January 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips


33. Nectar points are usually worth more if you spend them on the Nectar website, where you’ll find no end of great deals and offers. For example, your points are worth twice as much if you put them towards tickets to Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, meaning that 500 points will get you a princely £5 off, rather than the usual £2.50 discount. Tesco Clubcard points can be exchanged for Clubcard Reward vouchers worth up to four times more, so £5 worth of Clubcard vouchers will give you £20 off at Pizza Express. With a family to feed, that is not to be sniffed at.

34. Members-only shopping sites such as achica.com, brandalley.co.uk and zulily.co.uk are free to join, and you’ll find they offer luxury fashion and homeware brands at up to 70% off. Beware though – they are addictive!

35. Brands like Benefit cosmetics, Boden and Karen Millen tell their social media fans about offers first. So it’s worth spending an hour clicking that “like” button – I got discounted January sales stuff 24 hours in advance, just by hearing about it on Facebook.

36. A fair few shops advertise that if you find the goods cheaper elsewhere, they’ll beat that price or refund the difference. This is not just an empty promise and it is definitely worth following up on. John Lewis – famous for being “never knowingly undersold” – Currys, PC World and Mothercare all run schemes like this, so make sure you take advantage. Supermarkets like Asda and Sainsbury’s offer refunds and price promises too. It’s not quite as simple as it appears, however – you’ll need to be able to back up your claim, and most high-street retailers – including John Lewis – will decline to match the price of an onlineonly retailer (which is only fair, considering the vastly higher overheads they face).

37. Use cashback websites like Topcashback and Quidco when shopping to earn hundreds of pounds a year. Topcashback paid out £36 million in 2012 alone and recently launched a toolbar on its site (www.topcashback. co.uk) to make sure you never need to miss out on any hot deals.

38. Haggling in shops is a way of life in some cultures. It’s incredibly difficult for British people to do but the first time is always the hardest and in the current economic climate you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of people willing to cut you a deal. So go on – make the first move. The worst that can happen is they say no!

Health and beauty

39. Your local beauty college will do beauty treatments with a trainee at half price or even less. It could be a great money-saving deal but don’t forget – they’re learning their trade.

40. Many gyms lure you with introductory offers that initially sound great but human nature being what it is, you may want to cancel after a few months. That’s when you find out that you’re tied to an expensive 12-month contract – so check small print very carefully before you sign up.

41. Smoking is seriously bad for your wealth. A typical 20-a-day smoker could save £2,700 a year by giving up. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, you might say!

42. Buy cheap supermarket own-brand shampoos – some are as little as 30p, while premium brands can be £5 or even more. Then use some of the saving to splash out on a nice conditioner, which is what makes your hair shiny and silky anyway.

43. Salon chain Wella is always looking for models for haircuts and colours. You’re likely to be seen by a qualified stylist who is just learning a new cut, and you’ll pay only £7 for a cut and £17.50 for a colour. Other hairdressing chains have similar schemes: check out www.gumtree.com for hair models needed in your area.

44. Head to the baby aisle for cosmetics. Baby wipes are far cheaper than make-up remover wipes, while cotton buds are sometimes a third of the “grown-up” price. And Waitrose does an amazing moisturiser called Baby Bottom Butter that’s brilliant for grown-ups too (on your face, that is!).

Benefits and tax 

45. Don’t claim child benefit if you are no longer entitled to it, as procedures are very tight these days. You will have to pay it back and you won’t have budgeted for that. Any household where at least one person earns more than £50,000 will have their benefit reduced on a sliding scale, or stopped completely if one person earns more than £60,000. But if it is your combined salaries that take you above the £50,000 threshold, don’t worry – your benefits will be unchanged.

46. It may seem difficult to believe but many state benefits go unclaimed – so don’t miss out on your legal entitlements. It’s easy to get an estimate of what benefits (which might include Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance) and tax credits you could get, by logging on to www.gov.uk/benefits-adviser.

47. It can be a nasty shock when that regular pay cheque stops coming in – so if you’re about to retire, don’t be too proud to claim what is rightfully yours. Make sure you’re receiving all your benefits, such as Pension Credits and Attendance Allowance. You’ve paid into the system all these years so it’s only fair to get some back.


48. For most young women, one of the biggest items they’ll ever buy is a wedding dress but eBay (ebay.co.uk) and Preloved (www.preloved.co.uk) both have gorgeous second-hand dresses at a fraction of the original cost. Some designers donate to Oxfam’s Bridal Collection, where you could get the dress of your dreams for less than a few hundred pounds.

49. You can’t put a price on love, so instead of splashing out on presents for your anniversary, make a collage or scrapbook full of memories. I once put together a book of “50 Reasons Why I Love You”, with a picture or photo for each one. It was full of all the great fun things we’d done and it’s the best present I have ever given or my (now) husband has received (he takes this little book with him whenever we’re apart). Websites Photobox, Snapfish and Printerpix can all help for not much cash but it’s a great DIY project that needn’t cost you a single penny.

Saving, banking and budgeting

50. Try not to go overdrawn, as the average overdraft rate is now 19.65%, which is nearly 40 times higher than the base rate. If you had an overdraft of £1,000 for a year, you’d pay £196 in interest alone. If you’re nearing your limit, speak to your bank before you exceed it. It should be sympathetic and you’ll avoid being hit by huge fees.

51. Use pktmny.com, the pocket-money website, to help children learn financial responsibility. Parents set the spending limits while kids get the freedom to use their own personal debit card (which can’t go overdrawn). Teach them wise spending now, and it’ll save you a fortune in years to come.

52. When it comes to saving, don’t forget that an ISA account allows you to accrue interest tax-free, up to a set limit. For returns higher than a standard savings account, go for a cash ISA; for the chance for higher returns but with greater risk of your investment going down, go for a Stocks and Shares ISA. Banks start offering their best ISA deals in February, so don’t miss out. You can see good deals at moneysupermarket.com but anything over 3% is excellent. Some ISAs can be opened for as little as £1 and you can invest up to £11,280 before April 5, tax-free, with a limit of £5,640 for a cash ISA. The taxman hardly ever gives something away, so make the most of it!

53. Asda’s Christmas Savings Card is a savings scheme that allows customers to put aside a little bit extra for the next festive season. Customers can save up to £144 on each card, for which Asda will pay a tiered bonus if the money remains on the card until the bonus day in November 2013. This bumps the total up, and will beat average interest rates as the maximum bonus works out at a generous 5.21% of the initial amount saved. How’s that for a happy Christmas?

54. Got any cash in an ancient account that you’ve forgotten how to access? A brilliant new website – www.mylostaccount.org.uk – is a free service offered by the banking industry that helps you track down all those missing pennies. And who knows? With all those years of interest, they could even be pounds by now.

Nights out

55. January and February are great times for tucking into juicy discounts on eating out. The website vouchercodes.co.uk has some great two-for-one offers and money-off deals from popular highstreet chains including Carluccio’s, La Tasca, Loch Fyne, Frankie Benny’s and Strada. Alternatively, book yourself a table at one of the growing number of places that allow you to bring your own wine – which is always the really pricey part of your restaurant bill (ask any restaurateur what the profit margins are and you’ll immediately feel in need of a strong drink).

56. Fun is often the first casualty when people tighten the purse strings but sites such as toptable.co.uk and laterooms.com have some superb deals on hotels, restaurants and theatre tickets, so why not be spontaneous and whisk your loved one off for a night away? You can easily save more than £100 booking trips like this just a few days before you want to go. Try secret hotels on lastminute.com – just cut and paste the description into Google and you’ll unveil the “secret” of a great bargain getaway.

57. They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but sign up to a mystery shopping site like gapbuster.com or grassrootsmystery shopping.com and you could find yourself sent to “road test” a restaurant, pub or shop, all expenses paid. For more, take a look at letssavesomemoney.com/1-minute-guide-tomystery-shopping.

58. If you’re sociable and you like dining out, it needn’t be an expensive habit. Have a look locally for dining clubs. In our area there’s a group of restaurants who have joined forces and will offer you 10 per cent off, just for being a member of their club. It’s a great way to meet new people and discover new dishes – without eating into your bank account.

Apps, deals and discounts

59. Why not put your smartphone to work? Use voucher apps and sites like vouchercodes. co.uk and hotukdeals.com to get the latest info on local discounts. Easy money.

60. If you’re web-savvy, there’s a whole new world of bargains out there and freebiesiteuk.co.uk does exactly what its title promises, helping you grab stuff for absolutely nothing. Just make sure you’re on a UK site, as you may not have access to US offers.

61. If you like entering competitions then UK Prize (ukprize.co.uk) and Loquax (www.loquax.co.uk) are for you. They give you daily information about new and exciting competitions from all sorts of companies. You have to be in them to win them!

62. Smart shopping can be all about timing. Buy barbecues in winter and sledges in summer. Out of season is the way to go if you want the lowest price possible.

63. An app from cash king Quidco pays up to 25p, just for “checking in” at certain shops.

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