This week has been much calmer, a return to normal after the unusual excitement of a week working away in London (more here). I was glad to get out for a family walk along the Shotley Peninsula last Sunday, back in the wind and the wide open spaces.
I remain fired up with my New Year’s resolution about returning to the frugal straight and narrow. Long may it last, because the aim is to cut our spending by a quarter during January.
So my five frugal things this week have been:
Stacking up ways to cut food bills
Keeping an eye on food costs can make a big difference to the family budget. If you combine different money saving methods, the savings really start to stack up. For example, when I nipped to the Co-op mid week I combined offers with cut-price yellow-stickered food, cashback from supermarket shopping apps and the 10% student discount from flashing my NUS Extra card.
Net result: food that should have cost £18.04 at full price will only end up costing me £6.98.
I also handed over my Co-op Membership Card, so the spending will also count towards my annual dividend payout.
(Read this post for more than 80 other ways to save money on your food shopping)
Plus, I get a smug glow from this suitably virtuous and WeightWatchers-friendly shop up.
Got three months for the price of two from WeightWatchers
Ah yes, another of my New Year’s Resolutions. Ever the optimist, I have rejoined WeightWatchers on a special offer of three months for the price of two, saving £21.45. Regular readers may remember I cancelled my previous membership in early December, partly to avoid paying for a month when my local meeting was shut for two weeks.
Paying for WeightWatchers is not remotely frugal, compared to exercising iron self-control alone. However, I do value the support and sense of community from the meetings. At least the combination of cancelling and the new joining offer do mean I only end up paying for 9 months out of 12, saving nearly £65 in total.
Now I just need to actually follow the plan, and shed some weight as well as money!
Confirmed free cinema tickets from my current account
In an attempt to earn interest on our emergency savings, I keep the money in current accounts. Weirdly, some current accounts pay more interest than actual savings accounts.
I’m still cross that Lloyds cut the interest rate on up to £5,000 in a Club Lloyds account down to 2%, but I can’t flounce off because it’s hard to find higher rates elsewhere, and I’ve maxed out the higher paying current accounts.
One silver lining with Club Lloyds is that you get another perk with the account. Once a year, you can choose between assorted free “Lifestyle Benefits”: six Cineworld or Vue cinema tickets, Gourmet Card membership for money off restaurant meals or a year’s magazine subscription.
As a family, we’re much more likely to enjoy going to the cinema than magazines or the expense of eating out. I’ve stuck with the 6 Cineworld tickets again this year, which could save as much as £60!
Bag a bargain magazine subscription
If you do want cheap magazines, you don’t have to open a current account to benefit. If you’re lucky enough to still have a local library, ask if you can download digital versions for free.
However, I still lust over the glossy paper versions, even if I’m not keen on the editorial encouragement to buy all the shiny things, right now. The good news is that I’ve found some bargain subscriptions for a quick fix. Check out the Hearst magazine website here* to get 6 issues for just £1 each of magazines including Good Housekeeping, Red, Country Living, Prima and House Beautiful. Fired up to get fit? You can get three issues for just £3 of Runners World, Men’s Health or Women’s Health, to reinforce your resolutions.
Just make a note on your calendar to cancel before you get charged full whack for the normal subscription!
Saved cash by sending two parcels not one
My mother asked me to get some curtains in a sale and forward them to Madeira. If you think stamps are expensive (a bone of contention for Christmas cards) then sending a parcel can sometimes feel like you need a second mortgage.
Posting the curtains was going to cost £36.42, because they weighed more than 2kg. However – and here’s the frugal bit – if you split the parcel into two smaller parcels, each weighing less than 2kg, then the postage only costs £11.10 each.
That slashed the total cost to £22.20, saving nigh on £15! So two curtains in two separate packages are currently winging their way to Madeira.
2kg is also a crunch point for sending parcels in the UK, hurling you into a pit of expense at the Post Office. Using alternative couriers or Collect Plus can be a lot cheaper.
So those are my five frugal things this week, but I also have some news for blog readers.
Start saving at a great rate
If you started 2018 determined to save more, I really do recommend Chip, the automatic savings app.
Full review in this post, but the big news is that Much More With Less readers can earn extra interest. If you download the Chip app (Android or iPhone) and bung in the code MUCH3 before the end of January, you can earn 3% interest on your savings, rather than the normal 1% with a referral code. This rate is way better than virtually every other account on the market. Then refer another couple of friends, and you can push your interest up to the heady heights of 5%. Go forth and prosper!
From your frugal correspondent
I will also be popping up on BBC Radio Suffolk at 12.30pm this Sunday (21 January), to talk about frugal tips while cutting down on using plastic. (Post here) Money saving AND environmentally friendly? This has to be a winner all ways round. So if you have any suggestions you’d like to share with Suffolk, give me a shout in the comments!
*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through it will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Many thanks!