50 ways we save money

 |  Budgeting

I was thinking the other morning (in the shower, again) about how we save money in so many ways every day… stuff that Karl & I have been doing for that long that we don’t think about it; thus it never makes a budgeting blog entry. So, I’m challenging myself to put together a list of 50 ways we save money in and around the house. Here goes!

  1. We fitted groovy people-sensors in the bathroom and kitchen so that the lights only come on when there’s someone in there
  2. We turn sockets off overnight or when they’re not in use
  3. Vegetable offcuts are used as the bulk part of our rabbit/guinea pig’s diet
  4. Any veg that the animals can’t eat is added, with animal bedding etc, to our compost heap – no money spent on improving soil
  5. We grow our own veg (see above!) which means we have virtually no veg cost in the summer
  6. We seed-save so that we can grow next year’s veg at no further cost
  7. We have a water butt and various containers to save rain water for the garden
  8. When our kettle died, we replaced it with a fast boil ‘energy efficient’ kettle (Philips HD4671/20)
  9. We only ever boil the amount that we need
  10. We boil water in the kettle before add it to potatoes/pasta etc because it uses less energy than the cooker top
  11. We (and by which I mean I!) steam veg where possible over an existing pot being used to cook e.g. potatoes
  12. We descale the kettle weekly to keep it fast boiling and efficient (damn hard water area)
  13. We use white vinegar instead of commercial descaler which, bought in bulk, is cheaper AND more eco-friendly
  14. We also bulk buy bicarb of soda, it makes a great cooker cleaner (amongst other things) – see Summer Naturals for more info
  15. We use cloth nappies for the kids, most of which are on child 2, 3 or even 4
  16. And cloth wipes/flannels too; from faces to bums and everything in between
  17. I exclusively breastfeed my babies. Saves me upwards of £600 per year
  18. We wean on to family food straight from my plate – no expensive jars of mush here
  19. In fact, we avoid most of the baby industry altogether by co-sleeping, using a wrap sling instead of a pushchair and avoiding expensive classes and activities
  20. I don’t use any cosmetics or special shampoos on my kids. Water is an excellent cleaner.
  21. I don’t use any make-up, creams or special beauty products on myself either. Deodorant is my main extravagance ;)
  22. I cook extra at most meals so that I have some for the freezer or lunch the next day – ready meal without the horse junk
  23. I bulk out meals like spaghetti bolognese with a cup of lentils – adds an extra 2-3+ portions for just a few pence
  24. Instead of buying expensive chicken breasts, I buy a whole chicken and get 4-5 meals out of it AND stock from the carcass
  25. I make milk last longer by adding a cup full of cooled boiled water when the carton gets to half-empty
  26. I make the milk last even longer still by not buying into the idea that kids need half a pint of milk a day; it doesn’t make evolutionary sense that we need the milk of another species to meet our nutritional needs. Instead I breastfeed through the 2nd year and give a varied diet high in calcium-rich veg etc
  27. I freeze milk we’re not going to use straight away so that it doesn’t go bad before we can use it
  28. I’ve started using dried milk for sauces etc where the taste is less important
  29. I also water down my shampoo and shower gels (and I’m thinking about making my own)
  30. I time my showers, aiming to keep them under 3 minutes.
  31. I bathe the kids together
  32. I dry laundry over airers and on the bathroom towel rail to avoid using the (expensive to run) tumble drier. Even running a dehumidifier to stop the house getting damp is much cheaper than the drier
  33. I dry laundry outside in the summer, and use oval sock peg thingies to maximise drying space
  34. Most of the children’s clothes have been bought second hand or used more than once (Oliver looks fab in a pink babygro)
  35. I only generally buy myself new clothes when the old ones fall off
  36. We got rid of our TV license and stopped watching TV
  37. We ‘upgraded’ our broadband to get a lower price – regularly check on the packages that your suppliers (and their competitors!) offer to make sure you’re getting the best deal
  38. We use comparison websites every year when renewing home and car insurances
  39. We use Top CashBack for any qualifying online purchases
  40. We try not to turn the heating thermostat above 19 degrees
  41. And we’ve turned the water thermostat down to 50 degrees – we don’t need to bath the kids in boiling water!*
  42. We open up the dishwasher to avoid the expensive drying cycle
  43. If we go to one of the bigger supermarkets, I raid the discount fridge for stuff I can freeze for later
  44. I buy mostly supermarket value range stuff, with only a couple of exceptions (mayonnaise and loo roll)
  45. I buy a veg box because it’s better quality and works out cheaper than foreign out of season supermarket veg
  46. I re-use the cardboard trays in my veg box as biodegradable planters
  47. I meal plan to make the most of my veg boxes too
  48. We open the curtains as soon as the sun comes up and close them before it sets to make the most of the daylight (benefit of a south-facing house)
  49. We have thick velvet curtains on external doors
  50. I buy the cat food in bulk boxes of 48 instead of those tiddly boxes of 12

* It’s really important that if you turn your water temp down, that every now and again you turn it back up and allow the water to heat through thoroughly for a day or two, to kill any lurking bugs. Karl will probably be able to give you exact temperatures…

Kudos if you got through all that! Virtual cookies if you can suggest even more?

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

14 comments so far

  1. Jem said:

    I’ve actually been writing this entry for about a month – and was hoping to get to 101 – but if I wait til then I’ll never publish it so have gone for it now!

  2. Kirsten said:

    Wow! Kudos to you for all the stuff you do on a daily, weekly, etc basis to save money. I never would have thought of half that stuff.. but it makes a huge difference when on a budget.

  3. Brittney said:

    Oh my goodness! there are a lot of ways that you and your family save money, a few ways that I haven’t even thought of! That is awesome you clean with vinegar so many people don’t know you can use it for that. Since you breastfeed do you have a milk store or is it just supply and demand for you? I’m pregnant right now due in a couple weeks and I want to breastfeed and I love hearing about other mothers experiences :)

    • Jem said:

      I have 10oz in the freezer which I expressed for an evening out and didn’t use, but otherwise I don’t bother. I’m rarely away from Oliver.

  4. AnjaKJ said:

    I live in a supported housing project at the moment and we do monthly checks for water-borne nasties, as well as health and safety checks. I’ve read the information for these checks and the floor for keeping nasties away is 50°C.

    That said, I think giving the boiler the occasional blast like you do is probably wise.

    There are a few things on here I already do, and some I’ll definitely be doing once I get a place of my own.

  5. Stephanie said:

    Wow! I would not have thought of those things at all!

    Personally, I hope that I never have to worry about penny-pinching, because I cannot imagine myself handling two kids and working and doing all of the things that you and Karl do (especially keeping a garden).

  6. Mumblies said:

    I have a money saver, and Karl won’t like it…. Buy no more bourbon bikkies as they cost money and get some indoor lines to dry washing when it’s wet or too cold outside. Better yet, ask your mother to get off her bum and look for the one she bought to use at her place and is just too lazy to put it up.

  7. Tanya said:

    Giving myself a pat on the back over here because I also do pretty much all of your fifty and have done so for years. :) Two main differences are that I didn’t breastfeed or use a sling (not by choice), and I wear make-up (to cover severe acne scarring – the cost is more than worth the lack of stares I attract when I go out).

    I /would/ suggest you switch to a reusable product during your period, but I think you already do? I’m also assuming your home is well insulated and that you use the water from the dehumidifier or tumble dryer for other purposes. Only other thing I can think of is the dishwasher – I’ve never had one so not very knowledgeable about them, but don’t they use a lot of water and energy? Genuinely curious as I’ve only ever come across conflicting information on the old dishwasher vs handwashing argument.

  8. Karl said:

    You didn’t mention the programmable thermostat for the heating that I fitted.. ;) Set of 6 time periods and temperatures per day, every day is custom to what’s going on with the house on average, to keep the temperatures comfortable without having it on when it’s not needed. For instance, it holds around 18-19 without heating, boosts when the kids are in the bath/bedtime, then shuts down totally until 6am, UNLESS the house drops cold.

    I reckon that little unit saves a fair bit..

  9. Kim said:

    Very interested and useful read. Since moving out of my parents house almost a year ago I’ve been penny pinching and doing anything to save a little extra cash. Don’t think I could ever do no. 36 We got rid of our TV license and stopped watching TV – also I swear you need one for laptops/computers? I swear I read that renewing mine.

    Other ways to save: washing up over a dishwasher and a heated rotary airer (from Lakeland) much cheaper than a tumble dryer. Although with a dehumidifier we’re usually fine with a standard rotary airer.

  10. Chantelle said:

    Wow. This is an impressive list. I hope you do another post like this, because I’m interested in seeing the things that you do that you didn’t put up here and any new ways of saving money that you’ve recently begun.

    The only thing I do is try not to take taxis and only buy 1 designer handbag, which means that I should feel great shame as I read this and reflect on my behavior. I’m good about not using a lot of electricity/heat, though.