We all know which products we should be investing in, such as shoes or lingerie, but which products will do at a bargain-basement price? We advise where you can cut corners and save a few of your hard earned pennies.
Paracetamol and Ibuprofen
Whether you are suffering through a cold or a headache, you’re more than likely to be reaching for the drugs. Most pharmacies own brands are absolutely no different from the name brand products. Ibuprofen is ibuprofen. Cold and flu remedies all do the same thing, no matter the cost. You’re already ill, you poor thing. Don’t make yourself feel worse by spending a fortune on remedies. My Family Club gives a great tip – always check the label of supermarket own-label medicine, and branded medicine, to check that the active ingredients are the same. If they are then why would you pay more just for a branded box and label? Over on Muttering Mummy’s blog, she has previously written a brilliant post on her dismay when her Mother In Law bought branded medicine for her daughter, and after checking out the labels and prices I can really see why!
We all have that little deli we love to visit. The sandwich bar that knows exactly how much mustard you like with your ham and cheese, the greasy spoon that always serves up the perfect fried egg. You don’t need to go to over-priced restaurants to have a wonderful dining experience. Avoiding fancy eateries is a smart idea, but also consider bailing on chain restaurants. Whilst you know exactly what you’re getting, if you only turn a corner in your town and you’ll no doubt find a smaller business that serves the best peri-peri chicken you ever tried, at half the price of the obvious choice.
Fruit and Vegetables
By shopping smartly, you can choose produce when it’s in season and save a small fortune on your five a day. It’s always worth trying your local market or grocery store, you’d be surprised at how much cheaper an avocado is when it’s not wrapped up in layers of plastic.
If you’re buying tinned vegetables to add to soups or stews, a tin of chopped tomatoes isn’t going to be much different whether it costs pennies or pounds. The same goes for sweetcorn. If you like a fruit smoothie to start your day, consider tinned fruits, such as pineapples and nectarines. You’re still getting all of your vitamins, with less of the messy preparation and at a lesser cost when the fruits aren’t in season. Take a look at Love British Food’s simple list to keep track of what food is in season and when.
Take a look at how much you spend on the average present. Whilst some occasions merit a fabulous gift, others probably don’t. Make the distinction between your Mother’s 60th Birthday, and your best friend’s son passing his driving test. In many cases, a card will suffice. Always keep a stash of birthday cards aside so that you’re never caught without one when the occasion arises. Stock up on beautiful cards when retailers like Paperchase have sales.
Admittedly, most of us want to go all out when it comes to treating our loved ones, but you will often find that they will be just as happy with a beautifully wrapped and thoughtfully chosen present as they would be with something that has left you eating beans on toast every night for a month. If your boyfriend has expressed an interest in Sushi, go to a Japanese supermarket and buy a sushi mat, rolls of seaweed and sticky rice. That way you’re presenting a gift and a fun activity. Maybe you know an art student who could use some extra cash; why not discuss commissioning a truly individual work of art from them to present to your friends and family? Put it in a frame to match their décor and you have a real masterpiece!
The best time to buy presents is just after a major holiday, like Christmas or Easter, when retailers will be selling their old stock for greatly reduced prices. Savvy Annie wrote about her experience at a Boots sale that happened just after Christmas and listed the discounts she snagged. If that doesn’t convince you to stock up for future presents, I don’t know what will!
Your daily commute
If you’re not lucky enough to live within walking distance of work, chances are you spend a fair percentage of your income on your daily commute. Whilst this can seem like a troublesome yet unavoidable grievance, there are other options. A lot of people are starting to carpool, chipping in for fuel costs and getting a lift in with a colleague, or even the person that works in the office next door. There are websites aplenty that help to organise carpooling, like BlaBlaCar.com.
If you’ve graduated from stabilisers and you don’t mind helmet hair, how about biking to work? If you’ve not got a bicycle gathering dust in your garage, consider the Bike 2 Work scheme. Many employers will buy you a shiny, new bicycle from selected retailers, and you can pay it back over time, directly from your wages.
It’s amazing what deals you can find if you’re willing to invest a little time. Fancy a Mulberry bag without the hefty price tag? Visit one of the factory shops, dotted throughout the UK. Check ASOS.com for the frequent sales. You can get French Connection, Ralph Lauren and Cheap Monday amongst other brands at highly reduced prices on the site. Just get in there quickly to ensure you get your size! TK Maxx is a veritable treasure trove of designer goodies. From Antoni & Alison dresses to Michael Kors belts, you can find it all at TK Maxx, for less than the price of a night out at the cinema (with popcorn).
Downloading books to your Kindle is often a lot cheaper than a paperback copy from your bookstore. And the best thing is, you can carry hundreds of books around with you, perfect for your daily commute to work or to avoid lugging your latest tomes to the beach with you on holiday. For those that prefer flicking through a magazine rather than a novel, subscribing to your favourite mag’ can save you a small fortune. Best of all, you normally get a free gift when you subscribe. Generally, the gift is actually pretty good. Skincare, hair products… who can say no?
Do you already save money using any of these tips, or do you have any to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below, and join in the conversation over on our Facebook Page or Tweet us @SensibleReview.