A third of Brits now believe that it’s harder than it was five years ago to get a good deal when shopping around. I’m not sure it’s more difficult, but certainly prices have risen and a lot of people are feeling the squeeze because wages often haven’t kept up. I try to keep a tight grip on the finances, so I was intrigued to see if I could save more when E.ON got in touch and issued me with a challenge. The first week was easy because I just spent as normal, but wrote it all down. The second week was harder because I had to try to save some money.
In some ways I found just writing down what I’d spent helped as I felt the need to justify what I’d spent in my head as I put pen to paper. The way I shop is that I do a small weekly shop at Aldi and the local butchers. I then go to the other supermarkets on a rotation basis to buy mostly the non perishable things I need. Often one supermarket does a product that the others don’t, or their product is better quality. I’ve got it down to quite an art now and my spend for the week was only £63.21 which included restocking up on quite a few things after the summer holidays (I keep food shopping trips to a minimum then).
To save money I decided to target some of the areas I hadn’t focused on already. Now I don’t buy many branded products and mostly stick to own brand goods. Whilst we have done quite well like that as humans, the cats haven’t been quite so keen to follow us into supermarket own brand territory. So I decided to tackle this situation and see if I could persuade them off Whiskas. In the past I have tried Sainsbury’s and Tescos own brand catfood without a lot of success and ended up using it up by feeding it to the cats when they were either super hungry or I was going out all day, so they wouldn’t be able to pester me for something else. This week I tried some Aldi and Lidl catfood and it’s gone down reasonably well and better than the other supermarkets. I’m also planning to give Asda’s own brand food a try to see if that works too. I’m not sure we will be able to get away from the branded stuff altogether, but maybe they will eat a wider range with some of it costing a little less. I’ve also found that Whiskas always seems to be cheap at Asda, even when it isn’t on offer it seems to cost the same or less than the other shops, so I’ll try to buy it there in future.
Another area I decided to save on was my lunch. I’ve been buying either own brand (or branded if it’s on offer and cheaper) soup for my lunch. The soup I have been buying costs £1.50 full price for 600g which lasts 2 days as I add a bit of couscous to it to bulk it out. So that’s 75p a day plus the couscous. I found though that Asda do an Smartprice vegetable soup for just 25p. Now it doesn’t taste quite as nice, but it is a third of the price for a slightly larger portion. I don’t think I’d want to eat it every day though, so I think I will still buy the more expensive stuff, but it will be a bit of a treat or when it’s on offer. The next step is to try to find a soup recipe that is similar to my favourite: Tomato, Lentil and Red Pepper Soup. Then I need to cost that out to see if it’s worth doing.
So with these changes and a few more I was able to bring the bill down to £53.91, but I think there are more savings that I could make.
Luckily E.ON has partnered with Jasmine Birtles, finance expert, to create some top tips on how to shop around and use the best deals available. Here are Jasmine’s tips for saving money on your shopping:
1. Haggle on and off the high street. For a start, you can haggle both online and offline to get a bargain. For example, when buying online, get as far as the checkout and then simply log-off. Some e-tailers will then contact you to see why you didn’t buy. You can say you felt it was too expensive and then haggle with customer service in their chat room to get them to take some money off.
2. Be clever with coupons. Before you get to the online checkout, put the name of the retailer plus ‘voucher code’ into your search engine to see if there are any money-off codes you could put in to save money on the final purchase. Sign up to cashback sites to get extra money back when you buy, although use a different email address from your normal one as they tend to spam users mercilessly!
3. Buy in bulk. Even if you live on your own, you can make savings by getting together with friends and neighbours, buying certain goods in bulk from wholesalers and then sharing them out between you. Do the same during the sales, at street markets when they sell off boxes of fruit and veg and whenever supermarkets have special deals.
4. Time your purchases. If you have the time to think ahead you can get great bargains by being contrarian and making purchases against the season. So in the summer, get the boiler fixed, the pipes seen to and get the place made energy-efficient. Energy companies often have special boiler deals in the summer and local plumbers have less work so they will charge you less. Also, buy garden furniture in August and make sure you stock up on Christmas cards, presents, decorations and even food in the January sales.
5. Switch and save. Even though switching energy suppliers sounds boring it can save the average family £100s over the year. According to E.ON’s research, almost two-thirds of people (65%) have switched energy supplier just to get a better deal. For those who find this a hassle or don’t have the time consider E.ON’s Cap and Track, a new tariff which monitors the market for you, using an independently verified source. It’s reviewed every three months to make sure it stays competitive so it does the work for you. See here for more information: https://www.eonenergy.com/for-your-home/products-and-services/cap-and-track-1-year
Disclosure: This post is in association with E.ON.