Saving money seems to be a priority for most of us at the moment, whether you’re one of our front-line heroes, or even if you’re currently at home but urgently looking for work. We could all do with some new money-saving hacks, so here are five of the best — and some information on what to do if you still need help after utilising these tips.
Tip 1 - Make the most of NHS discounts
Lots of big and small businesses are offering NHS discounts, and these have become even more pronounced in 2020. Some of the big names range from Greggs (where you can currently get a free hot drink) to Uber (who now give you 25% off your rides).
There are lots of smaller places on your high street that will appreciate your custom too, so make sure you look out for chalkboards and window signs welcoming NHS heroes with discounts; local pubs and restaurants are good examples of this. If you want to see a lot of discounts in one place though, the Blue Light Card is a great choice, costing only £4.99 for two years of access to great deals. Or join Health Service Discounts for free, and get save money on anything from your supermarket shop to your new washing machine.
Tip 2 - Keep an eye on general money-saving websites
These sites and their accompanying newsletters will give you tips that range from the everyday (get a free cookie at Subway on your birthday) right through to the top-secret, like haggling using online live chat to get discounts on purchases from big businesses, like Nike and Dell.
Money-saving sites will often help you out with tips in multiple areas, like travel and entertainment as well as grocery shopping and car insurance. Some of them, like Honey, will even let you search internet-wide for coupons, and you can make it easier by downloading their browser extension which does the coupon-applying for you, saving you the legwork!
Tip 3 - Referral sites
These are marketplaces that you can shop from. For example, if you wanted to buy trainers for your long commute to and from the hospital, you could go straight to your favourite shop’s website to purchase them — OR you can go there via a site that will give you some cash-back.
That’s right — you can get money back for everything that you purchase from referral/affiliate links (this can be from 2% cashback, all the way up to 50%). That way you still get your trainers from your favourite shop, but because you made a few extra clicks in-between, by going via the referral site, you get to bank some money back.
One of the big players in this business is Quidco — all you have to do is go to their site first, register an account and then do your shopping from their links. The cash-back can add up to hundreds of pounds if you include large purchases like holidays and hotel spending.
Tip 4 - Shop judiciously
This one might seem obvious, but if you’re trying to save money, make sure you’re only spending it when you really need to. Don’t do a big grocery shop until you’ve checked the backs of all your kitchen cupboards (don’t forget freezer drawers too) and used up all the things that will otherwise get forgotten about. You’ll be amazed at how things pile up when you can’t see them (half-open packs of couscous, anyone?).
You’ll notice that you’re spending less when you’re doing your weekly shop if you’re careful to eat up what’s at home first.
Tip 5 - Don’t just buy it because it’s on offer
We end up with so much food waste because of BOGOF deals and 3 for 2 offers that catch our attention at the supermarkets. Unless it’s something you actually need, don’t be tempted to buy ‘just in case.’
If you do end up with more than you need though, think about how you can best use your freezer space. Often this can save both time and money: you can batch prep and cook on a Sunday, so that when it comes to quick weeknight meals all you have to do is defrost your pre-cooked portions.
This also works with things that go off quickly; perhaps you bought bananas because they were cheap — all you have to do now is peel and freeze them in large chunks. No mouldy bananas will get thrown out and you’ll always have fruit on hand for smoothies or for a cake if you want to bake for an unexpected guest.
If you’re an impulse shopper, always hang onto your receipts. These days, with contactless on the rise, some shops are no longer giving receipts automatically, and you have to ask for them.
It’s important to get your receipts — and keep them safe — in case you get buyers’ remorse and decide to return something. Some of the biggest culprits in getting us to impulse shop are clearance shops like TKMaxx which look like bargain hunting meccas — brilliant in theory. In actuality, because they play on the ‘scarcity’ effect, you end up buying things you wouldn’t otherwise get and probably don’t need.
When you just can’t wait
Sometimes you end up in a position where your money-saving measures have been stretched to the max and a solution is needed. If this happens, remember we’re in your corner and you can apply for a Salad Money loan.
We give loans of up to £1000, exclusively for NHS employees and believe that lending should be fair. Even if you’ve got an impaired credit score (you can check your credit score here), at Salad Money we want you and the millions of others in the same position to have access to affordable credit.
We have created a fairer new system using Open Banking and with recognition from the HM Treasury backed Nesta Affordable Credit Challenge, we’re helping people just like you. Find out more about our easy loans and apply here at Saladmoney.co.uk.