83 practical ways to save money
A penny saved is a penny made. Follow our favourite tips and tricks to save yourself £100s (if not £1,000s) every year!
Credit: formatc1 - Flickr
Looking to sniff out top-dollar money saving? You've come to the right place. Discover how to cut the price of everything, from rent reductions to cash back on your commute. We've organised our tips by greatest savings potential.
What's on this page?
Big Money Savings (£££)
Think beyond dorms to save on rent
Don't assume uni accommodation is always your cheapest option. If you’re prepared to get creative, you could save a ton – like the students who lived on a yacht for a quid a day or camped out to cut costs.
Remember: wherever you live, students do not have to pay council tax. Discover more ways to save on digs.
Get student funding
There’s heaps of cash tucked away in bursaries, scholarships and grants – the trick is to hit as many angles as you can (location, dependants, gender, subjects studied). Your uni will have some schemes, but there are private scholarships, sponsorships, grants and emergency funds floating out there too.
Disabled Students Allowance is worth checking if you have a disability or learning disadvantage (e.g. dyslexia), with cash available for computers and specialist kit. See if there's anything you're eligible for.
In fact, as our guide to weird bursaries, scholarships and grants testifies, there's funding out there for pretty much everything - it's just a case of finding out what!
Go abroad for grad study
Finland, Norway, Germany and Austria are tops for free or low-cost study, even for international students, which could save you thousands each year. On the downside, living costs can be pricey, and you may need to know the local language to get a place (or a job). Start saving, look for funding, and learn the lingo ahead of time.
Stop smoking (or doing drugs)
If you're a smoker, you could be burning two grand a year or more to fuel your habit. You can get a quitting kit (patches, gum, sprays and medication) for much less on the NHS, and e-cigs could help stop you frying your lungs while you cut back.
Lots of ex-smokers swear by Allen Carr's book – check the library to read it for free. But it's not just smoking that costs – recreational drugs and legal highs can be just as pricey, a whole lot riskier, and often get you spending more cash on munchies, impulse buys or digging yourself out of a hole.
Have at least one 'no-spend' day each week
Having a no-spend day is both incredibly simple and surprisingly difficult. When you stop to think about it, you probably spend money on at least one thing every day, even if it's as small as a bus fare or a small snack while you're out and about.
Exercise some self-restraint and try to have at least one no-spend day each week (we'll let you pay for travel if it's absolutely necessary – otherwise, walk!). It'll take some forward planning (like buying food in a weekly shop), but the psychological impact of learning not to spend money should mean you become a lot more careful with it in the long term!
Impressive Cost Cutters (££)
Look twice for cheap flights
It can be a costly rookie mistake to assume the first get-away deals you find are actually the cheapest, especially as prices can change in minutes. Set up price alerts with momondo if you have a destination in mind, or use Skyscanner's 'Everywhere' tool to find bargain-bucket seats on flights to anywhere!
Complete holiday packages can sometimes (not always) work out cheaper overall, so compare your prices with sites like lastminute.com.
And don't dust off your mankini until you've read our specific tips to getting airborne for less.
Know your discounts
Get yourself a discount card to hoover up any student savings going. You'll need to pay for the TOTUM/NUS Extra card (the three-year card is the best value), but you could recoup your costs in as little as one spend with 50% off Spotify, 10% off ASOS or even £10 off at Amazon.co.uk.
Like to eat out? It's also worth adding a tastecard to your arsenal to knock 50% off at thousands of restaurants.
If you don't want to pay for your discounts, you can still use your student ID instead at a range of places, from clubs to cinemas – check out our full student discount directory.
Oh, and don't worry if you've already finished uni – find out how you can get a TOTUM/NUS Extra card when you've graduated!
Earn money from your student loan
Whenever (if ever) you have a lump-sum of cash that you don't need straight away, stick it in a high-interest cash ISA.
If not, work out your living costs and siphon off what you need each month – you'll still earn interest, and making your money last for the whole term is a lesson in discipline.
Speak to the cancellations department
Got a phone, broadband or TV subscription due for renewal? Tell your provider you're taking your business elsewhere unless they beat the cheapest alternative.
This one works especially well with mobile phone companies – try to cancel your contract and you can expect to be directed to their loyalty team who have the power to offer substantial discounts to retain customers. Get your poker face on!
It's also worth noting that this works with more than just cancellations. If you've had a poor experience with any company, get in touch with their customer services team and make it clear that you're unhappy – they'll probably offer you something to make sure you use their services again!
Just don't go too hard on the poor person handling your query – this probably wasn't their fault!
Slash your bills in an evening
Spend just one evening comparing the cost of your gas or leccy and you could save hundreds by moving to a better deal. Switching is simple and free – just make sure you’re not tied into a contract with exit fees (although the savings can still outweigh them).
Quickly find out what you can save right now at EnergyHelpine.com.
Get cash back on almost anything you buy
Every time you buy online, get some of your money back by learning how to use cashback sites.
But it's not just online shopping that offers cashback. Free food (and occasionally some cleaning products and pet food, too) can be nabbed through supermarket cashback apps!
Haggle on your rent (or anything else)
You’ve got nothing to lose by asking for a rent reduction – if you can show you’ve been a top tenant, the odds are in your favour, as it’s usually cheaper and less hassle for your landlord if you stay on.
Other tactics to try include paying in advance, or knocking off a month or two from 12-month contracts to account for non-term time.
But don't stop at haggling on your rent – anything and everything can be cut down with a bit of persuasion, as we explain in our guide to haggling.
Use the 'skimming' trick
When you experience the thrill of money inbound – Student Loan, birthday cash, wages or anything else – skim 10% off the top and whack it in a savings account (set up a standing order to shuffle the cash over automatically when it lands in your current account).
If you can manage just £20 a month you'll be £240 better off at the end of the year (more if you stick it in a top-paying savings account).
Try the 1p savings challenge
If taking 10% off all incoming funds sounds like too big a commitment for you, give the 1p savings challenge a go.
The premise is simple: on day one, you save 1p. On day two, you save 2p. On day three, 3p (and so on). After 365 days have passed, you'll have saved over £650!
Although the challenge is intended as a way to start saving in the new year, you can basically start whenever you want – just keep going up in 1p increments, and you'll save the same amount of money in the same period of time!
Think about phone insurance
Not only are two-thirds of you likely to damage or break your phone at uni, but phone theft is so rampant that there’s even a national crime unit dedicated to stopping it.
Insurance obviously costs money, but can save you the expense of a new phone or pricey repairs. So if you’re a butter fingers, have a pricey handset or are locked into a lengthy contract, getting insured is often worth doing.
Don’t just go with the policy that’s bundled with your gadget – you can get cover for pennies.
Turn your old phone into a sat nav
Obviously you can use your current phone as a sat nav too, but that'll just drain your battery and put out the fire flowing through the aux cord.
Your phone's GPS can work without a SIM card, so the super money-saving option here is to go to whatever app you're using and download the route (over WiFi) for offline use. But if you want live traffic updates, alternate route options and all that jazz, the next best thing is to get a cheap-as-chips SIM and use the data on that.
Don't need a sat nav? Our price comparison tool will tell you which companies will give you the most money for your old phone.
Ride the bus for less
If you catch the bus every day, a student bus pass usually works out cheaper (if you're entitled to disability support, you may be able to get free travel, or funds to help you pay for a pass). Check if there are free metro bus services in your area, too.
Swerve premium rate numbers
If there’s one thing more torturous than most companies’ choice of hold music, it’s the rip-off rates you pay for calling their pricey 084 and 087 numbers in the first place. Even on an inclusive call plan, they can cost up to 60p a minute.
Don't pay for top-selling apps & games
Most tablet, phone and PC platforms offer free or freemium games, but Amazon’s gone one further and banked a load of premium apps in its Underground service, which offers them all for free.
That means you can get your hands on Monument Valley (£2.49), OfficeSuite Professional (£9.99) and the inexplicably popular Goat Simulator (£3.99) for no cost whatsoever. The trade-off is that you’ll need to allow Amazon access to your app usage stats to actually run any free downloads.
Get 2for1 cinema tickets for a year for less than £2
How we miss Orange Wednesdays. If you were on the network, your trips to the cinema would never cost full price. And if you weren't, you'd almost certainly have memorised a list of all your friends and family who could give you their code.
The good news is that the 2for1 baton has been passed to Compare the Market's Meerkat Movies scheme, and all you have to do is make an eligible purchase with them. The best part? It includes travel insurance, which you can get for under £2!
Or just go to the cinema for free!
There's only one thing better than a discount, and that's getting something for free. Whether you plop for free preview screenings, or sign up to E4's Slackers Club (or both!), there are a ton of ways to get your Hollywood on without spending a penny.
Check out our cinema hacks for more details on how to secure your free or discounted tickets.
Get a 3-year railcard when you’re 24
Buy or renew a 3-year 16–25 railcard before your 24th birthday to get a third off rail fares until you're 27!
If you miss the window and turn 24, you can still buy a 1-year card right up until the day before you turn 26.
Lose your TV licence
However, you can get a refund to cover the summer months you're not at uni.
Run from overpriced gym membership
Opt for any of the big fancy fitness chains and you can expect to pay anything up to £80 a month. Whilst that may incentivise you to actually go, there are lots of ways to lose a few pounds for fewer pounds (sorry).
Your university is likely to offer most facilities for a fraction of the cost, with no lengthy contract. Or you could check out PayAsUGym for hundreds of pay-as-you-go or no-frills gyms popping up all over the country.
Not enough for you? See all the ways you can save a packet on fitness.
Save on postage costs with Amazon Prime
Amazon’s student Prime trial gives you 6 months of free one-day delivery with no minimum spend, and thereafter 50% off the usual yearly membership fee.
Oh, and you also get access to the full Prime Instant Video catalogue along with other exclusive Prime offers 😉
Get your tax back
Most students won’t earn more than the personal allowance each year, so shouldn’t be taxed on any of it. If your employer has you on an emergency or incorrect tax code, or if your bank knocks tax off your savings' interest, you’re entitled to reclaim it.
If you run a student business, you can also claim for allowable expenses – meaning there's less tax to pay on profits.
Buy past 'Best Before' dates
The bottom line on best before dates (not use by dates!) is that they’re about food quality, not safety. The Approved Food website can help you cash in on that – they sell stuff close to or past its best before date that’s still safe to eat. We slashed £60 off one shop, so there are top savings to be had.
Get free money every month
Instead of varying interest, the Halifax Reward Current Account pays you £3 for every month you stay in credit (and sometimes a bonus for opening the account, too).
You’ll need to pay in at least £750 and pay out two direct debits each month, but you may be able to transfer in (and out) the same cash each time, and set up the smallest direct debit to qualify – even a quid to a charity would do.
If you're one of the many students without a student account (and you don’t need a 0% overdraft), it's worth a look.
Get everything for five pounds
Some company names leave you scratching your head, wondering what on earth they actually do. Not so with Everything5pounds.
Everything5pounds sells clothes, homeware and toys for – you guessed it – £5. Now, before you turn your nose up at the idea of buying clothes for £5, a lot of their stock is high-street quality.
Sometimes it literally is high-street quality, with the site buying unsold stock in bulk from the likes of Topshop and River Island, and selling it to you for a fiver a pop
Check Amazon's secret warehouse deals
You can get almost anything for less at Amazon Warehouse, although what’s actually on offer varies at any given time. These heavily discounted goods are typically returns, but you’ll still get the same guarantees about stuff working properly (or your money back if not).
Food shop in the evenings
If you’re prepared to shop around (around 6pm, that is), lots of supermarkets mark-down items they need to shift or ditch by the end of the day.
Still make a list, but if you’re flexible on brands and flavours you could bag tinned or fresh produce that’s still plenty good to eat, but for pennies. Just don't shop on an empty stomach! Read more tips for food shopping on the cheap.
Buy stolen goods (legally!)
Not in an EastEnders kind of way. No dodgy electronics supplied by Fat Elvis, please.
When the police are unable to track down an item's rightful owner, they'll auction it off and give the proceeds to worthy causes. It's all legit, it's all above-board, and you can bag a bargain if you submit the winning bid.
Find out more about police auctions in our guide to buying stolen goods.
Grab £200 worth of freebies in a day
From cloud storage to condoms, work your way through our list of top-pick freebies to save yourself £200!
Price compare your groceries
Take the leg work out of penny-pinching by comparing the cost of your groceries at mySupermarket.co.uk. The site stacks up the prices of big-name retailers to reveal who’s cheapest on each item, and reckons it can save you around 30% on each trip.
Even if you don’t buy your basket, it’s a good opportunity to compare your usual spend and see multi-store offers in one place.
Tune-in for free gigs and events
Events newsletters can be worth signing up for if they net you early bird discounts on your favourite gigs. Other ones to watch for include giveaways for TV and radio shows – the Beeb regularly hosts big-name songsters, while ITV and other channels offer free tickets, including for jackpot-heavy gameshows...
Use discounted gift cards at big chains
Ever been given a gift card for a shop that you never go to? Turns out you're not the only one. People are so keen to get rid of these vouchers, that they're willing to part with them for less than their worth.
Zeek is probably the main marketplace for buying and selling gift cards, with vouchers for some shops available with discounts as big as 20%. Plus, if you sign up with them through us you'll get £3 free credit!
Retailers like Tesco have also been known to have sales on gift cards (like 15% off). We'll almost certainly let you know if they've got one going, so check out our deals section for the latest offers!
Obviously this won't save you money if you're impulse buying, but if there's a shop you use all the time, or you're planning to make a big purchase (like electronics), this is a great way to cut costs!
Don’t pay for software
We're not talking illegal downloads here, but from writing to image editing, there’s a free alternative out there – some good enough to pass for pro products costing £70 and up.
Head here for a long list of free software.
Browse eBay outlets
eBay's official outlets stock all the same gear that you’ll find in the high street stores, but up to a third cheaper.
Why? Because these are end-of-line, returned or ex-display items. Retailers – which include Argos, House of Fraser, Skechers and Tesco – guarantee your quality and rights just as with full-price gear. If there’s something you’re shopping for anyway, have a look to see if you can get it cheaper.
And always check for eBay typos!
For eBay sellers, good grammar pays. Literally.
Seriously though, it's pretty easy to make a typo, and eBay is full of them – including in the title of auctions. There are plenty of perfectly good products on the site labelled as, for example, 'sansung', meaning they won't appear in searches for 'samsung'.
As a result, these auctions get far fewer views and therefore fewer bidders than they would with the correct spelling. Fewer bidders usually equals fewer bids, which in turn should mean lower prices!
Check out our eBay buying hacks for more details on this tip, plus many more.
Abandon your online shopping basket
Don't worry, we're still letting you buy things (although the biggest discount does come when you don't buy anything at all – but then again, where's the fun in that?).
Now, this is by no means the case for all websites, or even most of them, but it's certainly been known to happen.
If you put some items in your basket, then quit the website and take it no further, companies will sometimes send you an email in the hours and days afterwards. They'll offer you a discount, because for them, it's better that you spend a little less instead of nothing at all.
This is a great way to approach an impulse buy, or anything that you're not quite sure about – if the discount comes in, that's the gods of retail saying it's a worthwhile purchase!
Don’t get stung on event tickets
Missed the tickets you really, really wanted? Avoid the touts and scammers out to get rich from fans by securing re-sales or unwanted bookings at a fair price – Twickets lets you buy and sell your seat at face value or less.
Rack-up loyalty points
Get yourself a reward card and hoard points to claim money off, free treats and other discounts. At the very least, get one for your favourite supermarket.
Furnish for free
It's usually worth sticking to furnished rental properties to avoid shelling out for (and carting around!) bulky furniture and appliances. But if it's unavoidable, or you want to make an addition, freecycling is your go-to.
Only take cash on nights out
It's a bit of an old chestnut, but it really is one of the best ways to save money on a night out!
Even the strictest, most money-conscious of us are little more lax with the old debit card once we've had a few drinks. If you only take cash with you on a night out, you're sure to never go over budget.
Just make sure you factor in some funds for a late-night snack on the way home (or not, if you're disciplined enough to save money that well when drunk – in which case, we admire you).
Freeze your groceries
The average UK household bins around £700 worth of uneaten food a year! Planning meals can help cut back on that – but lots can be frozen to extend its life past the use-by date.
Surprisingly freezable foods include bread, milk, pasta and wine (all your essentials, in other words!). Freeze leftovers and you’ve got a cheaper/healthier alternative to take-aways and shop-bought snacks, too.
Save £600 on lunches
Buy lunch on the hoof three days a week and, at a fiver a pop, your munching could set you back almost £600 over the academic year – more if you include snacks and drinks.
It doesn’t take much to get organised and save money. Cook extra at mealtimes and carry leftovers, make sarnies the night before, or get a thermos to have soups, stews and hot drinks on tap for less.
Do your reading for nowt
You can often find whole articles and chapters without dipping into your loan to buy the whole book, potentially saving you a couple of hundred quid a year. Get pally with your librarian, too – if anyone (except us 😉 ) knows how to save money by accessing free and underused resources, they do.
Get extra tuition for free
Not a replacement for the degree you’re already paying for, but with access to course content, book discussions, leading academics and further reading, free courses from the world’s top universities are worth a nosy.
Downshift to own-label
Lots of own-label goods are exactly the same as the fancy packaged stuff, but without the hefty price tag. It can be true for everything from aspirin to coffee at the supermarket, and downshifting also works for substituting overpriced designer clothes for high-street brands.
See what you could save with our intro to the supermarket downshift.
Not content with just an article of life hacks and money saving tips? How about a whole flippin' book's worth of the things?
Uni Lifehacks has chapter after chapter of tips and tricks to get the most out of uni, both financially and otherwise. It also features a chapter from our very own Owen Burek, so you know it's gotta be good!
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Small but MIGHTY savings (£)
Get money back from your mates
Loaned money to mates and need it back? It doesn’t have to be a saga. Circle lets you transfer money between friends in an instant, and if you sign up through us you'll get £5 free, plus £5 for every friend you refer (up to 20 times, which means £100 free!).
Round-up your spend
If your bank runs a 'Save the Change' scheme, it's a zero-effort way to load-up your nest egg. Each time you pay with a debit card, your spend is rounded up to the nearest pound and the leftover is nudged into your savings account.
Check the baby/world food aisle to get the same product for less
If you're buying anything that could also be found in the baby or world food aisles (such as moisturising lotion, or some spices), it's worth checking there before you buy. You'll often be able to find the exact same product (yes, often even the same brand) for less.
This isn't a 100% foolproof system – sometimes the quantities will be different, so you'll have to check the price tag for the price per unit of measurement. In the case of world foods, you may not always be able to get the same brand, but for simpler products (spices, milks etc.) this shouldn't make a difference.
For the 'free-from' eaters among you, it's worth noting that this affects you too. The free-from section is unfortunately far from free from overcharging, with many equivalent (sometimes identical) products available for less in another aisle.
Don't shop when you're hungry
It probably makes sense to go shopping when you fancy picking up dinner, but that's a sure fire way to spend more than you need (or even want) to.
If you're feeling peckish, you're more likely to want to buy any food that takes your fancy. You might end up buying a load of stuff that will go off before you have the chance to use it, and then you've got no choice but to basically throw that money away. Do a big shop once a week and avoid impulse buys!
Check out our guide to saving money at the supermarket.
Click & Collect for free delivery
Lots of online retailers now offer a Click & Collect service, where you can avoid the normal P&P and get purchases of any size delivered to a local store for nowt.
Get paid for your commute
If it’s a journey you’d be making anyway, recoup the cost of your fare by playing postie while you’re at it. Search for deliveries that need to be made on the Nimber website and, if there’s one you can drop-off, you’ll get the fee (Nimber even cover the cost of parcel insurance). If you can walk or cycle the route you could even turn a profit!
Put a brick in your toilet
No, we don't mean it like that. We mean an actual brick.
Toilets use a crazy amount of water per flush – arguably more than is needed (presumably as a precaution, just in case there's a real tricky customer that needs dealing with). If you open up the cistern (the box at the back of the loo) and pop a brick in, it'll stop using so much water and start saving you money on your water bill!
Trade-up to new gadgets
Always have a one-in, one-out policy: either ask for money off for a trade-in, or sell your unwanted item first. You can turn old phones into cash, flog your boy band collectibles on eBay, and find a new home for just about everything else.
Get free water at the airport
Since the liquid ban came into effect into 2006, you and your family have probably started buying a lot more water in duty-free than you used to. But the truth is, you don't need to!
The ban only applies to liquids, not bottles. So, if you take an empty bottle through airport security (they've confirmed this is fine), you can fill it up for free using the water fountains that you'll find in most airports. Definitely one of the best money saving holiday tips.
And on the topic of water, drinking more of it is not only good for you, but it makes you feel more full. Feeling more full means you won't want to eat as much, which in turn saves you money!
Use the library to read for free
Always got your head in a book? Or just need to do some reading for your course? Rather than splash the cash on your own copies, hit up your university library (or even your local library) and just rent books for free!
Complain for cheaper rail fares
There's now a national scheme called 'Delay Repay' which applies to most train operators. Any time you’re delayed on a prebooked train ticket by at least 30 minutes (15 minutes on the Tube), always check if you can get a refund.
On National Rail journeys you’ve got 28 days to request one, with each operator setting how much they’ll cough up and on which bit of your journey.
As a guide, if your train runs an hour late, you’ll get back the full cost of that bit of the journey (i.e. not the full price of a return fare, unless you’re delayed both ways). See the train company's website for how to put in a claim, or learn how to complain properly to get a fairer price.
Go to the cinema during off-peak hours
Weekends and evenings might feel like the best times to watch a film, but you'll be paying a pretty penny to do so. Cinemas hike their prices during these hours, and you'll save somewhere between 15–20% if you catch a movie before 5pm Monday–Thursday.
Get your drinks 'on the house'
You'll need to be aged 18 or 19, and there's no guarantee how much work you'll get, but some students have reported earning around a tenner a trip, with bars, clubs and betting shops all on the list.
Complete online surveys in exchange for vouchers for major retailers, or even get free products to test. We've reviewed the best survey sites here.
If you’re on top of your money (and have some means to repay), you can use credit cards to not only manage your cash flow and build your credit score, but also get rewards or cash back.
Opt for a card that offers rewards and do all your spending on it to max out the savings. Spend £200 a month on a card that pays 1% cash back, for instance, and you’d get £24 back over a year – that’s better than some savings accounts right now. Just make sure to set cash aside to repay on your purchases within the 0% interest period!
Always buy own brand medicines
Nurofen packets might look nicer than Tesco's own alternatives, but the truth is that they both do exactly the same job, just as well as each other (and this applies to all medicines, not just painkillers).
As long as the active ingredient (and the amount of it) is the same, the effect of the drug will be the same (despite a price difference that often exceeds 1,000%). However, if you have any allergies, make sure you check the inactive ingredients too, just in case!
Check out our guide to cheap hay fever medicines to find out how to get yours for as little as 2p per tablet!
Barter for freebies
Bartering is a bit like haggling, but with less cash involved. If there’s something you have, can do or are qualified in, you could swap your time, stuff or services for things you need.
It works best with small traders or personal swaps, and could include things like free gym entry in exchange for promoting them on social media, or creating artwork for a local restaurant in return for a meal out.
It can take a bit of nerve to ask in the first place, but after that there’s no limit on how creative you get.
Get a Big Mac and fries for £1.99 forever
Bit of a dangerous one, as when the food is this cheap, it's even harder to resist. But if you can exercise some self-control, this trick should save you some money whenever you decide to treat yo' self.
All you have to do is get a Maccy D's receipt, fill out a quick survey on their site, and the Big Mac and fries discount is yours. When you go in and use your £1.99 deal, you can then use the receipt from that to keep the process going. It's a
Don't taxi, Uber
Mobile taxi app Uber has blown up in the last few years, and you can now save around 50% on taxi rides in most UK cities and abroad (compared with traditional black cabs).
Right now you can get £10 off your first ride too with our Uber voucher code.
Trim the cost of haircuts
If you really can’t live without a big-name salon, find one that has a local training school or ask if your usual mop shop needs hair models. You may not get to choose exactly what you want, but you can shave off pounds of the typical £30+ cut (or get one for free).
There are lots more tricks and tips, so check out our 15 ways to save on haircuts.
Don’t pay to withdraw your cash!
It’s tempting to just suck up the cost of using those convenience ATMs that charge, but that can mean you’re paying as much as £2.50 a pop just to get at your own cash. That's 12.5% for a twenty!
Unless it’s a real emergency, walking to the nearest free machine instead (try Google Maps), paying by card or borrowing from a mate will leave you better off.
Get a (nearly) free coffee every day
Back in the day, anyone who had a Waitrose card could walk into the store and pick up a free coffee. Unfortunately they realised that a lot of people weren't ever actually buying anything from the shop, so they pooped the party and changed the scheme.
However, Waitrose's new policy still allows you to pick up a total bargain. The only rule is that you must buy something* if you want the free drink, but there is no minimum spend. In other words, find the cheapest thing you can (preferably something you need anyway – a piece of fruit is a perfect example) and use that.
*The 5p plastic bags don't count, sorry.
...or a discounted drink from a coffee shop
Buying a drink from a coffee shop is pretty much the opposite of a money saving life hack, but if you're absolutely dead set on getting your fix, you may as well save a few pennies in the process.
Starbucks, Costa, Pret and Nero all have their own spins on this one, but essentially they all reward you for using your own reusable cup when you buy a drink from them. To say "thanks for saving the planet" they could give you some bonus loyalty points, or even a discount off the drink.
Or, ya know, just brew your own gourmet coffee with an Aeropress.
Grown your own food
If you’ve got the patience to grow your own veg, you'll find money really can grow on... plants. You don’t need lots of space or equipment to grow herbs and small veg – a bag of compost and some seeds will do. You don’t even need to shell out for pots, as lots of plants can thrive in old wellies, buckets, hanging baskets and window boxes.
Become a vegetarian for 2 days each week
Meat is one of those things that you don't realise is so expensive until you go to uni. Going vegetarian for a couple of days a week will save you having to splash out, and also give you a chance to eat more veg!
If you absolutely can't cope without something meaty in your meals, there are plenty of delicious meat substitutes out there. We're big fans of Quorn – it's much cheaper than normal meat, has nearly as much protein and almost none of the fat.
Go foraging to eat on the cheap
If the closest you’ve come to foraging is trying to remember where you put the Jammie Dodgers, there’s a whole world of free food out there. We’re talking wild garlic, fish, cockles, berries and mushrooms for starters (get a wild food book or course under your belt to stay safe).
If it all sounds a bit ‘survivalist’ for you, try the urban alternatives: supermarket launch events, Olio and closing time in your local chippy can come up trumps for free eats.
Don't drive with a tank that's empty or full
It sounds odd to say that you shouldn't fill your tank to the top, but there is some science behind it! A full tank of petrol will add weight to your car, which means your engine will have to work harder (and guzzle more gas) to keep you moving.
So you should try to empty your tank, right? Wrong – your engine could get seriously damaged if you regularly drive with a small amount of petrol in the tank. Try to keep the fuel gauge at 50–75% to ensure a happy medium
Open your windows at low speed, use the AC at high speed
We've all been told off for opening the windows while the air-conditioning is on. But the truth is, sometimes it makes more sense to open your windows and turn the AC off.
AC can use up to 5% of your fuel, so turning it off could preserve some petrol. That is until you start travelling at high speeds, at which point having the windows open will increase drag and make the engine work harder to keep the wheels turning. So in short: windows at low speed, AC at high.
Keep your tyres inflated
Aside from being much safer, making sure that your tyres are inflated to the recommended level could save you a bit of cash too – about 3% of your petrol costs, in fact. It takes more force to turn a wheel with an under-inflated tyre (ever tried riding a bike with a flat?), so try to keep those babies airy.
Read our guide to cutting the cost of driving for a whole load more tips!
Squeeze the most from your toiletries
Just because you can’t squeeze out any more toothpaste doesn’t mean there’s not another week’s worth of pearly white gunk in there. Cut the end off the tube to get at the rest of the toothpaste, shampoo, moisturiser or whatever and you won't have to replace them as often.
Join Secret Sales websites
There are a growing number of sites which run limited time flash sales, on everything from designer threads to holidays. The savings are significant but you need to be signed up to hear about the sales.
Most sites rely on word-of-mouth and are not heavily promoted (these are the ones we follow) but big retailers like Amazon ('Today's Deals') have also started to branch out into this world to clear surplus stock.
Use price matching
Price matching is only really worth it if the retailer offering it can also give you something extra. Maybe it's cheaper delivery, loyalty points, or even an extended warranty that you won't get elsewhere.
It's also worth remembering that a fair number of price matching retailers let you use the service even after buying the product. In other words, if you buy something from them and then see it available for less somewhere else (or in some cases, even on their own site), you can ask them to pay you the difference.
Bear in mind that there are often a few caveats with price matching. Not all retailers offer it, and among those who do, the rules differ. Some are very strict about the shops whose prices they'll match, while others will only give you a short window of time after your purchase to find a lower price. Always check the Ts&Cs!
Use less electricity
There’s no sense torching your leccy bills when simple fixes can save you cash. Use energy saving bulbs and turn off lights when you leave the room, put on extra clothes before turning on the heating, and don’t leave your gadgets plugged in when you’re not using them – turn the socket off. Or try these cheeky fixes.
Make your own cheap alternatives to cleaning products
If you're old enough to remember How Clean Is Your House?, you'll know that Kim (more recently of Celebrity Big Brother fame) and Aggie were always showing you how to make your own cleaning products with things you've got lying around the house.
Apparently they weren't spinning us a yarn of lies, and by making your own cleaning products you could get the chores done using vinegar, lemons and even Coca-Cola!
Scored yourself serious savings? Claim your bragging rights by leaving a comment below - or give us your insider tips and we'll add them to the list.