Got a smartphone or a tablet computer? Good: then it's time you made yourself app-happy with some great virtual money-savers. There are so many thousand apps out there of varying quality and usefulness that it's tricky to know where to start. So here are a couple to kick off with that are easy to use and could prove an effective way of saving you up to £200 a year:
mySuperList is free on iTunes and helps you compare the cost of goods in different supermarkets and create a shopping list to ensure you get the best deals.
The Love Food Hate Waste app allows you to plan your food shopping and meals, while reducing the amount of food you may needlessly throw away. It's estimated that you can save almost £60 per month by throwing away less food, which is a significant figure whichever way you look at it. The app also has recipe ideas and tips for using forgotten foods and leftovers. It's currently available for Android and iPhone handsets.
Don't miss payments
Late payments on utility bills, credit and store cards, HP agreements etc tend to attract penalties. Automate the process. Regular payments by direct debit, standing order and by using online and mobile banking save time and money in the long run - and you won't even have to think about them. Why not take the same approach with your investments, if you can? Make regular contributions every month and save effortlessly.
Similarly, paying online could get you a discount on bills. Taking it further, paperless billing for your home and mobile phones, fuel and other utilities is becoming more and more common. Take the plunge and you'll soon see the savings add up.
Use Open Source software on your computer whenever possible
Why fork out hundreds of pounds on big-name software for your computer when perfectly good free equivalents exist? Open Office will handle all your word processing, database and spreadsheet needs and GIMP is an excellent graphics programme. See www.osalt.com for a comprehensive directory of open source equivalents to commercial products.
Rediscover your piggy bank
Simple solutions are often best, and the humble piggy bank is still an effective way of amassing a surprisingly healthy amount of cash. Get in the habit of feeding piggy your change and he will grow fat in no time at all. Try saving £2 coins separately and you can easily save £50 per month this way alone.
Meanwhile bank the cash you save in sales, on coupons and on discounts. It is another way of building up a decent little nest egg for a rainy day with little effort.
Use Freecycle, Craigslist etc
Why buy when you can get something for free from online communities? Check out these widely-used sites.
When cooking, turn off your oven a few minutes before the dish is done. The existing heat will finish the cooking and save on fuel.
Avoid shopping in convenience stores
Easier said than done when you've run out of milk or bread and the supermarket's too far away, but convenience stores' mark-ups tend to be significantly higher than in supermarkets.
As far as supermarkets are concerned, the discount chains are really stealing a march on the so-called big four. Significant savings can be made on your weekly shop if you use the so-called cheaper supermarkets.
And when in the supermarket, get in and out as soon as possible. Research shows that shoppers spend an extra 35p for every minute they stay in the shop beyond 30 minutes. By that reckoning, just 15 minutes extra per week equals £273 per year.
Bank the cash you save
Savings you make by taking advantage of discounts, coupons and in the sales – another way to build up a nest egg with no sacrifice.