20 ways to save £20

The weeks before pay day are usually the time when many of us wish we had a magic wand that could turn the few pounds we've got left into a sizeable sum.

But you don't need magic to make your paycheck last for longer.

Here the Moneywise team share our top 20 tips to save you £20 – leaving you £400 better off! Why not share your own tips in the comment box at the end of the article.

1. Discount vouchers

Planning a family day out in London or a trip to a theme park? Before you go, search online for discount vouchers to popular tourist attractions.

Daysoutguide.co.uk, for example, offers two-for-one vouchers on a range of London attractions such as London Zoo, Madame Tussauds and the London Dungeon, so long as you travel by train.

Websites such as vouchercodes.co.uk and myvouchercodes.co.uk is great to hunt out discounts.

You can also check out our top 10 voucher codes for the latest deals every week

2. Join your local library

If you're spending too much on paperbacks you only read once, join a library. It's free to join, and after borrowing just three books, you'll have easily saved £20.

If it's hard to get to a library or you're likely to rack up fines, why not swap books with likeminded friends and colleagues?

Alternatively, you can join an online book-sharing club, such as bookcrossing.com, where you can share your passion for books with a wider community.

3. Drop a brand

You only have to drop a few brands on your weekly shop to start noticing the savings.

A 1kg box of Kelloggs cornflakes from Sainsburys costs £2.99, but the supermarket's own brand costs just £1.49, while it's 'basic' offering is less than a sixth of the price at 46p.

You can really clean up by switching to own-brand washing powder and you'll be hard pushed to notice the difference - a box of 56 Sainsbury's non-bio washing tablets costs just £4.45 compared with £6.78 for Ariel and £7.28 for Fairy.

4. Ditch takeaway coffee

Suggesting you give up the daily takeaway caffeine fix certainly isn't a revolutionary money-saving tip, but for those who find themselves on a baked beans-only diet in the week before payday, it's an effective one.

Go 'cold turkey' and you could save £40 a month, or just drop to two a week and you'll still save £24. And if you really can't cope without your morning coffee, invest in a cafetiere and a good bag of coffee for the office.

5. Cut the cost of eating out

Fancy a bite to eat? If you're meeting a friend for lunch or going out for dinner in the evening look for restaurant vouchers before you set out.

Pizza Express, Zizzi's, Giraffe and Strada regularly offer discounts off your food bill.

Check out the voucher sections on websites such as Foodepedia.co.uk, Toptable.co.uk and Lastminute.com.

Read Moneywise's guide to eating out on the cheap

6. Have your hair cut by a trainee

If you're spending a fortune on having your hair trimmed every month and want to slash your bill, how about having your tresses cut by someone learning on the job?

Having your hair cut by a trainee usually costs a fraction of what you would pay for a qualified hairdresser – and sometimes you can even get a haircut for free.

To find a trainee salon near you, contact your local hairdresser or hairdressing colleges.

7. Join a toy library

Is your child getting bored of all their toys? If so, joining a toy library could be the solution. For a small membership fee you are able to access a huge range of pre-school toys and safety equipment.

Loans aren't free, but won't break the bank - you will only have to fork out between 50p and £2.50 for two weeks. To find your local toy library call the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries on 020 7428 2288.

8. Order early

It's your best friend's birthday tomorrow and you've completely forgotten to buy a gift. You panic and order her a present online, but to get it in time you have to pay £10 extra for express delivery.

Sound familiar? These extra charges are not only annoying but can add up to a sizeable amount over time.

However, it's easy to slash this bill simply by getting more organised – for example, if you order something from amazon.co.uk and allow three-to-five business days for it to be delivered, it will be absolutely free.

9. Use cashback websites

If you're shopping online, why not see if you can make money from doing so? Cashback websites allow you to buy from a range of high street stores, including Marks & Spencer and Next, and earn money back.

Some of the cashback websites include quidco.com and topcashback.co.uk. However, bear in mind that most sites require you to pay a membership fee.

Check out the top five cashback websites

10. Beg, steal or borrow

Get into the habit of seeing if you can borrow something before you resort to buying it, especially those items you only need to use on rare occasions.

For example, if you need to trim your hedge, instead of buying a new hedge trimmer see if a friend, a member of your family or a neighbour has one you can borrow.

Alternatively, join forces with a couple of friends and share the cost of expensive items you only need to use once or twice a year.

Read Moneywise's review of the best swapping websites

11. Shop around

Comparison websites and 'shopbots' can help you find the best deal on different products. For financial products, comparethemarket.com and gocompare.com are two well-recognised sites. You can also use moneywise.co.uk to compare and buy financial products.

Travelsupermarket.com and cheaperholidays.com are good for trips away, while pricerunner.co.uk looks at online shopping deals. Always use a few to make sure you're getting the best deal, and always read the small print.

Can you trust comparison websites? Read Moneywise's investigation

12. Bring your own lunch

It's surprising how much money you can spend on lunch when you're at work if you buy it ready-made from shops and cafes every day. So why not try making a pot of soup at the weekend to last you all week and take bread or a salad with you from home.

Make sure you don't get bored by using different recipes. Take a look at simplysoups.com or allrecipes.com for hundreds of recipes to suit all tastes and levels of culinary skill.

13 Do-it-yourself

If you usually treat yourself to a beauty treatment or relaxation therapy once a month, try to do it yourself.

Makeyourcosmetics.com is a great site for natural beauty products you can make for a fraction of the price.

Another option is to get a group of friends together for a 'pamper evening' - maybe one of you is a dab hand with a nailbrush, while another is great with hair dye. Finally, give your partner the chance to earn brownie points by giving you a back massage.

14. Swap Music

Buying a couple of albums can easily set you back £20, whether it's from the high street or from online downloads. Try setting up a group of friends you can swap and share with.

You can also stream and download your choice of music for free by using we7.com – the only catch is you will have to put up with the adverts.

15. Start a babysitting circle

If you're tired of forking out for babysitters just to get some child-free time, why not join a babysitting circle or create one between you and your friends? Basically, this means taking it in turns to look after each other's kids without charging a fee.

Kidsguide.co.uk has great advice on how to set up a points system to ensure nobody starts feeling resentful because they are always lumbered with the kids and haven't been out for months.

16. Have a pot-luck party

The average dinner party host is willing to spend £22 a head on food and drinks, according to moneysupermarket.com. If you invite, for example, five guests, that will add up to £110, not including the host – so much for this being a cheaper alternative to eating out.

Pot-luck parties, where each guest contributes a course or dish, are becoming increasingly popular, but if you'd rather decide the whole menu yourself, simply asking your guests to bring a bottle of wine each will cut the cost considerably.

17. Skill swap

No matter how much money you would save fixing your own car or painting the living room yourself, it's no good if you don't have the right skills. But if your strengths lie in other areas, say cakemaking, why not consider a skills swap?

Ice a cake in return for someone fixing your car. Register your skills with swapaskill.com, gumtree.com or localskillswap.com. Sometimes you can also swap unwanted gifts and items for a service.

18. Ride a bike or walk to work

Public transport is often unreliable, overcrowded and either too hot or too cold depending on the season. Driving means traffic jams and expensive car-park tickets. Walking or cycling to work is a healthier and more cost-efficient option.

19. Write a shopping list

Listing what you need before you hit the shops should stop you picking up items you don't need. It can also give your shopping trip more of a purpose, ensuring you don't overbuy.

20. Sell your clutter on eBay

As the saying goes, 'one man's trash is another man's treasure'. Take pictures of your goods in a well–lit area; choose the most specific category available to help buyers find your item, as well as a secondary category; and make sure the item's title and description are clear.

You can also use eBay's advanced selling tools to boost your sales. Finally, don't forget to work out how you will post your item and add this cost to the information.

Bag a bargain on eBay