Small changes, big difference

Some ideas to get you started…

1. Swap ‘branded’ products for basic ranges. Most supermarkets now have their own low-cost, ‘no frills’ ranges. They might not be as pretty as other ranges, but they are signficantly cheaper and a great way to cut costs on your store cupboard basics.

2. Have a ‘use-up’ week. This is a great suggestion from our Coffee House whereby you use up all those things knocking around in the cupboards and freezer before hitting the shops. We’re all guilty of stock-piling tins and packets but once in a while, USE THEM! It might make for some creative mealtimes, but that’s all part of the fun. Get the kids involved in coming up with ideas for using your stockpile up. Have a use-up toiletries month too – don’t buy any toiletries until you’ve used everything up.

3. Write a list – and stick to it. Whether you’re food shopping, clothes shopping or buying stuff for the kids, having a written list of what you need to buy – and sticking to it – can make a real difference to your spending. Remember that supermarkets are ruthless when it comes to marketing products to us unsuspecting shoppers – they might seem good offers, but an offer is only good if you need it. Shopping online might be even better, as you can do a price comparison on websites like Price to choose the cheapest store with the product of your requirement.

4. Check unit prices wherever possible to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Often so-called special offers are not necessarily the cheapest option, when the price is averaged out per unit. The same goes for pre-packed items versus loose – it really does pay to spend a few moments checking prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

5. Bulk buy or share a BOGOF deal with a friend or family and split the costs.

6. Buy Out of date/clearance food – you can get huge discounts on food that is just slightly out of date. Approved Food UK is the largest online seller.

7. Use the half the amount of washing product (powder/tablets/liquid) and softener – it works just as well and won’t clog your machine up according to a Netmums recommended washing machine engineer. Try out laundry balls for washing machines/dryers – signficantly cheaper and easily available on Amazon.

8. Try out the easy 1 home facial, you’ll be amazed at the results.

9. If you visit our Frugal Living Club, you’ll hear the members talk about ‘NSD’, ‘LSD’ and ‘HSD’ – don’t worry, this isn’t some weird code, but a really good way of arranging your week’s spending into No Spend Days, Low Spend Days and High Spend Days. Try and make sure the High Spend Days only happen occassionally, perhaps when the kids need kitting out with new uniform, or you really need a new hair cut. Some high spend days are completely justifiable, of course, but keeping a record can alert you to bad spending habits. If the HSDs are happening way more than the LSDs, it’s time to take action…

10. Have you seen the brand new Netmums Marketplace? Trusted by mums, the Netmums Marketplace brings you money-saving expertise, services, help, deals and offers that deliver real value to you and your family. Find some great deals on the Netmums Marketplace today

How to live a frugal life – what mums say

Our Frugal Living Club is packed with tips and advice on living a frugal life – do pop in and join the chat as it’s an incredibly lively, friendly place to pick up money-saving ideas. Here are some of our favourites:

“Cook from scratch – make large meals, eat one half and freeze the rest for another day – saves me a fortune and some time too. Keep in tins and packets of staples such as lentils, mixed beans, cous cous, soya mince, passata and some dried herbs and spices to jazz it up with – all cheap if bought in large packets and healthy too. I make my own bread – I buy a packet of good quality flour and make three delicious, fresh, low-salt loaves for about 30p each.” Posted by M

“My OH makes his own home brew. A kit costs 15 but it makes 30 pints and the only other ingredient is sugar. Means he doesn’t want to go to the pub either which saves a small fortune…!” Posted by Clair

“Make a menu for the week and then make a shopping list with just the things that you need for that week. I found my shoppping bills cut down by about two thirds because I was only buying the things I needed and not aimlessly wandering around putting things in the trolly. Also beware BOGOF offers – they aren’t always the bargain they seem!” Posted by Lucy

“The most expensive time is Xmas so have a wee sit down and think about who you need to buy for, how much you want to spend and make yourself a budget that you can then save towards each week. If you are not good at saving then try buying the actual presents throughout the year so that come December you’re all sorted.” Posted by Elizabeth

“We invested in a chest freezer – it makes so much sense considering we live right in the country. It saves me money on diesel if I always have a stock of bread and milk in. Plus all the veg that we grow can be blanched and frozen and popped in there.” Posted by Sonia

“We have trouble keeping our house warm so I have invested in black-out linings for all our curtains. During the really cold months I kept the curtains closed upstairs and made a big point of closing doors to conserve the warmth. I also tuck my curtains behind the radiators to keep the warm air from becoming trapped. Don’t forget if you’re in rented accommodation you could ask your landlord whether you’re entitled to the warm grant for free insulation? It might take a while to come through but could help cut down bills.” Posted by Penny

“I do online surveys and get a 10 Tesco voucher about every six weeks for doing this. I try and sell what I can too. Last year we sold practically everything we didn’t really need and made about 500. We used this to buy a tent and camping equipment so we can now go on holiday and have a few cheap weekend breaks.” Posted by Julie

“Some cities have veg plots (obviously seasonal) that are community based so you can pick what you need. We also have a apple orchard near us which the local community has access to.” Posted by Donna

“Keep your peelings. Roast them with a bit of oil and some herbs of some sort. Potato peelings are full of fibre and vitamins – I call them “crispie crunches” in my house and there are never any left!” Posted by Elizabeth

“Our grandparents tell us Britain was never healthier and fitter than during the war so we decided to undertake a two-year experiment to find out if this was indeed true. We no longer have a car, we live in an eco house, we conserve our energy, we conserve water and we use 1940s food rations and recipes to eat from. We can also afford now to save 1/4 of our income. Read our diary at Rationing Revisted.” Posted by Elizabeth

Frugal Living Club suggests

Our hard-at-work Frugal living club members suggest the following tips. Some may not be for everyone, but these creative ideas form a handy reference tool if you’re just starting out on the road to frugality and want some pointers…

Around the home

Add washing soda to make your washing powder go further.

When using solid dishwasher tabs, break them in half, using just one half per wash.

Mix equal amounts of borax powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt – add water and you have a super cleaning paste, ideal for using on ovens.

Living in a house with hard water can be expensive, as this could reduce the lifespan of pipes and home appliances. Installing water softeners to tackle this problem might not only help you save money but also save the extra time you spend cleaning the showers, sinks, or faucets.

Conserving energy

Roll up old blankets for draught excluders, pull furniture away from radiators.

When boiling the kettle only boil as much as you actually need.

Make sure all lights are off and switch everything off from the mains when electrical items are not in use.

Health, beauty & fashion

Invest in a reusable moon cup a silicone device that is inserted in the place of tampons. Cloth sanitary towels that can be washed or reused are another cost effective alternative.

Blend 1/2 cup of room temperature mayonnaise, 1 egg yolk, 1/4 cup of olive oil and apply to hair. Put on a shower cap or plastic bag, apply a a hot flannel and cover with a towel. Leave on for for 20 mins and then rinse out (don’t shampoo) for shiny, conditioned hair.

Oats are great for the skin and make a great face mask when applied on top of honey.

Get Razor Advice suggest to try investing in a permanent straight razor instead of continually buying disposable razors. It’s an investment in the short term that’ll save you tons for years to come. Also, don’t buy shaving creams – hair conditioner on legs and underarms works just as well. To be honest, if you want to opt for something that can help you cut the cost of buying razors or shaving creams, then consider trying out Laser Hair Removal Treatment which can have long term effects. During laser treatments, the follicles are prevented from growing new hairs. As a result, the hair follicles become dormant for a long period of time – much longer than with shaving or waxing.

Food & drink

A chicken can last for 4 meals – get canny with meal planning.

Visit the supermarkets at the end of the day on Sunday to get the big reductions.

Slow cookers save you time, money and washing up!

Save the ends of the loaves of bread to make breadcrumbs.

Try ‘wild foods’ – look for berries and fruit to pick, wild garlic and nettles – you can blanche nettles in boiling water to stop them stinging and use in place of spinach. Blackberries are abundant and can be used to make delicious jams and crumbles. Look out elderberries, too, and rosehip which can be combined with apple to make jam.

Use lentils to ‘bulk’ out mince-based dishes. Oats are another good ‘bulking’ food, as are tinned tomatoes and potatoes.

Try using powdered milk for tea and coffee, and for baking and making up sauces. Cheap powdered potato can also be used to thicken soups and stews.

Take a tip from the Italians, who invented ‘Cucina Povera’ (‘poor cooking’) – pasta and risotto is cheap to make and fills you up. A hearty minestrone soup is a healthy way to use up veg leftovers – bulked out with macaroni pasta it makes a filling meal. Polenta is another very cheap, delicious and nutritious staple.

Grown your own fruit and veg.

Check out our Frugal Living Club’s top money saving recipes, including: Beef Stew; Minestrone; Chicken & Potato Bake; ‘Posh’ Broccoli Bake – there’s more inspiration in the club, plus further great ideas in our Budget Eating section.

Baby & Children

Cloth nappies save you hundreds…particularly if you’re planning a large family.

When buying socks or mittens buy them all the same so if some get lost in the wash or dropped at a park you can still always have a pair.

When washing your children’s hair add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the rinse water to protect against headlice.

Sign up for Supersavvyme, a website where you can get free samples and money-off coupons on a range of baby & children products, as well as general health, beauty and household products.