Penny pincher, pound saver (or seven ways to save money in modern Britain)

I’m trying to win an iPad 2 in the iSave, iWrite, iPad competition from!

I Love Saving Money

Photo: I Love Saving Money by Tony Crider, on Flickr

Ever since coming to the UK for work a year ago, I’ve learnt the great value of the £ (especially since I’m a single income earner with a housewife to support).

After initially thinking £50 tech items were cheap, I quickly realised how far my pound could stretch (a few visits to shops like Poundsavers, Poundland, and the 99p shop, helped solidify that belief) and I began trying to keep expenses low.

My decision had absolutely no relation to my wife’s nagging wise advice to avoid buying non-essential items (and try as I might, I couldn’t convince her that new 24″ LED HD monitor was an essential item).

Top 7 ways to scrimp and save without begging or borrowing (or stealing)

  1. Packed food and BYOW (Bring your own water)
    Water Bottle

    Photo: Water Bottle by Terry Bain, Flickr

    They save you an amazing amount of money that adds up towards the end of the month.

    True, you can buy sandwiches that only cost £1 each, but those you make will naturally contain more fillings thereby keeping you fuller, longer.

    Bringing your own water around also eliminates you paying close to £1 on something you essentially can get for a few pennies.

  2. Equate eating sweets with building your waistlineWhen that mental connection becomes real for you, you’re that much less likely to splurge £3 to £5 a day on sweets, crisps, and sodas. So when you really think about it, saving money also helps you to lose weight.Also, stop thinking about how cheap chicken wings are in those KFC-copycat shops and start thinking about what makes them so cheap.It’s impossible for that to be healthy at consumption levels of more than once a month (just like McDonalds – no matter what they print in their nutrition guide).
  3. Consider how much £ worth of groceries you’re giving up by spending that cash

    Ida ao mercado

    Photo: Ida ao mercado from dipurinku, Flickr

    Groceries are essentials. You can’t eat a new SSD or a Nintendo 3DS (unless you’re  this guy). So before you decide on splurging on something, even if it’s something you’ve desired for ages, consider how many groceries you won’t be able to buy.

    Your spending patterns will change pretty quickly.

  4. Double-check any ‘bargains’ you see
    Chains like Tesco and Sainsbury’s are notorious for BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) offers that aren’t really that cheap. You could often get singles for less at places like ASDA. Don’t just get sucked into ASDA’s price promise though.In reality, they won’t be cheaper for 100% of their products. If you shop on a ‘deal by deal’ basis, you’ll end up saving more.A good way to check whether any offer is a true bargain is to post/check the deal on HotUKdeals.The degree of heat (or coldness) will help guide you as well as any feedback you get from the passionate commentators on the site.
  5. Make the £1 or £2 your personal treasure
    When you think about it, we all end up with a fair bit of change at the end of the day and we’d do ourselves some good if we start hoarding some of it. By making the £1 or £2 your personal treasure, at the end of the year, you’d enough to spend on some of the finer things in life.For me, it’s going for Nottingham Forest matches, buying nice stuff for my missus, funding her budding card making business, and going for the odd movie (or two or three).
  6. Being shopping savvy also means looking for opportunities to profit from good deals
    Some of the deals out there lend themselves very well to getting a small profit through the age-old tenet of buying low and selling higher.You might not make enough to buy a new home but you can usually get some nice extra pocket money. See the Tesco axes ‘Double the Difference’ refunds after being hijacked by savvy shoppers news article for one example.
  7. Learn from others
    Photo: Talk to the experts by Mai Le, on Flikr

    Photo: Talk to the experts by Mai Le, on Flikr

    It’s almost impossible to be a penny pinching know-it-all, so why not learn from others? Sites like MoneySavingExpert, Moneywise, and PlayPenniesare great to visit, learn about good deals, cost saving measures, and communicate with other budget-conscious people.

    Part of what makes a great online community is the cycle of sharing that occurs and you can play your part by tending to the community garden. Found a great deal? Share it. Had an experience? Talk about it.

Community service message: Don’t get too hung up saving money that you end up losing personal relationships.
Update 30/05/11: The winner has been announced and while I’m not the winner, the prize went to a really worthy writer. Check out the winning post – Mad House Family Reviews with Make Do And Mend.
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