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I read on a forum elsewhere a list of useful, and sometimes obvious, ways to keep costs downs and help beat the current downturn in the economy. I’ve stripped that list down, taking out anything contentious, condescending, personal, etc. Here is my version…

  1. List and prioritise your outgoings – pay attention to larger, unnecessary or frequently occurring expenditures
  2. Make a budget and stick to it
  3. Switch utility supplier deals – e.g. phone, broadband, mobile, gas, electric, insurances
  4. Note all renewal dates on your calendar to give time for a switch
  5. Shop around on everything you buy – try online price comparison sites (my favourites are Google Product Search and Kelkoo) and find the cheapest online providers
  6. Think about ‘through-life cost’ or ‘total cost of ownership’ – that big car might be a bad idea or that cheap screwdriver might be a false economy.
  7. Optimise the utilities you do use – lite broadband packages, better calling plans, PAYG mobile etc
  8. Avoid volume contracts where you can – do you need 800 minutes a month? ‘free’ calls during the day?
  9. Cancel direct debits and subscriptions you don’t use – e.g. magazines, papers, gym, etc
  10. Ditch newspapers and magazines and read news online
  11. Reduce transport costs where possible – avoid the journey (phone instead) or use a cheaper alternative
  12. Reduce car running costs – tyre inflation, slower driving, anticipate the need to brake, remove roof racks, lighten the load, etc.
  13. Book in advance – for example, train journeys (or consider two single tickets)
  14. Be flexible – e.g. to take advantages of sales on flights, holidays, etc.
  15. Get on your bike – lowers travel costs and makes you healthier
  16. Don’t buy things you don’t need… whatever the discount (do you really need the book, CD or DVD?)
  17. Set the heating timer, turn down the heating a degree or two, wear an extra layer, switch it off
  18. Turn down your water temperature a degree and use the cold tap instead of hot tap when you can
  19. Switch off all electrics at night (be surprised how long it is before you switch some things on again)
  20. Use a power strip on your computer etc so you can switch off all devices in one go
  21. Plan your meals and build your shopping list accordingly
  22. Try food shopping order – you can often offset delivery costs by the cheaper bills that comes from not being tempted to buy more than you need
  23. Use your freezer sensible and know how best to store foods
  24. Every now and then make a concerted effort to use up the contents of your food cupboards
  25. Bulk buy non-perishable items when the price is right
  26. Cook healthily from basic ingredients and avoid ready meals
  27. Sell all your old junk on eBay or books on Amazon
  28. Insulate, replace bulbs with low energy ones, use draught excluder’s, etc.
  29. Use less – use half as much toothpaste, shampoo, ketchup, printing, etc than normal
  30. Speed up – less time in the shower, shorter phone calls, etc.
  31. Slow down – consider the merits of taking more time on the things that matter (like meals)
  32. Down shift your shopping – avoid ‘brands’, buy cheaper alternatives (most often on top and bottom shelves at supermarkets), use cheaper outlets
  33. Downsize where it makes sense – house, living costs, car size.
  34. Collect points for Boots, Tesco, Nectar, etc, if you shop there anyway (and don’t be seduced by points but use them for deals where you can)
  35. Pack your own lunch and ditch the coffees and all those other ways you regularly fritter small cash
  36. Use sites such as Money Saving Expert or HotUKDeals to get more vouchers or deals on things you would buy anyway
  37. Find inexpensive entertainment like board games, visiting friends, free art galleries, etc.
  38. Avoid shops, sales, and adverts – remove temptation
  39. Make a wishlist of things you would like to buy – wait a week and see if you still really want the item
  40. Pay off credit cards in full (by direct debit) and get a cashback card if you do (e.g. amex or capital one)
  41. Pay off your debts and consolidate sensibly
  42. Don’t use your mobile on holiday – use hotel numbers for incoming and calling cards for outgoing calls
  43. Review savings and interest rates on your accounts – switch and go for notice accounts where better
  44. Beware of loaded best-buy tables – spot risks or other small print traps
  45. Make a savings habit – pay yourself first, keep rainy day funds, etc
  46. Skim your current account – don’t go overdrawn but equally don’t leave large amounts sitting around earning no interest
  47. Empty your piggy bank – put all spare change into a savings account that earn you interest
  48. Consider self-insurance on things like dentistry, car breakdown etc. (depending on your situation)
  49. Check out tax benefits such as childcare vouchers, bike to work schemes, transfers of assets, etc.
  50. Review other benefits such as winter fuel savings, insulation, child tax credits, etc.
  51. Be sensible about gifts on birthdays and holidays – agree with your partner, family or friends what you really want or need.
  52. Make your own cards or gifts – e.g. a photo mounted on card.
  53. Use free software such as OpenOffice, etc
  54. Watch what you throw – keep an eye on what food gets wasted, can you avoid it in future? what can minimise your trash? were all those things necessary?
  55. Swap things with friends – childcare, babysitting, CDs, DVDs, toys etc.
  56. Use energy efficient power settings on PCs to sleep monitors and hibernate or shut-down the machine
  57. Don’t use 0870, premium numbers or directory enquiries – directory enquiries and Yellow Pages can be done free online and you can often find 0870 alternative numbers
  58. Be active and exercise regularly – walk, run, cycle, do the gardening, it doesn’t have to cost money.
  59. Look out for free deals on eye tests, ask for a copy of your prescription and buy glasses online
  60. See how many days you can go without spending

Over time I’ll add some more on as I think of them 😉

Having said that I don’t do a lot of them myself but as money becomes tight, I’m sure there are more that I’ll turn to.