One of the last entries on my LJ blog was an entry for a MoneySupermarket competition asking for money saving tips from bloggers. They paid £1 for each tip, up to a maximum of £30 per blogger. The £30 cleared the last bit of my overdraft.
Here are my 30 tips, all of which I've tried, with varying degrees of success:
Before buying anything, think about whether or not you really need it and can afford it. (Check if it's cheaper elsewhere online).
Avoid impulse buying. If you do see something you want to buy, always go off and have a think about it before purchasing. If you still want it after you've thought about it, then go back and buy it.
Keep a track of all spending - the regular monthly outgoing, plus the ad hoc stuff. Once you know where the money is going, it's easier to identify where to cut back.
Teach your children good spending and saving habits. Lead by example, but also ask your child's school about some sort of financial education programme.
If you're paying for services you're not using - gym, extra TV channels - then cancel them. Check your bank statement regularly to make sure you've not missed anything.
As things like car or home insurance come up for renewal, then check for the best deal on comparison sites. Then purchase on a cash back site if possible so you get extra cash along with your discount.
Start small and work up. If you set unrealistic targets from the start, then you'll never stick to them. But if you start with small changes - making coffee rather than buying it; taking a packed lunch - you'll soon see a difference. That'll motivate you to keep at it and do more.
Never lose sight of why you're doing it. Saving money for something; paying off the mortgage or clearing debt. That'll keep you motivated. And if you have the occasional wobble, just pick yourself up and start again.
Identify ways you can make estra money - crafting; selling practical skills or unwanted items; taking a lodger or doing surveys. Make sure you're all square tax wise.
Before doing the weekly food shop, check what's in the cupboards and freezer, then plan your shopping list. And stick to it!
Check prices on MySupermarket to make sure you're getting the best deal. Look at value ranges too, they're usually just as good as the branded stuff.
Once you've purchased your food, don't waste it. Use it all up! Try LoveFoodHateWaste for ideas.
When you're cooking, check you're not serving too much using the Perfect Portion tool.
Go meat free a few days a week. When you're serving meat as part of a meal, use it as a flavouring or side dish instead of the main event.
Invite friends round for meals instead of meeting up at a restaurant.
If there are pound shops, value supermarkets or outlet stores locally, get to know what they sell and purchase items from there.
Cut tubes of shampoo, moisturiser etc in half and use the top half as a lid. There's usually a month or so's worth of product hiding at the bottom.
Use up all the toiletries and make-up you have before buying more.
Take advantage of offers - bogoffs, 3 for 2's, price reductions etc - on things you'd normally buy. It's only a bargain if you'll use it!
When buying clothes, think about what else is in your wardrobe it'll go with, how often you'll wear it and how long it'll last. Calculate the cost per wear. And only ever buy something that makes you sing and dance in the changing room when you put it on.
Take good care of your clothes. Hang them up when they're not being worn and air them. Follow the washing instructions and repair them when necessary. They'll last longer.
Never go shopping when you're angry, bored, drunk etc. Or food shopping when you're hungry. You'll spend more.
Remove any retail apps from your phone / tablet and don't save your details. If you've got to physically find a site, log in and enter your card details, it makes you think about what you're spending.
Look for local free or cheap days out for the family. Take a packed lunch and a bottle of water to keep costs down.
If you have a Gold railcard, show it when buying tickets for others as there may be a discount.
Book train tickets in advance if you can as it's usually cheaper.
Never leave electrical goods on standby.
Turn lights off when you're not in the room.
Turn the heating / water down a degree or so. It'll help reduce energy costs. When it's cold, put a jumper on before turning the heating up.
Sign up for MSE's Cheap Energy Club. That flags up any savings on your monthly bill so you can take advantage of them quickly and easily.