You’ve cut right back on non-essential spending and your energy consumption. But you’ll also need to set aside some money to cover unexpected bills and the costs of your summer holiday.
This can feel like a challenge too far. As a money-saving expert, visitors to my Frugal Mum website often ask: ‘How can I save for big expenses when everything else costs so much?’
But even in these difficult times it’s possible to build up a pot of cash to pay for things beyond the day-to-day.
Today, I’m going to share some inventive money-saving hacks that could, if you are careful, help you put away up to £3,000 by July. Keep this up, and you could save at least £5,000 in a year.
How to save up to £3k for your family holiday: Tips and tricks to save you money
SHAVE £30 OFF YOUR WEEKLY GROCERY SHOP
Only make one trip a week for grocery shopping to avoid picking up extra items you don’t need when you nip out for one or two things. If you’re cooking and realise you’re missing an ingredient, hold firm — find alternatives and make do.
Keep a week’s diary of what you pop to the shops for and when. If you find you run out of bread by Tuesday, keep an extra loaf in the freezer. Would a daily milk delivery avoid you running out? A weekend meal-prepping session might help you avoid picking up ready meals on days when you’re too busy to cook.
- Buying frozen instead of fresh can save a small fortune. For example, a 500g pack of frozen salmon fillets costs £5.55 at Tesco, where you will pay £8.50 for the same weight of fresh fish.
In Sainsbury’s, frozen whole green beans cost £1.44 a kilo — they’ve price matched their Imperfectly Tasty fresh whole beans with Aldi, but these still cost £3.73 a kilo. You’ll pay a whopping £8.75 a kilo for their fresh, extra-fine beans. Aldi’s fresh raspberries are priced at £11.07 a kilo — frozen, you’ll pay just £4.26 for the same amount.
- Visit the world foods aisle for cooking ingredients. East End desiccated coconut is 75p for 200g in Tesco’s world foods aisle, while in a different aisle, the store’s own brand is almost double the price at £1.45, for the same amount.
INTO THE HOLIDAY POT: We used to spend £100 a week on food but using these hacks, plus meal planning and buying supermarket own brands, we are down to £70 and still eat really well — £30 a week saves £780 by July.
PETROL, DIESEL AND CAR COSTS
A litre of petrol costs about £1.49, according to RAC Fuel Watch. If your car averages 50 mpg then you’ll be paying roughly £13.55 for every 100 miles driven. Shaving 60 miles off a week will save £211 over six months.
- ‘Walking’ buses are becoming a popular way of getting kids to school and keep cars off the roads. Usually run by groups of parents, volunteers take it in turns to supervise a group of children walking along a set route, picking up or dropping off ‘passengers’ at specific points along the way. Ask your local council for guidance.
- If you’re a two-car household, going down to one vehicle could save you roughly £1,000 a year in road tax, insurance, servicing and repairs — especially if one or both of you works from home or could arrange a lift-share with a colleague when you do go in to work.
- A ban on journeys of less than two miles — going on foot or by bike instead — could improve your health while saving on petrol.
INTO THE HOLIDAY POT: Shaving just 60 miles a week off your car use equates to about £200 in six months. Selling a car could add £1,000 that would’ve gone on running costs, plus the money you get for it could further boost your savings.
REDUCE CREDIT CARD INTEREST
Credit card interest is currently at a 25-year high, and typically set at 22.03 pc to 30.3 pc.
According to Forbes, the average credit card debt is £1,174.62 — if you make only minimum payments then even at the lower rate switching to a 0% interest credit card could save you around £22 in interest per month.
Check if you would qualify, without affecting your credit score, by filling out an online transfer eligibility calculator — most lenders provide one, and there’s one at Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert site.
INTO THE HOLIDAY POT: £132, but considerably more if you have higher-than-average credit card debts.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX FOR GIFTS
People often tell me that just because times are tough they don’t want their children to miss out. Buying gifts for loved ones is very important.
Presents can, of course, be homemade: granny’s sure to prefer a home-baked cake over something shop-bought; an inexpensive pot planted up with bulbs makes a cheery gift with the promise of flowers to come.
But there are also plenty of unwanted presents looking for new homes that appear on re-selling sites, along with regret purchases that didn’t get returned in time for a refund.
Website Preloved has a section where people sell unwanted gifts, which often come with tags still attached. Other re-selling sites, such as eBay, Depop and Vinted, have an option to search under ‘brand new with tags’.
You’d be amazed by what you can pick up. Recently, I’ve seen a brand new designer dog coat for a fiver, a popular board game in its still-sealed box for a couple of pounds, and a pair of unworn designer earrings for less than a quarter of what the seller paid for them
INTO THE HOLIDAY POT: People typically spend £420 on birthday and anniversary gifts throughout the year, a recent survey found. Buying pre-loved could reduce that amount by at least two-thirds, meaning you could save around £280 by the summer.
Cancel all subscriptions to any TV streaming platforms that renew monthly and don’t tie you in for more than 30 days. Then, only rejoin if there’s something you want to watch that you can’t find for free elsewhere.
Cancel again immediately so you get the full month without the risk of forgetting to stop the next payment. Now you really will only pay for services that you’re using.
People also waste money on other types of subscription they don’t use — to download music, eBooks and audiobooks, as well as shopping delivery subscriptions — on a ‘just in case’ basis, or because they think that cancelling will be a hassle.
INTO THE HOLIDAY POT: According to a current poll more than half of us spend money on unused subscriptions, wasting on average £14 a month. If my TV streaming tip saves you another £8 a month that could be another £132 towards a holiday.
FREE FAMILY DAYS OUT
With a Blue Peter Badge, children gain free entry to more than 200 UK attractions, such as theme parks, zoos and castles.
For example, a trip to the Tower of London for two adults and two children drops from £89.60 to £59.80 when the kids go free. We save £40 this way when we visit our local zoo.
Children aged between five and 15 just need to send in something creative to earn their badge — a poem, a story, some artwork, a model, a recipe, a suggestion for the show, or an interesting letter.
The Blue Peter page at bbc.co.uk has more information.
INTO THE HOLIDAY POT: Using the Blue Peter badges for one fun day out each month saves our family of four about £240 every six months.
GO SIM ONLY
A Pay-monthly phone contract typically costs £30 per month for calls and data. But SIM-only deals work out much cheaper.
Money Super Market’s current top deal is a £12-a-month SIM contract providing 100GB of data, plus unlimited minutes of calls and texts.
Tell your current contract provider you’re switching and they might offer you a deal to stay.
If your current contract includes a device payment plan, you’ll have to settle that in full to benefit, but depending on how long you have left you’ll soon make that money back.
INTO THE HOLIDAY POT: A two-phone household could save around £216 by summer by going SIM-only.
For more money-saving tips, visit frugalmum.co.uk
Loan out your empty cupboards — and rent a car from the neighbours…
If you don’t mind sharing, these crafty websites could save you a fortune
By Jasmine Birtles The Daily Mail’s Miss Moneysaver
Life is so much cheaper when you share. We live in a land of plenty where many of us throw good stuff away or store items we don’t use for months on end —while others struggle to get by.
We can all save — and make — some serious money by sharing or even renting things we use every day.
A tasty way to save the family £1,500
Domino’s meal deals for four start at £24, but after adding extra toppings, this Friday night treat can end up costing at least £30. That feels like an expensive indulgence right now.
‘It needn’t be,’ says TV chef Tom Kerridge. ‘You can make delicious homemade pizza using up the various leftovers in your fridge at the end of the week. Flatbreads are cheap to buy and make brilliant bases. This avoids food waste while still feeling like you’re enjoying a treat.’
Tom says to use one flat bread per pizza. Spread with a large tablespoon of passata, then scatter with whatever toppings you have in the fridge, adding a sprinkling of ready-grated mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven at 210c/190c fan/gas 8 for 10-12 minutes.
‘If you have leftover hummus, use that instead of the passata,’ says Tom. ‘Add feta, fresh, chopped rosemary and a few mushrooms for a delicious and nutritious vegetarian pizza.’
Flatbreads cost about £1.70 in a shop, but if you don’t have passata at home, whizz up a tin of chopped tomatoes with some dried herbs.
For the toppings, use leftovers — cooked chicken, poached salmon, slices of ham or chorizo — along with any veg or jars of olives that are lurking at the back of the fridge.
ANNUAL SAVINGS: Eating up leftovers is delicious and fun. As a weekly takeaway replacement, it could save £1,500 a year.
- Tom Kerridge continues his Full Time Meals’ campaign providing weekly delicious, easy and pocket- friendly recipes to help low-income families keep their children well-fed. Follow @FullTimeMeals on Instagram.
Here are just a few ways you can gain more by sharing:
RENT A FRIEND’S CAR
Back when I had my own car, I used to share it with my mum and a neighbour. They would just add some petrol when they used it.
Now, having ditched my own wheels, I sometimes hire a car for the day from a friend who lives nearby. I pay a little to be put on her insurance, £30 a day when I use it, plus the petrol. Buying and running a car would cost thousands, so I’m making a huge saving each year this way.
You could share your car for free with family and friends, or use one of the car-sharing websites either to rent your car out to strangers, — or rent theirs by the day or hour if you have no car of your own.
There are many ways to share cars. You could pick up a lift with blablacar.com, or gocarshare.com for the price of the petrol, or you could use hiyacar.co.uk or turo.com to rent out your own car or hire someone else’s for a day or so. The savings are huge.
BORROW A BEDROOM
Running a home is probably your highest monthly outlay, so if you want to bring down costs the obvious way is to share your place with at least one other person.
If you have a spare room, you could rent it out part-time if you don’t want a full-time tenant.
You could take in foreign students (usually for no longer than six weeks at a time) through a local language college. You can find colleges at Cylex (cylex-uk.co.uk). Or offer the room on a per-night basis through airbnb.com.
If you have a large sitting room or an outbuilding where businesses could hold meetings, you can rent these out by the hour at bizspace.co.uk.
I’m a big fan of house-swapping to get a nearly free holiday, too.
Swap your whole home for a week or more with people around the world through homeexchange.com or lovehomeswap.com.
It means you can enjoy holidays for no more than it costs to travel to your chosen destination.
LOAN STORAGE SPACE
You could share storage space with neighbours and family for nothing, or rent your own space to them, or even to strangers, at a much lower rate than storage companies charge.
You can even rent out cupboard space or the area under your bed through storemates.co.uk or stashbee.com.
Then there’s your parking space or garage which could be shared with a neighbour for free or rented out for cash on yourparkingspace.com or justpark.co.uk.
My aunt used to let neighbours use half of her garden to grow fruit and vegetables. It was more than she could manage, so she was happy to let them do it in return for free produce.
If you have a garden you don’t use, you could do the same or rent it out as allotments. Advertise on gumtree.com or nextdoor.com.
LEND OUT GADGETS
If you have homeware (towels, bed linen, kitchenware, cushions etc) you no longer want, offer them to people in your neighbourhood on one of the free websites like freecycle.org, gumtree.com and Facebook groups.
These are brilliant sites to find things for yourself, too. I had a really posh sofa through Freecycle once. And a friend picked up tools there, which he handed on for free once he had used them.
Or you could rent some of your bigger items to make money. There are ‘rent anything’ sites where you could hire out, say, your camera, bicycle, dining table or other useful items, locally. Fatllama.com lists various items for hire and will put you in touch with people nearby who could rent stuff to you.
When it comes to children’s and babies’ things, the Young Planet app (youngplanet.com) is great for sharing out clothes, toys and equipment for free between parents. And swishlittlekids.com do a ‘swap bag’ service where parents can exchange children’s kit.
TRY FOOD SHARING
My neighbours and I share food, particularly if one of us is going away and has stuff in the fridge that could go off. Just after Christmas I saw someone offering cooked meals in plastic containers (she had made too much festive food) on nextdoor.com. It went within a few hours.
Food-sharing app olioex.com does a marvellous job of offering unwanted food to neighbours, all for free. There is also the NoWaste app (nowaste app.com) that helps you manage the food you have and give away what is left over. Or if you have unused tins, packets or jars of food to give away, find your local Trussell Trust food bank at trusselltrust.org and drop it off there to help vulnerable local families.
My neighbours and I share food, particularly if one of us is going away and has stuff in the fridge that could go off
SWAP DON’T SHOP
In 2018, about 350,000 tonnes of clothing was sent to landfill in the UK — a crazy waste of resources.
To reduce that waste, and save money, try holding a clothes and accessories swap party. Invite friends round and you all bring clothes, accessories, jewellery and even make-up you no longer want to swap with each other.
Some people have even set up swap shops in pubs or community centres, where people bring in things to swap. It’s worth checking eventbrite.co.uk and local papers to see if any are coming up in your area. If not, set up your own!
You can also swap clothes rather than buy them on vinted.com and SwapStyle, which is hosted on Facebook (facebook.com/SwapStyle).
SHARE YOUR TIME
If you have some spare time, you could help out a friend in exchange for a return favour. So, for example, I sometimes look after my neighbour’s little girl for a few hours, and in return she bakes a cake or does some ironing for me.
It works well for both of us and no money changes hands. If you have skills to offer, you could formalise any arrangement by setting up an exchange in your area through LETS, which stands for Local Exchange Trading system. This enables people in a certain area to swap goods and services without paying any money.
You just get points when you do something or hand something over to someone else, then you can use those points to get something from another person in the system.
Find out more at letslinkuk.net and, perhaps, set up a system in your neighbourhood.
Why I’ll never throw food away again
By Janet Ellis
Most people have given way to best-before dates at some point, chucking out perfectly edible food because of some arbitrary numbers printed on its packaging. I know I have.
But never again!
In these straitened times, which see us all paying more attention to how far our money might go, I have vowed 2023 will be the year that no item of food makes it into my kitchen bin. The less I waste, the further my groceries will go, which will inevitably save money.
Zero waste: Janet grates leftover carrots onto her morning muesli
When my children were little, they’d hold something up and insist: ‘Yuk, this has gone off,’ just because yesterday’s date appeared on the packet. I knew it was still fine to eat, but there was just no use arguing with them — they wouldn’t touch it once they’d looked at the best-before label, so into the kitchen bin it went.
I’ve also been guilty of clearing out the ends of things to stop them cluttering up my fridge. Almost-empty bottles of sauce have been rinsed out and recycled, when I should have turned them upside down and eked out every last drop instead. And who hasn’t brought home a new fresh loaf and then binned the half-eaten one that’s in the bread bin, rather than making use of it in a recipe. Now, with the way things are, even those relatively minor wrongdoings feel inexcusably wasteful. Which is why my eyes and nose have become my barometer for whether something is fit to eat, no matter what its best-before date might have to say about it.
MY GOLDEN RULES THAT’LL PUT EXTRA £60 A MONTH IN YOUR ACCOUNT
- The average household throws away £60 worth of perfectly good food every month, according to the government waste adviser WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme). So think of the money you will save by using things up.
- However enthusiastically you might embrace this ‘waste not’ approach, other members of your household might stay slaves to best-before dates. An easy solution is to remove food from its packaging where you can and cover the date up with a marker when you can’t. That will make it easier for everyone to follow their noses with an open mind.
- If you’ve bought more fruit than you need, mix sweet with savoury. Chopped apricots can be added to a pork casserole; overripe mango goes well with chicken, as does pineapple and even grapes. Have a bit of fun and experiment with different combinations. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to using up food before it goes off.
- If you don’t have time to bake, overripe bananas can be frozen — they’ll defrost in an hour ready to turn into banana bread another time.
- When I have a mish-mash of ingredients that need using up, I put what produce I have into Google and the search engine immediately comes back to me with various recipes that I can choose from.
Of course, I’ll still respect the use-by dates on perishables such as meat, fish and dairy-based dips and sauces. But I’ll prioritise using those up first, so that they don’t reach a point where I’m questioning whether they are still safe to eat.
Here’s the thing: best-before only means that something is no longer in its prime; it is not, whatever my children used to claim, an indicator that food has actually gone off.
Vegetables go limp over time, but that’s because they become dehydrated — did you know that most root veg will soon perk up after spending an hour soaking in iced water, as will sorry-looking lettuce leaves? Celery that’s lost its crunch can be saved that way, too — you just need to chop both ends off first.
Even slimy spring onions can be rescued by peeling off their outer layer with a sharp knife before standing them in a couple of centimetres of cold water in a glass in the fridge.
I know someone who keeps the liquid from old shop-bought pickles and, as long as it is still clear (meaning nothing nasty has developed), adds the ends of cucumbers and leftover bits of chopped onion and peppers to the salty brine, which she then pops in the fridge to save for another day.
In my own kitchen, limp-looking carrots now get grated into my morning muesli; the end of a bag of spinach is pounded into pesto; leftover bread gets chopped up, coated with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs, then fried to make croutons.
When all else fails, on the eve of a grocery shop, I round up every sorry looking vegetable I can find and turn it into delicious soup. Any excess gets portioned up and stored in the freezer for lunch another day.
And, actually, none of this feels like any great effort or a chore. What I’m doing — what I think we should all be doing — is simply taking back control of what we do with the food our hard-earned money provides.
After all, best-before dates are a supermarket invention that only came about in the 1970s to encourage shoppers to buy more. Last year several stores came full circle and dropped them across various fresh products, including Asda and Tesco. Back in the simpler times, before they were ever invented, we all just followed our noses. It feels liberating to go back, now, to doing the same.
Two tasty recipes to use up leftovers
Vegetables in cheese sauce
Soup isn’t the only save-all for vegetables that might otherwise go to waste. I can’t think of any vegetable that doesn’t taste good baked in the oven with a cheese sauce, so I often make this dish.
- 800g vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower
Preheat the oven to 220c/ 200c fan/gas 7.
Slice, then boil the veg until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain well, then place in a baking dish. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then stir in flour to create a thick paste.
Cook for one minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, then remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Return the pan to the heat and whisk until the sauce has thickened. Add mustard (whatever variety you have) and cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the vegetables and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Vegetables in cheese sauce
Posh bread & butter pudding
I had half a panettone left over from Christmas which this recipe, from the BBC Good Food website, breathed new life into. The icing sugar and whipped cream are optional.
- 250g panettone (about 5 medium slices)
- 142ml carton double cream
- Icing sugar, for sprinkling
- Softly whipped cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 160c/140c fan/gas 3. Grease a 850ml/1½pt shallow baking dish with a little of the 50g butter.
Cut the panettone into wedges. Butter the slices lightly with the rest of the butter, cut them in half then arrange in the dish, buttered side up.
Whisk the eggs with the double cream, milk, vanilla extract and caster sugar, and pour evenly over the panettone.
Put the baking dish in a roasting tin and pour hot water around it to a depth of about 2.5cm/1in.
Bake for 35 minutes until the pudding is just set — it should be yellow inside and nicely browned on top.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.
Posh bread and butter pudding
MAKE YOUR SUNDAY ROAST LAST ALL WEEK
If you’re planning a weekend roast, buying a whole chicken large enough to provide plenty of leftovers is a cost-effective way to get the base for several weekday meals.
Chicken & pasta bake
Slightly undercook your pasta (whatever type you have), then return it to the pan with a spoonful of olive oil. Fry a couple of chopped leeks in a pan with a tablespoon of butter and add minced garlic once they’ve softened. Add 200ml of chicken or vegetable stock, and cook for ten minutes so most of the liquid evaporates. Stir in a couple of handfuls of frozen peas, plus 200g of diced, cooked chicken. Add this mixture to the pasta, along with a 250g pack of ricotta. Spoon into a baking dish, sprinkle with Parmesan (or whatever hard cheese you have) and bake at 180c/160c fan/gas 4 for 25 minutes.
Coronation chicken sandwich filler
Mix six tablespoons of mayonnaise with mild curry powder to taste, plus half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, two tablespoons of mango chutney and a handful of sultanas. Stir in 500g of shredded cooked chicken.
Chicken & sweetcorn soup
Dice a couple of carrots, a stick of celery and half an onion, then gently fry this basic soup base before adding a litre of chicken stock. Simmer for ten minutes, then stir in 250g of shredded, cooked chicken. Remove half from the pan and puree. Tip that back into the pan, add a small tin of sweetcorn and heat through for five minutes.
Mix two teaspoons of cornflour with two teaspoons of fish sauce in a bowl. Stir-fry chopped bell peppers, spring onions and garlic, then add 200g of shredded, cooked chicken and half a teaspoon of chilli flakes plus a handful of frozen peas. Add your flour mix to the pan and stir until it thickens, then throw in your noodles of choice.
Thai Chicken curry
Use your favourite home-made or shop-bought red or green curry paste, add a tin of coconut milk, a large, diced sweet potato, and 300g of shredded, cooked chicken. Simmer for ten minutes.
Where to bulk buy household basics
By Lynsey Crombie ITV This Morning’s Cleaning Expert
Buying big might sound counterintuitive when trying to cut back on spending. But if you can afford the initial outlay, bulk-buying the products you purchase most often will save money in the long-term.
Start by identifying the items that appear regularly on your shopping list.
Supersized boxes of teabags won’t help if you mostly drink coffee. But for someone like me, with two teenage daughters, buying giant bottles of shampoo and conditioner is a wise move.
Laundry products are so expensive anyway that most people will save money buying theirs in bulk. The same goes for dishwasher tablets and toilet rolls.
You might need to put some thought into storage. My jumbo packs go on shelves in my garage, then get decanted into smaller containers, which I label myself and keep in the house.
If you don’t have a garage, a shed would work just as well. Decluttering your kitchen cupboards might also free up some space indoors, as would clearing out the space under your bed.
The great thing about decanting these products is that you can use really attractive containers that suit the decor of your room, rather than the branded tubs and boxes you’re more likely to want to hide in a cupboard or drawer.
I get most of mine from B&M stores, Home Bargains and The Range, as well as Lakeland, Homebase and Amazon. Choose glass or transparent plastic, which allows you to see what’s inside. But if you invest in a domestic label maker (Argos sells a handheld Dymo for £20), that won’t be necessary. Topping these containers up is a Sunday morning ritual for me.
When doing your weekly shop, look out for the largest product pack you can find. Some Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores now have dedicated bulk-buy aisles. Costco allows the general public to buy online, even if you don’t qualify to shop at their warehouses — you just have to pay an annual £15 fee.
Amazon also has a bulk-buy search facility — and on the Boots website, scroll through the options on the ‘offers’ page to check out ‘Value packs and Bundles’, where you’ll find various health and beauty products in larger sizes or packs.
Here are some examples of how much bulk-buying could save you — just on cleaning and beauty products alone . . .
Washing Detergent: You can buy a box of 120 Ariel pods online at Costco for £22.39, so that’s 19p per wash. Ocado has refill packs of 100 Persil capsules on offer at £17, which equates to 17p per wash. A 15-capsule pack typically costs £5 right now, meaning buying a small pack will cost you 33p a wash. If you prefer powder, then Home Bargains has a 130-wash 6.5kg box of Surf Tropical Lily and Ylang-Ylang Laundry Powder for £13.99.
Fabric conditioner: If you don’t mind missing out on special edition fragrances, then going big when you buy fabric conditioner will save you money. Amazon currently sells an 85-wash bottle of Comfort in Blue Skies or Sunshine for just £4.50.
Stain remover: At the moment, you can pick up a 2.1kg tub of Vanish Oxi Action Stain Remover for £8.99 in B&M. A tub half that size costs £5.50 at Sainsbury’s.
Washing up liquid: Five litres of Fairy Original Washing Up liquid costs £6.99 at The Range, where a 780ml bottle of the same product is £1.99, saving you around £6.
Bleach: You can buy two litres of Powerforce bleach at Aldi for 99p. Spilt bleach can cause damage to you and your belongings, so I wouldn’t recommend decanting it — this is a large but manageable size for a good price.
Dishwasher tablets: Wilko is selling a 50-pack of Quantum Finish for £8.50. Meanwhile, B&M is selling 105 Fairy All-in-1 capsules for £14.99.
Spray cleaner: A mixed pack of three cleaning sprays from eco-brand Method is £8.59 at Costco online, which works out at £2.87 per bottle. In Tesco you’d pay £4 for just one bottle of cleaning spray from the same brand.
Shampoo and conditioner: TIGI Bed Head is a popular brand. Costco sells a pack containing 750ml each of shampoo and conditioner for various hair types for £13.29 to online members. That’s enough to keep my hair clean and soft all year.
Toilet rolls: Buying small packs of toilet rolls is an expensive way of stocking your bathroom. A four-roll pack of Andrex is currently £3.15 at Asda. I buy mine from Amazon where 72 rolls costs £32.80 — that’s 46p a roll instead of 79p.
Hand and body washes: Faith in Nature sells jumbo-sized bottles of environmentally friendly, plastic-free cleaning, hair and skincare products on its website. Its five-litre containers of hand wash and body wash are £50 each, but if you sign up to its newsletter, you will get 20 per cent off, which would make them £40 each. That works out at just over 8p per litre — very reasonable for a quality product.
Join the DIY pampering revolution… for you and your pooch!
By Rachel Halliwell
January is traditionally a frugal month, but the start to this year feels especially tight, financially. So, it’s good to know you can save money by taking some of the day-to-day things you might normally outsource and doing them yourself.
Here, Rachel Halliwell reveals how, after investing in a decent hair dryer and an espresso machine, going DIY could save her more than £3,000 per year.
The DIY blow-dry that lasts all week
My hair is thick and unruly, so I treat myself to regular blow-dries costing £30 a time. But I can’t afford that right now. Thankfully, celebrity hairdresser Jason Collier insists you can get salon results at home. ‘The key to achieving a professional-looking and long-lasting blow dry is time and patience,’ he says and he recommends making this a weekly ritual so it doesn’t seem a chore.
Here are Jason’s eight steps to a blow-dry that could last all week.
1 Wash your hair, rinsing it thoroughly — product left in your hair will attract grease and make it appear lank.
2 Gently towel away excess moisture — don’t blast with your hairdryer. Rough-drying wet hair adds frizz.
3 Apply a blow-drying balm containing heat protection. Jerome Russell Bstyled Blow Dry Balm (currently on sale at Superdrug for £6.99 for 150ml) is great.
4 Section your hair with clips, each no thicker than two fingers or one finger for thick hair.
5 Use the right brush. Boots does a great range of GHD dupes. On long, naturally smooth and straight hair, use a paddle. A medium-sized barrel works well across all hair types and lengths.
6 Direct the heat towards your brush as you dry, keeping the nozzle a two finger depth away from your hair.
7 Start with the hairline — those frizzy, flyaway hairs pose the biggest challenge so tame those first.
8 For body, get the barrel right into the roots. Wrap the hair around the bristles, letting each section cool with the brush in place.
VERDICT: On Sunday night, instead of a quick blast before quickly running over it with straighteners, I spent nearly an hour painstakingly drying my mid-length hair in sections.
The GHD dupes are from Boots Professional brush range. I used the £7 All Hair Vent brush and bought a powerful dryer with a nozzle attachment — an MDlondon BLOW dryer that compares well to the Dyson Supersonic but at £195 from Sephora is nearly half the price.
The time and effort paid off — my husband complimented me on the result. A spray of dry shampoo on Thursday morning, before going over it with a heated hairbrush (AO.com has a £35 Babyliss heated barrel brush) took me to the weekend.
ANNUAL SAVING: I doubt I’ll ever pay for another blow dry, saving me around £1,500 a year.
Join the DIY pampering revolution – including a blow dry that lasts all week
Home-brewed barista latte
Takeaway coffee becomes so routine you can forget how big a dint it makes in your bank balance. But at £3.40 a time, a daily medium latte habit costs in the region of £1,200 a year.
‘It’s easy to make frothy coffee at home using equipment you’ll already own,’ explains coffee roaster Kit Nisbet of Bristol-based Lost Horizon Coffee.
Here’s Kit’s guide to making a kitchen latte:
1 Start with a short, strong shot of coffee. If you don’t have an espresso machine, stove-top moka pots are cheap (and make great espresso).
2 You can also make a short strong brew in a cafetiere — use the same finely ground coffee you’d use for espresso, making the coffee-to-water ratio much smaller and brewing it for longer.
Start using 15g of coffee to 45ml of water, leaving it to brew for four minutes then adjust to your own preferred taste.
3 Heat your milk in a pan then pour it into a clean cafetiere for frothing. Pump the plunger in a quick up and down motion for around one minute, which brings air and texture into the milk, and is similar to using a steamer.
4 Pour the milk into your coffee, holding the pot high to begin with so the milk goes straight to the bottom. As the cup fills, bring the pot’s spout in closer, gently easing the froth across the top of your drink.
VERDICT: I like my latte to taste more of coffee than milk so I used 15g of coffee to 30ml of water, leaving it to brew in my cafetiere for six minutes while my milk gently heated in a pan.
The cafetiere milk-frothing trick worked brilliantly — it poured out with that thicker texture you get from steaming.
I needed to add a touch more sugar because the coffee tasted more bitter than espresso, but I was pleased with the result.
ANNUAL SAVING: I prefer the true espresso taste, so bought a Lakeland Digital Espresso machine for £129.99. You can get a basic Vinekraft Moka stovetop pot from Amazon for £14.80.
I’ve set up a subscription with a local coffee roaster costing £21.25 a month for a kilo bag of ground beans — after paying for those, I’ll save £945 a year.
Groom your pooch and clip their nails
While clipping your dog’s coat should be left to a professional to avoid injuries, keeping your pooch clean and coiffed at home could help reduce the number of trips you have to make to the groomer.
My cockapoo, Buddy, is prone to matting so he is professionally groomed each month. But at £45 a time, reducing his visits by half would be a substantial saving.
‘It doesn’t matter how long your dog’s coat grows as long as you regularly brush and comb it so that knots don’t form,’ explains Crufts winner and dog-grooming trainer Marie Burns. If your dog won’t stand still, Marie advises tying their lead to a table leg.
‘When bathing, wash them twice — the first time will remove the dirt; the second cleanses the coat,’ says Marie.
Thoroughly rinse out the shampoo. ‘It doesn’t matter how good the quality, leftover soap will cause irritation.’
You should brush your dog’s coat before a bath. If knots get wet, drying only tightens them.
My groomer cleans Buddy’s ears and trims his nails when she cuts his coat, but, says Marie, I can do these important jobs myself.
‘Put some dog ear cleaner on a cotton pad, wrap it around your finger and gently rub it around their ear — only going in as far as your finger allows.’
Owners are often nervous about trimming their dog’s nails, as they can be prone to bleeding.
‘Dab the nail with cornflour and it’ll soon stop bleeding,’ says Marie. ‘Just take off tiny bits at a time. Then, if a nail bleeds you know you’ve gone a bit too far — take less off the next one.’
VERDICT: I now brush Buddy’s coat daily, spraying it with a leave-in conditioner if he needs hosing down after a muddy walks which makes brushing much easier. Mikki Pets sells a doodle grooming kit for £14.32 on Amazon. I like the Bugalugs conditioning spray at £5.99 from Pets at Home.
ANNUAL SAVING: £270 in fewer visits to the groomer.
Cheats guide to a French Manicure
A salon manicure costs me £36. Here, celebrity nail technician Tinu Bello offers a cheat’s guide to a professional-looking French manicure which is easy to do yourself at home.
1 Shape your nails with an emery board, filing in one direction. For French nails I like a flat top with rounded corners, but rounded looks good, too.
2 Push back your cuticles with an orange wood stick. If it hurts, you’re doing it too hard. Massaging first with cuticle remover, or even coconut oil, helps.
3 Buffing your nails makes for a smoother surface for the polish to adhere to. Wipe them with acetone or alcohol — hand sanitiser works well — so the nails are clean for painting.
4 Apply two coats of a light pink polish. Allow each coat to dry — if you’re using gel, then cure it by putting your hand under an LED curing lamp for 60 seconds per coat.
5 For the tips apply white polish onto a make-up sponge before pushing one nail at a time into it.
6 Now, with a clean make-up brush dipped in acetone, tidy up the line and remove any polish that has gone onto your skin.
7 Leave to dry, or, as before, cure the nails under a lamp for another 60 seconds.
8 Apply a clear top coat that will make your nail polish last longer and appear shinier — again, if this is gel, cure under a lamp.
VERDICT: I get a manicure most months. Following Tinu’s advice, I used a non-gel Mavala French Manicure set (£17.20 from John Lewis). It comes with guide papers to help paint on the tips and I was pleased with the result. If you prefer gel nails, then Boots sells a Mylee The Real Deal Gel Polish Kit, containing everything you need to apply and remove them at home, including an LED lamp for £145.
ANNUAL SAVING: My DIY nails will save me £432 a year.
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