Feeling financially challenged? Making small changes can add up to big savings. From giving up booze to switching energy providers, here are 10 ways to save.
Switch to own-brand products
How many of us wander around the supermarket in a daze, putting the brands we know and love in our trolley without a second thought? Cornflakes, baked beans, tomato sauce... swap everyday essentials for own brands and your pocket will notice a difference, even if your taste buds don't. Buy veggies from the market and shop at Aldi and you'll save even more.
Give up the booze
Why not go sober for October? Alcohol doesn't just put a strain on your liver – it doesn't do much for the health of your bank balance either. Abstain from alcohol and give your body - and your wallet - a rest before the Christmas party season starts. Give the pub a miss for a month and you could easily save £100.
No, we don't mean jetting off to sunny climes. Ask your gym if they offer a month's payment break. With so many new workout DVDs and fitness console games released at this time of year, there's no excuse to slob out on the sofa. Cancel outright and you could invest in a second-hand rowing machine and weights and still save hundreds of pounds a year.
Make your own take-away
Can't resist a Friday night take-away? Cook up an Indian or Chinese meal at home and you'll save pounds and do your waistline a favour too. Spices don't cost much and always taste better than supermarket jars. Don't own a cookbook? You'll find plenty of how-to videos on Youtube or download a recipe app, like Sweet'N'Spicy (free) to your phone.
Drive down driving costs
Winter may not be the best time to take up cycling but there are other ways to cut your fuel bill. Check your tyres are inflated to the right pressure, remove unnecessary weight from the car and go easy on the gas pedal. If you commute or drive for the school run ask around to see if anyone would be interested in car pooling. It goes without saying, walk when you can.
Energy and heating bills have gone up dramatically in recent years. Switch to a cheaper provider and the average family could save up to £250 according to consumer groups. Don't stop there. According to Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis, existing consumers can haggle as much as 50% off their Sky, Virgin, or BT bill – now that's got to be worth the price of a phone call.
Think like a boy scout
Be prepared! How many times have you grabbed lunch on the go, jumped in a taxi because you were running late or bought a coffee while out and about? Little savings quickly add up. Take your own packed lunch to work rather than spend £5 in the canteen and you could save £80 a month. Take a flask rather than spend £2 on a cappuccino... you get the idea.
Staying in is the new going out
Being frugal doesn't have to mean living like a hermit. Rather than meet at a pub, restaurant, or cinema, invite friends over to your place – asking each to bring a dish or nibbles with them. Host a games night (just don't gamble your savings away!), watch the latest movie on DVD or dust off that karaoke machine. Hold a swishing (posh name for clothes swapping) party and you'll even look good while you save.
Quit smoking and you'll save hundreds of pounds, not to mention buying yourself extra years to live. Stub out your 10-a-day habit and you'll save £91 in one month alone – pocket the cash and this time next year you'll have over a grand. Need another reason to quit? Stop smoking before the age of 35 and studies show you're likely to add 10 years to your life... and you can't put a price on that.
Have you made some cut backs lately? Leave a comment below...