Tuesday, 5 November 2013

20 Hints, Tips and Suggestions to Help you Save Money

How to Prepare for Frugal Living

As we fast approach the end of another year of challenging ourselves to living a productive yet frugal, life, many of us are turning, once again, to preparations for the new year. It may only be early November as I write this but the latest monthly challenge is under way - Novus Frugalus has begun! You can see how to take part here.
 It is a chance for newcomers to frugal living (frugalers) to give it a go, if you like, sampling the lifestyle before committing to taking part in our year-long challenge to cut costs and live well within our own means. It's much easier said than done, I might add, so I thought I would lay down a few hints and tips to help newcomers - 'novus' literally means 'new' - prepare for 2014. Are you sitting comfortably? You may be in for a rough and bumpy ride if you've never before tried this.

  1. Decide exactly why you want to make your lifestyle more frugal - is it a financial necessity for the purposes of clearing debt, a savings exercise so you can afford something special, a major cost-cutting exercise to help safeguard your own financial future or simply because you are so rich that you can afford the extravagance of being eccentric? (Believe me, it will surprise you how many people think this may be the case!) In the beginning, my reasons were for debt-clearing and then gradually graduated onto buying a fixy-up house without a mortgage. Now it is so we can afford to renovate the fixy-up and I'd like to think that within the next couple of years that I'd graduate further towards safeguarding my own financial future. As for eccentricity, well... I continually aspire to that and put in as much practice as possible! If all else fails, I shall simply make myself a big, floppy hat for my own retirement.
  2. Take a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil and draw a line down the middle of the paper. On one side write the heading 'NEEDS' and on the other, write 'WANTS'. Now take a close look around you at home and list what you can see in the appropriate columns. Needs are things that the human body simply cannot live without, whereas 'wants' are everything else. This, in itself, can be a real eye-opener once you see how little of the stuff that surrounds us has any impact on actual life. These are luxuries - whether it's a phone, a television, a games console, an electric gadget, cosmetics, fashionable shoes...
  3. Imagine a sudden and complete loss of income - it doesn't matter the reason, it just matters that you are prepared to ride out that financial storm because for many, this could mean disaster.
  4. List your outstanding debts - everything from the month's credit card bill, overdraft or loan repayment to catalogues, contracts, mortgage, membership fees, subscriptions, insurances and even regular savings plans that may be set up as regular standing orders or direct debits - if the payments are expected, then the companies and organisations concerned are going to attempt to collect them whether or not your income has stopped. If you don't have the financial wherewithal to cover them, banks and creditors are pretty rigid in their rules where fines, fees, penalties and increased interest rates are concerned. For how long could you cover your weekly or monthly outgoings if you suddenly lost your income?
  5. Declutter to make space for storing absolute essentials.
  6. Take advantage of bargains that can be stockpiled, but always remember that a bargain is only a bargain if you will actually use it.
  7. Learn the basics of home cooking - cooking from scratch can save an absolute fortune and let's face it - if you suddenly lose your job, that could provide you with sufficient time to learn a whole load of new stuff.
  8. Quit spending on anything that isn't 100% essential to life itself.
  9. Assess how much your current job costs you - few ever analyse these interesting figures, so fail to see that spending £6,000 extra each year to go and work in a £20,000 job is the same as spending nothing and walking to a £14,000 job, or even one that involves fewer hours. How much do you spend on work-associated expense once you count in cars (or other transport) child care (where needed), lunches, coffees, cosmetics, extra grooming, suitable clothing and all the other little things that add up over the space of a year? Every mile you drive costs more than the price of the fuel you put into the tank.
  10. Bin raking! This may sound like something the proverbial tramp on the street might do but I mean it in a slightly different way; I mean start looking at what is being binned in your household, because everything that goes into it has, most likely, been paid for out of your income. Even the packaging stuff comes in is paid for somewhere along the line and everything you bin is money wasted.
  11. Quit buying takeaways - how many meals do you make and how many arrive in the house ready-made by way of supermarkets, takeaways or fast-food drive-through type places? Basing costs on my own £1 per person per day for ALL meals, it is fair to say that the cost of a takeaway meal for one can cost as much as some might spend on groceries to make meals for the full week. Frugal living while debt-busting does not include buying ready-made food.
  12. Quit eating out - a single meal out in a hotel or restaurant can equate to a full month's worth of food supplies for one adult. Only the seriously affluent can afford to eat a month's worth of meal at one sitting.
  13. Quit non-essential habits like smoking, alcohol or any other drugs, for that matter - even sweets and certain types of fizzy juice can be perceived as addictive and rack up a small fortune of spends! They simply aren't worth it if you are serious about becoming debt free, solvent and financially secure for the long-term.
  14. Count up how much toilet paper your household gets through in a full year. This may sound ludicrous, but once you have calculated the true costs of what you're flushing down the drains, you'll understand the importance of being prepared to grab a bulk bargain when you see one.
  15. How many loads of laundry do you do over the period of a year and at what cost? I was horrified to see some laundry detergents costing as much as 40p per wash and then some folks still needing to add on another 10p per load in fabric conditioner/softener without including the electrical costs of running a washing machine and, perhaps also a tumble dryer. Yes, this is the top end of the scale, but dyed in the wool frugalers will be washing at low temperatures, using white vinegar as the basis for their fabric softener and a soap/washing soda mix as their detergent. (See how to make homemade laundry detergent.)
  16. Start saving good jars and bottles with screw top lids that will be suitable for jam, jelly, pickle and chutney making. Save plastic tubs for soup and other meals that can be frozen.
  17. Start looking at what you have from the point of view - could I make that myself? Even clothing can be handmade easily and cheaply once you know how.
  18. Get acquainted with your local charity shops, exchange trading groups, freecycling sites and like-minded others in your area. You might be surprised at how many are playing this moneysaving game and you'll also need an outlet for decluttering if you don't have the time or inclination to sell it to raise a few extra pounds.
  19. Set aside a corner and a box to keep all those handy crafting essentials together - the world of make do and mend is a rather fascinating one that can lead you in many directions. For many, it opens up a whole new side of life that involves crafting. Handmade can equally mean individually designed and unique. What designer label can offer you that and at what cost, I ask?
  20. If you need to spend, try to get cash or loyalty points back on all your purchases. Despite my living in a fairly rural location, I make the most of Topcashback, Approved Food, MuscleFood, Nectar card and a cash-back credit card.

There are so many ways to help you cut costs and save cash while going about your normal day-to-day life that no single post could ever cover them all. I'll post another list soon, so watch out for that. meanwhile, my suggestion is that you join us in the Novus Frugalus moneysaving challenge and take full advantage of everything that everyone has to offer by way of what they are doing in their own homes and workplaces, so you can prepare to launch headlong into a frugal lifestyle. It needn't be boring, nor need it be miserable, self-imposed poverty. Yes, it is a tough lifestyle to adapt into while desperately trying to claw your way out of a quagmire of debt, but the rewards are rich, in every sense of the word.
  • If you don't like admitting to cost-cutting DIY, refer to your exploits as hobbies.
  • If you don't like admitting to being skint, refer to it as austerity measures while saving for X, Y or Z - it was a good enough excuse for the Government!
  • If you can't get out of gym membership then make the absolute most of it - shower and wash/blow dry your hair before you leave.
  • If you don't like explaining to the kids why they can't go gallivanting with their friends to cinemas, fast food takeaways or whatever, make it fun for them - let them entertain at home on a budget
  • If you can't go a month without a visit to the hairdresser or beautician's, ask yourself some serious questions!
  • If you can't simply quit an expensive habit, start now and gradually phase it out between now and new year then say it's a New Year's resolution.
  • If you want something, make it affordable to your budget rather than over-stretching your budget in an attempt to afford the unaffordable.


  1. Excellent posting as usual NYK - all makes absolute sense!

    1. Thanks, Carol. I did think of making it 50 or more hints and tips, but the list is endless. I decided not to drive everyone round the bend with it in one go. :)

  2. I like no 17.Thanks!~

    1. I'm not a dressmaker by any manner or means, but once shown how to unpick an old item and copy the pattern to make it a new item, it was like a light bulb moment, even if I did need to hand sew. I now have a sewing machine, gifted to me this year, so who knows what that might produce in the future? Good luck with everything, let me know how you get on and what you make. :)

  3. I like number 8 "Quit spending on anything that isn't 100% essential to life itself"... because I have seen many people in my life they just waste money on unnecessary thing.

    1. Number 8 should probably be number 1, as it's the one that helps most, in my opinion. Anyone can live without the luxuries of TV, telephones, Internet, cars etc.


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