50+ Frugal Ideas to Save Money and Organise Your Finances

Frugal and thrifty ideas to help you organise your finances and save money

Budgeting, saving money and making wise financial decisions was never really something that I was particularly good at. However, a change in my job meant a significant drop in my monthly earnings, forcing me to adapt to a different lifestyle in order to be able to live happily within my means.

Admittedly, my situation was substantially easier to make changes than those with large mortgages and children, but I still had quite a few financial responsibilities that needed to be covered, along with the monthly rent and bills. It took some time, but advanced planning and organisation really helped me to stay on track…

Tips that may help you save money and organise your finances.

Work out a sensible budget and realistically look at where you can reduce your spending. Start with the necessities ie. rent/mortgage payments and bills. For things such as insurance or credit cards, shop around on comparison and finance sites to see if there are any deals available.

Look at ways in which you can reduce your utility bills. Make sure your windows are insulated. Close the curtains to keep heat in. Use a draft excluder. Replace your bulbs over time with LED’s. Turn off electrical items when they are not in use. Put on a sweater or snuggle up under a blanket rather than turning the heating up. In fact, by turning the thermostat down by just one degree you can save a substantial amount of money throughout the year. Open your windows instead of putting on the air con during the summer. Don’t use the tumble dryer for every load of laundry.

Do online banking and pay your bills online – there is often a charge added on for paper bills that are sent to your home.

Pay off the credit cards with a higher interest first.

Set up a savings account and create a direct debit payment into it each month. Cut up the card connected with it to avoid risk of compulsive spending. Even £5 a month will give you £60 by the end of the year.

Work out a weekly meal plan. Shop at low budget supermarkets – I get all of my fruit, vegetables and meat from these each week. If it is available, buy from local markets. Create some meals that require similar ingredients. Cook in bulk and freeze meals in advance. Don’t be afraid to purchase reduced items if you intend on eating them in the coming few days. Use coupons. Take advantage of 3 for 2 offers. Swap some of your usual branded items for store own brand. Re-use your own grocery bags. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water. Cut back on the amount of takeaways you have – one less weekly at a cost of £15.00 would save you £780 in a year. Eat leftovers for lunch or be mindful about how much food you are making. Cut down on the amount of unhealthy snacks you purchase.

Take advantage of cashback offers, particularly on electronics. The Bloke was given a cashback of hundreds of pounds with a purchase he made recently.

Realistically look at the amount of money that you spend on luxury items. Do you buy coffee every single day? What about snacks? Magazines? Cigarettes? Smoothies? Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every evening? Do you have streaming services? What about make-up, clothes, accessories? Be honest with yourself and work out how much you spend on things that aren’t necessities – the results may be surprising.

Set yourself a No Spend Challenge. Here’s a list of free things to do.

Get rid of any unwanted subscriptions.

Quit smoking – good for the health and the wallet.

Sign up for points cards that can be used to redeem items at a later date. The Bloke and I have a particularly good one from a local supermarket, and last year we used our annual total points to pay for our entire Christmas shopping over a two-week period, along with a few extra presents.

Reduce your mobile phone spending to a lower amount where possible. After I have completed my contract, I always ring my provider and get a ‘sim only’ contract instead as I have paid for the handset – this always reduces my bill by at least £20. You could also switch to a pay-as-you-go. Note: in all of the years that I have had a monthly contract I have never received a call from my provider to tell me that the contract has ended – it is up to you to stay vigilant and not allow them to keep charging the same amount, which they will legally continue to do unless notified. You won’t be able to claim the money back afterwards.

Recycle, mend and get crafty! Sew up holes in clothing, re-purpose old sheets but cutting them up and using them for rags, quilting and handkerchiefs. Upcycle old furniture. Make your own birthday cards, or buy cards during sale periods.

Book holidays online, use comparison sites and talk to friends about potential deals they may be aware of. UK residents, did you know that it is often far cheaper to fly to North America via Europe rather than flying direct? Check out hostels instead of hotels – I stayed in a stunning hostel in Malaga that was about a tenth of the price of a hotel. Before going away, research free things to do in the area local to the place where you will be staying and plan activities in advance. For example, The Bloke and I went to London and did lots of things that cost almost nothing

Walk or use public transport instead of driving. Less expensive, and environmentally friendly! The Bloke and I often get the bus into the city for which we purchase a day saver that allows us to travel on a many buses as you like for £4 each for the whole day – consider this against the average tariffs that are found within most car parks.. When in London, we use our contactless bank cards when travelling on the tube in Zones 1 and 2 – the amount you pay is capped at a very reasonable rate and far cheaper than purchasing a Zones1-4 ticket. If you have a good friend with children of a similar age, discuss the idea of car sharing. What about car sharing with colleagues?

Sell, sell, sell! Do you have unwanted items around your home that are in good condition? There are endless stores that will buy unwanted electronics, DVD’s and Blu Rays, gaming systems and games. Why not declutter some of your possessions and attend a car boot or host a yard sale? What about selling specialist items and collectibles on places like eBay?

Save a fortune on clothing by making your own, asking a favour from a crafty friend or purchasing them from charity shops. Buy materials from your local market.

Do you love make-up? Research into dupes for the more expensive items. Note – do not purchase fake products that have the same logo (these often contain harmful chemicals) – look at high street brands with the same colour palette or purpose as the designer ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples with any purchases that you make.

Look out for free events that are happening in your local area. Take advantage of cinema tickets or meal deals with insurance companies that you use.

Instead of paying for a gym membership, go outside!

If you are going out with friends, it may be cheaper to meet at someone’s house and have a few glasses of wine there first before spending exorbitant amount in bars and restaurants. Or, save even more money by hosting a pot-luck get-together, during which everyone brings a dish to your home.

Book train tickets weeks in advance. If The Bloke and I want to go to London, for example, we purchase tickets weeks ahead when there are offers for advanced single tickets and we travel very early in the morning when prices are cheaper. We also take advantage of the annual sale with a particular train company where tickets can be purchased for £4, as long as you travel at a specific time.

Join a library and borrow books from friends instead of purchasing them.

Cue angry parents: Be mindful of how much you are spending on children during celebrations. A three year-old child does not need £250 worth of presents and a birthday party with a £100 cake. Do you remember what you received for your third birthday? I once went to the birthday party of an incredibly loved and very cute toddler and he was blessed with an unbelievable amount of presents. He opened them, smiled and yelled a bit and then spent half the day with a cardboard box on his head. Think about it.

Worried about having to purchase gifts? Buy gifts after Christmas for the coming year. Create a gift draw that can be filled with things that are purchased during sale offers. Reuse gift bags. Cut out old cards to create gift tags. Look out for free gifts that come with purchases. Make crafty presents – a friend of mine used her sewing skills to craft a gorgeous tee-pee for her friend’s child for their birthday. And… re-gift unwanted items (gasp!)

Do you have a talent or skill that could earn you extra money? Can you sew, craft or play an instrument? Do you have great computer skills and an understanding of social media? Note: In the UK you have to declare any money made with HMRC and will possibly be liable to pay tax for any work that you are paid for.

Getting married? Here’s how The Bloke and I got married for less than £5,000.

Don’t be afraid to say that you can’t afford to go somewhere or do something. It’s always difficult when friends earn more than you do and may live a more extravagant lifestyle, but there’s no shame in saying no to something when you don’t have the money.

Be mindful of every single thing that you purchase. Before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it and be honest.

What about you guys? What advice do you have for saving money?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

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Top Tips for Selling at a Car Boot Sale

The Bloke and I are hoarders. We’re not obsessive – we don’t keep things like old newspapers, boxes or general household goods, but we both are easily attached to things that we consider to be of sentimental value. As a result, our house is filled with stuff, even more so now the wedding is over.

On a whim, we decided to try and downsize and sell some of our things in a car boot sale, creating some space and hopefully earning some cash in the process.

It was an eye opening experience.

We found a reputable car boot about half an hour away that didn’t require you to sign up and only charged £8.00 per car. We were ruthless and threw together a load of things that we could possibly sell, and at 5.45am we found ourselves stood in a muddy field in freezing temperatures… as you do.

Six hours later, we had sold all but one box of the stuff we had brought, and I had a brilliant time talking to loads of lovely people. I learned a lot, and I was already planning the next one by the time we drove home. Continue reading

How I Saved Thousands On My Wedding

Wedding money saving tips

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small amount of money if you make a purchase from any of the Amazon links included

Right from the beginning of my wedding planning eighteen months ago, I was determined that I would do my absolute best to keep the costs as low as possible. Of course, I wanted the day to be beautiful, but our budget was small and I didn’t want us to still be paying it off for years after it was over.

Essentially, I wanted it to be as cheap as possible, but I didn’t want it to LOOK cheap.

The problem is, the minute the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned, the prices of everything are automatically increased and there are numerous places that aren’t always upfront about their total prices – we discovered that there were lots of hidden costs in all sorts of different areas.

The key to saving money lies in forward planning, lots of research, asking for help, being patient and shopping around. It also helped that we had a long engagement, giving us sufficient time to work out what we wanted and how much we were prepared to budget for it. Continue reading

How To Monetise Your Blog

How to use a blog to make money

A little while ago I gave a presentation at the Annual Bloggers Bash in London with the focus being on monetising a blog and using a blog to make money in other creative and writing fields. Since then, I’ve received numerous requests to post the content of my presentation for those who were unable to attend, so here it is (hopefully with a little less waffle)…

Having a blog has been a life-changing experience. It has allowed me a lifestyle that I could have only previously dreamed of and enabled me to take more control of when and where I work and who I work for. Four-and-a-half years ago I was working as a teacher, I had an outstanding reputation and good results and was in a financially stable and secure role… And I was miserable – stressed, tired, depressed and had started to develop panic attacks. Writing has always been therapeutic and the house was beginning to become overrun by beautiful notebooks containing my scribbles, so The Bloke (who is an IT Technician) suggested that I start a blog. After a particularly bad day I signed up to WordPress, hastily gave myself a name, wrote a post and pressed the publish button. That was it – there were no expectations or technical knowledge behind what I was doing (I don’t think I even used tags for the first few weeks) – but it became a hobby that I quickly found satisfying. That was in April 2013 and by March 2015 I handed in my resignation and left the teaching profession at the end of the academic year. Continue reading

Terms and Conditions

Those of you who follow the blog regularly will know that I travel via train fairly frequently. I’ve learned to be fairly savvy with it – I know that one of the biggest train and travel companies in particular will hike up their prices by as much as £100 for travel on the same day as booking, so making sure that tickets in advance are essential unless you want to take out a second mortgage just to pay for travel costs.

So, when they sent me an email informing them of their summer sale, with tickets on offer for £4.00 between Birmingham and London, I eagerly planned a day trip for The Bloke and I, feeling really pleased with myself for obtaining tickets for both of us for the grand total price of £16.00. Bargain.

That is, until I discovered that I’d gone and booked tickets for the opposite journeys that I wanted – I’d done London to Birmingham instead of the other way around. Idiot. Totally my fault, and I was irrationally super-angry with myself for not concentrating and making a rookie mistake.

Now, it’s only £16.00, but for the principle of it I set about getting a refund. After 5 phone calls during which I was waiting for a total of about 45 minutes and eventually resorting to Twitter because nobody answered the phone, I was informed that my tickets were non-refundable because they had been purchased in the sale. Not that this is made clear anywhere on the booking page in advance, but they got me with the fact that they had included this in their Terms and Conditions, at the bottom of a long list and buried in their website.

So, we have had to book another set of tickets, ultimately paying the same price that we would have done without the sale. I wouldn’t mind, as it was my mistake, but I am a bit cross at the fact they have made extra money from me and won’t give it back, which is always covered by the crappy Terms and Conditions. Hopefully, they can use my money (and I’m sure the money from other idiots like myself) into improving the service and getting the trains to actually be big enough to accommodate the amount of people that use them…

What about you guys? Have you ever made a mistake and then been screwed over by the Terms and Conditions?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.

If We Were Having Coffee #10

CoffeeIf we were having coffee, I would tell you that it’s been an unexpectedly busy end to the week…

I had another day of supply yesterday – this time a little busier than the day before. I was predominantly covering Spanish, which was quite an experience as I can’t speak anything more than basic conversational sentences, but it was interesting to see how much the students already knew. I had a group of Year 7 students who were in their first ever lesson, so instead of doing the cover work that was set I took the opportunity to teach them the basics – ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye,’ ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ how to ask someone what their name is, how to say their name and how to count from one to twenty. It was really enjoyable – I learnt as much as they did, and it has inspired me to learn more in my free time. It’s amazing how many useful instructional videos are available on YouTube!

And then there’s that one class. The one where every student is a superstar. The one where you can joke and have a bit of banter and then can trust them to not just do the work, but to automatically try and create extra work for themselves just because they enjoy it. The sort of class that challenges you as much as you challenge them. It reminded me just how great the profession can be. Not great enough to make me wish for my old job back, but it was a nice end to the day. I’ve been offered an entire week of supply next week, but I’m only going to do four days – I didn’t quit just to go straight back in full time and I want a day to be able to have time for myself. My freelance stuff starts the following week, so I’m taking the opportunity to earn some extra cash for Christmas while I can. After all the worries over the summer, I didn’t expect to be turning down work within a fortnight of term starting – perhaps someone is watching over me…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time with The Bloke – he’s stayed at work late this week (he also works in a school) and leaves early in a morning, so I haven’t really seen much of him. It’s his birthday next month (which I always get far more excited about than he does), and what he doesn’t know is that after a sixth month search I finally managed to find a particular item for his present on eBay, at a quarter of the price of what I saw it advertised at last year. It’s been delivered already and is in perfect condition, with the only problem being that it is ridiculously small. I think what I might do is wrap it in a really large box, just for a giggle. I’m also taking him to ‘Brick,’ the UK’s biggest Lego convention (yes, he’s one of those), and I am expecting that his already extensive collection will be added to… Fun!

image

Yum!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I met up with some friends last night – they are all former colleagues and most have moved on to new schools, and it was lovely to see them and to hear how much they are enjoying their new jobs. We went for a meal at Prezzo, an Italian restaurant, and I treated myself to a lovely goats cheese salad and a cocktail, and during the course of the night I laughed so hard that my face hurt. I always feel so lucky to be able to spend time with people that I can truly relax with and enjoy their company – I’m blessed to know some wonderful human beings!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have made further progress with decluttering and organising my stuff. It occurred to me over the summer that we are surrounded by things that we haven’t used since we moved into the house eighteen months ago, so I spent a few hours having a sort out last week. I regularly give things to charity shops, taking in lots of bags of clothes over the last few months, but this time I found things that I could sell – my Nintendo Wii, my Nintendo DS, The Bloke’s Nintendo DSi, extra controllers and a ton of games and DVD’s. I checked out the prices for the current items on eBay, and inquired at a games store in town and a Cash Generator on the high street. I didn’t expect to get much from it all, but because we’ve kept it all in good condition and have all the original boxes, the Cash Generator offer was surprising and far more than anything I saw on eBay and anywhere else. Consequently, I dragged three large bags of items in this morning and I have another to take in, and was given the equivalent of the money I spent in Barcelona the other week, which we have divided according to who owned what, and have used some of it to do a food shop for the next few weeks without touching our bank accounts. It’s nothing compared to what we spent on the items originally, but every little helps, and now we have a little more space than before!

What about you guys? What are your plans for the weekend?

The ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ series was created by Part Time Monster. Everyone is invited to join in, and you are welcome to share your coffee posts on Twitter every Saturday with #WeekendCoffeeShare – hop on over and join in the fun!

Weekend Coffee Share

Weekend Coffee Share, with Part-Time Monster

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks, and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.