AS WE HIT the halfway point of January, many of our bank balances have been completely depleted and lunch meals are made up of leftover Christmas biscuits and tins of tuna.
We’ve promised ourselves to be more savvy from now on so this doesn’t happen before the next cheque comes through the post. Drink less, quit smoking and dust off the bicycle are all on the ‘to-do immediately’ lists.
To get real, we asked TheJournal.ie readers for their most useful money saving tips and they really came up with the goods. Here’s a few that we collected on Saturday and can’t wait to try:
James Kiernan: Commit to using for two weeks (or as long as it takes) any food in your freezer or store cupboard items. You’ll be amazed at what you may have bought, still in a sell by date that can make meals. When that’s done never ever shop on an empty stomach plan the food for the week and make lists when shopping. Stick to it.
Reuse and find a new use for as much as possible: glass jars are great for lots of things, old wine bottles make lovely water containers instead of plastic jugs in the fridge, put up your white Christmas lights somewhere instead of packing them away. Little touches that don’t cost much but make you less likely to get bored and want to completely redecorate.
Ness Dakota: Buy your birthday or any cards in euro shops. I bought six cards for my nieces and nephews at 59c each. You’d pay over €3 each in general shops!
Beware of false savings- as in buying cheap shoes, cheap clothes etc. Not saying you need designer gear but “upgrading” shops for your basics can actually save you. I stopped buying jumpers in Penneys and went to Next. I spend double on a jumper but it lasts four times longer.
Fiona Hurley: For the girls: You don’t need fancy pink razors or fluffy makeup removal pads. Buy razors in the men’s aisle and big rolls of cotton wool in the baby section. Also, check out “mooncup” or “diva cup” for time-of-the-month.
Buy higher quality clothing and shoes but fewer of them. For example, I bought two pairs of branded boots four years ago and I wear them for at least 8 months of each year and they’re still like brand new. I bought them online at a discount so I have two pairs of quality boots that cost me less than €150 all in. And I don’t have to keep buying boots every six months. Invest in a quality overcoat. Good underwear. Buy T-shirts and stuff like that in Penneys. That way you get the most out of the important pieces of clothing while still saving on more “disposable” clothing.
Buy unbranded cleaning products in Lidl. They’re just as good as branded goods but cost way less.
Noreen Thompson: Grocery shop in the evening where possible to get some great discounts on foods close to use by date for immediate consumption or freeze them. I used to steer clear of ‘that’ shelf in better times but now it’s the 1st place I check when shopping, how times have changed! Have got some great deals from it though & feel foolish for being snobby about it before. Go on, give it go!
Am making my own sourdough bread using a homemade grape starter for yeast. Therapeutic watching it form its bubbles and doing all that kneading!
OU812: Do a food audit every two months of your larder presses & freezer(s). Make a list then go to the like of http://myfridgefood.com.
Enter what you want to use & it’ll give you recipes
Cut out fizzy drinks for the kids. Not only will you reduce the shopping bill but you will save a fortune at the dentist later. The taxpayer will also save a fortune in funding on diabetes clinics and healthcare costs further down the line. It bewilders me as to why parents let their loved ones drink cola and the like when it is so toxic to their health.
Paddy Downey: Cutting back from two takeaway coffees per day to just one, saving over €400 per year (which is a bit frightening to realise). No, I won’t be giving up the other one just yet!
If you have a freezer, use it to buy food in bulk and cook in batches. Good meals for freezing include soups, lasagnas, and quiches. Avoid watery veg like tomatoes or aubergines. Buy a whole chicken instead of individual pieces. Cut down on meat, either by eating a few veggie meals a week or by bulking up the veg content of your meals.
Heating and Electricity
John Carroll: Install a solid fuel stove if you can. We installed one last September and now rarely use oil central heating. I reckon well save about €1,000 this winter.
Work out how much electric you use each week on average and pay it at the post office each week. (A little inconvenient I know but just take a paper bill in with you and add the money on). That way, when you get the bill, you’ll have little or nothing to pay. If you do this, you’ll have less money to squander on unnecessary things such as take-out coffee or expensive sandwiches.
We pay the same whether winter or summer so we always end up with credit during the very cold winter months, which means we can switch an extra electric heater on without fear of a horrible bill coming our way. And with no lump sum of money to find every two months, it’s one less thing to stress about.
Ness Dakota: If your a massive tea/coffee drinker.. Boil a full kettle and put hot water into a flask.. Saves u reboiling the kettle several times in the evening… Kettle is pretty expensive to use!
Holidays and Entertainment
Book summer holiday flights now and book accommodation afterwards. You’ll save another €1,000 for a family of five.
Zoe Georgina: If you’re in Dublin get yourself a Cineworld subscription. €20 a month (direct debit) and you can go see as many movies as you want. Perfect for going and “doing something” but not spending tons of money.
If you like the cinema, go to early bird showings. I saw a showing of Gravity last year that cost me less than a fiver.
John Carroll: Complete tax return and claim everything you can. We average €500 per annum tax rebate.
Do your MED 1 to the revenue on medical expenses. Even if you’re lucky enough to have private healthcare you can still do med 1 on the balance not refunded. The revenue will also then do a P21 balancing statement which could refund you more in overpaid taxes. Keep photocopies of any receipts. You don’t even need to send them in. One phone call will do.
Wishie Jatt: If you are renting make sure you are claiming your rent relief back from Revenue every year if eligible. Always amazed at how many people I know don’t do it!
Do the 52 week savings challenge.
Put the equivalent amount of euro to correspond to the week number away.
Week 1 = €1
Week 2 = €2
The whole way along to
Week 51 = €51
Week 52 = €52
It adds up to almost €1,500 & gets you into a savings habit.
Stephanie Crawford (in response): OU812, I’mdgoing this, but backwards. I put in €52 this week, will put in €51 next week etc. I find it’s too hard to find that €51, €52 in December!
Cancel subscription TV and switch to free view.
Will Hourihan (in response): Did this last year! We now receive all the British channels and all the Irish channels in HD without having to pay SKY for the privilege of having a crystal clear picture. We also have the facility to rewind and pause live TV. There are a lot of crap channels but let’s face it SKY had a lot of crap also.
Drive to the pub when going out. Then instead of drinking coke or club orange drink cordials. Drive home. Do that say 6 times a month, even 4 times a month and easily save €300.
Other bits and bobs
Emily Elephant: Get a bike. You’d be amazed how much you save in petrol or bus fares alone. If you do it enough, you can cancel the gym membership too. Of course the serious savings start if you can sell the car.
Florence Nightingale: Wash your clothing inside out. It really does prolong the life of the garment.
Open thread: What are your best money-saving tips?