The cost of living squeeze is biting hard and that’s before even higher energy bills are forecast for later in the year.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t simple tips and tricks to help navigate your way around it, especially as the school summer holidays roll around.
Each Friday, one of our expert team of personal finance journalists round-up five tips we think are worth noting that can go a little way to helping you save money, or make money in the midst of sky-high inflation and rocketing bills.
This week, it features £2 meal recipes to feed four, tips for saving money on school uniforms and buying a refurbished mattress (if you dare).
New bikes can be a pricey investment and kids can quickly grow out of them. Renting is a good and money-savvy option.
1. Join a bicycle hiring scheme
While cycling is a great activity for the summer, it can come with some pretty hair-raising initial costs.
Last year This is Money found that buying an adult bike can set you back more than £800. And while this may be a justifiable purchase for long-term use, buying bicycles for children is slightly trickier.
Growth spurts in children can make a new bike – some of which can reach over £300- an expensive but short-term purchase.
One option if you want to enjoy the sun and get outdoors without the high upfront costs may be to rent bikes for your children via a subscription service.
BikeClub offers parents the chance to pay a monthly fee to rent a bike which can then be returned and exchanged for another one once their child out grows it.
Prices start from £4.49 a month, plus an upfront fee of £29.99 to cover the cost of returns.
Wear and tear on the bike is covered as part of the agreement and you can opt in to get insurance for £2 extra a month.
If you keep the bike for 18 months you can exchange it for free, or for a courier fee of £19.99 before then.
Sign up at bikeclub.com or download their app.
We have all felt the pinch as the price of food, even basics, has increased over the past few months but price-conscious recipes can provide some thrifty meal ideas.
2. Recipes for 4 for just £2
Mob (previously Mob Kitchen) started as a series of recipe videos for students on a budget trying to cook more than just toast (a hurdle I rarely cleared).
But the food company is now a social media and publishing phenomenon with over 900k followers on Instagram and five cook books, but it has remained true to its founding mission of good food on a budget.
Indeed, my colleague Angharad Carrick recently mentioned it in her tips. The reason I’m adding it to mine too is the fact Mob has brought back its £2 for Tuesday series, a recipe a week that feeds four people for just £2.
The cost is worked out based on buying the full products in the supermarket.
Some of the recent highlights include a 4 ingredient potato salad (perfect for BBQs while the weather lasts) or spaghetti with basil and ricotta.
The only disclaimer is that salt, pepper and olive oil are not factored into the cost as they assume you already have those in your kitchen.
It may not revolutionise your cooking but could provide some light relief for your wallet as inflation continues to drive up supermarket prices.
Follow them on Instagram and keep an eye out on Tuesdays for new recipes.
Old but new: refurbished products put a new lease of life into a second hand item and usually come at a wallet-friendly discount compared to new.
3. Buy an eco-friendly refurbished mattress
Buying second-hand is a popular way to save money but people are understandably hesitant when it comes to their beds, especially mattresses. And not without good reason.
Research has found that a 7-year old mattress has roughly 16 million colony-forming units of bacteria per square inch. Not what you need to put you in the mindframe for a good night’s sleep.
However, while they are long lasting mattresses are a significant financial investment. A decent mattress will likely set you back anywhere from £400-£600 while a top of the range can go into the thousands.
Sleep-tech company Simba has launched a ‘refurbished range’ that they say offers mattresses that are ‘just like new’ for a fraction of the price.
Each used mattress that comes in is subjected to a rigorous testing process, including, foam quality, cleanliness and springs, to determine its state. If it isn’t up to scratch then it is recycled, or they replace any elements that aren’t up to standard.
Everything is either deep cleaned, washed or sanitised to hospital standards, including being passed under UV lamp to kill bacteria. Their guarantee is that they ‘cut no corners’ on the refurbishment.
What is more they say that the majority of their refurbished range are mattresses have been used on average for less than 5 per cent of its 7-10 year lifespan.
Each mattress comes with a one year guarantee and can be returned up to 30-days after purchase.
Cost wise, the refurbished mattresses come in up to 70 per cent cheaper than new. The range also includes duvets, pillows and mattress protectors.
And, if the potential savings aren’t enough to entice you to take a look then it may help to know that mattresses sent to Simba never go to landfill so you’ll be doing your bit for the planet.
Rail strikes can cause havoc for commuters but parking in a rented driveway could save you time, money and hassle on the day.
4. Park in a borrowed driveway
If you’ve been impacted this week by the train strikes then you may have resorted to driving into work but that is a costly option, made worse by the lack of parking across the UK and their cost of carparks.
In the centre of Manchester parking at an NCP carpark can set you back nearly over £28 for a day.
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YourParkingSpace is an online marketplace for car parking spaces – think AirBNB for cars without the cleaning fees.
As well as designated spaces they also offer more novel parking solutions such as renting private driveways or unused garage spaces.
You can use its website or app to find a space near you and pre-book to remove the stress of finding a space on the day.
And if find a lower price for the same parking space elsewhere within 24 hours of your booking start date, the company will match the lower rate and also give you 20 per cent off the competitor’s rate.
I had a quick look at spaces in Manchester, close to the NCP carpark, and you could book a space under 24 hours before needing it for as little as £12.50 for 12 hours within 15 minutes walking distance of the centre.
The company has over 350,000 spaces across the UK so it’s worth checking before you set off. it could save you time and money.
Or, if you have space why not list it on the site and earn a bit of extra cash while making someone else’s day easier?
New school uniform can be an added financial strain at the end of the year but you may not have to fork out.
5. Save on school uniform
Summer holidays and a new school year are an expensive time for any parent, even without the added pressures from the cost of living crisis.
Buying new uniforms for your children may be feel an expensive additional cost on top of everything else but there are ways you can reduce the price.
The first option to make sure you have done a full audit of what the kids currently wear before buying new. While you may feel under pressure to buy them an upgrade have them try everything on to double check it really can’t last any longer.
If they definitely need updating then it may be worth searching for items with growing space – adjustable straps, elastic, hems that can be taken down or even anything you can buy a size up to extend their lifespan as your children grow.
Or even better, if there are small fixes you can make to their existing uniforms such as replacing a button or re-stitching a pocket its worth taking the time to make these small fixes instead of paying for new items.
Some schools have second-hand sales where parents and guardians can swap uniform items, while others may have online noticeboards or dedicated Facebook groups that are worth checking before you buy new.
There are also bursaries and other financial support for families struggling with the cost of new items. The school should be able to provide you with information on what is available.
There are more tips for saving money on uniform maker David Luke’s website from managing director Kathryn Shuttleworth.