Credit: Google

Everybody in the real world is feeling the squeeze right now. If you listen to the news, you’re going to start believing that the world is going to end, through financial meltdown, pretty soon. People have already started to tighten their belts in order to survive. While going without is certainly an option, using tricks and tips to lowers costs is a better way to cope. Being smart with your cash will help you feel like you don’t have to give up the things that you love. This guide is not exhaustive, but it should give you a good amount of help with your money. Feel free to add any tips of your own, because the more we share, the more we save.


1. Shop around. If you’re willing to do the research, then you can find the biggest savings. Knowing the product title that you’re looking for will give you the opportunity to do a focused search, and with that search you will be able to compare all of the best prices. Remember to take the shipping into account. What looks like a good deal on the page can be ruined by excessive shipping costs. Another thing to be wary of are prices that change during the checkout process. Some sites list a product price on their website which changes when you get to the checkout. Be vigilant when navigating.


2. Customer reviews. Other people can do much of the hard work for you when choosing the best buys. People will often spill the beans if there is something that they’re not happy with and some people are even good enough to report back if they are satisfied. Be sure to check the comments section when viewing a product, but remember that reviews of products can be found in many more places than the seller’s website. Do a good bit of research and be wary of sites that only have good reviews. You’ll soon discover if what you’re looking at is worth the price.


3. Go overseas. This piece of advice is one that very few people take. A lot of the things that you are looking for can be found in other countries and for lower prices. If you go too far away in your search shipping costs can negate any savings that are on offer, but if you hit the right combination, you can get a good deal. Of course, you won’t want to look for things like car insurance, but for normal shopping, going outside your country can work. Playing with the dot suffix on sites like Google can help when searching for deals. and, for example, will yield results. Knowing the search terms in other languages are where people struggle, but if you manage to educate yourself, you can prosper.


4. Don’t pay. There are now a huge amount of websites that are geared towards swapping or giving away items. These sites can be a gold mine of opportunity if the sorts of things that they are offering are the sorts of things that you are looking for. From cars to toys, people are happily exchanging their unwanted stuff. Do a web search for the biggest sites, and in no time at all, you can be picking up bargains. Obviously the nature of the industry means that you have to keep your wits about you. You’ll find it difficult to return faulty items, especially if you got them for free. Be smart when you’re picking stuff up, and remember, one man’s rubbish is another man’s gold.


5. Bookmark it. A good way to save money is to have a soaking off period when shopping around. A very useful tip is to bookmark all of your searches. For instance, if you’re looking for a new shopping bag and you have found the one you want on several different sites, bookmark the pages and don’t go back for a few days. When you do finally re-open the bookmarks, you’ll be able to re-evaluate your need for the bag again. If you still want it, then the pages are ready for you. If you don’t then you can delete the bookmarks and save yourself some cash. This tip is a good one to use if you are prone to impulse buys.


6. Price comparison. This is a very well known aid that people use for buying big items like car insurance, energy, internet, and other such items. Use their services, because massive savings can be made. There are some factors to take into account when dealing with comparison sites. Remember that some companies don’t list themselves on comparison sites. If you want to do a full check, then checking the non listed companies is a must. Also be aware that some companies have been accused of buying the top spots on comparison results. The top deal may not always be the best, so check all of the prices out so that you can get the best deal. Finally, be sure to check the price again when you get to the vendor’s site. Sometimes a comparison site’s listing goes out of date so that when you click to get to the vendor’s registration page, the price has changed. Be vigilant, so that you don’t get caught out.


7. Get Coupons. There has been a recent boom in the way that companies use coupons. Most firms know that to drive sales, people need to feel like they’re getting a good deal. Coupons have been around for years, but only recently have third party websites gathered all of them together in a single place. The coupon sites are beneficial to the shops that use them as well as for us. The shops get advertising and customers and the coupon sites get a fee from the shops. In some cases sites also get paid again through membership fees from customers. Most coupon sites are free however, so making use of them is quite simple. If you’re going to spend in the types of establishments that feature on such sites, then go and register straight away. Everyone loves a deal and these sites are all about deals.


8. Buy Bulk. Some things that we buy need to be bought small, but other things we should all be buying in bulk. Of course, buying in bulk means a bigger outlay in cost at the checkout, but saving will certainly be made in the long run. The benefits don’t just come in the shopping receipt. Time and money can be saved when we’re not traveling to the shops three or four times a month. It all adds up.


9. Drop Brands. Not all of them. Some things that we buy are better when they are made to a better quality, but savings can be made if we ignore the brand label on the front. Do we really need the big brand washing up liquid? How about porridge oats or even sugar? You’ll know which items that you won’t swap. Do a check next time you go shopping, and figure out which brands really don’t mean a thing when it comes to your budget.


10. Brick it. Putting a brick in the cistern is one of those old money saving tips that still works. For those of you that don’t know why it works, the displacement of water means that it takes less of the stuff to fill up the tank. Each time you flush, your toilet will use less water. The gains are small, but in the long run, the savings add up.


11. Learn Origami. Ok, perhaps making swans out of paper isn’t going to help your bank balance, but folding toilet paper will mean that you use less of it. It is an odd subject to raise with your family, but in the interest of saving, it could be another thing which helps out. When considering toilet paper, ask yourself if you really need to use tissue paper for all those sneezes and sniffles. A box of man sized tissues often costs more than a roll of toilet paper. Try ditching the tissues and picking up another small saving.


12. Hit the switch. We have all heard the statistics about how much power our appliances use when on standby, but we still insist on leaving them on. The little red light is a devil when it comes to the electricity bill. Switching things off at the wall will save you money and it has the added benefit of preventing the nightmare of an electrical fire in the middle of the night. If you have a digital television box that needs to be kept on standby, then have it plugged into a different socket, if you don’t then hit the switch.


13. Repair it; fix it. Certain items can be fixed. Items such as clothes can be sewn up just like they were in the old days, and things like household furniture can often be glued or nailed back together. Take a look at things which you’re about to throw out and replace and see if they could be repaired. Remember that some things might also be useful to put on swapping websites. If you really do need to replace something, try to claw back as much cash as you can.


14. Have more bright ideas. Change all of your light bulbs to energy saving ones. When energy saving light bulbs first came out, they cost an arm and a leg, but now they are really cheap. Where possible, swap all your old standard bulbs for cheap energy saving ones. Certain areas of the house probably need standard bulbs, such as lamps, or lights with certain fittings. See where you can make the change, and get cracking, but not literally.


15. Treat yourself. You can save yourself money by spending it. When you go shopping, put aside a small amount of money so that you can buy yourself something nice. You only have to do it once a month and giving yourself a treat feels good. When it is budgeted into your spending, you’ll get the good feeling buying something nice and the peace of mind that it is affordable.


16. Charity begins at the charity shop. Some people make a living by swooping in on charity and second hand shops and looking for bargains. It is a myth that they are full of lavender smelling clothes and VHS cassettes. There normally is a lot of junk, but some real gems can be found if you look hard enough. When you’re thinking of buying presents for people visiting charity shops can be a really shrewd idea. Granted, the latest must have toy may not be there, but ornaments, pictures, and other little trinkets are everywhere. If you learn the types of things that you’d be likely to find, and you know somebody who likes those sorts of things, then you’re onto a winner.


17. Know your appetite. Many people will try to tell you that if you eat a balanced diet, and get your 5 a day, you will not feel the need to snack. Of course, normal people snack. The money saving tip is to learn your body’s signs and overcome the need to gorge. If you feel the need for something sweet after a meal, recognize that it’s just something that needs to be satisfied. You probably don’t need an expensive slab of chocolate and you probably don’t need a costly bag of sweets. Try buying a kiddies chocolate bar. You may well be surprised that once you’ve eaten it, the sweet craving has gone and you’ve saved a small amount of cash.


18. Become a school kid again. No, don’t buy drab grey jumpers and trousers that are ten sizes too small, get you your packed lunch box out. There are huge savings to be made if you’d normally buy food while you’re working. Obviously, not everyone can eat a packed lunch, but you’d better have a good excuse for spending as much money as you do every day. Just looking at the cost of a single packet of crisps in a shop, compared to the single price per pack in a multi-pack, will give you some idea of the savings that can be made over the course of a year.


19. Use your local hand car wash service. These places are great if you want your car cleaned for next to nothing. If you bought in the equipment, cleaning products, and then got your vacuum cleaner out, you’d probably find that you were close to the cost of a hand car wash already. When you then consider that you’d be doing the cleaning yourself, the hand car wash becomes more appealing. We’re all a bit lazy; get someone else to do it.


20. Save yourself a headache when you get a headache. If you take a look at the ingredients on over the counter medicine packaging, you’ll find that the big brands are the same as the cheaper brands. The reason is that medicines have to be produced to a certain standard by law. Nobody is allowed to put their own twist on a tablet, so if a big branded product is claiming that they are giving you something that other brands can’t deliver, they’re really not. As with any drugs, make sure that you check with your doctor if you are ever unsure.


21. Learn your local town or city. This tip is aimed at helping you save on parking costs. At certain times, you’ll need to pay for parking, but these occurrences should be rare. If you explore a little bit, you should be able to find places where you can park for free. If you can believe it, some streets have no parking restriction on them. If you can find such places, then you could save hundreds every year. Don’t get lazy with this one. If you just throw your car into a space and hope for the best, then you could come back to a nasty surprise.


22. Don’t pay for birthday cards. Okay, perhaps you should pay a little, but there are savings to be made. The price of all types of cards seem to be getting higher and higher, so any way we can help cut the costs helps. If you have children, get them to make cards. A card made by a child holds so much more meaning than a mass produced one. If you don’t have kids, then you can save by buying generic cards in bulk and writing your own messages inside them. If you’re a man, then you might think that a money saving tip about cards is a drop in the ocean, but how much does your partner spend on Christmas cards, birthday cards, wedding, engagement, christening cards, and all the other cards that they insist on buying? It all adds up.


23. Become an experimental chef. Get all of those jars and cans of food that have been in the cupboard for ages, and sort them out. Figure out new wild and wonderful dishes that you can serve, and use them up. If, like a lot of us, there are a lot of products that are way past their use by date, estimate the total that you wasted by never using them. A tiny bit of guilt could make you more careful about future wastage.


24. Haggle. Seriously, even big high street stores will drop prices if you haggle. The best places to get a bargain are markets, bazaars, second hand shops, and the like, but you should try your luck everywhere. You never know, you could end up with a surprise saving.


25. The thermostat tip! This is a well known tip, and it really will save you money. Turning your thermostat down a couple of degrees will save you lots on your annual bill. If you can figure out your household’s optimum comfortable temperature, then you can save cash and still stay cosy. If you are a man, be careful of any women in your house sneaking around near the thermostat. Ladies like the temperature to be a little warmer than men, so if you feel a little warmer than you expected to, check the dial.


So that’s the list. Of course, money saving tip lists could go on endlessly, but people’s attention spans do not. If you have any super ideas that save you cash then feel free to share them. If you employ a few of those listed above then you will see your cash flow improve. Just think, this time next year, we could be millionaires.