13 April 2015

Save money with simple lifestyle swaps

The money we spend on the enjoyable things in life can quickly add up each month. So if there's an easy way to treat yourself and still stay within your budget, it's well worth trying. Here are a few ideas for ways to save money by swapping your lifestyle purchases for cheaper alternatives.

Love fresh ground coffee every day?

You could save £507 a year

If you buy a £2.50 latte each day from Monday to Friday, 48 weeks of the year, you will spend £12.50 a week, adding up to a total of £600 a year.

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Bringing home-made coffee to work in a travel mug. This works out almost 3 times cheaper than buying it ready-made. Here's how the cost breaks down:

  • Coffee beans: £45 a year (based on Starbucks House Blend at 10g per day).
  • Milk: £48 per year (based on 4/5 of a pint per drink). A 4 pint carton of whole milk costs around £1 (based on the price at Tesco, as of Jan 2015). Used just for lattes this should last you at least a week.

There are a few extra bits and pieces you'll need for your coffee, but once these are bought they should last you a long while. And if you live with other people, you can split these costs:

Total one-off costs: £69.94. Once these items are paid for, your cost for a daily fresh-ground coffee will be £93 a year (38p per coffee).

Love salons and treatments?

You could save up to £300 a year

A recent poll by the Guardian showed that women expect to pay up to £49 for a haircut, and men £25. Assuming you're a woman who has a trim every 6 weeks, your annual cost could be around £400 a year. If you get a colour or treatment done, the bill will be even higher.

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Going to a training session at a salon for a haircut or treatment. This trick works just as well with personal grooming as it does with fine dining, and you get to support up-and-coming students at the same time. You may need to book a few weeks in advance and pay a small fee to cover costs, but the price will usually be much lower than standard. While you shouldn't expect the same expertise as a fully trained stylist or therapist, trainees will be closely supervised.

  • To find out when training events are happening, contact your local salon or check the Salon Guinea Pig website where trainees request volunteers.
  • To get an idea how much cash you could save, check the prices at Andrew Collinge's Graduate salon in Liverpoool where a cut and finish is currently £12.50.

Love gadgets and tech?

You could save £130 or more

Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, sat navs and even smart watches all make their mark on our wallets. With an average of 10 digital devices per household in Europe, according to Microsoft, this is a prime area for making savings.

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Buying refurbished goods. These are items that aren't brand new but have been quality-checked and, if necessary, repaired by the manufacturer or retailer. You can usually save at least 10%, even on premium items.

  • Apple's Certified Refurbished scheme usually has discounts of 15% or more - a MacBook Air 13 inch usually costs £849, but if you pick up a refurbished version at a 15% discount you'll save £130.
  • Other outlets and refurbished sections of online stores offer even bigger discounts – try Dell, Sony and Currys.
  • Technology moves fast, and older items are often sold at discount prices to make way for newer ones – so check price comparison sites to see if you could end up with a brand new bargain for a similar price.

More ways to save

  • Use cashback schemes like TopCashback, which give you a small percentage of your spending back when you buy via their website.
  • Buy train tickets a few weeks in advance. National Rail's advance fares are often much cheaper, but they sell out fast.
  • Buy goods just after their peak selling time. For example, you can usually make savings on Easter chocolate and Christmas decorations a few days after the big event.

See how you compare to the rest of the UK in our household spending infographic.

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