It’s always a good time to start saving food and money, but New Year’s is a perfect opportunity to reflect on how you can improve your life and make positive change.
What’s more, after a holiday spending spree, many of us are looking to cut costs.
So why not pick a New Year’s resolution to save yourself nearly £7,000 in 2017? Here are six ways to get started.
Ten ways to eat well on a budget
Reduce food waste
Annual savings: £700
Across the UK, we throw out seven million tonnes of food every year, but figures from Love Food Hate Waste show that a staggering 60% is food that could have been used – saving you around £700 a year.
“Making a resolution to reduce food waste at home is meaningful, sustainable and genuinely beneficial,” said James McGowan, campaign manager at Love Food Hate Waste.
“We know that people are aware of the money-saving aspect of reducing their food waste, but what’s interesting is that many people underestimate just how much. Our research shows us that the expected savings are £35 per month, but it is in fact £60 per month. That’s pretty motivating.”
Every small effort can make a big difference, whether it is slicing and freezing unused lemons and limes, turning stale bread into breadcrumbs, or measuring better quantities with the online portioning tool.
What’s more, something as simple as understanding the difference between a 'use by' date and a 'best before' date can help to save money and reduce waste.
The ‘best before’ dates refer to quality, rather than food safety. Foods past their 'best before' date should be safe to eat, but they may no longer be at their best.
However, ‘use-by’ dates refer to safety. Food can be eaten up to the end of this date but not after, even if it looks and smells fine.
Always follow the storage instructions on packs, and for information on out-of-date food, visit lovefoodhatewaste.com.
Why not try this leftover Christmas vegetables strudel recipe?
Annual savings: £2,278
The costs of smoking are shocking – not just for your health, but for your bank balance. A packet of 20 Marlboro can set you back £9.60. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the average smoker puffs on 13 cigarettes a day, so if you're a typical smoker, you are forking out £6.24 a day on this habit. Quit smoking and you can save £2,278 a year.
But it is not just the cigarettes themselves that are costing you dear – due to the health risks associated with smoking, life insurers tend to view smokers as a greater risk to insure. Figures from Gocompare.com show that smokers up to age 40 could expect to pay an average of 83% more for their cover.
Quit smoking one day at a time
Stop wasting energy
Annual savings: £85
Lighting accounts for 18% of a typical household’s electricity bill, according to the Energy Savings Trust. But you can cut your lighting bill and energy use by changing which bulbs you use and how you use them – savings around £85 a year.
There are two main types of energy efficient light bulbs available in the UK. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
CFLs are a cost-effective option for most general lighting requirements. Replacing a traditional light bulb with a CFL of the same brightness will save you about £5 per year – per bulb. Should you swap 10 lightbulbs in your home, your saving grows to £50 annually.
While LEDs are available to fit both types of fittings and are particularly good for replacing spotlights and dimmable lights, they are more efficient than CFLs and will save you more money in the long term. Simply replacing all halogen downlighters in your home with LED alternatives could save you about £35 a year on your electricity bills.
Free power! Five solar powered home gadgets
Pack your own lunch
Annual savings: £1,040
Swapping expensive ready-made sandwiches to homemade lunches can save money every day, and could possibly even be the healthier option.
Preparing lunches at home will take a few minutes and is much more cost effective than buying a bite to eat. If, for instance, you spend £4 every day on a sandwich, snack and a drink, that’s a possible saving of £20 a week, and £1040 a year.
While there will still be a cost to making packed lunches at home, it will be far less than how much you would spend buying from a café or shop, leaving you with lots of potential savings.
Discover the perfect roast beef sandwich
Cut back on bought coffee
Annual savings: £728
Caffeine addicts can seriously slash their spending, simply by cutting out every morning’s takeaway coffee. For example, if you ditched your daily shop-bought coffee at £2.80 a day, five days a week, you would save £728 a year.
Tea vs coffee: which is better for you?
Stand up for your consumer rights
Annual savings: £2,000
Are you fed up with shoddy customer service, over-priced products and poor quality products? Then it’s time to make 2017 the year that you start standing up for your consumer rights.
According to consumer rights website resolver.co.uk, which lets people raise complaints and issues with more than 30,000 brands, companies and organisations, you could save around £2,000 a year by not staying silent.
"Just a very quick complaint can get you hundreds of pounds back, for instance for a flight delay or packaged bank account you were mis-sold,” said James Walker, founder of the site.
“Raising a case with your energy provider or mobile network could prevent being charged for parts of a service that aren't right for you or allow you to switch and make big savings.”
If you are after instant results, consider complaining on Twitter or Facebook. A third of all complaints are made on social media, according to the Consumer Action Monitor, and it’s easy to see why: a survey by The Social Habit shows that 30% consumers can expect a response within 30 minutes, with 42% seeing results within an hour of their post.
Paul Lewis shows you how to complain effectively by using Twitter
The Saga Savers' New Years Resolutions
Saga has uncovered five types of ‘Saga Saver’ personalities. Providing a deep insight into the different approaches to saving and investing exhibited by today’s over 50s, the research illustrates how the attitudes of people like you vary, on topics from putting money away for retirement to how you negotiate your financial planning for later life.
We asked each of our Saga Savers about their financial New Years Resolutions, and here's what they had to say...
John King, our Financial Adventurer
Carol Bell, our Super-Savvy Saver
Jenny Jones, our Cautious Play-It-Safer
Bryan Manley-Green, our Carefree Down-to-Earther
Sandra Morrell, our Family-First Plate Spinner
Enjoyed this article?
You can find more of the same in our Money hub, offering advice, tips and news on all things financial, or you could sign up for our Money newsletter to enjoy more articles like this delivered to your email inbox each week!
Next article: Annie Shaw How to save thousands in the year ahead >>>