The cost of living squeeze is biting hard. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t simple tips and tricks to help navigate your way around it.
Each Friday, one of our expert team of personal finance journalists round-up five tips we think are worth noting that can go a little way to helping you save money, or make money in the midst of sky-high inflation and rocketing bills.
This week, it features a way to cut down on your monthly food shop, save money on your phone bill and make some money by renting your unused equipment.
With inflation hitting food prices, save money on your food shop by making the most of food waste apps and discounts on grocery apps
1. Make the most of discounts and save on food bills
If you’re anything like me food is one of the biggest outgoings every month and with inflation rocketing it is only set to become more expensive.
While a lot of money saving tips tell you to scale back on spending, cutting out food isn’t an option. But there are ways to get it discounted and free.
I confess, I am a sucker for rapid grocery delivery apps. Gorillas, Getir, Gopuff, I’ve got them all.
There has been so much competition in this industry that they are constantly battling to retain customers with discounts and offers.
There are usually introductory offers and you can earn money through referrals. I often get a percentage off the bill and/or free delivery too, which means a £30 food shop costs me just £10.
Of course, it isn’t anywhere near as cheap as buying in bulk or going to your local Lidl but it’s a good way to save a bit of money on a small shop.
Another way to save money on food is to use an app like Too Good To Go. It partners with cafes, shops and restaurants which put leftover food in a bag and sell it at a cheaper price.
So you get to enjoy the likes of Pret, Costa and Yo Sushi for a fraction of the price and you get to feel worthy because you’re fighting food waste. A win win.
Phone contracts are pricey so opt for a sim-only contract and rent a phone instead
2. Save money on your monthly phone bill
If you want to keep up to date with the latest iPhone, it can get very pricey. Even with networks offering decent introductory deals, more often than not you become locked into 24 month contracts which can be a real strain on your finances.
Getting a sim-only deal and buying an old phone from somewhere like Music Magpie can save you a significant amount of money. I bought a phone for £100 and now only pay £20 a month for 100gb of data.
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If you want a more up to date phone though you can use a phone rental service. At MusicMagpie you can choose either a new or refurbished device and a pay a monthly fee for 12 months.
After a year you can carry on renting the phone for a cheaper monthly fee, upgrade to a new model or return the phone.
Raylo offers a similar service. You can choose a new or refurbished phone for 12 or 24 months and at the end you can upgrade your phone with a new contract, or return the device. There is also an option to buy the device outright.
3. Free e-books and audiobooks
It’s easy to only focus on cutting things out of your life when you want to save money but you should still be able to enjoy the simple things.
I am a book hoarder. I buy them and they sit on my shelf for years. Not only are the piles and piles of books that don’t fit on my shelf an absolute eyesore, it is an expensive habit.
I started reading on a Kindle a few years ago partly for convenience and partly because the books are often a lot cheaper than buying them in paperback.
However I recently discovered Libby, a library reading app which lets you read and listen to audiobooks for free. It basically brings the public library into the 21st century.
It is completely free with no subscription costs. All you need is a valid library card from your library and up to 1,000 libraries are partnered with Libby.
The book hoarding is unlikely to stop but Libby might help to curtail the habit somewhat.
Libby lets you listen to audiobooks and read for free by partnering with your local library
4. Make some money by renting out your equipment
As well as cutting back on your spending, making a bit of cash on the side can only be a positive.
Selling old clothes and clutter online is one way but what if you could rent out your items instead?
Fat Llama lets you earn money on items you don’t use often by renting them out to people in your local area. You can get anything from a sewing machine to DJ equipment.
In my local area I can rent a camera for £5 a day, a Segway for £10 and a Campervan for £115. The options are endless.
Fat Llama also recently launched a new platform which allows customers to rent from major retailers including John Lewis, DFS and Sofology.
5. Use round-up pots to save some extra cash
On both my Monzo and Starling accounts I’m able to automatically round up all of my transactions to the nearest pound and put the spare change aside into a pot.
It’s a small thing but it can add up. I’ve saved £200 just on rounding all my transactions up to the nearest pound over the past month, which I can use for either a holiday or, more realistically, my energy bills.
Challenger app Plum offers something similar. Its AI links a customers’ bank account, analyses spending and transfers small sums into a savings pot that pays 0.25 per cent. This core product remains free.
The Plum Plus account gives customers the opportunity to invest for just £1 a month. Alongside the savings features, customers have access to Plum’s 12 investment funds in a risk assessed portfolio.