Money Saving Expert – Beat the Credit Crunch

Gold at the end of the rainbowAlmost everybody is feeling a strain on their pockets due to the credit crunch and the global recession. For us Brits, I strongly recommend you pay a visit to Martin Lewis’  MoneySavingExpert.com website. Martin Lewis is fairly well known as a UK consumer champion these days, often appearing on TV shows such as ITV1’s Tonight and Five’s “It Pays To Watch”. The MoneySavingExpert website and weekly newsletter always has some fantastic tips and offers which could easily save you hundreds every year.

A couple of picks:

  • Cheap restaurant deals – It’s amazing just how many restaurant chains are offering 2for1 on meals. We use these deals all the time when we go out for meals with friends or family. After the discount, it often turns out that you pay more for a glass of Coke than for the main meal you had. Some of the deals don’t work between Thursday and Saturday as those tend to be the busiest days for restaurants… check the small print first.
  • Tesco Value Greeting CardSupermarket shopping – The challenge to downsize one brand and see if you can notice the difference. For example, trying items from the “Sainsbury’s Basics” or “Tesco Value” ranges. My personal experience is that on the whole, the value brands don’t tend to be too bad at all. Take tangerines – the Basics tangerines don’t look great on the outside but once you’ve peeled them, you wouldn’t notice a thing. In fact, I prefer the taste of the Basics tangerines to the ‘Taste the Difference’ ones but of course this isn’t a scientific double blind experiment.
  • Cashback sites – If you shop online for technology or electronics items, this one can save you loads. One of my friends claimed that he managed to get a £35/mo. phone contract (with a free phone) for just £5/mo after cashback.
  • Cheaper petrol and diesel – Fuel costs ridiculous amounts in Britain. But you can easily improve the efficiency of your car and make it use less fuel – for example by ensuring the tyres are correctly inflated, turning off the air conditioning or practising eco-safe driving.
  • Cheap train tickets – You can save loads by booking in advance and by splitting your ticket. I recently managed to travel for £15 return on a journey which would have cost £80 full fare. This was achieved by a) booking in advance, b) buying two singles and c) buying a ticket to the station which I would have had to change at anyway and then a separate ticket for the rest of the journey.

I also strongly recommend signing up for the weekly newsletter which is very good. It’s the best way of making sure you know about those time-limited deals.

6 thoughts on “Money Saving Expert – Beat the Credit Crunch

  1. A useful list of things to consider.

    Glad to say I already practice `eco-safe’ driving (diesel, mostly long-distance so quite efficient, and quite good with the pedals too).

    However, you might like to consider whether now is a particularly good time to be supporting organic & fair-trade produce where possible, rather than supermarkets’ own brands.

  2. I must say I’m not convinced with the organic movement. Switching to organic food will probably increase the environmental impact of food production (in that it would take more land to produce the same amount of food which has an opportunity cost in then having to deforest more to gain that land). To me, organic food seems like an example of price targeting: of supermarkets using that brand to determine how sensitive to prices customers are and then charging more to organic customers.

    That said, I’ve not done a huge amount of research on the matter so I’m not exactly sure what the economic and nutritional benefits of organic are…

    I’m fairly happy with the ethics behind most Basics food – e.g. Sainsburys salmon is all from Freedom Food endorsed farms and all eggs (including Basics) are from free range chickens.

  3. I’m more convinced by organic food (being as that is actually well-defined, not a “brand”) than I am fair-trade (being as that risks creating localized monopolies). I am given to understand the West has a food-surplus while the two-thirds world lacks, which would be better normalized by aiming for even-handed sustainability.

    (The one thing I really dislike is that “organic” is, partly, buying into uninformed anti-GM loud-mouthed bigotry.)

  4. So, having hit the `submit’ button a jiffy too soon, a rephrase of my question: is now a particularly good time to switch to `organic’ or `Basics’ or `Natural’ (Tesco’s equivalent) product-ranges? Will the fact that there is a recession presently on mean that these products, where currently they may be a little over-priced relative to own-brand stuff, might reduce in price and become the norm?

  5. I must say I have actually noticed that. After reading your post, on my latest trip to the supermarket, I saw some instances where the own-brand stuff was actually cheaper than the Basics stuff. The supermarkets do try to make your job difficult by giving different amounts of stuff (e.g. 400g of mince instead of 500g) or using a different unit (grams of fruit as opposed to a certain number of fruit).

    So yes, there are occasions where you can get better brand stuff for less even when it’s not on special offer!

  6. I think most people would agree that saving money is something “easier said than done”. Personally, I believe it’s a mind-set that needs to be developed by creating good money-saving habits.

    Here are some things I’ve done to help change my spending habits:

    – Cooking more at home  Eating out is very expensive especially if you do it a couple times a week
    – Shopping online  You can find better deals than in the store and you save on gas (I recommend shoptivity.com)
    – Paying the full balance on credit cards each month  Interest charge is like giving away free money
    – Don’t forget to pay yourself  Set up an online savings account (they pay higher interest than a normal savings account)
    – Setting a budget and goals  It’s good to have your goals written down so you see them everyday and don’t lose focus on your ultimate objectives

    Again, saving money requires a lot of patience and hard work. However, you’ll thank yourself later on in life. Good luck everyone!! =)

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