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I've written a couple of articles now on how to save money but had a few more ideas so I thought I'd share them. Whether you're on a tight budget, totally skint or would just like to have a little more money left at the end of the month then these should help. I decided to update this review after coming up with a few new ideas.
1) Freezer space - Not all of us have the space for a freezer (or if you are in rented accomodation there might not be one provided) and when I first moved into my house I had to make do with my fridge which has one freezer shelf. So how do you get round this? We all love chips but its just not practical when you don't have a proper freezer. Buy a bag of potatoes (Asda and Aldi have the cheapest prices, but Lidl do half-price fruit and veg on a wednesday but you have to get there early! Please note that Lidl get their new delivery on a thursday morning and the fruit and veg sold on a wednesday has been sitting for a few days). To make sure the potatoes don't sprout too quickly while being stored put an apple in the bag with them (sounds silly but it works. We all know how to make mash and roast potatoes but what about chips? No freezer, no chip pan and just an oven.....
Wash your potatoes thoroughly but don't peel them. Pierce them a few times and put in a preheated oven (220C, Gas Mark 5) for 10-15 minutes (less if they are smaller potatoes). Then carefully remove from the oven and slice into wedges. Arrange on a baking tray that has been lightly oiled (or use a non stick tray) and place back in the oven until golden (turn them over after about 10-15 minutes). These are fab with lots of salt and vinegar. Or why not try sprinkling some spices over them once they are half way through cooking? These are much healthier than frozen chips and much much cheaper.
If you have leftover wine, or opened a bottle and find you don't like it don't let it go to waste. Fill up an ice cube tray (can be found cheap in Asda, Tesco and local pound shops) with the wine and freeze. The cubes can then be used in recipes at a later date (ie. bolognese, chicken dishes) or white wine cubes can be added to a tall glass of lemonade or tonic water instead of normal ice cubes for a very refreshing and different drink. Ice cube tray also dont take up a lot of room which is good if you don't have a lot of freezer space.
Dried ingredients are also a good way to save freezer space and dried good are very cheap (more money saved). Places like Asda, Tesco, Aldi, Julian Graves and Weigh and Go (this is where all items are in large storage bins loose and you weigh out exactly what you want. These places sell not only seeds and grains but also cereals, dried fruit and tea bags, and also washing powder see item 5) are probably the cheapest. Holland and Barrett is sometimes a good bet but its worth checking the prices. The best buys are things like chick peas, kidney beans and lentils. All great in various dishes and 500g of each can be bought for about 50p. Please make sure if you are buying dried ingredients that you follow the soaking and cooking instructions properly.
Also if you've made too much of something why not let it cool then store in the fridge over night and take it to work the next day for your packed lunch?
2) Cleaning the house - we all hate it but have to do it. Here's a few tips to help around the house and save you some money.
i) Been cooking and forgotten about a saucepan or roasting tin and the contents have welded themselves to the sides? No need to throw the item away or spend hours scrubbing at it. Roughly chop up an onion and put into the pot or roasting tin and place over a low heat, as the onion starts to cook it will pull all the burnt stuff off. Once all the burnt bits are loose remove from the heat and discard the contents of the pot and give the pot a rinse through it should come up gleaming!
ii) Want an easy way to clean the oven shelves and baking trays? Get a dustbin bag preferably thick (if you only have thin ones, put one inside the other. Place the shelves and trays inside and add a capful of Ammonia (can be purchased from most chemists and diy stores for under a £1). Tie the bag up and leave over night. Then remove item from the bag and give them a good rinse and they'll be gleaming. Please always take care using Ammonia, do not breathe it in and follow the instructions on the bottle. If you suffer from Asthma please don't try and use Ammonia, instead try a product called Astonish (comes in either a blue or white tub, about 400ml and looks like Playdoh, can be purchased from Semi-Chem, Homebase, Betterware and some supermarkets for about £2.99), its very gentle with no harsh odours and is brilliant at cleaning trays, shelves, oven door and hob. The best thing about it is a 400ml tub will last about 6-10 months with regular use.
iii) cleaning tiles in your bathroom. We all hate this and I wouldn't like to think how much money I have wasted on various products and their claims to remove stubborn marks, stains or grime from tiles. What I use now is the juice of half a large lemon and a tablespoonful of salt mixed together and rub onto the tiles and into the grout. You can use an old toothbrush to gently rub the product into the grout. After a few minutes rinse off. This can be used on most tiles except ones that have had transfers put on them. If in doubt do a small patch test.
iv) Remember old t-shirts make great dusters.
3) Decorating - This can turn into an expensive nightmare. Whether you' moving into a new place or fancy redecorating your existing place. Paint is cheaper than wallpaper but even painting every room in your house will cost a lot of money if you don't buy wisely.
i) Plan out where you want to paint and stick to one room or part of the house/flat at a time.
ii) The cheapest paint you can buy is what is termed as decorators emulsion, usually available in two colours Magnolia and White (the white is great for ceilings). If you are on a really strict budget but still want to brighten your place up then go for this stuff. Its about £8.99 for 10 litres (Homebase do a really good one). Try and go for a silk finish for the walls as it won't pick up as many marks (If you do get a mark on your wall get half a slice of white bread and roll it into a ball and rub over the mark, it will vanish). You can then if you want (or if your budget will go that far) buy small tins (or even tester pots) of colours to add accents to rooms (a feature wall or just a border).
iii) Brushes or rollers its a personal preference, look out for good deals in pounds shops, markets, Aldi and Asda (three good quality brushes shouldn't cost you anymore than 2.99). When cleaning brushes use white spirit (its cheaper than brush cleaner, about £1 for a large bottle) if it gloss paint on the brushes and you can use water and a little washing up liquid if its just emulsion on the brushes.
4) Storage - making the most of the storage space we have isn't always easy.
i) shoes boxes. Why pay lots of money for expensive fancy carboard storage boxes? Get an old shoe box and cover it in what ever paper you like. I did one for a friend's daughter a few year's ago using pictures of cartoon characters cut out from old magazines and then stuck on (this technique is called decoupage and you'll find more on this in your local library).
ii) If your pushed for space but need a bit extra room, then try space saver bags (you vacuum out the air once you've packed your items). These can be bought cheaply from places like Matalan and Asda for under a tenner (for three medium/large bags). Many of satellite shopping channels charge £30 or more (for 2 or 3 medium /large bags). Spare bedding shrinks down to almost nothing and could be stored under the bed or sofa.
Be careful when buying these vacuum bags as some are better quality than others. If you are really skint or just want to quickly pack away unused bulky items (winter jumpers, extra bedding etc) then why not make your own vacuum bags!
What you'll need:
a vacuum cleaner with nozzle attachment 1 large heavy duty (thick) (new) bin bag
Lidl and Aldi do about 50 heavy duty bin bags for a pound. Open your bin bag and half fill (or less) with the items you want to store. Make sure the items are folded as the air will come out of them easier. Then gather the top of the bin bag around the vacuum cleaner nozzle and hold very tight! Turn the vacuum cleaner on and the air will be sucked out of the bag. Once the air is removed (without releasing your hand from the top of the vacuum cleaner nozzle), using your other hand grab the neck of the bag ad twist tightly, and now let go of the other end (holding the vacuum nozzle) and quickly tie the neck of the bag in a knot and pull it tight. Add another knot if necessary. And hey presto you have a cheap vacuum storage bag. A label or a sheet of paper with the details of the contents can be added to the side of the bag.
To remove your items, rip open the bag. Please ensure that you use the thick bin bags as the thin ones will burst.
iii) Laundry. Laundry baskets take up a lot of room (and are expensive for a good one). Tesco (and other supermarkets) stock collapsable ones, the sides fold in when you choose (there are small teeth that hold it in place) and the whole baskets folds completely flat (about an inch thick). These baskets can be stored down the side of your washing machine or fridge rather than taking up valuable cupboard space. These cost £1.33 in Tesco. An absolute bargain.
5) Laundry (again). Never over fill your washing machine. Unless your clothes are really dirty run them on a quick wash (all modern washing machines have a quick or economy wash), this uses less water and therefore less electricity. Also washing powder is the cheapest (rather than tablets) and can be bought really cheap from Weigh and Go stores (you weigh out exactly what you want and its put into a bag, this could be transferred to a tupperware box at home). Also try Aldi, Lidl and Asda for good deals on soap powder.
6) Penny jars and piggy banks. You're never too old for one of these. Even just putting in the pennies from your purse or pocket will soon mount up. These can then be changed at the bank (be careful some banks now charge you for doing this) or using a coinstar machine (available in Asda stores). There is no need to sort your change with one of these, you pour in your change and it counts it up and give you a receipt which the shop will cash. These machines charge you 7.5p per pound poured in. Or if you want something really special think about what you could give up:
coffee on way to work each day = £1.10 a day (48 working weeks) = £264 !!!!
Afternoon bar of chocolate from the vending machine = £0.50 (48 working weeks) = £120 !!!!
Making small differences can make huge differences to your bank balance. Just doing the two items above (or similar, and you could take a chocolate biscuit from home to munch in the afternoon) would pay for a small holiday, or 3 days at a spa or an adventure day out.
Instead of buying kitchen cleaners I use Teatree oil. Available from most shops for a few pound. I mix up a few drops in some water in a water squerty bottle and use this it saves a fortune on kitchen cleaners and makes the kitchen smell fresh. Anna
suzywong666 19.03.2007 16:26
Fab tips, I love the diy vacuum bags. Suzy x
Jennet1987 19.08.2006 21:31
Some great ideas and tips here which either I would never of thought of or in fact just had no idea about. Thanks, very helpful review