Get More From the Things you Buy

There are some things you have to keep buying over and over again. Disposable items and those that run out may not cost much to buy once, but buying them again and again can mount up.

Sometimes, however, it’s possible to make those things go further and get more use out of them before they need replacing. Over time, this can lead to surprisingly big savings.

Printer Ink

Ink cartridges for inkjet printers are notoriously expensive. Even if you get a bargain when buying a printer, you will soon find the cost doubled and tripled by ink if you’re even a moderate user.

Refilling ink cartridges can make for big savings. While buying a new ink cartridge can easily cost more than £20, refilling will usually cost pennies. Ink refill kits are widely available for both black and colour ink cartridges, and each kit will provide a large number of refills before it runs out. Be warned, though. Refilling ink cartridges can be messy. It’s best to wear some rubber gloves, put down plenty of newspaper, and make sure you are near a sink.

Batteries

When buying disposable batteries, you’re often faced with an unattractive choice. Either you spend several pounds on a very small pack of batteries, or you buy a cheap alternative that will run out so quickly it may not actually work out more cost-effective.

Rechargeable batteries may be a bit more expensive to buy in the first place, but they cost very little to recharge and quickly work out far cheaper. According to Which?, a single pack of four can save you around £235 over their lifespan. Buying higher-capacity (2000mAh or more) will mean that each charge gives you performance equal to or better than that you would expect from a good-quality disposable alkaline battery. It’s also a good idea to spend slightly more in order to get a smart charger. This will pay for itself by noticeably lengthening the lifespan of your batteries.

Razor Blades

Getting more use out of razor blades, cartridges and disposable razors is simple, yet is missed by a surprising number of people. Whether they’re designed for men’s faces or women’s legs, most razors will continue to give a good shave for longer than the period stated on the packaging. For example, most blades that supposedly last for five shaves will in fact last for at least seven.

Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule. Some cheaper or lower-quality razors might already be struggling when you do get to the end of the stated lifespan. If you have particularly tough hair, you may also find that you cannot stretch a single blade so far. For most people, however, this simple tactic will work very well. Experiment to see how long your favoured brand will keep performing for.

Shop Online Frugally

Shopping trolley on button of computer keyboardShopping online is now one of the most popular ways to buy things. Whether it’s an essential, a present for somebody, or a treat there’s a good chance it will get purchased over the internet. It’s true that buying online is often better than buying from the shops, but it’s always nice if something can be cheaper still. There are several ways to make it cheaper to buy something from the web.

Use Cashback Websites

Cashback websites allow you to save money when buying from a number of online retailers. You visit the retailer through a link on the cashback company’s site, and they get a commission for sending you. They then split the commission with you, getting you a saving. In some cases, they will even give you the whole commission and rely on adverts to make a profit for themselves.

Follow Daily Deal Sites

Daily deal sites, most famously Groupon, simply give you the opportunity to buy things at a reduced price. Often, it will be a temporary special offer or a voucher that is available in limited numbers. The discounts can be huge. These sites are mostly aimed at buying yourself a treat, but some essentials and useful items get included as well. However, there is a danger of being tempted into buying things you wouldn’t normally get, which can lead to you spending money instead of saving it.

Shop Around

Shopping around is key to finding the best price, and there are websites that can help you do this. Services such as Google Shopping Search let you compare prices on products just as you may use a comparison site to find the best insurance deal or energy provider. This makes it easier to find the cheapest price and buy from the best place.

Check Amazon Marketplace

Amazon is one of the most popular shopping sites around, but many people ignore Amazon Marketplace. Many of the items they sell can be bought there from independent sellers, while purchasing through Amazon ensures you have a safety net and allows you to check their reliability through feedback. Often, brand new items are available at less than Amazon’s standard price, and second hand items can mean even bigger savings.

Get a Better Price

By using online service Flubit, you can often get a noticeable discount on products bought from Amazon. You provide the link to product you are interested in, and they contact Amazon or the original supplier to negotiate a lower price. If the result is to your liking, you then have the option to buy the product through Flubit with the reduction.

Five Tips for Pinching Pennies

PenniesIt’s easy for little expenses to slip unnoticed past even the most careful spenders. Even if you consider yourself extremely frugal, there may still be ways you can make cuts to your expenses. The cuts may be small, but when a few small savings are put together over time those pennies will build up into pounds.

Mobile Phone Contracts

Are you really on the best mobile phone contract? Keep an eye on how many minutes, texts and megabytes of data you use each month. If you have more than you need, you might be able to switch to a cheaper contract. Shop around for the cheapest providers, and consider discount providers such as the award-winning GiffGaff.

Home Baking

If you have a sweet tooth, home baked cakes and biscuits are often cheaper. This is especially true if you know where to economise on ingredients. Spend a little more on the main flavour, such as vanilla, cocoa powder or fruit. This usually allows you to spend less on things like flour, butter and eggs. Though cheap flours are heavy and make it a little harder to achieve light cakes, overall flour is the ingredient that contributes least to the final flavour and is probably the best place to economise.

Coffee

Are you partial to buying coffees from coffee shops? A lot of people do this on their way to work or during their lunch break. Compared to most other ways to get a cup of coffee, however, the prices are very high. Consider bringing coffee from home in a vacuum flask. If you are happy with instant the savings are huge, but even if you want real coffee a basic coffee machine can be bought very cheaply. It will not be long before you have recouped the cost.

Car Sharing

Sharing lifts with somebody can really save you petrol money on your journey to work over time. You can make arrangements informally with a co-worker, or check for people doing similar journeys on one a dedicated carshare website. This tactic can also be used for regular social events, such as any groups or societies you belong to.

Shopping

There are several ways to pinch pennies when doing your weekly food shop. Large packs are cheaper, so it pays to buy in bulk if you’re buying something that doesn’t go off or that you will get through before it goes out of date. Take advantage of half price offers, Buy One Get One Frees (BOGOFs) and similar offers. Stock up on these items before the offer ends. If you aren’t sure whether you can use it all before it goes out of date, check whether the item is suitable for freezing.

Saving Money on Christmas Food

As much as everybody loves to celebrate and have fun at Christmas, the fact is that the cost can mount up. After buying gifts for friends, relatives and co-workers, it’s time to start treating yourself and your family to a banquet of delicious festive food. The cost of this can rise almost as high as the gift-buying bill, but there are a few ways you can cut the cost down to size.

Buy From Discount Shops

When it comes to a special occasion like Christmas, many people who usually have no problem with discount shops start to turn away from them. After all, if it’s a special occasion, you really want to buy the best don’t you?

This can be true, but sometimes the idea that you need to spend more in order to buy the best is a misconception. An independent test on this year’s mince pie options declared Aldi (the cheapest in the test) to be the best. Lidl came in joint second with Marks and Spencer, meaning that both of these discount options beat the likes of Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason.

aldi-mince-pies

Prepare Food Yourself

Christmas is a busy time, and ready-to-cook or ready-to-serve foods might look tempting. However, things like pre-prepared vegetables or ready-cooked sausages in bacon can cost a lot more than their raw counterparts. If you want an easy way to save money, preparing these food items yourself is a great way to do it. Busy as you may be, it doesn’t take long to peel and chop vegetables. Things that will be cooked in the oven, meanwhile, can probably be popped in while you’re doing things like roast potatoes for Christmas dinner, meaning they will take hardly any extra time or effort.

Ask Guests to Help

If you are having a Christmas party with a buffet-style meal or even just inviting family over, it is more cost-effective if everybody contributes something. You may want to seek like a kind and generous host, but nobody will mind to being asked to “bring a bottle” or contribute something to the snack table. This will save you having to buy so much food and drink yourself, saving your money.  It’s true your guests will be picking up the slack, but it will be divided between them into small chunks and they are likely to recognise that it’s only fair since they will be partaking in food as well. This is also an easy way to ensure everybody has access to at least one thing they like.

How to Save Money on Computer Security

Computers are vital to everyday life, and security is vital to computers. Without adequate security, ordinary internet browsing could lead to all sorts of problems. A virus could be expensive to repair or even render your computer useless. Alternatively, it may lurk secretly on your hard drive and steal your personal details, including bank information. Security suites provide a simple solution, but they are distributed on an annual licence requiring you to pay again every year. However, there are ways to keep this cost down or even eliminate it entirely.

Don’t Fall for Renewal “Deals”

When your security suite’s licence is running out, you will no doubt start getting popup messages asking you to renew in a few easy clicks. They might even claim to be offering you a “deal” or “special offer” if you renew your subscription now. But however tempting it might look, don’t fall for it. These deals rely on you taking the prompt for easy renewal and not bothering to look elsewhere. Often, even the special offers on renewal will be more expensive than just buying a disc for the latest version and using the licence that comes with that.

Install a Free Antivirus

It is even possible to protect your computer for free. Several companies offer completely free antivirus programs for personal use. Many people are reluctant to trust something as important as computer protection to a free program, but there is really no need to be concerned. They come from legitimate companies which make money from selling business licences or packages that include other software alongside the antivirus. In major independent tests, the most popular free antiviruses such as Avast and AVG consistently equal or even outperform their paid-for counterparts. Perhaps not surprisingly, during installation the free program will ask if you want to upgrade to this full, paid security suite with the extra packages. However, this is not really necessary, and you can safely stick with the free version.

Install a Free Firewall

When those free antiviruses invite you to upgrade to paid security suites, they are only really offering one extra piece of security software you will need. This is a firewall, but rather than upgrade and pay a licence fee there are plenty of free firewalls available elsewhere that you can install separately. Like the free antiviruses, these are perfectly capable of replacing their paid counterparts. Some of the best and most popular are Comodo and Zonealarm. Windows does already have a free firewall built in. This is not as good as many of the alternatives, but if you want to keep things simple then it is adequate for most everyday computer users.

Greedy corporations & new beginnings

Many of us these days view banks as greedy corporations trying to squeeze every last penny out of us. In this regard banks have done little to none to boost their image and the global financial crisis has done nothing else than to support this widely spread perspective. Of course they invest millions of pounds in marketing but actions speak louder than campaigns, billboards and tv commercials. The latest series of events which support the general idea that banks have lost their human touch is related to the PPI scandal, the biggest financial scandal to hit Britain according to some voices.

PPI complaints at an all-time high

According to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) latest statistics, approximately 400,000 complaints were registered related to PPI claims, a new record. The FOS has already investigated much of these complaints, (378,699) and has discovered that banks do not respect their contractual obligations hiding under technicalities and waves of bureaucratic nonsense. Since the PPI scandal erupted, customers who have paid for PPIs have become more aware of their rights and as a result they are also demanding them by themselves or with the aid of a PPI claims company. This scandal also unwillingly created opportunities for companies which specialize in PPI claims.

Banks put on a hell of a fight

Banks do not stand idly by and pay back refunds to every PPI claim that ends up on their desks. Ever since the scandal erupted, the number of customers who have successfully claimed their PPI has dropped slowly but surely from 84% to 70% offering a clear idea that banks are no longer willing to see their profits being cut.

Especially at time like these, banks should reflect integrity, honesty and professionalism in the eyes of their customers but this is not the case, at least not for the big commercial banks. Banks should immediately start a process of regaining their core values and make this a priority.

A new bank monitoring body is being set up this autumn and its leader will be Sir Richard Lambert.  He is the former director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and he is to design and chair this new independent of banks monitoring organisation.  Maybe this will help right some wrongs for this troublesome industry, and bring about some much needed new beginnings.

The warmth of your home, and clothes on your back… Save

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Turn down the heat

The recommended home thermostat setting for winter when people are at home, is a reasonable 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). If you tend to go above that, reduce it to 68. Now that you’ve gotten used to that daytime temperature, try to set it a few degrees lower and experiment to see how low you can stand it. The exact amount you’ll save would vary based on your heating prices, including other factors like the size and efficiency of your house and the temperature outside.

Want to save even more? Crank the temperature down to 60 or 55 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 or 12.8 degrees Celsius) when you’re away or in bed. If you tend to work outside the home during the day and sleep eight hours a night, you’ll most likely use your energy for 16 hours per day. In addition, if you turn the heat down from 68 degrees to 55 degrees, you’ll potentially save 26 percent on your heating bill. If you’re home during the day and feel like you need the heat, you’ll save about half as much by just turning it down at night, which is actually still a nice saving.

Buy clothing on sale

Clothes spending can be difficult to track because it’s not something most people do every week or even every month. Firstly, don’t focus on brand names, because you’re usually just paying for the name. Plus, the clothes aren’t always nicer than what you’d find in a lesser-known brand. Taking into account the insane prices for designer jeans and shoes, you could rack up massive savings with this step alone, provided you always shopped for designers before now.

Next step would be to sort your clothes and note what you wear regularly and what just hangs in the closet. It doesn’t matter how little you spend on an article of clothing, if you don’t ever wear it, you are wasting money. Focus on the more reliable pieces that can be worn in different situations or that match lots of other things so you can create different outfits by mixing and matching.

Also, try to plan ahead from now on.  Avoid buying winter clothes in November, as clothes are most expensive “in season.” Therefore buy in advance – summer clothes at the end of this season on sale – to wear for next spring/summer. And the same come January – get your winter clothes for the following autumn/winter. Stores can cycle through their clothes collections pretty quickly, though, so head to the clearance section if you have to buy and still don’t want to spend much.

Lower costs for using a mobile across Europe

In time with Croatia acceding to the EU, the European Parliament has passed regulations once again lowering the cost of mobile phone roaming charges across the EU.

Having been forcing down prices for both the cost of calls and accessing the internet on mobile phone devices for the last six years, July 1st saw the introduction of a new and lower cap on the roaming fees that EU phone service providers can charge when mobiles are used outside their country of origin. Such a cap has been in place for several years, and that limit has been reduced annually by the EU. Outside the EU, however, there is no cap on roaming fees; as such, those fees will continue to remain very high. This used to be case in the EU prior to 2007, when the European Parliament began to tackle the issue of excessive data roaming charges.

From July 1st, the maximum cost of a making a call will decrease to just over 20p, a fall of a fifth from the 2012 cap. This, however, does not include the VAT rate of the EU country the caller is in.

The greatest change will be in internet browsing and data usage fees. Users will be charged a maximum of 38.5p per megabyte- a reduction of a third from 60p per megabyte previously.

1Further, service providers will be required to send users a warning when they have reached 80% of their data-roaming limit. The internet connection has to be cut off once that data roaming limit has been reached, unless the user agrees to continue with data roaming for the month.

Timed to coincide with Croatia joining the Eurozone, it is there that the greatest changes will be seen. In Croatia, this will make the cost of sending one email via a smartphone fall to around 0.05p, and using the map function (vital in an unfamiliar country) regularly (five times or so) fall from €30 (approximately £25.68) to €2.25 (approximately £1.92). Social media users will be grateful for a decrease to €15.75 (approximately £13.48) in cost for checking their social media feeds for half an hour; this is a massive reduction from a previous cost of €210 (approximately £179.76).

In a further move that will please mobile phone users in the EU, indications show that it is likely that the cap on data charges across the EU will fall once again in 2014.

Such measures will not be popular with mobile phone service providers- but will go far in making that European get away less expensive and more enjoyable. The only downside is that now users cannot plead the excuse of data roaming fees to avoid emails and phone calls whilst away.

Frugal Skills- Resourcefullness with Re-using Packaging

Saving money requires you to be resourceful and creative. In being resourceful and creative, you may not realize that there are so many ways that you can save money by paying attention to your surroundings. A simple example of this is to recycle and re-use things: this not only is good for the environment, it can save you money too.  I go through a few practical ways how you can re-use packaging to save money now here, read on!

When you buy a tub of ice cream or large box of margarine etc for example, it is a great idea to wash out the tub and lid when it becomes empty.  You can then keep and use this for when you need a container for left over food or storage for some dry items. You won’t then need to spend much money on Tupperware or containers.

When you get any items delivered to your home, keep hold of the box if you have the storage in the attic etc for it.  You can re-use these boxes to pack things if you sell items on ebay etc. Also, if you ever move home then it will save a lot of money on buying lots of smaller boxes at least.

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All types of packaging, if safe and clean, are great for kids to play with.  You can make things with your kids using all sorts of things and enjoy the quality time spent together.  For example, to make your very own robot, use a cereal boxes as the body, kitchen or loo roll inner card for legs and arms, yogurt tops for a head with milk tops for ears and other smaller bottle tops for eyes etc.  From experience I can say the pride a child feels in making such an item is immense – even if they only play with it for a day.

Last of all, of course carrier bags need to be re-used as much as possible due to the sheer number we each of us get through.  For smaller bins around the house use them as liners and save on having to buy them.

In being resourceful by recycling, you are also training yourself to be creative in that manner in many other aspects of your life – always a benefit.

 

Are those home improvements worth the money?

Home improvements may not be considered to be home improvements at all if they don’t increase value or make the home more energy efficient.

If you aren’t confident your home improvements are actual improvements and not just a waste of money, ask yourself this:

Is the home improvement something that could save you money?

Does the home improvement make you happier?

Is it money saving over time?

If no is your direct answer to these questions then it’s most likely that you haven’t made a good choice in your home improvement, and maybe it’s not an improvement after all? Consider your options! Maybe you don’t have to improve your home?

Here are a few things that could hinder your cash – stack in the bank, with not much in return:

-Home office

-Home theatre

-Library

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Technology:

Why should I not improve the technological sector of my house?

Technology improves at an incredible rate; you wouldn’t want to spend a larger section of your savings on something that could be outdone in half the price by 6-7 months.

Garages can and may also hinder your credit, consider this: investing into adding a new garage to your home could be a money suck for no good reason, since most people regard a home as one with a garage they wouldn’t pay an awful lot extra just to buy a home with a garage.

Swimming pools: Why can swimming pools deter the amount of money you would get if you, some day, decide to resell your home at a value higher than when you bought it? Adding a swimming pool could possibly thwart most average people since they would be afraid of the possible maintenance cost of sustaining such a privilege.

Never forget that, making home improvements could possibly land you a higher resell value of your home; however they could also cost quite an investment and maybe lose you more money than you make.

Try to research about prices of homes and accessories before adding to your own.