10 quick tips to beat rising prices
1. Become supermarket savvy
It doesn't take a genius to spot the many tricks supermarkets employ to make us spend more - from putting special offers on the end aisles to hiding essentials and cheaper items at the back of the store or on lower shelves. Write a shopping list to ensure you only buy what you need and, if you can bear it, drop a brand or two or consider shopping off piste (Lidl or Aldi).
2. Weigh up your options
Avoid pre-prepared food items, which cost more for a lot less. Take the example of pre-chopped meat for casseroles: buying casserole steak whole will cost you £4 for 500 grams at Tesco (or £8 per kilogram) but you'll have to pay £5.80 for a 600g packet of beef stir fry from Tesco's healthy range (£9.66 per kilogram). The same principal applies to fruit and veg and even to items such as grated cheese and porridge – because you're paying a premium for the convenience.
3. Switch energy deals
No-one would be foolish enough to turn down free money – but that doesn't stop many of us sticking with the same gas and electricity providers year after year. Changing provider saves the average billpayer £254, according to uswitch.com. Use moneywise.co.uk/compare to see how much your energy bills could drop by.
4. Find the cheapest petrol pumps
Website petrolprices.com tells users where to find the cheapest petrol pumps in their area, based on a postcode search. You can also sign up for free email alerts and petrolprices.com estimates recipients of this email can save £2 per fill-up.
5. Bring your own
Making your own lunch and steering clear of pricey takeaways - whether for coffee or pizzas - can save you a sizeable amount of your weekly spend. Just cutting out sandwiches from the local deli could save you £20 a week.
6. Book in advance
Train travel booked in advance could save you 43% of the final fare compared to booking on the day, according to thetrainline.com, proving that being organised really does pay. Specifying return journey dates and times should also reduce your price.
7. Apply the cost-per-wear principle for clothes
Just because an item is incredibly cheap to buy doesn't mean it's good value. It only becomes good value if you wear it a lot - in other words, if it has a low cost-per-wear ratio (original price divided by number of times you've worn item). When deciding whether or not to buy items try to make sure you're buying something you will get a lot of use out of.
8. Don't assume online is always cheaper
Sometimes, we're so focused on cutting cost corners that we forget the bigger picture – take ordering goods online, only to be slapped with a hefty delivery charge. Work out in advance if it's still cheaper after delivery and card charges to order online.
8. Make the most of voucher and cashback websites
Does anyone go to Pizza Express without a 2-4-1 voucher anymore? You can print them off, download them onto your mobile or see a summary of the week's best offerings in Moneywise's weekly vouchercodes roundup. Quidco.co.uk and mytopcashback meanwhile are the best cashback sites to register with.
9. Minimise expenses
Keep things simple. If you're getting your hair cut, don't opt for the blow dry. Scrap add-ons like priority boarding with budget airlines, pick up theatre tickets from the box office so you don't pay postage and choose paperless billing on mobile phone tariffs and with energy bills to keep costs to a minimum.
10. Keep saving
Interest rates on savings accounts are lousy - hovering around the 2.5-2.8% mark for easy access accounts. But even though they can't beat inflation, if you have spare money then you should still save enough in an easy-to-reach rainy day fund to at least cover you for three to six months worth of salary.
Structured products offer returns based on the performance of underlying investments. Many products are linked to a stockmarket index such as the FTSE 100 or a “basket” of shares. There are generally two types of product, one offers income, the other growth and investors have to commit their capital for the prescribed term, usually three or five years. The investment is not guaranteed and if the index or basket of shares does not perform as expected over the term the investor might not get back all their capital.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).
Rather than shopping online directly with a retailer, if you go to the retailer via a cashback website (you have to register as a member), when you make a purchase the cashback site gets a commission and rebates some – or all – of this back to you. The cash being paid back to you will vary wildly from site to site and even from product to product, so check you’re getting the best deal before you buy.