Easy ways you can save £4,400 a year – from cheap food sites to working from home

Easy ways you can save £4,400 a year – from cheap food sites to working from home

On average, we saved £1,000 each in lockdowns, but why stop there?

Claire Dunwell and Natasha Harding find ten simple tasks to save you a fortune.

Dine out account

SAVE AT LEAST £850

EATING out costs an average household around £1,716 a year, but you can save half that by joining restaurant schemes.

Mum Holly Smith, inset, who wrote Money Saving Book: Simple Saving Hacks For A Happy Life, says: “Set up a dedicated email address for restaurants’ newsletters, which often include promotions and vouchers.

“Even your pets will get a free treat if you take them into Pets At Home on their birthday. Download apps from takeaways and pubs for offers.

“Discount app Wriggle (getawriggleon.com) allows restaurants to share last-minute offers. Tastecard, which gives 50 per cent off at many restaurant chains, offers trials – for example, 60 days for £1 – so you can try it out and then cancel.”

Swap energy suppliers

SAVE AROUND £300

UTILITY bills cost more than £77,000 over the average lifetime.

The Money Advice Service says switching suppliers could save you £300 a year but knowing how best to make the change is key.

Holly says: “Price comparison sites are a great way to check for deals on household bills but never use them to switch. Sign up to cashback websites such as Quidco and TopCashback, which pay a lump sum for switching.

“Some providers have ‘refer a friend’ schemes while Bulb, Scottish Power and Octopus Energy will give you and a friend up to £100 credit if they open an account.”

Bin unwanted subscriptions

SAVE £460

WE waste £39 a month on unused direct debits, standing orders and recurring card payments, according to NatWest.

One in ten of us sort through them less than once a year, with unused gym memberships and TV subscriptions among the worst culprits.

Holly says: “Now is the time to go through bank statements carefully. Cancel unused memberships and subscriptions. It’s amazing how many people still pay insurance for pets long after they have gone.”

And for those direct debits you do need to keep, haggle.

Holly says: “Asking to be put through to the cancellation team could knock a huge 80 per cent off your bill.”

Add cheap food sites

SAVE AROUND £1,000

HOUSEHOLDS spend an average of £3,312 apiece on groceries a year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Holly says a few simple hacks could slash costs: “Buying food that is past its ‘best before’ date can save £20 a week – that’s £1,000 a year – on your grocery bill.

“Reductions vary but you could save up to 70 per cent by using sites such as cheapfood.co.uk, starbargains.co.uk and lowpricefoods.com, where you can buy food close to or just past its ‘best before’ date.

“Coupon apps including Shopmium, GreenJinn, ClickSnap and CheckoutSmart are loaded with supermarket discounts which could save you around £500 a year on groceries.

“Google Chrome plugins such as Honey and Pouch apply discounts automatically at the checkout.”

Get credit cards

EARN AT LEAST £150

SOME credit cards offer cash back or points on purchases which you can turn into vouchers, while others will give you money off on your shopping.

These cards can be a great way of earning hundreds of pounds in bonuses and cash back, according to moneysavingexpert.com.

Be careful, though – you will incur interest if you do not pay off the full balance each month so don’t be tempted to spend unwisely.

Some cards also impose a minimum spend to get the rewards.

There are loads of deals around. Sainsbury’s Bank Nectar Rewards Plus card, for example, offers 10,000 Nectar points worth £50 if you spend £400 or more at Sainsbury’s, Argos or Tu Clothing in the first two months.

With the American Express Platinum Everyday card you can get five per cent back on the first £2,000 of spending in the first three months (up to a maximum of £100 cash back), then up to one per cent thereafter.

Cashback is paid to your account annually but you need to spend at least £3,000 a year to earn it.

Home working

SAVE £312

YOU may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have been forced to work from home on a regular basis, either full or part-time.

HMRC’s online portal gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home offers a hassle-free way to claim the relief. You won’t be eligible if you choose to work from home.

Holly says: “You could be eligible to claim for household costs backdated to March 2020 – and it is easy. For workers who don’t fill in a self-assessment tax return, the online claim page takes you to Government Gateway, where you will be asked for the date you started working from home. It calculates what you are owed – up to £6 a week.”

Switch banks

EARN AROUND £125

MOVING money to a different bank is easy, says moneysavingdaddy.com – and with the Current Account Switch Service, it usually takes just seven days.

Your new bank does the hard work for you by transferring direct debits and standing orders across to the new account.

HSBC’s Advance account is paying £125 to those who switch, plus a £20 Uber Eats voucher until May 9 – but you must pay in at least £1,750 a month.

To grow savings, invest between £1,000 and £250,000 in a Monzo savings pot and accrue one per cent interest a year on your money, paid out monthly.

You can round up spending to the nearest big number with Monzo and Revolut, saving the change in a pot.

Be alert on renewals

SAVE £546

ABOUT ten million people shop around for better deals on car insurance just two days before they are set to renew.

Moneysavingexpert.com says on average the cheapest quotes of £672 are available when you buy 24 days before renewal date.

Drivers who take out insurance the day they need it face a bill of £1,218, an extra £546 a year.

Holly says: “Your job title can also increase the cost of car insurance premiums, so choose carefully. If you are a community nurse, select the ‘nurse’ option because you will still be covered and could get your premium for £50 less.

“Motorists who are classed as high risk – new drivers, those aged 17-24 and those with speeding fines – could save by adding an experienced driver, like a parent with a clean licence, to the policy.”

Buy season travel ticket

SAVE AT LEAST £598

IF you are back on the daily commute and make the same journey three or more days a week, save a third on fares with a season ticket that lets you travel between two nominated stations.

Check National Rail’s online calculator to work out the cost of your tickets first. You could save between £598 and £1,800 a year on popular routes.

Be the first in the ticket queue by putting your journey details into the Trainline ticket alert system, which emails you when advance tickets for that specific journey go on sale. These are commonly the cheapest fares.

A £30 Family & Friends railcard, valid for four adults and four kids, gives savings of up to 60 per cent on the full ticket price.

You will make that back after just a couple of trips.

Download store apps

SAVE £65

THE average person spends £526.50 a year on clothes and shoes, according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, for 2019.

And who isn’t craving a bit of retail therapy now that the high street is open again?

But before you head out to the shops, sign up for store cards, use your email address to get on mailing lists, or download store apps, as most retailers offer discounts of between ten and 25 per cent for first-time purchases.

Then the next time you want to buy from the same brand, use a different email address and go again.

By saving 15 per cent on every clothing purchase, you could save an average of £64 a year.

Big fashion spenders could save even more. Don’t forget to check shopping websites like Vouchercodes.co.uk. before you buy anything in case there are further discounts available.

And when shopping online, you can save on delivery fees by spending more to qualify for free delivery, then returning what you don’t want.

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