Friday, 19 April 2013

There's nothing like the promise of free money to get me off my backside and blogging.

Of course the chances are good that by now MoneySupermarket will have had the maximum 500 entries to their '30 ways to save a pound' challenge and I never win prize draws (apart from one, a box of cleaning materials, which would elicit a hollow laugh from anyone who's ever visited my house), so this is probably a bit pointless.  But there's a theoretical chance that I could earn a very easy (and very welcome) few quid, so here goes.

30 ways to save a pound or so

1  Wash out plastic food bags that have been used for sarnies or in the freezer, line dry and then use them again for something else (not food related for the sake of hygiene), such as covering newly planted pots of seeds (mini cloches), as doggy waste bags, anything where their waterproof properties are useful.

2 When making a shepherd's pie, mix the mince half and half with cooked brown lentils.  Better still, use lentils instead of the meat, even cheaper and very tasty!

3 If you have one of those magnetic shopping list pads on your fridge, start writing your list from the bottom, so you can just tear off the used portion when you're going shopping, rather than using a whole sheet each time.  I make one pad last a couple of years that way.

4 Buy (or better still, make) a pretty bag that you can hang from a wardrobe or dressing table drawer handle.  When you find an odd sock, pop it in rather than throwing it away.  The other one will turn up eventually and this way you'll always know where its partner is.

5 If a garment is beyond use when you are finished with it, remove any buttons before sending to the textile recycling bank.  Even if you won't use them yourself, once you have a jarful you can eBay it - buttons are very "in" at the moment.

6 Write on both sides of the paper when writing a letter, and invest in envelope reuse labels from your favourite charity.

7 Don't let bread go mouldy - if you can tell it's going to be past its best before it is all eaten, make it into breadcrumbs and freeze them or make a bread-pudding type dessert with any fruit you have (that also may not otherwise get eaten).  There are loads of recipes on the net.

8 Buy a roll of wall lining paper from you local DIY store at the beginning of December and get your kids (or creative adults) to decorate it with potato stamps of stars and Christmas trees, to use as wrapping paper.  Might be worth asking on your local Freegle list whether anyone has a roll before you buy one!

9 If you've not already done so, invest in a charger and some rechargable batteries,  You'll save loads over time.

10 Next time you need a torch, buy one that you charge by squeezing the handle.  Hand power is cheaper than batteries!

11 Join your local Freegle or Freecycle group.  You will definitely save more than a pound this way!

12 If you are a knitter or crocheter, scour local charity shops for knitted garments that can be unpicked and the wool re-used.  New yarn is not cheap!  Make sure you read one of the excellent tutorials to be found on the net first though - there can be pitfalls.

13 Organise book-swaps with like-minded friends.  Agree in advance with them who is going to buy which book, that way you all get to read several books for the price of one. Also works for DVDs.

14 Make your own wine and beer. The outlay is very quickly recouped even if you are a modest drinker.

15 Make sure you're only carrying as much as you need to in your car boot - any extra weight is just wasting petrol.

16 Greeting cards are expensive, so consider instead writing a chatty letter for someone's birthday. I know which I'd rather have!

17 Save plastic food boxes (such as the ones strawberries come in) and use them as mini-propagators to start off seeds on your windowsill.

18 Freeze your metal scouring pad in a plastic bag between uses.  It won't rust as quickly that way.

19 When you're making a warming winter stew, leave out the meat and use a couple of tins of different sorts of beans instead - much cheaper and cuts down majorly on cooking time, saving fuel too!

20  Use threadbare old towels to stuff castoff trouser legs to make draught excluders.  Doesn't sound terribly chic, but with a bit of creative flair (embroidery, rick-rack, material paints etc) you can stop the draughts, save on fuel and have your own unique statement piece!

21 Wilted lettuce will revive if immersed in very cold water than put into a plastic bag in the fridge.

22 Curry-house rice is very expensive.  Even if you can't be bothered to cook rice from scratch to go with your takeaway while you're waiting for it to be collected/delivered, microwavable packs of basmati and pilau rice typically cost less than 80p at discount supermarkets.

23 Some people are kind enough to leave boxes of windfall apples outside their gates with a note asking people to help themselves.  Take advantage of these, pick some blackberries from your local hedgerow (or let them grow if they turn up in your garden) and make the best ever crumble.  Freeze leftovers of the fruit - these will be incredibly welcome in the bleaker days of winter.

24 Save the water from cooking your veg to use as stock instead of using a commercial stock cube, which is mainly just salt anyway and costs a fortune if priced by the pound!

25 Freeze any leftover wine in ice-cube bags or trays so when you want just a bit for a sauce or gravy, you don't have to open a bottle specially.

26 Use loo-roll as tissues at home -cheaper than buying paper hankies and nobody's going to know!

27 Use baby lotion as a facial moisturiser.  A tiny bit goes a long way and we all know how soft baby's bottoms are!

28 Invest in a cheap set of different-coloured cottons and do small mending jobs on your clothes rather than throwing them out when a seam starts unravelling or a button comes off.

29 Use leftover wallpaper to line drawers and store pleasant-smelling items such as bars of soap, lavender bags and packs of incense sticks in them.  Makes your clothes smell nice without having to buy perfumed drawer-liners.

30 Don't wash outer clothing (jumpers, blouses, trousers etc) after just one wearing unless it's actually dirty.  Lots of us are in the habit of throwing everything into the laundry hamper when we undress for bed, but it's often unnecessary.

31 Don't throw away tomatoes that have started to go soft.  Discard any bad bits and sling the ok parts into your next spag bol or soup.

I know, that's more than thirty, but when you start thinking about ways to save money they just keep coming.

Right, that's my twopennorth.  Fingers crossed that it turns into thirty pounds worth.


  1. What a fantastic list! I'm chuckling at the number of words I had to Google to figure out what they meant... Sarnies?!?

    So... next time I steam some veggies, the water is going into a jar in the freezer to be added to my next batch of stock. And, before I take the car out again I WILL make myself unload the bags of kitty litter that I've been too lazy to haul inside! And, perhaps I now have some idea what to do with that jar of buttons I've been collecting for years now!

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. Cat, my faithful reader, thank you so much for commenting on my first blog entry for over seven months!
      It never occurred to me that "sarnies" might not be a universal abbreviation of "sandwiches", we've been using the word for decades here but I suppose it's one of those terms that just hasn't travelled.
      I am flattered in the extreme that you are actually going to take note of some of my suggestions - to be honest it never occurred to me that everyone wouldn't be doing all these things anyway - talk about self-centred! I have become incredibly insular in the time since I left my job, and in truth I was tending towards hermithood before that anyway.
      The stock thing - if you use organic produce then I would be inclined to put washed veg trimmings in the steaming water so you get the goodness out of those as well as the drippings from the veg in the steamer basket. If you have a bay tree sling a couple of leaves in there too. Waste not want not!
      Thank you again.

    2. I thought it was a great list... and you did manage to get me to actually haul the 50 lbs of cat litter out of the back of my car and into my house!

      In terms of stock... I generally keep a "stock bag" in the freezer and fill it with bits of veggie scraps, chicken bones etc... but somehow it never occurred to me to add the water from steamed veggies! What a waste! Soooo... I steamed asparagus yesterday, and now there's a jar of "asparagus juice" in the freezer waiting for the next time I make stock!

      The other thing I've discovered is that if I deglaze the pan after roasting chicken, the drippings add a LOT of flavor to stocks and soups. I usually put them in the freezer first and then scrape the fat off the top. Maybe this is obvious too, but since I'm a novice at the meat thing it was a total revelation for me!

      Next mystery phrase to look up on Google... "spag bol" :-)

    3. Oops, sorry CatLady, I only just saw this comment! Thank you again for your kind words, and I apologise once more for the language differences between our two great nations! (Not to mention the spelling differences; I'm being scolded by a wavy red line for the world "apologise", which I'm not going to apologize for).

      I've not eaten meat for decades, so will have to take your word for the chicken thing. I guess you aren't one of those people who suffers form asparagus after-effects. Husband and I argued for hours about that until someone on television said it's a genetic thing - some people are affected, others not. I'm not, so I can't thing why he makes such a fuss!

      Spag bol = spaghetti bolognaise. I suspect that you knew that really and are just teasing me.

      Well done for no longer having a boot full of cat litter! On the same subject I heard recently that another good tip is to not fill your tank full when you buy petrol. Because of the extra weight you actually get better mileage as your tank empties, so if you do mainly short journeys, you can save money by keeping your tank relatively empty. Makes sense when you think about it, which I never have before.

      Thank you again for commenting, it's nice to know I'm not talking to thin air.


  2. That's a really good list. I hope you get your £30!

    1. Scarlet, hallo! Thank you for your kind words, which worked! I received the thirty pounds this morning and I am thrilled to bits, I really am. I was convinced that they would have filled their quota by the time they got to me. Thank you very much for posting about it on your blog otherwise I would have remained ignorant and £30 worse off! Free money - shame that doesn't happen more often. Are you registered with YouGov? It take a year or two to get up to the £50 cash-in point, but it is again pretty much free money and a £50 cheque every year or two is very welcome. In case you're not aware it is paid survey-answering, usually 50p a time for about 10-20 minutes. I can recommend it.
      All the best

  3. Well deserved thirty quid! Some great ideas in there :-)

    1. Bless your cotton socks, Gingerbread Lady. If my ideas were as good as your baby blankets I would be proud indeed. :)