8 top tips for cutting costs on everyday living that can quickly become expensive!
Believe it or not there are a number of ways to cut back on the cost of living a rich and fulfilled lifestyle without cutting back on the things you love. Through a number of slight lifestyle changes you can feel considerably richer and even increase your enjoyment of life in general.
Stop Small Shopping Trips
Saving money works best when it is part of an ongoing strategy. I used to find that shopping for small items in a local grocery store, such as milk (which we will use for this case study) always lead to temptation, and I could return home having spent £10 on chocolate, beer and other luxurious but non-essential items. Because of this I have developed a careful planning system that prevents me from needing to go to the corner shop in the first place. I buy large two litre bottles of milk rather than the small ones. These obviously last longer, reduce packaging costs and significantly lower the frequency of the nightmare ‘no milk for my morning coffee’ scenario. One way to feel better about making too many unnecessary trips to the local shop is a new site called cornershoponline, a system that intends to encourage the friendly shop down the road to have an accessible online presence.
Easy to Freeze
Bigger milk bottles not enough to keep you out of that corner shop? How about always keeping a 2 litre bottle of milk frozen? When you have only one day left in your current two litre bottle, remove a frozen one and place it in a washing up bowl or sink full of water. After about 12 hours it will be defrosted and ready to put in the fridge. Don’t be put off if the frozen milk looks yellow, that’s just one of it’s quirks which will not effect it’s defrosted state! Don’t keep two bottles close together in the freezer or they will stick to one another but aside from that the bottles don’t tend to split during the freezing process (although you can pour off a small quantity from the top of the bottle just to make sure).
So how are you going to prevent housemates from exploiting your well organised money saving lifestyle? Get them involved! It is wise to establish a system early on to ensure you’re not buying all the communal commodities such as milk, butter, toilet paper and cleaning products. For some a collection jar will work. If everyone in the house puts in 20p a day there will be enough to buy some of these essential items by the end of the week (but not enough to take out drinking, which could prevent exploitative housemates from doing that). In case the communal treasure chest idea doesn’t work, here is an inspiring link from a collection jar expert.
The other system is for each housemate to have a labelled bulldog clip, where receipts for these things (and paid bills) are kept all in one place. At an established time in the week you can work out how much everyone has paid then even up the score by getting the lowest spenders to pay the difference.
Community Promotes Economy
Nights out in the UK are expensive and are going to make a huge dent in your budget. However, socialising is very important, so it is wise to economise on the pricey elements of a night up the pub (the beer) and engage more enthusiastically with the free things (conversation and games). You spend less by playing pool in your local bar (find one that lets you play for 50p instead of a pound) than you would if you were just sat drinking. Fancy something cheaper? Ask if they have a chess or backgammon board and give your brain a workout! Here is a good series of videos explaining the rules of backgammon. It’s a very rewarding and addictive game! Failing that, carry a deck of cards with you and get some games going. By establishing a community in your local bar you can be making the most of your surroundings and engaging with locals without the high bar tab.
Organise Cheaper Gatherings
Outside of the pub there is a whole world of entertainment available to you. It’s not hard to find free TV shows on the internet and installing a projector in a front room will make this even more of an event. When your student loan comes in, buy a cheap projector with your housemates on Ebay and link it to a hifi for a home cinema that everyone will be jealous of. Arrange gatherings with friends to watch new episodes of whatever TV show you’re all hooked on, films or even a mind expanding documentary. Offer free tea and coffee to make these events a comfortable night out and soon people people will be bringing a bottle for being a great host. If you get into the habit of organising these get togethers you’ll be encouraging your circle of friends to value time spent without attending expensive pubs.
This is the obvious one, but it relates to everyone so it would be crazy to miss it out. The big two german supermarkets, Aldi and Lidl, have increased their share of the the market by giving consumers a smaller selection without compromising on quality. This common sense strategy not only flies in the face of how the longer established supermarkets do business; it really makes sense, causing less waste and giving better support to British farmers. Oh yes, and they are inexpensive places to shop!
Coupons in Supermarkets
If one of these supermarkets is out of range there are further savings that can be made using coupons. It requires a bit of organisation, but this extreme couponing article should be of some help.
Buy in Bulk
A monthly shop is another way to prevent you from spending extra money on treats and novelty items. Forget that basket and fill up a supermarket trolley. Be sure to keep everything you need on a list and stick to it. Update this list throughout the first month as you run out of supplies. If you’re finding it hard to brainstorm meals for a few months there are numerous sites where you can borrow someone else’s. You could even get really serious and invest in a chest freezer with your housemates. Custody cases for this lifesaving device when a housemate leaves the roost is literally the only downside to this idea!