Manage your budget
Being good with money means knowing exactly what you’re spending it on. Work out your costs over the year and keep an eye on them. Allow enough for expenses like holidays or Christmas and treats now and then. Save at least a little every month for emergencies.
Don’t be a secret spender
Be aware of over-spending without thinking, e.g. supermarket 2 for 1 deals are only a deal if you were going to buy the item in the first place. To avoid temptation make a list and stick to it, use cash – only take enough for what you need, and don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry!
Are you missing out?
Millions goes unclaimed in benefits every year. Attendance Allowance in particular is frequently misunderstood, but if you have extra costs because of long term illness or disability then you may be eligible. You don’t have to spend it on care, it doesn’t matter what your income is and it’s tax free. To check on this and other benefits such as Pension Credit visit your local CAB or contact Age UK Northumberland on 01670 784821. See pages 100 and 101 in the Golden Guide.
Remember to book early
Planes, trains and buses all have a quota of seats they will sell for the lowest price and then prices increase over a matter of weeks or sometimes days, so get booked in as early as possible.
Grow your own food
Growing your own fruit and veg reduces your food spend, is very rewarding and a great way to keep fit too. Seeds are inexpensive and instead of buying new pots – re-use old colanders, teapots, buckets or sinks. Great compost can be made from vegetable leftovers, grass cuttings and autumn leaves. If you have no garden – try growing on windowsills, balcony or just in the kitchen. You can even make money by selling on extra plants. See pages 15-17 in the Golden Guide.
A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments.
Cut your heating costs
Switch energy suppliers, the Energy Helpline advise on this and can even do it for you ring 0300 123 1234. You can also hang thermal curtains, stick radiator foil behind radiators to maximise heat output, fit draught excluder round your windows and doors. See pages 47-50 in the Golden Guide for energy advice, grants and the Oil Can energy bulk buying scheme in Northumberland.
Mobile phone tariffs
The phone networks compete fiercely for your business so give them a ring and see if you can get a cheaper deal. If you already have a decent phone handset, SIM-only tariffs are excellent value for money.
Check your insurance quote
As with phone tariffs, shop around for insurance too. Whether it’s for your car or household contents, don’t be afraid to ask—they are used to competing to offer the best rates. Stand by the well known saying ‘shy bairns get nowt’
Shop online and use voucher codes
Online comparison sites can show you the best price for a product, voucher codes can cut the cost even more. Find vouchers on sites such as www.vouchercodes.co.uk, www.groupon.co.uk or www.moneysupermarket.com/vouchers
Sometimes you can print them out and take them to the shop itself. Also look for free delivery vouchers—these can be worth more than money off the product itself.
Work the web safely
There are countless online sites offering money-saving information. Good ones should be up to date and offer plenty of hints and tips – try www.moneysavingexpert.com, www.moneyaware.co.uk and www.moneymagpie.com
But whatever you’re looking for there may be scam sites offering products, advice and fraudulent deals. So before you start surfing read this excellent guide to spotting fakes at www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-spot-a-fake-fraudulent-or-scam-website
And remember if an offer seems to good to be true—it usually is!
For more on money matters see Golden Guide Northumberland pages 97-108 or Golden Guide Newcastle & North Tyneside pages 82-93