20 Practical Ways to Save Money

Discover how easy it is to cut the cost of everything from rent to commuting, with our big list of money-saving tips and tricks. A penny saved is a penny made!

  1. Food shop in the evenings

    After about 6pm, most supermarkets start heavily reducing prices on items they need to shift by the end of the day.

    Still make a list, but if you’re flexible on brands and flavours you could bag fresh produce that’s still plenty good to eat, but for pennies. Just don’t shop on an empty stomach!

  2. Bag £200 worth of freebies

    From cloud storage to condoms, work your way through our list of free stuff to save yourself around £200!

  3. Buy past ‘Best Before’ dates

    Unlike ‘Use By’ dates, ‘Best Before’ dates are soley recommendations about food quality, not safety.

    The Approved Food website can help you cash in on this – they legally sell groceries close to – or past – their best before date that are still safe to consume. We slashed £55 off one shop, so there are great savings to be had!

  4. Join ‘Secret Sales’ websites

    There are a growing number of sites which run limited-time flash sales, on everything from designer threads to holidays. The savings are significant but you need to be signed up to hear about the sales.

    Most sites rely on word-of-mouth and are not heavily promoted.

    However recently big retailers have also started to branch out into this world to clear surplus stock, like Amazon’s Today’s Deals section.

  5. Have at least one ‘no-spend’ day each week

    Having a no-spend day is both incredibly simple and surprisingly difficult. When you stop to think about it, you probably spend money on at least one thing every day, even if it’s as small as a bus fare or a small snack while you’re out and about.

    Exercise some self-restraint and try to have at least one no-spend day each week (we’ll let you pay for travel if it’s absolutely necessary – otherwise, walk!). It’ll take some forward planning (like buying food in a weekly shop), but the psychological impact of learning not to spend money should mean you become a lot more careful with it in the long term!

  6. Buy stolen goods (legally!)

    Not in an EastEnders kind of way. No dodgy electronics supplied by Fat Elvis, please.

    When the police are unable to track down an item’s rightful owner, they’ll auction it off and give the proceeds to worthy causes. It’s all legit, it’s all above-board, and you can bag a bargain if you submit the winning bid.

    Find out more about police auctions in our guide to buying stolen goods.

  7. Look twice for cheap flights

    It can be a costly rookie mistake to assume the first get-away deals you find are actually the cheapest, especially as prices can change in minutes. Set up price alerts with momondo if you have a destination in mind, or use Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ tool to find bargain-bucket seats on flights to anywhere!

    Complete holiday packages can sometimes (not always) work out cheaper overall, so compare your prices with sites like lastminute.com.

    And don’t dust off your mankini until you’ve read our tips on getting cheap flights.

  8. Speak to the cancellations department

    Got a phone, broadband or TV subscription due for renewal? Tell your provider you’re taking your business elsewhere unless they beat the cheapest alternative.

    This one works especially well with mobile phone companies – try to cancel your contract and you can expect to be directed to their loyalty team who have the power to offer substantial discounts to retain customers. Get your poker face on!

    It’s also worth noting that this works with more than just cancellations. If you’ve had a poor experience with any company, get in touch with their customer services team and make it clear that you’re unhappy – they’ll probably offer you something to make sure you use their services again!

    Just don’t go too hard on the poor person handling your query – this probably wasn’t their fault!

  9. Slash your bills in an evening

    Spend just one evening comparing the cost of your gas or leccy and you could save hundreds by moving to a better deal. Switching is simple and free – just make sure you’re not tied into a contract with exit fees (although the savings can still outweigh them).

    Quickly find out what you can save right now at EnergyHelpine.com.

  10. Get a Big Mac and fries for £1.99 forever

    Bit of a dangerous one, as when the food is this cheap, it’s even harder to resist. But if you can exercise some self-control, this trick should save you some money whenever you decide to treat yo’ self.

    All you have to do is get a Maccy D’s receipt, fill out a quick survey on their site, and the Big Mac and fries discount is yours. When you go in and use your McDonald’s £1.99 deal, you can then use the receipt from that to keep the process going. It’s a vicious delicious cycle.

  11. Get cash back on almost anything

    Every time you buy online, get some of your money back by learning how to use cashback sites.

    Topcashback, Quidco and Swagbucks are worth joining, and they cover almost every online retailer between them. You’ll be amazed at just how much you get back.

    But it’s not just online shopping that offers cashback. Free food (and occasionally some cleaning products and pet food, too) can be nabbed through supermarket cashback apps!

  12. Haggle on your rent (or anything else)

    You’ve got nothing to lose by asking for a rent reduction – if you can show you’ve been a top tenant, the odds are in your favour, as it’s usually cheaper and less hassle for your landlord if you stay on.

    Other tactics to try include paying in advance, or knocking off a month or two from 12-month contracts to account for non-term time.

    But don’t stop at haggling on your rent – anything and everything can be cut down with a bit of persuasion, as we explain in our guide to haggling.

  13. Use the ‘skimming’ trick

    When you experience the thrill of money inbound – Student Loan, birthday cash, wages or anything else – skim 10% off the top and whack it in a savings account (set up a standing order to shuffle the cash over automatically when it lands in your current account).

    If you can manage just £20 a month you’ll be $240 better off at the end of the year (more if you stick it in a top-paying savings account).

  14. Shop baby and world food aisles to save up to 75%

    Supermarket international food aisles hide big savings on staples including rice, lentils, beans, spices and sauces. Foreign brands are as much as 75% cheaper, and are often more authentic than domestic equivalents.

    The same applies to the baby aisle for items like moisturising lotion.

    Often the quantities will be different, so check the price tag for the price per unit of measurement.

  15. Think about phone insurance

    Not only are two-thirds of you likely to damage or break your phone at uni, but phone theft is so rampant that there’s even a national crime unit dedicated to stopping it.

    Insurance obviously costs money, but can save you the expense of a new phone or pricey repairs. So if you’re a butter fingers, have a pricey handset or are locked into a lengthy contract, getting insured is often worth doing.

    Don’t just go with the policy that’s bundled with your gadget – you can get cover for pennies.

  16. Turn your old phone into a sat nav

    Obviously you can use your current phone as a sat nav too, but that’ll just drain your battery and put out the fire flowing through the aux cord.

    Your phone’s GPS can work without a SIM card, so the super money-saving option here is to go to whatever app you’re using and download the route (over WiFi) for offline use. But if you want live traffic updates, alternate route options and all that jazz, the next best thing is to get a cheap-as-chips SIM and use the data on that.

    Don’t need a sat nav? See how much you could make from selling your old phone.

  17. Try the 1p savings challenge

    If taking 10% off all incoming funds sounds like too big a commitment for you, give the 1p savings challenge a go.

    The premise is simple: on day one, you save 1p. On day two, you save 2p. On day three, 3p (and so on). After 365 days have passed, you’ll have saved over $650!

    Although the challenge is intended as a way to start saving in the new year, you can basically start whenever you want – just keep going up in 1p increments, and you’ll save the same amount of money in the same period of time!

  18. Ride the bus for less

    If you catch the bus every day, a bus pass usually works out cheaper (if you’re entitled to disability support, you may be able to get free travel, or funds to help you pay for a pass). Check if there are free metro bus services in your area, too.

  19. Don’t pay for top-selling apps & games

    Most tablet, phone and PC platforms offer free or freemium games, but Amazon’s gone one further and banked a load of premium apps in its Underground service, which offers them all for free.

    That means you can get your hands on Monument Valley (£2.49), OfficeSuite Professional (£9.99) and the inexplicably popular Goat Simulator (£3.99) for no cost whatsoever. The trade-off is that you’ll need to allow Amazon access to your app usage stats to actually run any free downloads.

  20. Swerve premium rate numbers

    If there’s one thing more torturous than most companies’ choice of hold music, it’s the rip-off rates you pay for calling their pricey 084 and 087 numbers in the first place. Even on an inclusive call plan, they can cost up to 60p a minute.

    If you can’t avoid nasty numbers, find a cheaper alternative at saynoto0870 or download WeQ4U which will also call you back once you’re connected. No more epic calls, or paying to stay on hold!