Save money - live the Good Life

Young woman (25-30yrs), with hair in plats and wearing striped green top and jeans, standing in allotment with one hand on hip aPic: Getty

The grow-your-own trend is becoming ever stronger in Britain, with householders benefiting not only from fresh food, but also from the considerable money savings that come with a more sustainable lifestyle. So why not take inspiration from Tom and Barbara and see how much you could save by getting your hands dirty?

Grow your own
Increases in the cost of groceries shows no sign of stopping, but according to the National Allotment Society, you could save as much as £1,300 a year simply by growing your own veggies. If you're lucky enough to have a sizeable garden and can turn some land over to carrots, courgettes and cabbages, then get stuck in.

But even those without the space can turn their hand to fruit and veg growing by way of an allotment. Costing between £18 and £25 a year, allotments are available to hire in towns across the country. There is plenty of advice on the Internet to help you get started, and fellow allotment holders will be only too happy to give advice if you're a first-timer. Put the work in and you could benefit from home-grown goodies, from tomatoes and strawberries to spuds and squash, and save yourself a bundle on the weekly shop.

And if allotments are in short supply, you can still get in on the action with containers and pots - try tomatoes and chilli peppers as a starter.

Start the day with an egg
For those with a reasonably-sized garden, chickens are a great money-saver. A standard Rhode Island Red (there are plenty of other laying breeds to choose from) will typically cost around £15 to buy, and though you'll need to invest in a coop and fencing to keep them safe from the fox, and feed costing around £20 annually, a good layer will happily repay you with as much as 300 eggs a year. So it's little wonder that a million Brits are estimated to be keeping hens and enjoying the freshest eggs for breakfast.

Advice on which breeds to keep and how to take proper care of them is available via the Hen Keepers' Association or the Poultry Club of Great Britain.

Energy savers
It's not just the cost of groceries that is soaring. Brits will know only too well that energy bills account for a sizeable chunk of their salaries. However, the weather could provide you with a serious saving on the energy front. A single 4kWh solar panel system can knock a hefty £750 off the average annual family bill of £1,320.

Though you may have to fork out a considerable sum (up to £8,000) for the privilege, you'll benefit from using the sun's energy while you're at home, and when you're not using power it'll be exported to the National Grid, for which you'll be paid 4.6p per unit generated. According to the Energy Saving Trust, your investment will have paid for itself within ten years, and your bills will be slashed right from the off.

A cheaper alternative is to fit a small 1kW wind turbine on the roof. For as little as £1,000, you could cut your annual bills by as much as £200 a year, but the savings do vary greatly depending on the area.

Are you living the Good Life? What advice would you give to others looking for a more sustainable lifestyle?..
Growing Your Own Food