#101: Frugal Tips for Lean Times

#101: Frugal Tips for Lean Times
6 minutes to read

Well, I went back to work in January and thought I’d generally be having a really lovely time, what with being reacquainted with a disposable income and spare spends and everything. Er, not so. I’m actually poorer than I was when I was on maternity leave. Money saving mama I am not.

Anyway, always one to find the positive (!), I’ve been looking at ways to save a bit of dollar. Truth be told, I’m very scared of matched betting and I’m not very good at those cashback purchase websites (although I hear that both of the above are quite marvelous things, once you know what you’re doing). One of my friends is equally entrepreneurial (not a drug dealer, mind) and I asked her to put together some tips for me to share with you, that don’t compromise morals or involve a month of baked beans.

So, over to Laura from Savings 4 Savvy Mums with all the frugal know-how.

I’m well known for being thrifty. Okay, okay, more of a tight arse among friends, but when you’ve lived on just maternity pay twice, have a huge loan and mortgage to pay on just one wage, you start to realise how much really can get for your pound.

This isn’t groundbreaking stuff. These are just five simple ways to help you keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.


Bill Switching

Switching your energy or insurance company every year could mean an extra £200 in your pocket.

I’ll let you into a little secret; the small businesses normally offer the best deals. How? Well especially when it comes to energy, the small guy doesn’t have to pay towards the Energy Companies Obligation. This is because they have under 250,000 customers, and the government taxes them for the privilege.

It doesn’t pay to be a loyal customer right now.

Bank accounts, utilities, any form of insurance, even your life cover. Get your monthly bills out and start checking.

Price comparison sites are a good place to start, just to get a ballpark figure of how much you could save by switching, then make some calls.

Yep, it takes time, something most of us don’t have, but in one afternoon, you could end up saving the family hundreds of pounds!

Even if you’ve just signed for another twelve months or are half way through, call around. It may be worth pulling out of your current deal and being stung the admin charge if overall you’ll be saving £200-£300.


Meal Plans

Throwing food away is a sin in my house. Did you know that the average UK family throws away at least £60 worth of food a month and buys way more than they need? This is where meal planning comes in.

I talk about this a lot over on my blog but meal planning can save you at least £30 a week, easily. Hitting the shops without a plan leads to all kinds of guess work and mega money at the tills. If you don’t shop weekly, then give it a go. Your most perishable items will last the week and it’s easy to see what you’re spending your money on this way.

If you’ve never meal planned before then it’s best to:

Check your cupboards and see what you have tin and freezer wise.  Can any of that be used this week? No point in keeping it for a rainy day, use it!

Don’t throw anything anyway. Know the difference between your food labels and freeze anything that it close to going out of date, remembering to use it the following week.

From your meal plan, check through and see what ingredients you’ll need. You don’t want to have to shop again that week, so get really nitty gritty with it. What are the kids going to eat for lunch? What are you going to eat tomorrow night while your partner is working late? Leave nothing to chance.

Pin your meal plan up for everyone to see, so they know what’s for dinner. If you don’t fancy it, then swap it out, remembering to use the ingredients next week. Nothing is set in stone! It’s just there to help keep you in line at the supermarket.



Nothing tastes better than a meal that’s cost almost nothing to make.

Instead of buying chicken fillets, buy a whole chicken, slow cook it (putting vegetables underneath or foil to stop it from sticking) for Sunday lunch and use the leftovers for a curry or fajitas the next day or even a cheeky chicken salad for lunch.

Use the stock leftover for homemade gravy, a chicken noodle soup or a casserole.

Incorporate all these into your meal plan. £5 for a chicken doesn’t seem so expensive when it does you for three or four meals.

Also remember, the freezer is your friend!


Conserve Energy

We all know we should turn the heating down, but if you turned your thermostat down by just one degree, you could save £90 a year!

This applies to all your electronic devices too. TVs left on standby, phones plugged in and laptops on all count towards your power use even though you aren’t in the house!

By just switching off your devices at the wall, you could save £30 a year.

Now that may not sound like a lot, but if you also reduced your shower down to 4 minutes or have a bath (yep, it’s a myth that showers use less water than baths) then your soak would only cost you 63p. Not bad huh?


Buy Second Hand First

While it’s true that kids need a lot of stuff, not all of it needs to be brand new.

From video monitors and Jumperoos to clothes and even nappies, you’ll be surprised what you can buy second hand.

eBay is a great place to start, especially if you pick drum down the location down close to you, so you can pick up.

There are hundreds of local Facebay and Babybay sites out there too, all from parents trying to flog their gear.

Charity shops are another goldmine for designer clothes at rock bottom prices. I once brought a Ben Sherman dress for a wedding for a fiver. It was brand new with tags still on, and I was getting more compliments than the bride. Awks!

You do need to go for a rummage, but if you live in a town like me with ten charity shops, then the chances are you’ll find something.

Bonus; they do kids toys too!

So hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas how you could save money instantly. Don’t think of it like a hardship, think of the money you could be saving towards your next date night or holiday with the kids.

About Laura:

Savings 4 Savvy Mums are a frugal based blog written by two mums. We offer money saving tips, tricks, and bargain deals, with a dash of parenting advice thrown in. As well as our blogs, we have a growing community of Penny Pinching Parents who like a good bargain, and who share their own tips within our Facebook group.

Thanks Laura! Please do have a look at her site, it’s full of links to daily deals and savings, and generally makes me think I can rock this frugal shit.

-SJW April 2017


  1. April 12, 2017 / 10:45 am

    Totally agree with the meal planning and weekly shopping! I don’t know how people cope without a meal plan! 😉 Will have to try the bill switching next. Great post, thank you for the tips!

    • April 12, 2017 / 11:57 am

      Makes complete sense to meal plan, and it’s waaaay easier in summer where everything is salad ????

  2. April 13, 2017 / 1:15 pm

    I couldn’t live without my meal plan! And I certainly couldn’t stick to my food budget without it either.

    I love that second hand is not sniffed at the way it used to be. My mum was a huge charity shop fan when I was a kid and I’d have never admitted to having second hand things. Even a few years ago I was still ashamed about admitting that some of my nicest clothes came from Oxfam! But now with the rise of Freebay groups etc on Facebook its much more accepted and I love saying I got something for free/cheap!

    • April 13, 2017 / 2:14 pm

      It’s definitely a bit cool to say that you buy “vintage” I think! Most of my first daughter’s clothes were bundles from eBay ???? thank you for reading and commenting xx

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