Five ways cutting costs could be bad for you

Extreme cost cutting can damage your health: there are wiser alternatives


Feeling smug about the clever ways you are cutting back on your spending? Unfortunately, if you're a fan of extreme penny pinching, you may be about to feel a whole lot less smug... when you discover that your efforts to cut costs could be putting you and your family in harm's way.

That doesn't mean you have to give up your penny pinching ways entirely, it just means understanding the risks, and saving money the clever way instead.

There are five common cost-cutting measures to beware of - and five sensible alternatives.

See also: When penny pinching gets extreme

See also: Are bad driving habits costing you £750 a year?

See also: The trolley detox: the switches that will save you money

1. Saving leftovers

About half a million people in the UK get food poisoning every year, and leftovers play a big part in that. Of course this doesn't mean you have to chuck everything away that's not finished, but be careful.

Leave it out of the fridge to cool down, but then refrigerate it as soon as it is cool. Don't leave it in the fridge too long either. Leftovers in the fridge need to be eaten within two or three days: those in the freezer within four months, and if you are unsure whether food has gone off, you must not taste it to be sure. Finally, defrost anything before you heat it, and make sure it is heated all the way through.

2. Buying second hand furniture

Certainly you can save a fortune by buying second hand, but be aware of what you might be bringing into the house - including bedbugs and fleas. Thoroughly cleaning the item, hoovering it out, and spraying with flea killer (before you take it inside) should help get rid of fleas.

The trouble with bedbugs is that they can burrow so deep into the furniture that you can't get to them. Don't think you can just buy wooden beds and get new mattresses to avoid the problem either - because they can burrow into the frame too.

If you need to buy cheap furniture, one alternative is to visit the section near the till at Ikea, where items can cost a fraction of their original price, because they are ex display, or need a few repairs.

3. Sharing too much

You may think that sharing a single toothbrush, towel, flannel or razor with your other half will halve your costs, but it comes with a hidden health cost. There's no better way to pass on inflections, and viruses to one another, so you need to ask yourself whether you love one another enough to share gum disease too.

Instead, why not look out for buy-one-get-one-free offers in the supermarket, stick with generics rather than own brands, and buy razors regardless of their gender marketing. That way you can save just as much cash - with the risk

4. Dumpster diving

Fishing food out of the bin behind shops has become a trend in recent years, and people point out that it's a great way to avoid needless waste as well as saving money.

However, it can pose a serious risk to your health. Even if the food is in date, you have no idea how it has been stored, how long is has been in the bin, or how it may have been contaminated. It's far safer to trawl the yellow sticker shelves in the supermarket.

5. Failure to flush

There are plenty of people who decry the waste of water from frequent flushing. The problem is that the longer you leave between flushes, the more time bacteria has to breed. A far better solution is to install a water saver in the cistern, so you flush with less water each time - and can then flush more often.

Vintage money-saving tips

Vintage money-saving tips