Apr 21

60 Tips to Help Beat the Credit Crunch

Don’t let the credit crunch get you down!

follow these 60 tips and life will continue just the way you want it to. 

1. Buy veg in season. Purple-stemmed broccoli, beetroot, leeks, carrots and rhubarb are in stores now. Avoid courgettes, asparagus and raspberries, which are being airlifted in. 

2. Give up your daily coffee. You’ll save a staggering £10 a week.

3. Plan a week’s worth of meals, make a list of ingredients, and shop for these items only – that way, no food will go to waste and you’ll be less tempted by unnecessary goodies.

4. Go for supermarkets’ own brand. They’re cheaper and for the basics rather than the finest – the difference is often little more than packaging.

5. Take a packed lunch to work. 

6. Use up leftovers. The end of a chicken, and all the off-cuts of veg, can be transformed into stock; and if you are rigorous when picking flesh of the bones, fish can be turned into a tasty pie.

7. Don’t throw away the ends of dry cheeses. Put scrags of cheddar and parmesan into an airtight container and use in soups and bakes.

8. Bring out the Tupperware. Try to cook a bit more than you need of things like lasagne, stew and shepherds pie, then freeze small portions: cheaper (and healthier) than the frozen ready meals you’d otherwise use when you want to save time.

9. Freeze leftover red wine. Put the remaining half-glass in an ice tray – the cubes can be added easily to sauces, and will save opening a bottle for cooking.

10. Defy Delia. Don’t cheat by assembling food from tins and frozen mash, cook it yourself. It’s far cheaper as well as nicer.

11. Buy in bulk. Markets and greengrocers will give good deals on apples, potatoes and other staples if you buy by the box.

12. Grow your own. Find a corner of the garden to sow a rich variety of salad leaves, which grow like weeds.

13. Ban the bottle. Drink tap water; if you leave it to stand for half an hour, the slight chlorine taste goes away. You can also flavour it with fresh mint or lemon.

14. Shop for groceries on Wednesdays. Order your online shopping midweek from Tesco and save up to £1.75 on weekend charges.

15. Subscribe to Which? magazine to get the best buy on consumer goods. It’s offering a three-month trial for £3, after which each issue will be £6.25 a month.

16. Don’t accept the first call package suggested by your mobile phone company. They pitch them at a level where you are likely to exceed the quota of calls and texts so that you then pay swingeing extra call costs. Go for one that costs slightly more but gives a margin of error.

17. Draw up a will using a DIY kit (£14.99 from WH Smith) instead of paying a solicitor to do it for you.

18. Book a restaurant online. Reservation websites like Top Table lists discount offers – often 50 per cent off – from restaurants all over the country.

19. Buy contact lenses online. Some of the big supermarkets, as well as online specialists sell lenses for a fraction of the high street price.

20. Cancel your pet insurance. Most policies don’t cover the cost of routine examinations and innoculations.

21. Buy own-brand painkillers.

22. Get a lodger. If you have a spare room, spruce it up and rent it out.

23. Give up your television licence Get rid of your television and watch programmes on your computer using the BBC’s online iPlayer after they’ve been broadcast.

24. Cancel your Sky subscription. A Freeview set-top box offers most of the channels that you’ll want to watch. 

25. And with a plug-in box that records programmes to a hard-drive – we found the Fusion FVRT95 for £66.14, including delivery, on ebuyer – you get to keep programmes to watch at your leisure, and can also pause live TV, just like Sky+. But for free.

26. Buy cheaper music. Download music from legal Russian websites which offer thousands of albums for less than a pound.

27. Cancel your gym membership. Many leisure centres offer membership schemes and personal training and are kitted out with the full range of equipment for a fraction of the price of a private gym.

28. Ditch the football season ticket. Or at least split the cost with friends. After all, how many of those midweek fixtures can you really get to?

29. Get cut-price cinema tickets. The three large multiplex chains – Vue, Odeon and Cineworld – all offer cheap weekend deals for families.

30. Cycle to work.

31. If your employer has joined the tax-free Cycle Scheme, you can get 20 per cent off a new set of wheels – as well as a helmet and accessories. 

32. Use a vehicle-sharing scheme like Streetcar. Membership costs £49.50 a year, with a VW Polo – the cheapest option – costing £28 for 24 hours during the week (£39.50 for 24 hours at the weekend), and £125 from Monday to Friday (£165 for a seven-day stretch). Also check out Zipcar.

33.  Join a car pool.

34. Find the cheapest flights. Search online with a price comparison site like kayak.com; book as far ahead as you can; travel out of season; fly mid-afternoon midweek.

35. Invest in a family railcard. Travel with at least one child and you’ll qualify for the £24 discount card that offers 1/3 savings on adult fares, and 60 per cent off kids’ fares.

36. Fill your cavities. About a third of the heat lost in an uninsulated home is through the walls, so a cost-effective way to save energy is cavity wall insulation – a hassle-free job that could save up to £90 on annual bills.

37. Look for the logo. When buying new electrical appliances, look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo – a blue wedge – which indicates an efficient appliance that will be cheaper to run. Replacing an old, inefficient fridge-freezer could save you up to £37 a year.

38. Invest in energy-efficient light bulbs. They last about 10 times longer than ordinary ones, and cost from as little as £3. For each bulb you fit, you can save up to £7 on your annual electricity bill.

39. Lag the loft. Around 15 per cent could be shaved off your heating bill with 270mm-thick loft insulation.

40. Check your home’s energy levels online. For a report on how much energy could be saved in your home, complete the Energy Saving Trust’s survey.

41. Change credit cards. If you have debts, switch them to a ”balance transfer offer” that stays at a low interest rate until the debt is repaid. It saves the effort of making repeated applications for short-term 0 per cent deals.

42. Remortgage early. If you are coming to the end of a fixed rate deal on your mortgage you should start organising your next deal as early as possible – three months before the end if you can. 

43. Use a broker who is fees-free and ”whole of market”, meaning they will look at almost every available mortgage. London and Country and Charcol (0800 71 81 91) are the only nationwide brokers which fit these criteria.

44. Work out a budget. Don’t work out your finances on the back of a fag packet; you need to look at everything you spend to get a true picture.

45. Reclaim what’s yours. Check whether you can reclaim PPI, credit card charges, bank fees or mortgage fees, or get your council tax rebanded.

46. Buy kitchenware from catering suppliers rather than department stores. It’s markedly cheaper.

47. Make your own birthday cards. Much nicer anyway. 

48. Make your own compost, using fruit and vegetable peel and scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds (but no proteins, like eggs), then you won’t have to buy it from the garden centre.

49. Represent yourself in court a la Heather Mills, saving yourself thousands (a reported £600,000 in Mills’ case) in legal fees. It’s not as hard as it sounds, especially when house conveyancing (flats, however, are more fiddly).

50. Circulate the books you’ve read among your friends. That way, you declutter your house, and will get good tips on what’s worth reading. 

51. Freshen up your furniture. Instead of upgrading your tatty Ikea sofa for a 2008 model, invest instead in some slipcovers. A new look costs as little as £65 with Bemz, whose website allows you to drag and drop the colours and patterns onto different sofa styles to see how they’d look.

52. Hire CDs from your local library. Many of the back-catalogue CDs in HMV’s “3 for £20? racks will be available to loan for pennies – and besides, do you really want those mid-70s Rolling Stones albums cluttering up your collection for more than a couple of weeks anyway? 

53. Try music before you buy. Instead of forking out for an entire album on iTunes, listen to the 30-second preview snippets and only buy the tracks that appeal.

54. Always book rail travel in advance. Super Apex offer the lowest fares – substantially cheaper than returns bought on the day – but must be booked at least two weeks in advance. 

55. Go clubbing. The smart way to a set of wheels, Zipcar is a car-sharing club that’s easy on your pocket: you won’t pay extra for road tax, insurance, or central London’s Congestion Charge, as they’re all included in the hourly hire cost. You also get free parking in designated spaces and a £50 tank of petrol. 

56. Find out how safe your savings are. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme covers the first £35,000 of savings you have in any financial institution, should it go bust, but this isn’t as simple as it sounds. 

57. Get that 60s mini out of the attic. Pull it right up and wear like a tube top with a below-the-knee skirt or cigarette trousers.

58. Mend and make fabulous. Save laddered tights to wear under trousers or with boots, revitalise tired T-shirts with coloured tie-dyeing, and replace broken handbags with your boyfriend’s funky guitar-strap. 

59. Ask for freebies. The smarter the department store, the more generous its beauty hall will be with free samples (for those who show enough interest in its products). Buy from www.jsbsupplies.co.uk and get 4 free DVD rentals. 

60. Get a complimentary makeover. Bobbi Brown make-up counters offer free, hour-long tutorials, with no pressure to shop. Call 0870 034 2566 for details. 



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