I tried 7 money saving hacks and here are the results
By Jessica Truss | Published January 6, 2020
Let’s face it… many of us are skint after Christmas or have resolutions to sort our finances out. There are so many tips out there - but what is actually worth trying? And what is a waste of time?
I tried 7 money saving strategies from the “experts”, here are the results:
1. Save hundreds on your energy bills in 60 seconds
Did you know that energy companies are ripping us off to the tune of £300 or more every single year? With another round of price hikes around the corner, it could be a brutal winter for millions of us.
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RESULTS: I’ve been stuck with British Gas for years - so I signed up to Look After My Bills and saved a whopping £351. The process was incredibly simple and Look After My Bills handled the entire process.
2. Try using cash to restrict spending
I find it so easy to tap my debit and credit cards for contactless payments on less than £30. But those taps can soon add up!
This strategy is often known as the jam-jar approach - dividing money into separate pots for different expenses. You’ll have to look carefully at everything you spend money on and decide which of them are ‘needs’ and ‘wants’.
RESULTS: I’ll be honest: this strategy didn’t really do much for me. It proved to be quite painful (taking the cash out and then having to pay it back in when a bill is due via Direct Debit) and unless you take it really seriously - it’s unlikely to work. Doesn’t mean it won’t for you!
3. Sell unwanted items on Ebay
Whether you have unwanted presents or are planning a New Year clear-out, here are a few tips I used to maximise my Ebay profits:
- Close auctions on Sundays: Avoid ending auctions at weird times (e.g. 2am) when fewer people will be up and about in the UK - bidders often prefer to swoop in the last few minutes, hoping others won’t have time to fight back. According to eBay, its busiest time is Sunday evenings, so aim to end your auction then.
- Use eBay as a free removal service: Don’t pay the council to collect old sofas or broken washing machines. Put them on eBay for 1p and people with the skills to fix them may buy them, and collect them from you.
- Use tracked postage to beat the cheats: One problem for sellers is a buyer winning a pricey item, then saying it never arrived and claiming the cash back. If a buyer doesn’t receive their item, they’re entitled to a refund unless you can provide tracking information.
RESULTS: After having a clear-out over Christmas, I put a bunch of items up for auction last week and made a tidy £150. Not bad for 30 minutes work!
4. Audit your Direct Debits
It’s always worth going through your Direct Debits (and bank statements) to find subscriptions that you no longer need.
If you’re in a contract (e.g. gym membership) you may need to provide notice before cancelling the direct debit.
RESULTS: I did an audit of my Direct Debits and realised I was paying for a magazine I no longer read - it was being delivered to an old address! That’s a saving of £10 per month.
5. Check your income tax code
Millions of tax bills are wrong - that’s because huge swathes of tax codes that tell employers how much tax to take from you are incorrect. It’s your responsibility to check, you can use an online tool to figure it out.
RESULTS: It turns out I was on the correct tax code, so made no savings using this strategy. However, I’ve heard of stories where people have saved hundreds every month. It’s worth checking and takes just a few seconds.
6. Drive down petrol costs
The easiest way to find the cheapest forecourt in your area is by comparing prices using a free tool. Go to PetrolPrices.com and after registering, enter your postcode and tell it how far you’re willing to travel. It’ll list the cheapest petrol stations in your area.
RESULTS: I checked my postcode and found a difference of 16% between the cheapest and most expensive petrol stations in my area! That will help to save decent cash over the course of a year.
7. Save on supermarket shopping
Supermarkets are very clever at separating their products into different categories, using language to give you the choice of how ‘luxury’ or ‘basic you want to be. Often a manufacturers’ brand and own brand may well be made in the same factory!
A recent story online showed that Aldi’s ready to roast vegetables were made in the same factory as the same product from Waitrose. The difference in price was 55%!
Next time you shop, swap one of everything to something just one brand level lower. So if you usually buy Lurpak butter, this time buy Tesco’s own brand. Many can save £1,000s when dropping a brand level on everything!
RESULTS: I tried this for my first shop of the new year and saved almost £30 on like-for-like products. That would result in over £1,500 across the course of a year! I definitely recommend trying this strategy to save money on your supermarket shops.
Important: don’t forget to save £300+ a year on your energy bills
As it’s winter, ensure you’re on the best deal. A recent report from the energy regulator estimates the average household is getting overcharged by £300+ every year by greedy energy companies.
Make sure you get a fair deal - join Look After My Bills for free (it takes just 60 seconds) and let them do all of the hard work. One quick sign up can save you £300+ every single year.