deals on gifts, house wares, holidays, experiences etc. Includes local and national offers. (UK site | US site)
- Wowcher is pretty much the same as Groupon
- Good To Know has a whole section of their site dedicated to money saving tips and tricks, along with voucher codes.
- Money Saving Expert has excellently researched information on topics ranging from mortgages and broadband to shopping and travel. And voucher codes.
And how would you like clothes for free?
Wouldn’t we all?!
- Have a clothes-swap party with your friends and/or family. It’s a great way to get new things and any unwanted clothes could be donated to charity.
- Alternatively, wait for a family member to clear out their wardrobe ;) Little sister #1 does this a lot, so I occasionally gain things from her! (My most recent hand-me-down haul comprised of four tops, two of them barely worn!)
- Customise something that you don’t wear into something you will—if you try to only use things from your craft stash, this means free clothes! There are hundreds of clothes customisation tutorials on the internet; it’s just a case of checking Pinterest or Google to see what you find!
Of course, I’m not suggesting any of us turn into Ebenezer Scrooge or spend all our time cutting out coupons! But I’ve found these to be easy ways of saving some money and I hope you do, too! :)