Thursday, 26 June 2014

Five Ways to Save Money on Your Weekly Shop

Before the widespread adoption of the Internet finding bargains for your weekly shop was the stuff of dreams or game shows – Dale Winton’s supermarket sweep, anyone?

However, these days the Internet has opened up a wealth of money saving opportunities to make sure you’re getting the best value and saving money on your weekly bill.

So here’s our top five ways to save money on your weekly shop:

Mysupermarket – This app is invaluable and you’ll love it. Simply put, it lets you compare the prices at all the main supermarkets including Waitrose, Tesco’s, Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Morrisions. Using this app you can find out where you should be doing your shop before you even leave home. If the things you want to buy are cheaper at one supermarket or there is a great deal on you’ll know in advance and can make plans accordingly. The average saving by using this app is £17 weekly!

Quidco - A lot of people aren’t aware of this site, but you should be! It gives you money back for doing your shopping online. It’s as simple as logging into the Quidco site before shopping and then clicking through to your chosen retailer. Even regular users of the site don’t realise that you can also get cash back on several item’s you’ve purchased in store – all you have to do is upload a scan of your receipt and Quidco will pay out cash back on those items too.

Listen to music – A trick that supermarkets use that you might not be aware of, is to play music on the in store P.A system. This may not seem too influential to your shopping habits, but the trick comes with the type of music played. Listen to it next time you visit, it’s always slow and reflective, the intention is make you linger in store and therefore spend more on your shopping. So next time you’re doing the weekly shop stick the gym playlist on your headphones and you’ll speed around the isles at a rapid pace, avoiding spending and just as importantly their awful music to boot.

Always read the small print – Every supermarket has headline deals that great you as you enter the store, but they’re not always the best value. By reading the small print underneath you can work out the price per 100g or price per unit etc. Often you can find cheaper deals per unit on products that aren’t on offer, so it always ALWAYS worth comparing and contrasting before you buy. Bigger isn’t necessarily cheaper and the offers aren’t always going to save you cash

Supermarket own / value brand savings – Supermarkets often portray their value brands as a cheaper and lower quality alternative to well known name brand products. The implication is that they’re so much cheaper because they’re of a lower quality. However, this is often not the case.

You may wish to stay loyal to your well known name brand, but you might be able to find a tastier AND cheaper alternative. Food critic Martin Isark is on a mission to change the perception that generic brands are always tastier than supermarket own brands. He has eaten his way through thousands of own brand products and rated them out of 10.You can see his ratings here The Supermarket Own Brand Guide and then decide whether to take a punt on them.

Do you have any tips for saving money on your weekly shop?

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Five ways to make the holiday cash go further

Going on holiday is likely to be one of the biggest outgoings of your entire year, so even if you shop around and get a great bargain deal it is worth making sure you don't over spend whilst you're away. To make sure you don't do this we've compiled a few tips that won't impact on your holiday experience and save you cash at the same time.

1) Buy essentials before you go - 
Anything you buy from a holiday resort aimed at tourists is likely to cost more than it would at home. Take sun cream as an example, in our cold wet British homeland it is pretty cheap to buy. So you'd think - due to economies of scale - it would be even cheaper to buy where they actually need to use it regularly! But if you've ever run out of sun cream abroad and seen the prices you'll never not pack it again. So do yourself a favour and stock up on £5 bottles of sun cream and put them in your suitcase before you go, otherwise you could be stung at up to 25 Euros a bottle whilst in your resort.

2) Make the most of your money - 
Much like getting cheaper sun cream, to make the most of your money whilst abroad you need to sort it out long before you even think about leaving for the airport. You should be aware that withdrawing from ATM's abroad is generally a no no and if you want to be a thrifty traveller you should sort your holiday money before you go at the cheapest exchange rate available. To do this use services such as MoneyMax, this site compares all the online currency sites in seconds and then works out which is the best deal for you. Another great feature is that it takes into account the various fee's that exchanges charge and gives you the best overall deal.

3) Eat where the locals do - 
Not only does this offer you the best value for money, but it also likely to enrich your holiday experience too. To put it simply: wherever the locals eat their dinner, make that your local too. The restaurants on the main strop of a holiday resort are often over price and catered towards tourists. Ask a local in the shop or hotel and get them to recommend you somewhere to go. This way you can be sure you're not being ripped off and you'll likely to get the best and most authentic food the place has to offer. It will allow you to really get to grips with the place you're staying and probably have a much more memorable night too. You can also find recommendations for places to eat online with not much effort.

4) Rent out your house - 
This one won't be for everyone and it may be impractical for you - especially if you're only taking a short break. However, if you live somewhere that tourists regularly visit like country towns or big cities, it could be a great way to make enough money to cover your own summer break. Thanks to sites such as AirBnB it is now very very easy to rent out your home or even a room to make an extra income.

5) Turn off your network roaming - 

Before you leave the airport in the UK turn off the 3G/4G and roaming capabilities on your phone. Unless you have expressly set up a package with your provider, this could save you hundreds. Every summer there are stories about the poor souls who have wasted hundreds - if not thousands - on a phone bill they didn't realise they'd accumulated.
Don't let the kids stream TV on your iPhone and don't check the football results on the internet. It will cost an extortionate amount!

Make sure you've downloaded any films etc before you go and only use the Wi-Fi connections you can find whilst abroad.

Sop do you have any other tips on how to make your holiday money go further?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

10 Cheap And Romantic Date Ideas For Couples

It won't have escaped any couples notice that dates these days can be very expensive, especially if you stick to conventional activities. This doesn't have to be the case, if you're creative and prepared to try a range of things, you can have an amazing time and it doesn't have to cost the earth. Sticking to budget on dates can be easier than you think. In a lot of cases these can be more fun than the standard meal in a restaurant or any of the other dating clich├ęs.
1) Cooking Together

It is often said that the way to a person heart is through their stomach. If you both love cooking, this can be a great way to spend an evening together. It's a change to test out each others skills and create something you'll both enjoy. You get the sense of satisfaction from creating yourself and it's a much cheaper option than going out for a meal!

2) Movie Night  

An old fashioned movie night is one of the go to 'cheap' dates and the next best thing to going to the cinema. Although, if you think about it, it might even be better! There are no other members of the public to deal with and being in alone in the dark is much more romantic than being surrounded by 50 noisy eaters! Not only that, buy you get to watch a film you both want to watch (assuming you agree) and can choose your own treats to eat. All in all the experience can be a lot more relaxing and fun.

3) Hiking and Bike Riding

Maybe physical activity isn't you bag, however, if you like getting out the house and exercising either of these could be a great option. Not only are they both healthy, they're free to do and you get to see some lovely sites together and get those endorphins pumping. On bikes you can take a ride along a nearby lake, beach, hills or see the sites of your city. Obviously this requires a level of fitness, but start small and building it up will keep you fit as well as saving you money.

4) Art Exhibition Openings 

This isn't one for everyone, but they're worth a try. The openings of galleries are usual free to attend, but not only that they usually provide free booze and food. Maybe the art won't be your bag, but you can get the start of a free night out and the chance to meet some interesting people you may never usually speak to.

5) Local Gigs

Depending on where you live, there can be a lot of places to go to see free music. Check out the local listings and see if any bands are playing at a pub / club / bar near you. These small venues can be pretty cheap to drink in and often the acts may not draw particularly big crowds. So during your cheap night out you may spot the next big thing! When you're old and grey you can bore the grand-kids with the stories of how you saw them before they were famous!

6) Test Drive your Dream Car!

If you don't have a problem with the mild embarrassment, head down to your local sports car dealership and ask to test drive the car of your dreams! You run the risk of annoying the staff, especially if they don't think you can afford one, but it's worth it for the fun and can act as motivation for both of you to get one for real!

7) Sight Seeing in you Own City

Sometimes you become so used to your home town or city that you forget what draws tourists to it. Take a day to go site seeing and rediscover your love for your home. If all goes to plan, you may even get yelled at by an angry local who has mistaken you for a tourist.

8) Amateur Comedy

These type of comedy nights happen in a lot of cities, they're usually free or quite cheap. It's the chance to catch the next generation of comedians and maybe even spot a future star. Even if the comedian happens to bomb and get heckled, that's a potentially funny situation worth watching as well.

9) Star Gazing

So this might not be the best idea if you live in a smog infested city, but star gazing is a brilliant date idea. Take along a bottle of wine (or a hot drink in a flask) and a blanket, then lay back and marvel at the beauty of the universe. You can spend some quality time with your other half and enjoy each others company.

10) Go to the Beach

In Britain there are a lot of limitations on this one, but it is brilliant. First you need to live near a beach that you'd like to spend time together on and secondly the weather has to be good. At the moment it's the perfect whether to spend a lazy and romantic day at your local beach. You can spend the day enjoying the sun and swimming in the sea.