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Families are feeling the pinch as inflation rises 7% and the cost-of-living crisis bites. Shoestring Jane has 15 tips to save money immediately.
When your finances are being squeezed, there are steps you can take to save money quickly, starting with your purchasing habits.
With some thought and creativity, you can cut your spending with very little effort. Here are some ideas for things you can stop buying to save money.
1. Food items from vending machines
Who hasn’t been tempted by the lure of the vending machine from time to time? You can get snacks, drinks, sanitary products and even emergency toothbrushes.
However, you will pay a premium for the convenience of a vending machine. With a little forethought and planning, you can avoid the need to make purchases from them.
For example, you can keep a chocolate bar in your bag for when you get a snack attack and make sure to carry a bottle of water with you.
2. Take out coffees
Ok, I’m not saying I NEVER buy a take out latte. Everyone needs a pick-me-up from time to time. However, buying tea or coffee every day on your morning and evening commute can derail your money saving plans.
Wait until you get to work and make your own, or take a flask with you.
3. Fabric softener
Fabric softener is not essential. In fact, it didn’t exist until the 1960s. Some experts say that fabric conditioners actually do more harm than good.
Domestic guru and author Shannon Lush recommends skipping the fabric softener as: “It will damage your clothes, it is basically oil.”
A cup of white vinegar is said to help, but these days I don’t bother.
4. Magazines and newspapers
Some glossy magazines can cost more than a fiver. A daily newspaper could also set you back at least £10 a week.
However, if you enjoy magazines and newspapers and don’t want to break the habit, you can read them for free.
Most library services offer online access to well known titles via apps such as Pressreader.
5. E-books, audio books and real books
Anybody visiting a charity shop will find a range of fantastic books from around 50p each. If you are saving money, it pays to buy second hand.
If you want a specific title, you can usually order it via your local library service and read it for free.
And if you enjoy an e-book or an audio book, you can get these for nothing through your library too. I am addicted to audio books, which I get via the BorrowBox app. I just had to log in with my library card number.
6. Ironing water
Like fabric softener, ironing water has only become available in recent years. Although there is evidence that using demineralised water extends the life of your iron, the bottled stuff can cost a pretty penny.
If you have a dehumidifier, use the water collected from that in your iron. As it comes from the air, it contains fewer mineral deposits than water from the tap. You can also distill your own water using these instructions.
7. Kitchen roll
For a more economical and eco-friendly alternative to kitchen roll, try cutting an old towel into squares to use instead.
We keep ours in a small basket on the work surface, and throw them straight into the washing machine after use.
8. Bottled water
I am often perplexed to see people buying multipacks of bottled water in the supermarket. In the UK, we are fortunate to have safe drinking water on tap. As we have to pay our water rates anyway, why pay more on top for the bottled stuff?
I find that pouring a jugful and keeping it in the fridge gets rid of any smell and taste of chlorine.
9. Microwaveable rice
If you are in the habit of buying packs of ready cooked rice that you heat in the microwave, consider instead weighing out about 100g per person and cooking it in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Sure, you have to wait for it to cook, but the extra preparation time is negligible. Just give it a stir once it has come to the boil.
It is much cheaper to cook your own rice and there is less packaging for those of us who are eco-conscious.
10. Cotton wool pads
A pack of cotton wool pads costs at least £1.50. Alternatively, you can purchase a pack of 20 reusable cotton or bamboo pads for £8-10 and they will last you for years. Just throw them in the washing machine when you are doing your laundry.
11. Chopped vegetables, fruits and salads
Unless you have a disability that makes chopping difficult, you can save a lot of money by selecting whole produce instead of pre-cut vegetables, fruits and salads. They also last much longer in your fridge, so there is less likelihood of food waste.
12. A different cleaning product for each room
Our grandparents would be astonished at the number of different cleaning products found in the average home today.
While I am not saying that you have to go back to carbolic soap and a scrubbing brush, do you really need to buy a separate cleaning product for each area of your home?
In my experience, a good, general purpose cleaner will do the job, whether you are cleaning your work surfaces, your floor or your toilet. As a bonus, there will be fewer chemicals floating around your home too.
13. Disposable wipes
Pretty much any kind of disposable wipe will have a washable reusable alternative to save you money.
Cotton dishcloths or cut up towels can be dipped into a little detergent or disinfectant to wipe surfaces, and you can use a separate one to clean the bathroom. To clean your floors, try a good, old-fashioned mop and bucket.
Face wipes can be replaced by the bamboo pads I mentioned earlier, with a little cleanser.
14. Dryer sheets
Dryer sheets are another recent invention, one we didn’t know we needed until the advertisers told us we did.
According to Eco Watch, they give off chemicals that: “rub off the dryer sheet and coat your clothing in a slimy layer that has the effect of making your clothes feel softer.”
When you look at it that way, they don’t seem quite so appealing!
Eco Watch suggests using dryer balls instead, which can be used hundreds of times to help get rid of static and wrinkles.
Of course, you will save a lot of money by using a clothes horse or outdoor washing line to dry your laundry rather than a tumble dryer.
15. Extended warranties
Before you consider paying for an extended warranty on a purchase, remember that many items are already covered for a year by the manufacturer. Sometimes you can even call them after that period to extend the cover for free.
Work out how much it will cost you for an extended warranty for, say two years, versus paying to get your item repaired or replaced yourself.
Extended warranties make a lot of money for retailers but are often not worth spending your cash on. Personally, I never bother.
I hope you find this list helpful. Once you start questioning all of the purchases you make, you are likely to find a lot more items you can stop buying to save money!
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
Shoestring Jane is a full-time self-employed mum of three daughters. Her frugal partner in crime is handyman extraordinaire, Mr Shoestring. They are constantly on the look out for ways to save and make extra money. Read more on her blog, Shoestring Cottage.