10 quick tips to beat rising prices

Published by Nathalie Bonney on 01 November 2011.
Last updated on 04 November 2011

10 ball

Bar a tiny handful of index-linked savings accounts and structured products, interest rates aren't high enough to counter the eroding effects of inflation so how can we fight 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.

10 ways to slash your weekly food bill

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.

Compare energy prices and switch provider

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.

Save $500 on your petrol bill

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.

Cut your weekly outgoings in a flash

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.

Five ways to make the most of your train ticket

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.

10 ways to reduce your autumn wardrobe costs

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. 

Key tips to buying and selling 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.

How to make the most of discount vouchers

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.

Check out our round-up of the best savings rates

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