Friday, 7 January 2011

How I'm spending less in 2011

View DetailsSince leaving my job to move to DC, I have had to rely on Hank to pay for everything.  As a feminist it feels uncomfortable not to pay my way.  Moreover, it feels unfair to Hank so, I am committed to squeezing every last cent out of his hard-earned dollars.  I have come up with ten little tips, which may interest you, too: 

1.  According to the Daily Mail, the price of food and drink products increased by an average of 5.9 per cent last year  -  considerably above the official rate of inflation.  The supermarkets are definitely squeezing every last penny out of us.  So I've downgraded from the luxury grocery brands to standard or budget brands*.  There are certain things you might not want to risk (like meat?) but for canned vegetables the difference between own-brand canned tomatoes and fancy-pants cans is negligible.  As for health benefits, there are some unexpected positives!  I found that own-brand "juice from concentrate" often contains nothing but concentrate and water - it's cheaper than adding the sugar and preservatives the more expensive manufacturers use in their concentrate.  To compare specific stores' own brands try this link (UK) and click on the handbook to see recent comparisons.

*Hank insists on buying Newman's Own products whenever possible because the profits go to charity and because Paul Newman was "a dude."  But even dude's have coupons.

2.  Hank's lunch meats and cheese are significantly cheaper at the grocery store's Deli Counter than when pre-packaged - and can be sliced to my exact portion needs. 

3.  Bulk buying dry goods at Costco.   Membership at Costco usually costs $50 a year in the US.  I've not found a way to share membership with friends but if you have a friend who is already a member, ask them to let you buy a Costco pre-paid card from their account which you can use, not just the registered member....  

4.  ... But avoid buying too much food at Costco!  Buying "little and often" still makes sense for perishable products.  Apparently Brits throw away 3.6 million tonnes of food each year, 60 per cent of it untouched.  This link offers ten good ways to use leftovers including bread, meats and veggies.  Don't forget you can quickly mix almost anything into a good ole omelette.

5.  I'm packing Hank's lunches (groan).  I used to buy snack pots of raisins and pretzels but they are really expensive so I now buy bigger packs and repack them into smaller tupperware containers.

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6. During my last week in the UK, I spent an afternoon gossiping with my mum while we counted out Hank's loose change. We didn't count every single penny, we made a "control" stack of each denomination and then checked the height of other stacks of the same denomination against it.  (Your bank will check them when you pay them in so don't spend too much time here).   Hank's change turned out to be well over GBP100 ($150).  I was embarrassed about paying in so much small change, so I told the bank teller I was paying in a Tea Club collection.  I now pick up those empty coin bags whenever I am in my bank.  Note you can NOT mix coins in UK bags when you pay them in.  

7. Use Reward Points instead of saving them for something!  I got $150 off my $500 flight to DC by cashing in a year's worth of HSBC Mastercard Reward Points.

Free money clip art of animated bag of dollar bill euro cash and coins for sale.8. Shopping for online discount vouchers. Some of the sites get frustratingly out-of-date but occasionally you find free delivery or a discount on certain types of product. Starbucks are offering a free coffee on Monday 10th Jan for UK & Irish customers producing this voucher. 

9.  Find cheaper flights using a single search across all airlines (including lowcost ones) using 

10.  Give up alcohol for a month.  The first time I did this I found an extra $450 in my bank account at the end of the month.  I also lost weight.  I was still socialising but drinking juice drinks, mineral water or nothing at all. I saved the most by not getting into costly "rounds" of drinks which require you to stay long enough to buy a drink for everyone in your group  - or be called "tight"!  When drinking with six other people I easily saved $75 a night.  It's not as hard as you think.  When really under peer pressure to drink, I tell people I am on antibiotics ... and the rash is really clearing up nicely, thanks!


Was that useful to you?  If you made a Resolution to be better with your money, these are four really good UK sites: for UK investment, pensions, savings and tax tips.  This site taught me how to invest in the stockmarket. -  UK financial website of the year. - good for finding a cheaper financial product. - lots of UK discounts here.

Please do publish your own money saving tips in the comments box below or email me at  

You can also tag my blog entries as funny, cool or interesting (there is no box for "boring" -  vote with your feet on that one!).  I'd love to know what you enjoy reading and want to see more of.  

1 comment:

  1. good money saving tips! food is definitely the area to focus on, i should try more economising for sure!!


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