How to save money: 5 shortcuts

5 quick ways to cut your household costs in winter and save up to £423.

There are lots of quick ways to save money – from always using discount codes to haggling with your utility and insurance providers. We’ve focused this guide on ways to make big savings during winter, when money can be especially tight.

1. Cut your petrol costs

Few of us are in the market for a new Prius. So to cut your fuel costs, find cheap petrol on sites such as petrolprices.com (you can join this one for free).

A good rule of thumb is to head to supermarket petrol stations, as they’re typically cheaper.

Save: up to £205 a year if you use unleaded petrol, according to the PetrolPrices site.

What else can you do?

The way you drive affects how much fuel you’re using. Find out how to use less in our video.

2. Block draughts to cut your energy bills

One of the cheapest ways to cut your energy bills as winter approaches is to block the draughts coming through windows and doors and, if you have one, your open chimney. You need some ventilation to stop damp, but if air’s coming in through rattling windows, or whistling under the front door, it’s time to roll out the self-adhesive foam tape (or, for sash windows, brush strips). Tape costs as little as £10. Brushes are a bit more. A draught excluder fitted in or around a chimney costs around £20. You have to remove it if you use the fire.

Save: around £50 a year (after the tape cost) for windows and doors. And around £70 a year for the chimney (after the cost of the draught excluder).

What else can you do?

There are lots of ways to insulate your home and stop it from losing heat, such as adding radiator reflector panels behind radiators that are on an external wall, or putting a jacket around the hot water tank. The Energy Saving Trust site has lots of tips on this.

3. Get true bargains in the sales

Looks like a sale, sounds like a sale… but it’s not really a sale unless the prices are cheaper than usual. There are sale bargains to be had, but not everything in a sale is a bargain.

Use price-tracking sites such as PriceRunner, PriceSpy or Camelcamelcamel (for Amazon prices) to look at the price history of a product you want to buy. When we checked the Tower Vortx T17039 air fryer, it was discounted to £73.99 (typically £90–£100) on Amazon during “Black Week” in November 2021. But a quick look on PriceRunner shows it dropped to £66.99 the previous month.

Save: £6 on this air fryer, but you could save a lot more if you always check the price history before buying, and track prices so you buy when an item is really cheapest.

What else can you do?

Get discounts on your discounts by buying through a cashback site. You can join for free. Find out about these in our guide to cashback sites.

4. Ditch subscriptions you don’t use

It’s easier to see where all the money’s going if you use a budgeting app or digital banking app that categorises your spending for you.

There are some excellent free apps that do this: budgeting apps like Emma combine your accounts into one place and track your spending, or if you use a digital banking app – such as the apps from Starling, Monzo or Revolut – it will also do this for you Typically there’s a free basic version with a paid-for upgrade.

Once you’ve seen all your subscriptions, you might decide to ditch or just downgrade.

Save: downgrading Netflix from Standard to Standard with adverts saves £6 a month, or £72 a year.

What else can you do?

Our video runs through 5 ways to help you keep your spending on track.

5. Save on your Christmas spending

Before you start your Christmas shopping, sign up to a cashback site like Quidco or TopCashback – use the free version.

Lots of major stores such as Currys and Argos partner with these sites. When you visit a partner retailer’s site via a link on a cashback site, and then make a purchase, the cashback site tracks this and puts the cashback in your account.

Sometimes you’ll see exclusive deals with stores – when we checked in October, TopCashback offered 20% cashback on Samsung earbuds at Currys, for example.

Save: in our example, you’d save £43.80 on Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro earbuds, which were £219 at Currys.

How Finder’s editor-in-chief saves on Christmas costs

Liz Edwards
Liz Edwards editor-in-chief (UK)
I’m a big fan of buying refurbished models from a reputable place that gives you a guarantee. I’ve bought from CEX but you can also get refurbished phones from giffgaff, Argos and Apple. And Amazon sells “open box” returned products at a discount through Amazon Warehouse.

I always save on food and drink by opting for good quality supermarket products. In November, lots of publications reveal the results of Christmas food and drink taste tests that pit big names against the supermarket versions. Lidl’s £12.49 Champagne Veuve Delattre Brut, and Co-op’s £19 Les Pionniers have held their own in expert taste tests, beating premium brands that were double the price at £38.

If you have kids who are into crafts, get them making gift bags. Hobbycraft sells a 5-pack of gift bags for £3, and glitter and glue are £1 each, so you’ll get 5 bags for £5. Small gift bags at John Lewis are £2 each, or £10 for 5, so you’ll save £5, plus your kids will be less bored in the holidays.

Bottom line

Following all these hacks will save you hundreds each year, and they’re all easy to do. The first step to good money management is to see where all your money’s going and then decide on a realistic budget. More on this in our guide to setting a budget.

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.

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