Times are tough. There may be some signs that the current recession is coming to an end - but it's likely to be a long time before there's any real feel good factor in evidence. It makes sense to tighten our belts a little - and there's absolutely no reason why this has to be a painful or unpleasant experience. Some very small adjustments to your spending habits can yield significant financial improvements. Here are ten, very simple, very easy tips to make economies without very much effort at all on your part.


  1. Never go grocery shopping without a list of what you need for the week. Otherwise you'll be tempted to buy things that you do not require by clever advertising and marketing. Base your list on 7 days worth of recipes plus any miscellaneous items, household cleaning products etc. that you think you'll need.
  2. Pay your utility bills online. You'll get a discount. Make sure that you're on the best tariff for you and that you have the best utility supplier. There are plenty of comparison websites available where you can check this.
  3. Take advantage of vouchers and coupons - but be proactive. Don't just react to whichever coupons drop through your letterbox, that's just another form of marketing. Go online and actively seek out discount codes for the items that you need. Just go to Google and type in "product name + DISCOUNT" or "product name + VOUCHER" .
  4. You can still enjoy DVDs and computer games - just don't buy them the minute they're released. Waiting for as little as 4 - 6 weeks can save you a lot of money. You'll still enjoy the movie, the waiting might even increase your enjoyment due to the sense of anticipation.
  5. Fit energy saving light bulbs throughout your home. Start with the communal areas and most frequently used spaces - hallways, living room etc. You may even be able to get this type of light bulb free from either your local utility or the local authority.
  6. Set your washing machine program to a lower temperature setting. Modern fabrics combined with modern detergents mean that you can achieve good results at much lower temperatures than were possible in the past. Your washing machine is one of the most energy hungry items in your house. It can make up a surprisingly high proportion of your utility bill each month, especially if you have a large family. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much this can save you.
  7. Use "own brand" or supermarket products wherever possible. You can save money on groceries very easily. If you really don't like a cheaper brand then change back to your normal product for that one item only (we all have our favourites after all) but don't reject the possible savings from own brands based upon one item. The quality is good and the savings are large.
  8. Take advantage of supermarket loyalty cards whenever possible. It may not seem like a big deal - but if you collect the available points over the course of a year you can very easily use them to get your Christmas dinner for free.
  9. Use price comparison websites for major purchases. For larger spend items you probably have a reasonable idea of what you want. Check what's available online. You may find that using a different supplier can save you a lot of money.
  10. Treat yourself once a month. Budget for a little treat - a meal out or a new pair of shoes. Nothing too expensive, but something that will make you feel good. This acts as a reward for your efforts and prevents you being tempted to splurge.