Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. That axiom will probably turn out to be of true significance in 2009 amid fears that the dark vision of a global recession may become a reality.
Already, the wallets and purses of Northern Ireland consumers have suffered a savage assault as the cost of living spiralled out of control last year, making it difficult for many households to make ends meet.
But unfortunately, the outlook remains bleak for the coming 12 months, when job losses will be savage and repossessions and business failures are expected to soar.
That’s why Price Watch has decided to highlight several simple ways of saving — and making — money in the New Year.
1. DEMAND DISCOUNTS:
This year should be a super year for bargain hunters — if you are aware of the discounts available.
All it takes is five minutes to sign up online to sites like Myvouchercodes.co.uk or Shopping-bargains.co.uk and trawl through the offers.
Also, why not register with Moneymagpie.com bargain Alert, which sends the latest bargain news to your inbox.
2. DITCH DEBT:
Get out of debt as fast as possible in 2009. Managing your budget is a simple way of saving money. Write a list of money coming in each month and add it up. Then write a list of your monthly outgoings, including food, bills, mortgage, travel and loan repayments, and add those up.
Subtract your outgoings from your incomings and this will indicate how much you actually have to spend each month.
Some experts advise people who have problems budgeting to cut up credit cards and use only cash to pay for goods.
That way, you can’t spend what you don’t have. Professional free help is also available from the Citizens Advice Bureau, which can be found online at www.citizens|advice.org.uk.
The reduction in VAT to 15% last year was an attempt by the Government to encourage consumer spending — but the reality is that we need to save more.
Savings rates may be low, but so too is inflation, which means you can buy more with your pound.
Keep an eye on comparison sites to choose an online easy access account offering five per cent for the first year.
4. FORGET THE GYM:
We’re not saying you should give up exercise, but you can ditch an expensive gym membership for a cheaper option at a different outlet. Otherwise, save on petrol or diesel, as well as bus and train fares, by walking and cycling to the shops or work where possible. Not only will your wallet or purse feel fuller, but the pounds will also fall off your waistline.
5. CASH IN FROM YOUR CHANGING HABITS:
Start your own in-house laundry service, by ‘charging’ yourself every time you use the washing machine and tumble dryer. (ie Put a money-collection tin nearby for that purpose).
Or, why not start the year by starting a savings account? Put aside just £10 a week and by next Christmas, you’ll have £500 in the kitty.
Also, if you walk, cycle or get a free lift for a journey you would normally pay for, put the fare into your savings.
6. STAY IN:
There are many enjoyable alternatives to a night on the tiles. Rent out a DVD and invite friends round, host a dinner party where everyone agrees to bring a signature dish or instigate a board games night special.
7. DON’T BE SHY:
If you are celebrating your birthday (or a friend’s) at a restaurant, why not tell the waiter? You may be pleasantly surprised with a free cake or a complimentary bottle of wine.
8. SWITCH PROVIDER:
Spend some time going through your essential bills (gas, electricity, telephone, mobile etc) and look at money saving options. Could you save money by paying by direct debit?
Or would it pay to move to a cheaper provider altogether? Go online and look at different comparison websites, as it’s likely you could save a considerable amount. For example, try moneysavingexpert.com for tips on all-round savings.
9. BOOT IT OUT:
Get rid of unwanted items, via regular car-boot sales. Otherwise, you could sell goods on the internet.
Experts in thrift recommend lesser-known sales websites such as Greenmetropolis.co.uk where you can earn at least £3 for every book you sell and |Fashionexchange.co.uk where you can sell unwanted clothes.
Why not begin by getting rid of any gifts you didn’t want for Christmas?
10. CASH FOR QUESTIONS:
Get into internet surveys and make a few pounds while you’re online.