As inflation in the UK hit a six year high of 3.1% back in November, the cost of living is on the rise. Since wages are not rising anywhere near this fast, it is becoming increasingly important to squeeze the most out of every pound. Perhaps the most noticeably rising prices are those we are faced with every day on our supermarket shelves. For this reason, Your Finance Tips has put together these tips on saving as much as possible on your household essentials.
Food prices have been hit particularly hard by the high inflation rates of recent months. Because so much of our food is imported, when our currency drops in value it can have a huge impact on how much our weekly shop will cost. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to make sure that healthy eating remains affordable.
- Buy Tinned and Frozen Food
Not only do these foods tend to be much cheaper, they can also be kept pretty much indefinitely, minimising waste. Tinned tomatoes and kidney beans are great staples to keep in the cupboard, since with a few herbs and spices they can be transformed into a nutritious chilli or soup for very little money.
- Cut Back on Meat
Eating more vegetables and less meat will not only help you cut back your fat consumption, but can also save you a surprising amount of money. Rearing animals is far more costly than growing fruit, grains, and vegetables, and this is clearly reflected in food prices. You could consider eating meat only every other day, or being a weekday vegetarian, as a way of cutting back and saving money. Most supermarkets now stock meat alternatives such as Quorn if you feel that you need a substitute.
- Shop around and try Own Brands
It might be more convenient to buy everything you need at one shop, but this is rarely the cheapest way to buy food. You could try a price comparison site such as Mysupermarket to find the best current deals. Trying supermarket own brand, or ‘basics’ ranges is also a good idea. There are a few cases in which you might notice a difference in quality, but for basics such as flour, sugar, oats, and tinned tomatoes, you will be hard pressed to notice the difference, and these small savings will quickly add up.
- Cook in Batches
Buying food in bulk usually secures the best deals, but it is not always possible to eat it all before it goes out of date. To make sure you get the best deal without having to throw food away, you could cook in large batches and freeze individual portions. This will also save you a lot of cooking time, and supply you with days of convenient dinners.
- Plan Meals in advance
Planning what you will eat each week is also a great money saver, and prevents food waste. Planning a week’s worth of meals in advance ensures you buy only what you need, and gives you time to think about how you could save money. Having a shopping list is also a proven way of saving money in supermarkets as it prevents impulse spending.
Cleaning products are another area of spending in which significant savings can be had with only a few simple changes. Below are our top tips.
- Try Homemade Cleaners
Homemade alternatives to commercially produced cleaners are often just as effective, as well as being cheaper, and less irritating to skin. For example, you could try taking advantage of the naturally antiseptic properties of white vinegar. Pickling a lemon skin in a jar of vinegar makes a great multipurpose cleaner since the acidity effectively cuts through household grease.
- Use less
It might sound obvious, but using a smaller amount of cleaning product each time will make it last longer, hence save you money. For products such as washing up liquid, you could try making a pin prick at the top of the bottle to dispense the liquid through rather than opening it normally. This will make sure that the bottle does not dispense more than you need, and will usually make it last two or three times as long.
- Buy in Bulk
Unlike food, cleaning products will not go out of date for years. You can take advantage of this and buy them in bulk when they are on offer, assuming you have somewhere to keep them!
- Try Cheaper Brands
It might take some time to find brands which perform as well as the ones you’re used to, but being open to trying cheaper brands means being open to further savings.
Toiletries can be notoriously expensive – especially since many items, such as facial wipes and toilet roll, can only be used once. Nonetheless, there are steps you can take to shave down your toiletries budget.
- Use up Everything
Many of us are guilty of abandoning toiletries. Whether stashing away and forgetting about toiletries we received as gifts, or throwing away half-used products when we get bored of them, a lot of money can go down the drain (quite literally) in this way. Before buying new toiletries, have a quick search around the house to make sure you don’t already have what you need, and always use products until they are completely finished.
- Try different shopping Locations
If you tend to buy all of your toiletries in a chemist or supermarket, you could be spending a lot more than you have to. Many discount health and beauty shops have sprung up in recent years, selling your favourite brands at discounted prices. You could also browse your local pound shop for deals.
- Consider Homemade Alternatives
Making your own cosmetics at home is surprisingly easy, and allows you to choose exactly what you put on your body as well as saving you money. You can find some basic shampoo recipes to get you started here.
- Buy in Bulk
Like cleaning products, toiletries are not likely to expire for a long time, especially if unopened. For this reason, it is best to buy in bulk when products you need are on offer. You might spend a bit more in the short term by buying these amounts, but since you’ll have to buy these products less often you can make significant savings.
Overall, saving money on household basics is mostly about shopping around, buying in bulk where this makes sense, and being fairly flexible about what you use. If debt obligations are eating into your budget for household basics, though, help is out there. You could consider a formal debt solution such as an IVA or Trust Deed to help get your finances back on track.