20 Ways to live a great life on a budget

5 May 2016

20 Ways to live a great life on a budget

As many people in the UK feel the pinch of multiple recessions, slow business growth, cutbacks and price hikes, many are looking to cut their spending but maintain the lifestyle they're accustomed to. Of course you won't get a Gucci bag for the same price as a Primark one, but there are many options out there to reduce your outgoings and still enjoy the things that make you happy. Life, on a budget.



The weekly food shop can be a nightmare, especially if you take the kids or decide to venture out before you've eaten. How much more do you spend on food when you're hungry?! We've all done it. You might have dietary requirements that bump the price up, or a partner that just can't live without that one thing on the list. Here's some ways to reduce the length of that receipt and still enjoy your favourite teatime treats.

20. Know which foods are pointless buying Organic

Reports show [link] that many fruits and vegetables where we don't eat the skin generally result in less exposure to pesticides. Avacados, Kiwis and Pineapples are a prime example. There are also lots that require much lower doses of pesticides to grow such as Cabbage, Sweet Peas, Onions, Asparagus, Mangoes, Sweet potatoes, Cauliflower, Grapefruit, Eggplant (who eats this stuff?!) and Cantaloupe are either protected by their outer skin/shell or tend to have a lower amount of pesticide used on them. It's worth considering the cost benefits of skipping the odd organic buy. Also - visit your local grocer, they'll be much cheaper than the supermarkets and you'll be keeping local business alive!

19. Voucher Codes

A quick search online before you head out to your favourite store can reveal a hefty saving. Many chain stores offer upto 40% discount on things you were heading out to buy already. Head over to www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/discount-voucher-codes to find out what 'new customer' deals are available to you. At time of writing, Sainsbury's were offering £20 off a £60 shop for buying your groceries online!

18. Voucher Apps

An increasing number of smartphone users take advantage of services like Groupon and Vouchercloud who offer their users discount deals on everything from eating out to teeth whitening. For the food lover out there, you can also download apps like TasteCard which for a small monthly subscription, you can enjoy massive discounts on your favourite restaraunts and cafes.

17. Loyalty Cards

Forget how much your shopping habits are being tracked for a minute, and think about the real cost benefits of having a supermarket or store card. All the major chains seem to have them now, but many people decline to sign up at the checkout for fear of overloading their wallet. It's worth logging into your account for these online and checking what the points are worth elswhere. Many stores offer fairly mediocre deals when it comes to converting points into £pounds, but they can often be worth more if you spend them with their partners. For example a Tesco clubcard gives you back £2.50 for every 500 points, yet if you use them against some of their partners offers, you could get upto 4x the value back. A £10 clubcard voucher could get you a £30 jewellery voucher, making a £600 ring, only £200!



Sprucing up your home is a great way to brighten up your life, with a lick of paint here and there it can feel like you're coming home to a new place every day! Paint can be expensive though, especially if you choose to mix your own colours in-store. And there's the accessories that can cost just as much. Spending hours trapesing around homestores to find something that fits in with your colour scheme isn't everyone's idea of fun (especially the men!). Here's some ideas to help you feel good about your home, for less.

16. Mix your own paint

Ok, this doesn't always turn out great admittedly, but sometimes when you've got a small space to decorate and a storage cupboard full of old paint tins with half in each one, take a chance. Mix a few together and see what colours you can create. One important thing to remember is that your paint colour will be totally unique, so ensuring you've got enough to cover the area you want is ESSENTIAL!

15. Make your own art

I know, we're not all 5 and enjoy doing handprint pictures, but there are genuinely brilliant art pieces out there created by grown-ups, for next to nothing. Grab a couple of cheap canvasses off your favourite auction site, a magazine with your favourite artist on the front cover and create a collage of their quotes around the centre pic. Paste with wallpaper paste and seal with a clear laquer. Another clever idea is to frame your favourite 7" vinyl records. Ikea sell some frames that fit these perfectly and look amazing in a music room. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TreasuredTunes shows how easy it can be done!

14. Ask on facebook

"Is anyone selling a sofa?" can often lead to a number of people near you that end up being 'tagged' by your friends or family. Usually with friends and family you can barter too, suggesting 'mates rates'. http://www.facebook.com

13. Go on a treasure hunt

From a trip to the beach collecting shells, driftwood, nets and bottles to transform your bathroom, to rummaging around next doors's shed (ask for permission, obviously) there are loads of free items to complete the look of any room, and with a lick of paint or a little thought, old cupboards, units and dressers can become that shabby chic item your visitors always ask about.

12. Add stickers and transfers

For a relatively low cost you can transform a wall in any room without much decorating skill needed. Wall transfers and stickers are pretty cheap and as long as you've a little patience, can completely change the look of your home. Not On The High Street is a great place to look http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/home/home-accessories/decorative-accessories/wall-stickers



Recycling has evolved, and it's not just about shredding down materials and melting them into something else now. Upcycling is the new trend, whereby the items you'd normally dispose of or recycle simply get repurposed. There are loads of upcycling ideas across the internet, many on social media site Pinterest. A place where people share visual clippits of things they've found elsewhere. From stacking pallets to create garden furniture, to using jam jar lids as novelty plant labels, there are seemingly millions of ways to create a beautiful outdoor space for very little money.

11. Join Freecycle.org and claim unwanted items

There is always someone nearby who doesn't require a profit just to make room in their shed. Someone who is willing to part with that old tub, or a few old stones that are just too much effort to take to a reclaim yard. This is where you can find the hidden gems. Look for unusual items that can be repurposed such as a filing cabinet that can be sprayed, lay on it's back with the drawers removed, and converted into an awesome planter! https://www.freecycle.org/

10. Look on Pinterest

This is a go-to social media site for ideas and doesn't disappoint when it comes to budget ideas. From adding herb pots to a fence, made from baked bean tins, to repurposing old tyres, slabs and turning your garden shed into a sauna! https://uk.pinterest.com

9. Add solar lights

You can pick these up almost anywhere these days, but the most impressive ones are the fairy light strings that you can drape over a shltered seating area, pergoda or create a backdrop on a wall for those late summer nights. Amazon have quite a few bargains, or if you don't mind the wait, try http://www.chinavasion.com

8. Look on Gumtree

The selling website has had a massive overhaul lately and is steadily creeping back up the ranks as a place to snap up a bargain. There are still loads of advertisers on here who just want rid of their old items and will offer them free. From paving slabs to greenhouses, rocks, stones and planters. Like any online marketplace, be wary of the scammers.

7. Hold a gardening party

Wait, a what? Why not set aside a date to hold a gardning party, where in return for your friends and family's efforts you can supply them with a bbq and some music! A great idea for getting people together, it's whether your friends are good enough to help that might hold you back!

6. Visit a reclaimer's yard

Reclamation is a big business, but it doesn't mean it has to be expensive for the consumer. The process of removing old fixtures, brickwork, tiles, beams or ironwork isn't easy, so a visit to the reclamation yard often seems like it's going to end up more expensive due to the unique items they stock. While this can be true, the beauty of many places is they are open to haggling. Bartering your way down on that statue, rought ironwork or railway sleeper might just be within reach. Go on a wet or rainy day and they're more likely to want a sale as it'll generally be quiet. A quick google > https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=reclaimers+yards+uk&oq=reclaimers+yards+uk



We've covered Travel Hacking before, which is not a new concept, merely a modern phrase that means 'travelling on the cheap'. While it's previously been the privelege of our American friends, there are still an increasing number of rewards, bonuses and tips appearing for UK traveller too. From neat tricks for collecting air miles to getting the best deals on flights, hotels and excursions.

5. Know WHEN to buy cheap flights

Yes, there are always cheap flights available one-way to somewhere you've never heard of, but what about getting a good deal on somewhere you actually want to visit? The trick is to buy the flights at the right time. Usually when they're first released, as the prices will steadily increase as it gets nearer to the departure date. "How do we know when they'll be released?" I hear you cry, well that bit's easy. Check out http://www.skyscanner.net/bttb/best-time-to-book-uk

4. Split rail journeys into smaller chunks

Ever booked a train and thought "WOW, I can't believe what that's just cost me?". The answer's yes, right? Believe it or not, it's actually cheaper to split your journey and book station-to-station tickets than buy a single ticket for a whole journey. The reason? You pay for the convenience of buying one ticket as it takes a little longer to plan your split-ticket-journey. A cool tool from Martin Lewis' website Money Saving Expert is his Tickety Split service. It allows you to enter your journey start and end points, and calculates the stations you'll need to get tickets from - it will even show you the saving! http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/split-cheap-train-tickets/ - be advised though, this service is integrated with The Trainline's database and doesn't always return you any savings. Another one is http://www.raileasy.co.uk/

3. Hotel Rewards

If you're staying in hotels a lot through work or just like to stay over at new places, it's worth looking into hotel rewards. They're the equivalent of store cards for hotels and offer you points depending on the cost of your stay. Add them up and you'll easily get yourself free stays at hotels using the same service. You can even use your points against the value of your booking if you've not got enough for a whole night's stay. We, as hoteliers use Wyndham Rewards who offer you a free night at any Wyndham Rewards Hotel for 15,000 points. You can earn 10 points per dollar spent or 1,000 points minimum per stay, whichever is more.

2. Volunteer

Volunteer work abroad can be a really rewarding way of seeing the world and giving something back. For a relatively small cost (compared to a package holiday), you can experience countries the way their inhabitants experience them, in return for your help with everything from building, teaching and healthcare. It's a great opportunity to meet people and get more value out of your travel experiences. While the initial cost seems pricey, you have to bear in mind that you'll be accommodated for the duration which can be upto 24 weeks! Check out http://www.gvi.co.uk/volunteer-options/volunteer-holidays/

1. Ask the locals

A big expense of many tourists is food and activities. Not knowing where to buy food cheaply means you're pulled in by the cafe nearest to the high street or beach and you're probably paying over the odds for mediocre food. Asking someone who lives there and knows the area is a great way to meet people and to find out where to get the best deals. Spark up a conversation! You can also install the TripAdvisor app or visit their website which gives you a top 100 list of all the nearest facilities, as rated by travellers around the world.

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