After the expense of the school summer holidays and possibly a family holiday abroad, families up and down the country will be looking for ways to save money in the run up to the the next big onslaught on the piggy bank, Christmas.
We all worry about providing for the future, bills and try to think of ways to save money but without plunging the family into a semi-Victorian image of austerity. Living on a budget doesn’t have to be grey and boring. Luckily with just a few common sense tips and some not so obvious ideas too, you’ll see there are lots of ways you can save a pretty penny around the home.
I’ll take you around the home to share my top money saving tips and hints for this Autumn.
Saving money in the home and garden
Oven, hob, washing machine, fridge-freezer, dishwasher, microwave… the list of energy suckers in the kitchen is endless. I’m starting here as it’s probably the room where we actively use the most energy in our homes.
Let’s start by looking at how we’re cooking. How you prepare and cook food accounts for around 4% of the average energy bill. Think about what you want to prepare and the most energy efficient way to cook it. According to OVO Energy, 30 minutes a day cooking on the hob costs around £90 a year. Switching to either a slow cooker or using the microwave to cook the same food will cost £14 or just £3 per year respectively – a pretty big saving.
Other tips include only heating as much water as you need, either in the kettle or when boiling foods. Plan ahead. If you are cooking frozen food defrost it overnight in the fridge, this can cut the cooking time (and thus energy usage) by around half.
Washing machines can be expensive little things and some weeks it seems they’re running an almost endless cycle. We all know to correctly load the machine, use the appropriate setting and even that you can wash clothes just as well at 30°C – according to Persil it’s also kinder on your clothes; but how else can you cut the cost of laundry?
Using Eco Balls in your laundry instead of detergent will save the average person £255 per 1000 washes, around £72 a year. As with washing at 30°C, the Eco Balls are also kinder to the environment.
Cheap days out and money saving family activities
The cheapest family days and activities are the ones where you don’t even have to leave home and your garden is a great place to begin. With just a few flower beds planted in the spring you can have a summer of (almost) craft activities. Getting the kids to make flower fairies or flower crowns engages them in a creative activity which won’t break the bank. You can also involve them in choosing and planting the flowers in the spring so they learn a little about gardening at the same time.
Teach the kids a little more about gardening and preserving the flowers from birds by painting these strawberry rocks together. They’ll keep birds away from the flowers you’re growing together.
Theme parks, the cinema, tourist attractions… days out can be expensive. However, up and down the country there are dozens of museums, galleries and attractions which open their doors for free. You can find a list of what’s available in your area here. If you’re in London 19th & 20th September see’s the capitals annual ‘Open House London’ where dozens of famous buildings which are usually closed throw their doors open to the public, for free. You’ll need to book in advance but kids will love to explore the Bank of England, 10 Downing Street or Barbican Open Garden.
Health and beauty on a budget
We all need to eat more vegetables and fruit, 5 a day is a good target but if you can beat it that’s even better. Kids might not automatically want to eat their greens so one way of getting them move interested in fruits and veggies it to try growing your own. The colours and shapes will be engaging for little ones and older ones can learn how plants grow. If you have a garden turn part of it into two vegetables plots, one for the grown up and one for the kids. If you live in a flat or don’t have much outside space try planting window boxes with tomatoes, lettuce or even a herb garden.
You can make it a competition to see who can grow the biggest and best crop and then cook it after. It will get children involved in every stage of a meal, from seed to table and save a little on shopping bills too.
Beauty products and treatments aren’t cheap and you don’t always know what you are getting for your money. One fun way to enjoy your favourite beauty treatments and save money is by making them yourself. Good Housekeeping has lots of recipes for making your own homemade beauty treatments. Again you could get the kids involved and make it into a fun spa day at home with the whole family. You’ll save money, have fun together and get your beauty treatments in too.
Saving money around the home needn’t mean being overly frugal or austere. Try these simple tips, follow the links for more great money saving ideas and share your own money saving tips for the Autumn in the comments below.
Guest Post By Russell Bowes