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100 ways to save money

We know that everyone in Northern Ireland is feeling the pinch. Consumer Correspondent Claire McNeilly gives you 20 top tips on how to slash your spending.

1 If you haven’t switched your energy supplier in the last three years, chances are you could save money. It can be hard to understand the different tariffs, so use the electricity and gas comparison tools on the Consumer Council’s website to see what you could save. Log on to: www.consumercouncil.org.uk

2 Working from home? A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day will cost more than £50 each year in electricity. Switching these off completely out of normal working hours and not leaving them on standby could slash this to just £15 a year. So you can save £35 in the flick of a couple of switches.

3 When filling up, find the cheapest local petrol station using specialist comparison website petrolprices.com. But don’t go too far out of your way for only a tiny discount because the extra fuel to get there will obviously cancel out the saving. A 5p per litre difference in price equals a £2.75 saving if filling a typical 55-litre car.

4 Eating out can be costly, especially if alcohol enters the equation, so don’t forget Bring Your Own (BYO) restaurants where you can bring your own drink. There’s usually a £2 corkage fee, but a bottle of wine probably still works out at least £6 cheaper than buying the house equivalent elsewhere.

5 Stew. The wholesale price of carrots has gone up by 44% in a year, potatoes are a third more expensive and tomatoes and onions aren’t far behind. But go back to basics, cook one of the staples of a humble diet in bulk and then freeze. Buy your vegetables at a market stall, not a supermarket, and save 34p in every pound.

6 Selling your house can be an extremely stressful business at the best of times. Estate agents normally take fees of around 1.8% on the sale of a property — which works out at around £2,916 on the average UK house price, according to Channel 4's Mrs Moneypenny. If you negotiate payment in advance, or strike a deal, you could make massive savings.

7 Buy a jar of coffee or some tea bags and bring them into work This might stop you from running to the canteen or nearby coffee shop several times a week. Five small takeaway cappuccino coffees from an outside cafe cost around £10.50 a week — or £546 a year, depending on the particular establishment.

8 If you need a loan consider your options carefully. Sometimes it makes better financial sense to choose a credit card that offers 0% interest. There are new deals out there offering consumers 16 months’ grace for total debt repayment, so if you budget properly you could potentially save thousands of pounds.

9 Beauty is an expensive business. But for a homemade facial, all you actually need is an over-ripe banana. Mash it up in a bowl then simply spread it over your face and leave it on for 10 minutes. A banana costs around 14p, whereas you could easily fork out £50 for a salon treatment with similar results.

10 For a cheap flight to Europe it’s best to go for a Tuesday departure, according to research conducted by consumer champion Which? Flying with easyJet from Gatwick to Alicante on a Tuesday saved, on average, at least £25 compared with the fare on Friday — a typical saving of £28.

11 Cut the cost of pest control. When planting out your garden, inter-plant your fruit and vegetables along with ornamental flowers such as Marigolds. They will attract hover flies which will eat the white and black nuisance flies and this will save you from having to buy dear pesticides.

12 Invest in a piggy bank that you have to BREAK INTO before you can get at its contents. You can buy models designed for saving only £2 coins, for example. The idea is that when it’s full up to the brim you will have saved a massive £1,000 — but you can’t get at it until you’ve smashed the outer shell.

13 Laying loft insulation to a thickness of 270mm in a typical non-insulated three-bedroom semi-detached house could trim £175 a year from energy bills as less heat will be lost through the roof. Installation costs between £50 and £350, so the work should pay for itself in two years, according to experts.

14 Keep the inside of your fridge at five degrees celsius. Any lower and this will increase energy consumption unnecessarily, as well as run the risk of damaging delicate items such as salads. An energy-efficient fridge will save around £35 a year, according to the consumer watchdog Which?

15 If you have spent a small fortune on a dark-coloured top you will want to avoid ugly deodorant stains at all costs. But if this happens, immediately rub the mark away with a clean facial wipe. The clean side of a used facial wipe is also ideal for cleaning leather shoes, handbags and coats.

16 Having a party? It normally costs between £250 and £500 to hire a local band. The best way to avoid paying this is to compile a selection of your favourite songs on an iPod or computer and then play it at the event through speakers It might take some time to prepare, but you will save hundreds of pounds.

17 For each light bulb replaced by an energy-saving equivalent you’ll reduce your electricity bill by around £2.50 a year — or £6 for a brighter bulb. If you replace all the lights in your home with energy-savings ones, you could save around £45 a year, says the Energy Savings Trust.

18 Think before you hit the air conditioning. The National Energy Foundation says air con uses 25% more fuel when driving. Switch if off and open the air vents, or put down the windows. But if you’re travelling over 60mph it’s better to opt for the air con because open windows increase drag, which can cost more.

19 If you’re getting married, don’t fork out on a wedding dress that you’ll only wear once. Brides in the UK spend on average £1,500 on a frock for the big day. Some charity shops stock bridal wear. Many are second-hand, but you could get the bargain of the century. Otherwise, hire a dress, consult the internet or consider high-street shops.

20 Make savings on expensive exfoliating beauty cream with a homemade alternative. Take some oats from the kitchen and mix with a little water to make a paste. Apply it across the face and leave for a minute or so before rinsing away for perfect skin. (Don’t use if allergic to ingredients.)

21 Retailers are feeling the pinch as much as consumers just now, hence the mass discounting in many shops. However, you can also get up to 50% off the recommended price of many goods and services by using vouchers offered by big name stores and brands like those at www.myvouchercodes.co.uk

22 Consider switching from oil to natural gas, if this option is available depending on your geographical location. Oil prices have risen by £80 in the last three months due to increases in crude oil. The average price for 900 litres of retail oil in Northern Ireland is now £563, making oil 40% more expensive than gas.

23 A pair of ghd hair straighteners will set you back around £99, but there are other ways of controlling those fly-away locks. So rather than hit your wallet, get a silk scarf and wrap it around a hairbrush. Brush your hair as normal and it should smooth away most of the dreaded frizz — unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have been blessed with extra curly hair.

24 If you are replacing a kitchen appliance, you can cut your electricity bills by choosing the most energy-efficient model you can. Consumer watchdog Which? says this can result in significant annual savings of £37 for washing machines, £83 for tumble dryers and £75 for fridge-freezers, for example.

25 Asda has cut its fuel prices to 135.7ppl (for petrol) and 139.7p (diesel) at its forecourts in Coleraine, Cookstown, Omagh, Enniskillen, Ballyclare, Bangor, Newtownards and Downpatrick from today. But don’t go miles out of your way to fill up there as it will cancel out any savings. Remember: a 5p per litre fuel price difference equals a £2.75 saving if filling up a typical 55-litre car.

26 Slugs and snails are among the garden’s biggest villains. Avoid expensive slug pellets and use a bran-based cereal instead and put it underneath a large lettuce leaf. Gardening experts say that the slugs will be attracted to the smell at night and will then hide under the leaf. So in the morning all you have to do is pick it up and dispose of the slugs.

27 Most debit and credit cards charge a 3% load on spending abroad, so £100 of euros costs £103. A few specialist cards give near-perfect rates as they are load-free — and that can save you a small fortune. Opt for Halifax Clarity or Post Office cards. There is also Saga (specifically for people aged over 50) and Select (for Nationwide customers only).

28 Do you have some furniture that you’re fed up with and would like to give it a new look? Or are you in the market for affordable, functional art to decorate your home? Why not take a look at ReFound for interesting interior home designs? You’ll find a treasure trove of items like chairs, flowerpots and kitchen dressers etc. Prices range from £50 to £500 and you’ll come away with something very unique for your home . Just check out the website for ideas. Log on to: www.refoundonline.com

29 When you’re at the supermarket only buy what you can eat. Prices for non-food and non-perishable items — such as paper towels, soaps and toothpastes — can be higher than elsewhere. At the minute Dunnes Stores is doing £1 deals on things like liquid hand soap, for example.

30 Beauty on a budget. It’s a lot cheaper to get your nails, eyelashes and waxing done by trainee beauticians. Go along to local colleges or beauty training schools for inexpensive or even free treatments. Hair Traffic has two outlets in Belfast city centre, where you’ll pay less than £15 for a blow-dry compared to £25 in an up-market salon.

31 Driving at 85mph uses 25% more fuel than at 70mph, according to the RAC, so it’s much more economical to stick to the speed limit. Not only will it be easier on your fuel tank, but you’ll also avoid a £60 fine and three penalty points for breaking the law.

32 Beware of getting locked into a mobile phone contract. Providers are increasingly trying to tie consumers into 24-month contracts. The new iPhone 5 currently retails at around £529, for example. If you sign up for 24 months at £46-a-month you may get the phone for ‘free’ but it will end up costing over £1,100.

33 The website mysupermarket.com is a great way to compare the cost of your shopping in different supermarkets to find the best deals. It claims customers can save on average £17 any time they use the site. But thanks to a new tool, consumers can see the price of an item over the previous year. This allows people to see the real value of an offer and avoid getting ripped off.

34 Turn old, unwanted or broken jewellery into gold. Go to several high-street jewellers to find out how much your unwanted trinkets are worth. Typical valuations are as follows: 9 carat gold will fetch £11.75 per gram; 12ct gold = £15.75 per gram; 24ct gold = £31.33 per gram; platinum = £23.42 per gram; silver = 40p per gram.

35 If the inside of your car is looking a bit dull and you have ingrained dirt on the dashboard, or elsewhere, you don’t necessarily have to spend between £60 and £75 getting it valeted. Use baby wipes instead. You’ll be amazed at the shine after you’ve finished — and you’ll have saved yourself a healthy sum.

36 Try to pay for things in cash as it will allow you to keep a better track of your finances. Delays in taking debit card payments from your account can make you miscalculate your balance — and this is not usually for the better. Take a lump sum out of your account at the beginning of the week, say £100, and make it last. You can’t spend what you don’t have.

37 Don’t splash out on furniture polish for cleaning mirrors in your home. Rather, pour hot water into a container and add a small amount of vinegar to it. Then take a clean cloth and wipe down surfaces with that. Rub off excess water immediately with a dry, clean cloth for sparkling reflections.

38 Vets bills are rising by 34% a year and, according to Channel 4’s Mrs Moneypenny, it is worth taking out pet insurance. Normal rules apply of course and you should shop around and compare deals. Do insure your furry friend for accidents though — and not illnesses — if you want to get the best value for money.

39 A brand new car loses 40% of its value in the first year alone. Buy one the dealer has pre-registered and save up to 30%. The only difference will be that the dealer is marked as the first owner in the log book. If you do this, for example, experts say that a car worth £20,000 would cost £14,000 — a massive £6,000 saving.

40 Don’t throw away the plastic containers after you’ve had your Chinese takeaway. Wash them and keep them for future use. They will come in handy for storing portions of food that you want to keep in the freezer after you have cooked dishes in bulk, such as stew, curry and chilli etc.

41 Put your child benefit aside if you can afford to. By transferring your child benefit allocation (which is currently £81.20 for one child) into another account you could amass as much as £18,000 by the time he or she is 18 years old. That will go a long way towards helping with the cost of university or a new home.

42 Sometimes temptation can get the better of all of us, so that calls for a major intervention. Stop those impulse buys by putting your credit card in a plastic bag and storing it in the freezer while you mull over that new handbag or pair of shoes. By the time it has defrosted you will have had time to think the purchase through.

43 Northern Ireland has the highest priced petrol and the second dearest diesel in the UK, at 141.1-pence-per-litre and 145ppl respectively, according to the AA. It has therefore never been more economical to avoid short journeys if possible. Small cars stuck in traffic use up a litre of petrol every 60 minutes, costing drivers around 1.7p-a-minute. Larger cars lose petrol at double the rate.

44 New First Direct 1st Account customers get a £100 bonus by transferring a salary of at least £1,500 a month within the first three months. It pays no in-credit interest, but in most feedback on customer service First Direct rates very highly. First Direct also has a huge 8% savings offer for its 1st Account customers if you can save something every month.

45 The Consumer Council says that around 70% of households here use oil to heat their homes. But prices vary. Ring around several suppliers and ask for quotes on prices. Otherwise, use the comparison website www.cheapestoil.co.uk and save up to £30 (6%) on 900 litres.

46 Join the Freecycle network. This group matches people who have things they need to get rid of with people who can use them. You can pick up a huge variety of items for absolutely nothing and save massively. Yesterday there was a double-bed settee and a table and four chairs up for grabs, for example. Visit uk.freecycle.org

47 Make sure you are on the cheapest electricity tariff. Airtricity has reduced prices by the same amount as Power NI, but it has decreased the discounts it gives its customers after any special introductory offer finishes. There are different rates for different plans and it can be confusing. But don’t forget about Budget Energy, which remains the cheapest, as the Consumer Council confirmed yesterday.

48 Remove old nail varnish with a new coat of polish. Instead of buying nail polish remover, opt for a bottle of clear nail varnish. Put a thick coat on each nail, one at a time. After applying each coat, wipe immediately and don’t let it dry. You will be very surprised to see just how effective this money-saving method is.

49 Stains on a dark wood table can be removed for next to nothing, according to DIY experts. Put a large spoonful of coffee into a container and add a little boiling water so that it resembles a strong expresso. Get a cloth, soak it in the coffee and apply. Once the scratches disappear, give the table a buff and you’ll observe a stain-free zone.

50 Gym membership can cost between £25 and £70-a-month for an individual. But you don’t have to tie yourself to a contract if you opt for somewhere like Pure Gym in Belfast, which charges a monthly fee of just £17.99 after you pay a £25 joining fee. It works out almost 30% cheaper to choose the cheaper, no-strings-attached option.

51 If you have your heart set on a new car (which, remember, loses 40% of its value in the first year alone) then you should know that new numberplates come out every year on March 1 and September 1. Just before then most dealers are trying to shift stock so you’ll probably have a better chance of doing a deal. Don’t forget to shop around.

52 Need holiday money in a hurry? You're a captive customer at an airport or ferry terminal, so you'll probably be lumbered with the worst rates. If you must get it from the airport, pre-order for pick-up to get a better rate (usually possible until four hours beforehand). Better still, use theTravelMoneyMax.com travel money comparison site to find the best possible deal, including all fees and any commission.

53 If you want to eat out, search online for vouchers, or look out for ‘two-for-one’ deals and ‘early bird special’. Look at websites like Pizza Express, for example, where offers include £10 for a starter, a main course and a drink, if you enter a specific code.

54 Dull paintwork on your car could cost hundreds to respray. Industry insiders suggest saving money by getting a good liquid car polish and a very mild exfoliation cream. All you have to do is to mix two-parts exfoliation cream with 10-parts polish. Then, use an old T-shirt, dab the mixture onto the paintwork, let it dry and buff it off.

55 Everything isn’t always as it seems. Check that “all-inclusive” holidays actually do include everything before you book. Research by the Post Office recently found that couples could end up spending over £200 on ‘extras’ — such as water, alcohol and snacks — as certain things are sometimes NOT included in some deals.

56 Business is booming during the economic downturn in low-cost retailers such as Primark, as consumers cut back on shopping and turn towards cheaper clothes. When your favourite jumper or cardigan starts looking bobbley don’t despair: use a normal razor to gently go over its surface and remove the bobbles. It will look as good as new again.

57 Be wary of forking out huge amounts of cash in one go. If you’re paying for anything costing between £100 and £30,000 use a credit card. It offers more protection than cash or cheques if something goes wrong. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 holds your credit card provider ‘jointly and severally’ responsible for your purchase, so you’ve the right to a refund if there is a problem.

58 Check if deals being advertised in shops give real value. Don’t buy something just because it says “on offer”, “discount” or “sale”. Do your maths because in some cases, buying two smaller items of the same brand can be cheaper than one of the larger equivalents.

59 Make your car more economical by ditching what you don’t need. Experts claim that on average every 50kg will increase your fuel consumption by 2%. Remove roof racks and and take out unnecessary luggage such as golf clubs and other sports equipment.

60 Stop heat escaping around draughty window and door frames, pipes and attic hatches. Draught-excluder strips and expanding foam fillers aren’t dear and could help you save about £25 a year on your energy bill. Fill in gaps around skirting boards and floorboards and you could save another £20.

61 High electricity prices increase the costs of keeping the family clean. For many households, the laundry seems to pile up without respite — but did you know there is a simple way to cut bills? Wash slightly soiled clothes in the machine at 30 degrees instead of a higher temperature and save at least £10 a year, according to consumer champion Which?

62 Pay for your telephone line rental in one go and save almost £50. For example, a BT adviser yesterday confirmed that it charges £14.60 a month, which works out at £175.20. That compares with a one-off payment of £129, so it really is worth budgeting for.

63 Childcare Vouchers are a tax saving employee benefit that can save each parent up to £900 a year. That means family savings of up to £1,800 a year. For more information call the free helpline 0800 028 3008, or visit http://vouchers.employersforchildcare.org

64 Watch out for hidden charges. If you’re paying for a holiday in a travel agency, think twice about using a credit card as this can incur an additional booking fee of around £35. Pay by debit card or cheque instead and keep that money in your pocket.

65 Parents may not realise that there is substantial financial help out there that is not means-tested. The Family Benefits Advisory Service offers advice and information to parents on issues like Working Tax Credits, Childcare vouchers, free school meals, free school uniforms and Social Security benefits. Call the freephone helpline 0800 028 6538, or visit www.employersforchildcare.org/advice.aspx

66 Don’t pay full price for anything, unless you really can’t live without it. Check out the 25% off sale at House of Fraser in Belfast today and tomorrow and pick up a treat. There will be other deals in-store — Belfast designer Grainne Maher is offering 10% off her Pluck & Devour and Millinery ranges. A mini Pegasus necklace priced at £25 is now £22.50, while a hat costing £250 is now £225.

67 Look out for special deals such as Marks & Spencer’s ‘Dine in for two for £10’. It includes a main course, side dish, dessert and a bottle of wine. There’s more than enough for two and it represents a saving of around 40%.

68 Gladly accept hand-me-downs. Don’t fork out unnecessarily for children's outfits and baby equipment which your family or friends no longer use. Babies grow out of clothes at an alarming rate, while a Moses basket and stand — which costs between £50 and £100 — is usually only needed for around 12 weeks.

69 Red wine spill? Forget expensive branded cleaners and reach for the washing up liquid instead. Consumer watchdog Which? says it is just as good at removing this type of stain.

70 When buying a new house don’t automatically use solicitors offered by mortgage lenders. This can lead to legal fees being built into your mortgage repayments, but the interest on those fees means it could cost you a lot in the long run. Find a solicitor yourself via a recommendation or the Law Society.

71 It can be expensive getting your hair done professionally, so look out for deals. Synergy in Belfast, for example, currently has a Facebook offer which runs up to, but must be used by, Wednesday, October 3. All ladies’ cuts are £30, men’s cuts are £20 and there is 30% off all colour services.

72 DIY hand cream can be made from a mixture of olive oil — which absorbs better into the skin when it’s warm — sea salt and a dash of lemon. Use this and you won’t just save money, your skin will be left exfoliated and soft too.

73 Look out for second-hand bargains, especially when it comes to catering for kids. On eBay you get some great deals on second-hand clothes and toys and you will probably be able to save quite a bit on cots, playpens etc. Do a search on ‘baby bundle’ and you will get lots of results.

74 Stop smoking. Monday October 1 sees the launch of an NHS campaign — Stoptober — urging smokers to quit. If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day it costs £1,314 every year according to their research. If you saved that money instead, you could afford a Caribbean cruise for two.

75 Think outside the box. Rather than buy a flight for your child to go to university and then pay for a removal company to transport their belongings, use the ferry. The cost of a car and three passengers on Stena Line’s Belfast-Cairnryan and Belfast-Liverpool routes starts from £129 — £79 for a car and driver and £25 for each additional adult.

76 Look for holidays protected by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) when booking a getaway, as this will improve your chances of being entitled to compensation if something goes wrong.

77 Be clever. Don’t use Tesco vouchers for food. A £10 voucher is worth just that in store, but you can triple its value (£10 becomes £30) on gift items such as jewellery and breakdown cover.

78 Place a sheet of kitchen roll on top of a punnet of strawberries or raspberries, as well as salad leaves, before putting them into the fridge. This will soak up moisture and it will ensure that the products remain fresher for longer.

79 Use public libraries to read books for free and rent DVDs and CDs cheaply. Otherwise consider going online to a site like Amazon.co.uk, or visit your nearest car boot sale where you’re likely to pick up a bargain or two.

80 Every little helps. Use a simple rubber band as a bookmark by wrapping it around the part of the book that you’ve already read. Paper or card bookmarks are fine until they slip out and you lose your place.

81 Don’t go solo. Choose to car share and save thousands, according to Travelwise NI. For example, it estimates that annual savings of £2,649 can be made over five-days on a return journey between Belfast and Ballymena, or £4,527 between Armagh and Enniskillen. Sign up to www.carshareni.com to benefit.

82 Car insurance is unlikely to go down unless you shop around. Make a note of when your renewal is due. A couple of weeks before the due date, use at least two comparison websites to get quotations. Then ask your current provider to match the cheapest premium you were offered. Try comparethemarket.com or gocompare.com.

83 Pay your vehicle tax for 12 months and not six months, if you can afford to do it, and save between £45 and £213.75, depending on the vehicle. For example, the one-off fee for a car in Band F is £135, but if you only opt for six months’ coverage it will cost £74.25 — which works out at £60.75 more expensive.

84 Super scrimpers say consumers should avoid buying bottled water at all costs. But if you’re among the millions of people who reject that advice, then go for supermarket own-brands as this will save you around 20% on well-known equivalents. For example, 10 bottles of Tesco water costs £1.70, compared to £9.99 for the same number of perceived ‘quality’ equivalents priced at 99p-a-bottle.

85 If you can’t get the laundry dried outside, especially during bad weather, you might need to invest in a tumble dryer. Consumer champion Which? recommends that householders opt for an A-rated dryer over a C-rated machine as this equals savings of £60-a-year on your electricity bill.

86 Unless it’s a complete emergency, do not use cash machines that charge for withdrawals. These are often found in pubs and they can levy a fee of between £1 and £3 every time you take money out. That means that, in real terms, you may be paying for £10, but you’re only actually getting £7 — which equates to a loss of more than 30%.

87 Exorbitant bills? Get an energy monitor. This is a simple handheld gadget that estimates in real time how much energy you're using, so you can see where to cut back. Monitors cost from around £40, but some gas and electricity suppliers give them away free.

88 Never buy seed trays or plastic plant pots when you can get various things for free. Yogurt pots and margarine tubs are great for potting plants. Gardening experts say that cardboard egg boxes are particularly good as cardboard retains the moisture and when the seedling is ready to replant it can be moved without disturbing the roots.

89 Taking your pet to the vet? Phone around a few different surgeries beforehand to compare prices, as some places increase their prices after 6pm.

90 Sign up to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as the best deals are becoming increasingly advertised in this way. Likewise, websites such as www.gumtree.com, the free internet classified advertising forum and www.trivago.co.uk, the hotel comparison site, will help you find what you’re looking for at a reduced cost.

91 You don’t need expensive wallpaper stripper machines or solvents when you might already have what you need at home. Get one cup of white vinegar and add it to two litres of warm water. Then take a sponge and apply it generously. The wallpaper will come straight off with a scraper.

92 If you are happy with your current provider, then look out for extra incentives. At the moment, Firmus, the gas supplier, is offering customers £40 worth of Tesco vouchers if you persuade your neighbour to sign up with it. Visit firmusenergy.co.uk/neighbour for further details.

93 Plan your diary to incorporate bargains if you can. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Ikea for some bits and bobs, you might as well have lunch there too. At the moment, a hot dog in a bun with ketchup and mustard is on sale for 60p. Compare that to a 99p burger at any of our well-known fast food outlets and you’re still saving almost 40%.

94 Don’t buy two brushes for painting a room. When you get to the so-called ‘cutting in’ stage you can make a large brush smaller by simply using an elastic band. Just tie it round the base of the brush so you can use it to paint the tricky edges of the walls.

95 It makes more sense to buy a second-hand car rather than a brand new vehicle, which loses 40% of its value in the first year alone. You can go private or approach a trade seller. Buying private is cheapest, but make sure you do all the appropriate checks or you could be left thousands of pounds out of pocket.

96 Drive smoothly and avoid sharp braking and accelerating and the RAC says you can save as much as 30% on fuel costs. Inefficient cars can also reduce fuel economy, so have your vehicle serviced regularly. Similarly, make sure your petrol cap fits tightly as fuel will evaporate if it is not airtight.

97 It’s the small changes you make to your lifestyle that can really add up. Turn down your thermostat, for example. Reducing room temperatures by just 1ºC can cut heating bills by 10%, according to consumer watchdog Which?, so put on a jumper rather than turning up the heating.

98 Why fork out a fortune for a foot massage when you can do it yourself instead? Cover your feet with vaseline/petroleum jelly, put on some cotton socks and wear them in bed overnight. You’ll have saved around £50 and your feet should be silky smooth by morning.

99 Consolidate debt, if you have any, to a lower interest rate and pay off as soon as possible. Money paid in interest is money thrown away. Why make the financial institutions richer? The golden rule here is to make sure not to default on agreed monthly repayments — and you could save hundreds of pounds. The key to this is making sure that the instalments/timeframe plan will work for you.

100 Don’t throw away old sweet tins. They can be used for a multitude of things such as storing biscuits, mementos, pegs, shoe polish and various other household paraphernalia. You can also fill them with toiletries and beauty |products and |decorate them to give as presents.

Belfast Telegraph