Most of us are actively looking for ways to tighten the purse strings and I’d like to share with you my story of how I saved over £5,000 in just one year. This was originally written in 2015, so whilst the prices may have changed, the ethos remains the same and there are still lots of savings to be had.
Read on for money-saving tips, useful links and ideas for frugal living.
I have been signed up to the Martin Lewis/Money Saving Expert newsletter for several years now as he posts such good advice. Folliwing him on social media or via the newsletter really is the best place to start for anyone wanting to reduce their household expenses, make annual savings and therefore, cut their annual budget.
Several years ago, I joined a couple of Facebook groups to see others’ upcycling creations as I love making something new and quirky from something old and unloved. It turned out the groups were more about saving money with frugal tips rather than crafting projects, but I learned so much from reading some of the posts.
We have always led a fairly frugal life, more because we are not materialistic people and we both came from families who had to “make do”, but I got to thinking about how much money we could save thanks to all these tips that I’d been reading.
I did start to keep a log of what I was saving but it got too much to keep track of in detail, but one rule of thumb seemed to be that whenever anything comes up for renewal, or you realise your usage has changed, contact your supplier and use price comparison sites, DO NOT AUTO RENEW ANYTHING!
Using that ethos and more money-saving tips, we were able to save over £5,000 in just one year! Yes it sounds unbelievable doesn’t it but you’ll soon see how easy it is and you can start watching your savings build up
Here are some of the things that we saved money on:
TV/INTERNET/PHONE PACKAGE – SAVED £533 pa
Initially, I saved £24 by paying line rental upfront for the year.
Then I reduced TV/phone/broadband from £63.50 to £35.50 a month by reducing our package as there were so many channels we didn’t watch. I phoned our supplier to work out a more suitable deal – they were very helpful as they didn’t want to lose our custom.
Later in the year, it had got to the point that we were no longer watching any live tv at all. We preferred to watch Netflix box sets so we decided to cancel our tv package altogether but upgraded our internet speed.
We now only watch Netflix on our TV screen via a laptop connected by an HDMI cable, thus reducing the Virgin Media Bill to only £18.50 a month because we had already paid the line rental for the year.
As we were no longer watching live tv we were also able to cancel our TV Licence saving us a further £145 per year. We also got a refund of £40 for the unused part of the licence that we had already paid for.
The TV Licensing department ask lots of questions about your viewing habits and once they are happy that you do not view live tv they amend your account. They then send you a letter every two years to update your situation. This is a 2-minute job online just to clarify you still do not watch live TV, thus not needing a license.
HOUSEHOLD UTILITIES – GAS & ELECTRIC – saved £950
I reduced our gas/electric from £125 to £60 a month using The Martin Lewis money-saving home energy site (saving £780 pa).
I reduced our boiler service cover by £120 a year by changing to another supplier through TopCashback and getting free electricity cover added too.
By searching through Go Compare and Compare the Market via Quidco and TopCashback, I got our household insurance £50 cheaper for a better cover with a lower excess and cash back just for getting the quotes.
Read more about how to use cashback sites in the link at the end of the post.
MOBILE PHONES – SAVED £250+
Two family members reduced their mobile phone bills by coming out of contracts, keeping existing phones and taking a monthly sim only deal. Initially, they used Tesco for £12.50 and £20 per month saving each of them at least £20 a month.
Since then my husband switched to THREE and now pays £15 a month for 9 months as he got 3 months free. However, deals change frequently. It also allows us to use the phone when we are road tripping in the USA at no extra cost, including data which we can use for GPS and contacting friends via Whatsapp, etc.
CAR EXPENSES – SAVED £330+
By not auto-renewing our RAC cover we got a £20 reduction and an additional 3 months free when we suggested that we’d go elsewhere (worth over £30). We later added our 2 adult children to the policy and got Family Cover at no additional cost. They have now left home and we have our breakdown cover included in our bank account package. Although we do have to pay for the package, we also get worldwide travel cover and mobile phone cover included which works out much cheaper than if we had purchased them seperately.
We gained loyalty card points by filling up with petrol at Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons after we’d done our grocery shopping.
We saved over £200 for better cover and lower excesses on our 2 car insurances by using price comparison sites via Quidco and TopCashback. They also paid a small cashback just for getting a no-obligation quote from Go Compare and Compare the Market.
FREE FOOD, TOILETRIES & CLEANING PRODUCTS – SAVED £1000+
At the height of UK couponing a few years ago *, I could save around £20 most weeks. Especially in conjunction with supermarket special offers, using discount offers from loyalty cards, claiming cashback for food items from Quidco ClickSnap, and generally being a savvy shopper, stocking up on BOGOFs and buying out of season.
* Couponing is no long as prolific in 2021 but there are still savings to be had which you can read about in my post on couponing and cashback.
BUYING AND SELLING – SAVED £700+
As I now only listen to music via my iPod I sold CD collection for £700.
I often buy household items, clothes and furniture at car boot sales and local Facebook selling groups saving me £100s. I resell what I no longer have a use for thus recouping what I have spent.
GIVING UP SMOKING – SAVED £1000
Due to a health scare, I successfully gave up smoking which saved me around £1000 a year just from smoking approx. 7 cigarettes a day. Cigarettes and tobacco are so much more expensive now, so there are great savings to be made from giving up, not to mention the health benefits.
HEALTH – SAVED OVER £1530
We had free eye tests with a downloadable coupon at Tesco saving us £50. Check current offers at Tesco, Boots, Optical Express, Specsavers, etc. It’s rare you would need to pay for an eye test now. You can also get free hearing tests at some opticians too.
We had free health checks testing for diabetes, high cholesterol and more at Tesco Pharmacy saving us £40.
I use the 3 month pre-pay prescription service which gives you a huge saving if you need more than 3 items in 3 months. I saved over £300 in a year on what I would have paid if I’d bought each prescription separately. You can also buy a year certificate which saves even more. This can be obtained via some local pharmacies but it’s very quick and easy to do online. They no longer send out actual cards or certificates anymore but will email or text you your certificate number which you can register with your pharmacy for the duration.
Both of our dentists went private. We stayed with them for many years but decided to change to one who charges NHS prices rather than pay for private when a new surgery opened in our town. We saved £144 on just two check ups a year for the pair of us.
GIVING UP SMOKING
Due to a health scare, I successfully gave up smoking which alone saved me around £1000 a year just from smoking approx. 7 cigarettes a day. Cigarettes and tobacco are so much more expensive now, so there are great savings to be made from giving up, not to mention the health benefits.
So, we reduced our bills or got free stuff to the value of over £5000 in that one year! Which in turn meant we could spend it on a holiday! Of course we are able to earn more cashback by making our bookings via Booking.com via Quidco/TCB and get cheaper flights by using our airmiles – you can read more info about how to do this on my How to Plan a Road Trip or Holiday to the USA post.
I hope this will help others realise what can be saved with a bit of time and effort!
Please read my other money-saving tips especially if you are thinking of signing up to Quidco and TopCashback as I go into more detail about them.
I am also available for freelance writing about money saving ideas so if you’d like to work with me then please get in touch.