Under-25s' MoneySaving Tips
Save through savvy spending
There are bundles of tips and tricks for 16- to 25-year-olds to plot the path to financial independence without getting ripped off.
From a free £1,000 per year towards your first home with Lifetime ISA to a third off train travel and getting paid to drink, this guide's focused on tips which can apply to ALL under-25s – but there are tons more student-specific tips in our Student Checklist.
46 under-25s' MoneySaving tips, including...
- Max savings interest for your first home
- Get paid to drink (yes, really)
- Get 3% interest on your income
- Do you need a TV licence?
- Renting? Check your deposit's protected
- Get a 16-25 Railcard till you're almost 27
- Slash car insurance costs
- Time to build your credit score
- Don't splash the cash as soon as you're paid
- Use Money Mantras before buying anything
- Get £100+ for switching bank account
- Travel the country for £1.50
- Get a YEAR's 2for1 cinema for £2ish
- Make £1,000s online from your sofa
- Get a pension NOW
- Get paid to shop online
- Payday loans – avoid like the plague
- Register to vote & improve your credit score
- Take the Downshift Challenge
- Free entry to museums and galleries
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Max the interest when saving for your first home
If you're hoping to own a home, ALWAYS save your deposit in the right way.
There's the Help to Buy ISA and the Lifetime ISA – and they're a no-brainer if you're saving for a mortgage and you're a first-time buyer. You'll earn interest tax-free and then the Government will add 25% free cash on top of what you save. For full info and help deciding which might be better for you, see the Help to Buy ISA and Lifetime ISA guides.
Starting to save can be seen a little like a fountain – put your cash into the best-paying savings option possible, then when that's full and overflowing, fill up the next best, and so on. For what to try after the above ISAs – including bank accounts, regular saver accounts and cash ISAs, see our full Starting Saving guide.
If you really want to max the cash try the 5% Savings Loophole
Get paid to drink (yes, really)
It may sound too good to be true, but if you're 18 or 19, you can actually get paid to go to the pub.
Serve Legal currently employs around 2,000 mystery shoppers across the UK and Ireland to check whether staff in pubs, bars and supermarkets ask for ID when selling alcohol (it also checks other age-restricted products such as lottery tickets).
You can apply to become a mystery shopper via Serve Legal's site. You'll have to submit a recent photo and copies of your passport and the photo ID you use, and need to be observant, accurate and dress 'young' when testing a premises.
The area manager will brief you before each visit if you're selected. You'll be required to file online reports within 12 hours of a visit so you'll need internet access. You'll also need to be willing to travel around your local area.
Visits typically take between three and 12 minutes, though some can be longer (and if you want, you're usually free to stay). You'll be paid for your time (typically between £6 and £8 per visit but in some cases up to £20 per visit), but you may have to buy a product with this too, plus you can claim expenses such as travel and entrance fees.
Get 3% interest on your income
Getting your first job, whether full- or part-time, means you'll need a place to store your cash. Make your money work harder for you by choosing the right bank. Don't get sucked in with 'freebies' – you might pay for them in the long run.
The options below are all free to use and have online banking. They come with a debit card you can use to make payments in stores and online, too, as well as to withdraw cash.
- TSB's Under 19s Account pays 2.5% AER interest up to £2,500 and has discounts on driving lessons with the AA. Lloyds also offers an account with similar benefits, though it only pays 1.5% interest.
- Santander's* 123 Mini Current Account for 11 to 18-year-olds pays 3% in-credit interest on balances from £300 to £2,000.
- Natwest's Adapt account, for 11 to 18-year-olds, gets you 1% AER interest. As an added gimmick, you can upload an image to go on your debit card (for £5). It's not worth getting just for that though.
Most top adult bank accounts aren't available until you're 18. If you're over 18 and a student, see our Top Student Accounts 2016/2017 guide. If you're earning, you can get up to £150 cash just for switching providers (see more below).
You don't need a TV licence for non-BBC content on demand
If you'd rather not fork out for a TV licence, you can instead watch movies and box sets via film-streaming sites and catch-up on your favourite programmes online (as long as it's not on BBC iPlayer).
You only need a TV licence if you're watching live TV – meaning as it's being broadcast – or if you're watching BBC iPlayer (including catch-up). So if you just stick to streaming movies and watching on demand, you don't need to pay the £145.50 licence fee.
If you're a student, you can also check to see if you can get a £36 TV licence refund for the summer hols.
Renting? Take five minutes to check your deposit's protected
Handing over a huge rental deposit is never nice, but the fear of not getting it back at the end of your tenancy is even worse.
Thankfully, if you're in England or Wales, your deposit is protected by law, meaning your landlord can't simply raid it if they think you've broken your tenancy rules. Instead, they'd have to be prepared to go to an independent dispute service to fight their corner.
And there are big penalties if your landlord fails to comply with these rules, as MSE Jenny found:
My landlord didn't protect my deposit and didn't give it back so I went to court and got back £4,850 (incl court fees) from a £1,020 deposit. It was easy.
Trick to get a 16-25 Railcard until you're almost 27
The 16-25 Young Persons' Railcard costs £30 for a year (or £70 for three). It gives a third off most rail fares, including advance, off-peak and anytime tickets, and you'll also get a third off London travelcards and off-peak Oyster travel. It can be used anytime, though if you're travelling before 10am on weekdays the minimum fare after the discount is £12.
Despite its name though, there's a great loophole which lets you keep on using it even after you've turned 26. Simply diarise to buy a three-year Railcard the day before your 24th birthday (or a one-year Railcard before your 26th) to get the discount almost until you turn 27.
If you're not due to renew your existing Railcard (which you can do up to 30 days before expiry), there's nothing to stop you buying another 16-25 Railcard using a different email address if you want to use this trick.
Check our Railcard Deals page to see if there are any offers available.
Slash sky-high car insurance costs – save £1,000s
Finding affordable car insurance can be a nightmare – the average for a 17 to 22-year-old is £1,400/year. Our Young Drivers' Car Insurance guide has a step-by-step system to slice off every spare penny. Here are some points to bear in mind...
- Do you really need it? For some, a car's a must. But you need to weigh up what it costs – insurance, servicing, etc – versus how much you use it. If you work in a big city, you may want to consider public transport instead.
- Consider a telematics policy. Telematics means your premiums are determined by how you drive. A device inside your car monitors your actions behind the wheel. So the better your driving, the less you pay for cover. Telematics has many aliases, so if you're looking at 'black box', 'smart box', 'pay-as-you-drive' or 'usage-based' insurance then you're looking at a telematics policy.
- Specific young-driver brokers. While comparison sites are good for typical drivers, they may not find the best rates for young motorists. Check specific young-driver brokers separately – there's a full listing in the Young Drivers' Insurance guide.
- Learner driver insurance. If you're a learner, it often means being added to parents' or friends' car insurance as an additional driver. This can up the cost and put no-claims bonuses at risk. But you can get specific policies just for provisional drivers – find full info on all these and more in the Young Drivers' Insurance guide.
- Don't forget to update your address if you move. Always tell your insurer where your vehicle is usually kept. Where you live has a massive impact on your premium.
- If you have a part-time job, tell your insurer. If you forget to declare it, even if you don't use the car to get to work, it could invalidate future claims.
If your car's uninsured, 'Sorn' it. All cars need to be insured unless declared 'off-road'. The only way to do this is to apply for a Sorn (Statutory Off-Road Notification) declaring your car won't be driven. However, you do have to park on private land, so you can't leave it on the street. See Gov.uk.
Time to build your credit score – and paying your rent on time can help
At some point as life moves on you'll probably want to get a mortgage or borrow. For that you need a decent credit score – and that can be tricky if you've little credit history.
To help build one, there's now a trick to make paying your rent on time help boost your credit score. In a nutshell, you pay your rent to third-party company Credit Ladder so it can record your payment; it then forwards your cash to your landlord, and tells credit scorer Experian whether you paid on time.
For full info, see the Pay your rent on time to boost your credit score guide.
Don't splash the cash as soon as you're paid – BUDGET!
Learning to manage your money is a priceless lesson – and the only way to avoid getting into debt.
This isn't about living a monk's existence – if you're earning money, you can still aim to have that holiday/games console/iPad. It's just that doing a proper budget is the only way to do this, while keeping up with your bills and not ending up in unplanned debt.
The key here is to not just splurge on the day your pay packet hits your account. Use our Budget Planner – which tracks all income and outgoings – and stick to it. If you end up with excess cash the day before your next payday, that can be spent on a little of what you fancy (or even put into savings...).
Use Money Mantras before buying anything
Whether you're strapped for cash or feeling flush, before you buy anything, use Martin's Money Mantras to help keep your cash in your pocket:
If you're skint, ask:
Do I need it?
Can I afford it?
Can I find it cheaper anywhere else?
If you aren't skint, ask:
Will I use it?
Is it worth it?
Can I find it cheaper anywhere else?
Paying for gas and electricity for the first time? Find the cheapest
If you're moving in on your own for the first time, you may get a shock when you open the first gas bill. Prices are high, but you can attack this by doing a quick comparison and switching provider. (If you're renting, check with your landlord first, but they can't refuse permission to switch.)
- Switch to a cheaper provider. If you're on a standard tariff, it's possible to save £350+ a year on your annual bill by switching, and even grab cashback on top. Our free Cheap Energy Club takes it a step further and monitors your tariff once you've switched. It then alerts you when you can make a decent saving.
- You don't need to know how much your bill will be. Even if you haven't a clue what you'll be paying, you can still enter your house or flat size on some comparison sites and they'll estimate for you.
- Watch out for exit fees. If you're on a longer contract or thinking of signing up to one, be aware that suppliers can charge exit fees if you leave before the end of your contract, typically £30 per fuel. So always check and factor this in.
- On a prepay meter? You'll know if you've got one – you'll always need spare change lying around to heat the place, and you definitely haven't got the cheapest deal. To save, first try switching to a 'credit meter'. If you can't, do a comparison to find the cheapest prepay provider and you could save £100s. See the Prepaid Gas & Elec guide.
- Should you leave the heating on all day? For the answer to this and other conundrums, see our Energy Mythbuster guide.
Plus, while we're talking utilities, check if you can save £100s with a water meter.
Get £100+ for switching bank account
Yes, you heard us right: banks are willing to bribe you with cold hard cash to win your custom.
You often need to meet some conditions, such as using their switching service and having a number of direct debits, but there's a seven-day switch guarantee meaning it should be easy and hassle-free. All payments going in, such as your wages, and any going out, such as your mobile phone bill, will be moved to your new account.
The best option for you may depend on what state your finances are in though:
- If you're in credit... You can go for a £100+ switching bribe. For full tips on switching and how to decide which account is best for you, see our Best Bank Accounts guide.
- If you're in your overdraft... Head to the overdraft section of Best Bank Accounts. If you were a student and have graduated in the past three years, see Best Graduate Accounts.
- If you're a student... See what 0% overdrafts and freebies are on offer in Student Bank Accounts.
Travel the country for £1.50 or save by splitting train tickets
But don't be fooled into thinking you'll be on a go-slow loco – Megatrain simply flogs unsold fares from other companies so you'll be on the same train as everyone else, eg, for London to Bath Spa it's South West Trains.
Another trick is 'split ticketing'. Instead of buying tickets for the whole train journey, bizarrely, buying tickets for its constituent parts separately can slash the price – even though you're travelling on exactly the same train.
Our revolutionary TicketySplit tool helps you do this. Tell it your journey, and it'll tell you where to split and the saving. This unique tool splits advance tickets as well as on-the-day tickets – often where the supersonic savings are. See Split Ticketing tips for a full how-to.
Remember, a company's job is to make money from you
It's not your friend and it's not there to help you. Most companies aim to make as much profit out of you as possible. It's your job to stop 'em.
Firms spend billions on advertising, marketing and training sales staff, all to make you part with your cash. And once they've got it, they're not likely to care if you're still getting a good deal a year down the line.
Don't swallow their promises and marketing power. Always remember that if a firm's paying to advertise something hard to you, then it probably needs you more than you need it. Remember this and look with a sceptical eye. For more, see the Free Teen Cash Class PDF and the full Financial Education Campaign section.
Get a YEAR's 2for1 cinema for £2ish by manipulating Meerkat Movies
Even bog-standard cinema tickets can soon add up to an eye-watering amount, but this nifty little trick will cut that bill in half.
If you buy insurance or another product through Compare the Market, it entitles you to a year's 2for1 cinema tickets on Tuesday or Wednesday at most of the big chains.
But Compare the Market isn't always the cheapest place to get the insurance you need, so this trick is about finding the cheapest product (not necessarily one you'll use).
Our Deals team have found travel insurance costing as little as £2 for this trick, so head to the Deals Hunter Blog for more information.
Make £1,000s online from the comfort of your sofa
We've got 34 legit ways you can make money online, including getting paid for your opinion, watching videos and even googling.
Even if some seem to pay only small amounts, these can soon add up to £1,000s over the year, eg, survey site Swagbucks alone pays some an average £25/month.
For the full list of tricks, see Make Money Online.
Your earnings are never all yours – say hello to the taxman
The first payday you ever have is always a magical moment. All this money, that's all yours – a reward for hours of hard work. Result.
But then you realise some of it belongs to the taxman. And then there's some to pay for your access to free healthcare and a state pension when you're old and bald or grey. This is known as national insurance (NI).
For all employees who get paid through a company's payroll (often referred to as PAYE – pay as you earn), tax and NI will be taken off before your cash hits your account.
You'll be given a tax code to determine how much you should pay above the tax-free allowance of £11,500. For most, unless you're earning megabucks, it'll be 20%. But check how much you should pay with the Tax Code Calculator. If you're paying too much, you could be owed a refund.
Cut phone bills – even on PAYG
If your monthly top-up or bill costs leave you needing a lie-down, try to slash the expense.
Here's a host of tips and tricks that can help:
- Pick the right contract. Use your bills from the last few months to pinpoint your average usage for calls, texts and data. Then use this to find the cheapest tariff for your needs using comparison sites such as MobilePhoneChecker*, Billmonitor*,
MoneySupermarket* and HandsetExpert – full step-by-step help in Mobile Phone Cost-Cutting.
- Haggle, haggle, haggle. If you're nearing the end of your contract, test out your haggling skills to get the best deal possible. See the Mobile Phone Haggling guide for tips on how to give your haggle some chutzpah!
- After an iPhone? These aren't MoneySaving, but it's possible to pay less and get a shorter contract if you know where to look. To quickly compare tariffs, use the tool in the Cheap iPhone guide.
Plus, see our Mobile Warnings guide for free international calls, Wi-Fi calling, beating the voicemail roaming trap and more.
- Pick the right contract. Use your bills from the last few months to pinpoint your average usage for calls, texts and data. Then use this to find the cheapest tariff for your needs using comparison sites such as MobilePhoneChecker*, Billmonitor*,
A pension? But I'm not even 25...
You're not old, right?
True, but if you like the life you're used to, you're going to have to figure out how to pay for it when you retire. And the younger you are when you start, the easier it'll be as the cash you save has decades to grow.
Think of a pension like a pot of cash you, your employer or the Government pay into to save for your retirement. Plus if your employer pays in (which it'll soon – if not already – have to, thanks to a new scheme called auto-enrolment), it's like getting a pay rise. You may not benefit immediately, but you certainly will in the future.
If you want to know roughly how much you should pay in, take the age you start saving for your pension and halve it – this is the percentage of your salary you should put aside each month. We've a Pension Need-to-Knows guide for more.
Prepaid cards – get one if banks won't give you a debit card
Prepaid cards are one of the simplest financial products – they do exactly what they say on the tin. You can use them just like a debit card to pay for things in shops and restaurants. And once the money loaded has been spent, that's it.
Many are focused on younger people, as sometimes banks won't give out widely-accepted debit cards until you hit a certain age, so this is a great workaround. For the top picks, see our Top Cards for Under-18s guide.
They're also very useful for spending abroad cheaply, and are safer than pocketfuls of foreign cash. See our Cheap Overseas Spending guide for more.
iPhone users: iTunes isn't your only option
Apple makes it easy and simple to buy your music through iTunes, but don't be tricked into thinking it's the only way to go.
You can buy MP3s from any retailer and still put them onto your iPhone, just by clicking and dragging into iTunes – and other music stores are often far cheaper.
Alternatively, you can stream literally millions of tracks for free on sites and apps such as Spotify, Apple Music, Last FM and Jango. See our Free Music Online guide for full details.
If you want to go ad-free, subscriptions start from £8/mth (students can get 50% off ad-free Spotify and Apple Music).
Debt isn't bad, bad debt is bad...
There's very little chance you'll be able to live your life without borrowing money at any point, but how and when you borrow is crucial.
Whether it's for university, a house or something else you need, borrowing can be the right thing. But get it wrong and it'll cost you a fortune.
Unlike most other things we spend cash on, you can't cancel debts, so you need to get it right the first time. See the Good Debt, Bad Debt video quiz.
Take more cash on holiday
Whether you're hitting the clubs of Ibiza, island-hopping in Greece or backpacking around Australia, you can get more for your £££s by doing a little research.
Many bureaux de change shout that they're 'commission-free' – surely they're cheap? WRONG. Plus your bank won't be any better. The key is finding which will give you the most euros, dollars or dong for your pounds, after ALL charges are taken into account.
We've built a free tool that does just that. Tell our Travel Money Maximiser how much you want to take away, and it'll reveal the cheapest place to get it – or you can download the app on Apple or Android.
Warning! Store cards are the devil's debt
Most store cards charge a hideous 25% interest or more. Even the best aren't cheaper than a bank's credit cards, so don't get sucked in by the sales patter.
However they are pitched to you, remember...
- They DO NOT give free money
- You have to pay back every single penny you spend
- Interest charges can be colossal
They work and feel very much like credit cards, except that while credit cards can be used anywhere, store cards can often only be used in a specific store or group.
Store cards have exorbitant rates, and are often targeted at the young as stores assume they're easy to sell to.
Don't get burned – read The Devil's Debt for more.
You've no rights to return items if you change your mind (unless you bought online)
If you return from a shopping trip and decide that item you bought wasn't for you after all, DON'T assume you can just take it back.
Under the law, the store you bought it from is under no obligation to take your item back just because you've changed your mind.
Many have returns policies which do allow this, but these are totally voluntary.
However, if the item is faulty or you bought it online, it's a different story – the store must give you a refund. Online is simplest – if you bought via a website, you can return items for a refund up to 14 days after the item's been delivered, and once you've decided to return them you have a further 14 days to send the goods back.
For faulty goods, you have very strong rights – we call them the SAD FART rules. Goods must be…
Fit for purpose
And last a
Reasonable length of
For chapter and verse, read the full Consumer Rights guide.
Payday loans – AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE
You're short of cash and see signs promising you £100 in just 15 minutes – the end to all your financial woes. Amazing, right?
WRONG. A payday loan may feel easy, but the reality is it's a short-term gain and long-term nightmare.
Most people who get 'em really shouldn't. A payday loan is a desperate measure, which will affect your chances of getting a credit card or mortgage, even if you do pay it back in time.
Read our Payday Loans guide to see why most people should avoid them. The best way to avoid needing them is to budget. Teaching yourself to be financially savvy now will save you from a major headache later on.
Interest – how does it work?
The most important thing to understand about debt is how interest works and just how clever it is.
The interest is the cost of borrowing money. Often, it's displayed in a way that makes it look cheap but makes the lender a fortune. An example may help:
Let's say you borrow £1,000 on a credit card with 20% APR:
After year 1:
You owe £1,000 for the original debt, plus £200 interest.
After year 2:
You owe £1,200 from last year, plus £200 interest on the original borrowing, and £40 interest on the interest = £1,440
After year 3:
You owe £1,440 from last year, plus £200 interest on the original borrowing, and £80 interest on the interest, and £8 interest on the interest on the interest = £1,728
As you can see, the cost accelerates pretty quickly.
By year 20, you'd owe a huge £38,400 – so you can clearly see that the longer you borrow for, the more it'll cost you.
Get your head around basic financial jargon
Don't know your APR from your AER, or your standing order from your store card? Citizens Advice has a handy jargon-busting guide, so next time you get bamboozled by interest rates or ISAs, you'll know where to turn.
Find free office and antivirus software
There's no need to fork out a wad of cash to get your laptop or PC up and running – instead, you can get software downloads for free.
Our Free Office Software and Free Antivirus Software guides contain loads of legit equivalents to programs such as Microsoft Office and Photoshop. Plus if you're a student (or have a uni email address), you can get Microsoft Office itself for free.
Always check any software is suitable and compatible with your existing set-up first.
Turn off lights and save money
It isn't just which company you pay, but how much you use. Cutting energy costs is a mix of big and little things, and a few small changes will help to cut your bill.
Turn down the thermostat and dig out that knitted jumper your gran bought you for Christmas. Switch off lights when leaving a room, use energy-saving light bulbs, defrost the fridge and check it isn't on too high, and don't leave electricals on standby either.
Register to vote and improve your credit score
Once you're 18, you can legally vote for who runs the country and your local area if you register on the electoral roll. Obviously voting is something everyone should be doing anyway, but there's an added bonus if you do.
Getting credit is tough, but being on the electoral roll confirms to financial providers that you are who you say you are. It doesn't mean you have to vote, but not being on the register will affect your credit rating.
See the Credit Scoring guide for more ways you can boost your credit score.
Planning to go to uni? Learn the truth about student finance
We've a whole Students section dedicated to the info you'll need, whether you're confused about finance, need loan myths busted or are looking for ways to make your budget go further.
And remember, even if you're going into the world of work now, many people go (or go back) later in life.
Warning! Bank advisers are salespeople
A bank's job is to make money – pure and simple. Watch out for their sales tricks, including cross–selling.
You go in looking for a bank account, and often they'll try to flog you credit cards on top. The bank hopes you'll spend on the card and then not pay it off in full each month, so you start owing a tidy sum of interest, which will keep growing until the bill is cleared.
Our job is to try to keep our cash – which is tough in the face of huge institutions trained from top to bottom to get it off us. Stick to your guns and don't be fooled by their sales talk.
Get free stuff or money off with coupons
Coupons can save you £100s if you know where to look, giving you that little bit extra when you shop. You'll need a printer for most of them, but many coupons are now available to download to your smartphone.
The Supermarket Coupons page has a regularly updated list. Be aware that sometimes shops turn coupons down, so don't make a special trip to use them.
Also only use coupons if you buy the product anyway, or else it's not MoneySaving.
If you're feeling really savvy, source, gain and hoard hundreds of coupons and then combine them to push your savings to the max with extreme couponing. Here's one of the best successes we've heard of:
I got £67.24 worth of shopping for 11p after store offers and coupons. I did use my employee discount but I think this is totally doable just with coupons. I used £39.50 of saved Clubcard coupons, £5 off £40, a price promise coupon and Rustlers, Rice Dream, Genius bread, Penn State, PEK Jungle Dogs and Wall's coupons."
– Purple Sarah
Never just pay the price they say
Specially-designed websites trawl the net and compare prices from loads of different retailers, in the time it'll take you to search one site.
We found Google Shopping is the most consistent at finding the cheapest price – the MSE Deals team even use it as a starting point when checking out deals.
See our Cheap Online Shopping guide for more information.
Turn old mobiles into cash
If you've old mobiles or gadgets such as cameras, iPods and more lying around, there's a mass of sites willing to pay you for them.
Once you agree to sell, you'll be sent a freepost bag for it, so it's free for you. Just watch out for companies claiming your phone's in a bad condition when they receive it and offering you a lot less than their original estimate.
Flog old CDs, DVDs, games and pretty much anything else
If you're having a clear-out, there's a host of sites you can flog your stuff on.
If you're feeling impatient and you'd rather sell your items en-masse, there are trade-in sites if you're willing to run the risk of earning less cash per item.
Our Make Money Online guide has a breakdown of the top sites, including what you can sell on each.
Don't forget discount vouchers
Before you hit the high street, remember to check the latest Discount Vouchers. There's always a huge stash of the latest printable vouchers, online codes and more.
The High Street Sales diary is also well worth bookmarking to keep an eye on clearances in the stores you love.
If retail therapy leaves you a little hungry, don't eat out at full price – check out the restaurant deals and bag more bargains.
Bottle of Coke = £1/day, £31/month, £365/year...
Think buying a bottle of Coke every day in your lunch break doesn't make much of a dent in your spending? Think again.
Our handy Demotivator tool stops you spending when you can't afford it by showing you how much of an impact these small things have on your spending over the year and even in your lifetime, if you keep it up.
In fact, buying a bottle of Coke every day could cost you almost £23,000 over a lifetime. Just think what you could do with all that money...
Try the supermarket Downshift Challenge
Moving out for the first time can mean discovering the cost of things that you possibly took for granted, such as food.
Supermarket shopping can be expensive, particularly if you're used to branded or luxury items. A quick 'n' easy way to make decent savings on your grocery shopping is to try the supermarket Downshift Challenge.
Drop one brand level on everything and see if you can tell the difference. If you can't, stick with the cheaper product. If you drop just one brand level on everything, the average bill's cut by a third. On a £20 weekly shop, that's more than £350 a year less. See the Supermarket Shopping guide for tips.
Get on the net for nowt
There's no need to pay to surf the web, or at least no need to pay a lot.Here's how to get Wi-Fi for free or slash the cost of your surfing:
- Get it for free on the high street. Free wireless internet's the norm at high street cafes and pubs now, rather than the exception. Wetherspoon and Walkabout pubs offer all customers unlimited Wi-Fi access, as do McDonald's restaurants nationwide. See the Mobile Broadband article for more.
- Consider shorter contracts. If you decide to get the internet at home, some tariffs offer a 30-day contract. While the monthly cost may be slightly more in the short-term, if you'll only need it for nine months instead of the full year, it could work out cheaper in the long run.
- Beware download limits. If there are several of you downloading or watching TV online, limits for standard cheap tariffs may not be enough. To avoid being hit by unexpected charges, consider getting an unlimited plan if you live with several heavy downloaders.
- Check the best buys. Some providers offer tariffs aimed at students. Never assume student tariffs are cheapest – factor in any fees to work out the real monthly cost, then use the Cheap Broadband guide to see how it compares to best buys in your area.
Free eBay and Amazon tools for mega bargains
If you're kitting out your first home with larger items, eg, a sofa or a TV for your new room, pick-up only items on eBay are often cheaper as there are fewer bids.
Always double-check the seller's location, and stay safe when collecting. Go with a friend, or if this isn't possible, tell someone where you're going and arrange to contact them afterwards. Take a mobile phone, and stay on the doorstep if you can.
Web communities like Freecycle and Freegle are also worth trying. People offer up a whole range of stuff they no longer want or use, from smoothie makers to sofas to boxes of vintage comics for absolutely nothing. Check out the Freecycle and Freegle guide for more info.
If you're after something specific, you can create your own Amazon bargain basement to save up to 75% off. We've got a clever tool that does all the hardwork for you, and creates your very own webpage, such as 75%+ off kitchenware* and 70%+ off beauty*. See our Amazon Discount Tool for more.
Buying a house – it costs HOW much?!
When one of the MSE team asked this question to a class of 14 to 15-year-olds, many believed you could do it for around £25,000. In 2016, that'll just about make up a deposit in some areas.
When you buy a house, you'll need to borrow money – but this is what we like to call good debt. It's up there with student loans if you plan to head to university at some point.
A mortgage – a loan used to buy a house – allows you to borrow an amount of about four times your annual salary (this varies between lenders), and pay it back over 25 years. Typically, you'll need a deposit of at least 5% of the property value, though 10% is more likely.
If you're saving to buy a house, read our First-Time Buyers' Mortgage Guide, which'll take you through what you have to do.
Planning a package holiday? Don't settle for the first price you get – haggle
A package holiday is an all-in-one trip, where the tour operator provides flights, connections and accommodation for one price. That means they're off-the-peg and best suited for standard breaks of standard length – and good for group trips if that's what you're planning.
As a rough rule of thumb, packages are usually cheapest for seven, 10 or 14 days away in a traditional holiday destination. So for a lads' or ladies' cheap and cheerful trip to Ibiza, for example, they can be a winner.
However, the golden rule is to NEVER accept the first price any travel agent gives you. Packages are identical whoever is selling it, so they're great haggling fodder. Find the one you want then call up a few agents. Tell each one you've been quoted a price for your holiday, and ask if they can beat it.
It takes a bit of charm and stomach, but the worst they can say is no. In which case, move on and try someone else. For a full step-by-step guide, and some inspiration (people commonly save £300-500 per person!) see our Cheap Package Holidays guide.
Score free entry to museums and galleries
Whether you want to see an original Picasso or check out the history of toys, there are Free UK Museums and Galleries to spark your interest. Ideal for rainy days, cheap and quirky dates, or just a general browse.
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Thanks to all the MoneySaving forumites who emailed in the extra tips below:
Know your weaknesses and plan ahead
If you return from the pub craving pizza twice a week, keep a stash of cheap frozen supermarket pizzas in your freezer.
You'll save tonnes if you can avoid ordering regular takeaways!
– Forumite blues
Volunteer at festivals for charity and save £100s
Instead of paying around £200 to visit a festival in the summer, volunteer with Oxfam and receive free entry to many of the UK's biggest music events.
Oxfam recruit volunteers for many festivals, including Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds, Bestival and Latitude, to name a few.
You will usually complete three shifts which are typically eight hours long, and you have the rest of the time to enjoy the festival. Plus you're volunteering for a charity.
– Forumite 123imp
Save every payday – you'll build a stash without realising
Set up a standing order on your bank account to transfer a small amount of money into a savings account every payday.
This way you're much less likely to spend it, and even small amounts add up!
– Forumite StevieJay