There are many ways to be a clever budgeter: you could bag a summer bargain at a car-boot sale or by shopping online. Here are ten useful summer savings tips to give you a few ideas.
1. Bag a Summer Bargain
The summer months are the traditional time of the Great British institution that is the 'car-boot sale'. Generally sellers want to make a bit of fast cash for their unwanted items and are likely to accept a lower price than stated, if you haggle.
Take extra care when buying electrical items. Remember that any goods you buy at a car-boot can't be returned, so if you bought faulty electrical goods, you could end up having to pay more to have them repaired or replaced.
2. Take a Staycation
A staycation means staying in the UK for your vacation! Last summer, the Guardian reported that one in three Britons would do this, and the rise in the cost of fuel has seen air fares soar. If you choose to camp, you could make even greater savings than if you stayed in a B&B. Take a staycation close to home and you'll also save money on fuel - your bank account will thank you!
3. Get Your Friends Round for a BBQ
In a 'downsized' economy, all kinds of people are cooking and eating more at home and summer is the season of the barbecue. If you want to make your mealtimes more exciting - and frugal - this summer, then invite your friends round and ask them to bring a dish or some ingredients with them. There are thousands and thousands of free recipes online to inspire you.
4. Join a Free Club or Society
Summer is a great time for outdoor activities. Look on local directories like www.gumtree.co.uk - you may be able to find a free group dedicated to your interest or hobby. For example, your local sports centre may run a regular running or walking club, or you could join a society for archaeology or photography.
5. Save Time and Money with Online Vouchers and Cashback
Plenty of shoppers are shunning the high street for online stores. If you're new to online shopping and would prefer to see and touch an item before you buy, consider the following: online stores can offer free delivery and free returns, so you can try out your new purchase in the comfort of your own home.
Some websites offer cashback when you buy online and there are voucher codes online for certain retailers too. thinkbanking rewards pays customers to shop at 100s of online stores. There is a wide selection of vouchers and special offers for online thinkmoney customers here.
6. Consider Swapping the Train for a Coach
National Express provides a coach service all over the UK. A train from Manchester to London could cost around £70 one way booked on the day, whereas a National Express coach for the same journey might be more like £25 or £30, or even less if booked in advance.
7. Grow Your Own Veggies
Summer is the growing season for all kinds of fruits and vegetables. If you have a garden and would like to try to grown your own vegetables, it could work out really economical. You can see how much money you could save by 'growing your own'. If you're not very green-fingered but would like to try, look on gardening forums and specialist websites for tips. Also visit gardening centres and ask the staff for advice - remember advice is free!
8. Be Your Own Bank Manager
Even if you think you manage your money well, it's always a good idea to take a regular look at your budget. There's a useful online budget planner here. Work out whether you have anything left over after paying all the essentials every month. If you don't, look at how you could reduce your outgoings or increase your income. In certain circumstances, you might benefit from getting some debt advice.
9. Take the Budget Week Challenge!
If your bank account balance is looking a little lean, take action this summer to make your pounds stretch further. Withdraw a fixed amount of cash on a Monday and force yourself to live on that money for the full week. For example, if you normally spend around £100 in a week, withdraw £40 - or £60, or £80, depending on how ambitious you're feeling - and try your very best to make it last.
10. Don't Forget the Kids!
www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk has loads of ideas for things to do with children all around the UK. If you're living on a budget, remember that places like museums, beaches and national parks are often free to visit (once you've considered transport). If you take food and refreshments with you, it can work out even cheaper.
By the time you've tried some of these tips, you could probably write a 'top 10 budgeting tips' list of your own!