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6 Money-Saving Household Hacks That Work

Every money conscious family is looking for ways to save money.

We often have advice here on ways to buy things more cheaply (we’ve covered topics like kids book box-set series; or even Halloween costumes).

Of course one of the best ways to save money is to spend less.

Over the years we’ve accumulated a number of money-saving tricks around the house which help us shave a few pennies off our outgoings every day, week or month.

All those savings soon tot up to a quite handy amount so here are our best:

Money-saving tricks for your home

Click on one to skip ahead to that tip:

    1. Bulk buy things
    2. Improve your Insulation
    3. Get ‘Free’ heating
    4. Grow your own herbs
    5. Buy hair clippers
    6. Turn down the washing machine

Bulk buy things

Lots of shops work on economies of scale. Buy more of [x] and it will cost you less.

You can often see this in the supermarkets. The shelf label prices will state the “Cost per 100g”.

More often than not, the more you buy the lower the cost is. There are exceptions here, so check carefully! Sometimes a 4-pack will be on sale so may actually work out cheaper than a 6-pack etc.

The issue with shopping in this way can often be space.

Much as you could bulk buy everything — where are you going to store it? And if you do, how can you stop it going bad? Or will you use it before it’s ‘use by date’ anyway?

Therefore it’s often a good idea to start your first bulk buying forays into dry goods; things with a long, long shelf life and things which, despite buying a bigger box won’t take up masses more room.

Things we’ve found this easy to do with are:

      • Washing powder
      • Wine
      • Cereal
      • Lightbulbs
      • Batteries

Saving money on washing powder

A mega box of washing powder can be a great penny saver.

Even better, with a big box of washing powder you can adjust the portions you use accordingly too. We use an old yoghurt pot to get a scoop of powder for each wash.

If it’s a big load of washing or lots of really dirty things (football or rugby kit etc.) then we add a bit more powder than usual. If it’s just a load of socks or shirts that need freshening up, we use slightly less.

Either way, it’s often more than the ‘recommended amount’ suggested by the manufacturers. No surprise they have a vested interest in you using lots of their product!

— You should also check out our post on the most cost-effective way to dry clothes —

Saving money on wine and alcohol

We love a bottle of wine. We’re not splashing out on Châteauneuf-du-Pape – but after a long week, a bottle of wine is a nice treat for us.

Lots of shops (supermarkets especially) will have bulk buying discounts: Buy 6 for 5 etc.

They’re banking on your lack of will power. The idea is if you have 6 bottles in your house you’ll be tempted and drink them more quickly.

This tip is not for you if you cannot resist temptation. But if you can, it can be a good way to save yourself a few quid. Being able to think that every 6th bottle is ‘free’ makes it even more of a well-earned treat.

This tip works just as well for your tipple of choice, be it beer, ale, lager or even Prosecco.

Pro tip: Store the ‘motherload’ somewhere different to the next bottle you’ll drink. We stash ours under the stairs – only having one bottle in the fridge or cupboard at a time.

This helps remove the temptation. Out of sight out of mind!

Spend less on cereal

A photograph (by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash) of a child eating from a bowlOur kids go through cereal faster than a combine harvester! One bowl is never quite enough (I think the record is six bowls of Shreddies (shop’s own brand, of course!) in one sitting!).

Again, a 1kg box of bran flakes costs less than two 500g boxes. It’s less packaging too — so if your kitchen cupboards can take it this is a good cost saver.

The ‘footprint’ (literally the space the bottom of the box takes up) of a box of cereal doesn’t vary massively — it’s mostly in the height — so no real need to build an extension to your kitchen cupboards for this tip.

Save money on lightbulbs

This is the sort of thing that’s often forgotten. EVERY house needs lightbulbs. Even if you have long life bulbs, there always seems to be at least one bulb out in every house.

Long life, energy efficient bulbs are great. Good for the fuel bill and the environment – but they are dear.

The costs are coming down but another great way to reduce them even further is to buy multiples.

Again, you’re looking out for the boxes of three bulbs; or the buy two get one free offers.

Designate yourself a place for them too (there’s nothing worse than buying another new bulb only to then ‘rediscover’ the secret hidey-hole you put your last lot in!).

The shed (if you have one), under the sink – wherever, you need to know where to go when the next bulb pops.

Save money on batteries

From TV remotes to the kids toys and games, we seem to need a constant supply of batteries in our house.

Again, you can get cost and environment sensitive options around rechargeable batteries – but again, shelling out for rechargeable batteries is expensive. We’ve all wavered when presented with the option to buy ‘normal’ batteries of opt for the greener, rechargeable ones… at 3x times the price.

Buying multi-packs is a great way to reduce the cost. A box of rechargeable batteries will set you back a few quid – but the ‘cost per battery’ is much lower than buying them separately.

As you might expect Amazon have cottoned on to this pretty well. Their Amazon Basics range is a great way to save money on those little bits and pieces.

Take AA batteries as an example. You can get a 4 pack for £7.59 (£1.89 per battery); an 8 pack for £14.15 (£1.86 a battery); or a 16 pack for £22.99 (just £1.43 per battery).

Even better, batteries are tiny. No problem here on storage space.

Downside? They’re easily forgotten. When ‘Roaring Ultrasound T-rex’ runs out of batteries — “Just as he was about to eat the villagers!!!” prompting floods of tears — you need to be able to lay your hands on those electronic life-savers quick.

Pick a place for the batteries and always put the old ones on to charge right away – you never know when you’ll need them next!

— You may also be interested in our post: Does it save money to unplug appliances overnight? —

DOn’t SPeculate Insulate

A thermal image of a house - shows where money can be saved
A thermal image of a house (from constructionphotography.com)

Like most people, our fuel bills are one of our biggest monthly costs. Even more so in winter.

Improving your home’s insulation can be a great win here.

Check out this MoneySaving Expert post on grants and schemes you may be eligible for

If you have one, the loft is often a big culprit in leeching the heat out of your home.

If you’ve ever seen one of those heat sensitive camera photos of a house (like this one, left), the roof and windows are often the biggest ‘hot spots’ where all your precious (and expensive!) heat is escaping.

Cavity wall insulation, improving your loft insulation etc. are great ways to do this.

But if you’re not eligible for a grant (or perhaps you rent, so cannot get this work done) there are still ways to reduce your outgoings on heating bills.

Most insulation works by trapping air and using it like a blanket to keep your house snug. Think of your loft like one of your kids as you head out on a chilly day. You insist they wear layers, right?

You can layer-up your loft. We’ve got old carpet off-cuts laid out in our loft. I’ve even tacked a square of it to the back of the loft hatch, with a few nails. But old blankets, sheets, even tarpaulin can all work in the same way.

If you’ve got old clothes that are so ragged even the local charity shop won’t take them, stuff them in an old duvet cover and use them as a duvet for your loft!

Pro tip: Make sure your loft has decent ventilation (often an air brick in the wall at one or both ends). Cold air plus warm air is a surefire recipe for condensation.

Exclude the draft — cut the cost

A Dachshund dog knitting pattern draft excluderIt’s the same idea as those draft excluder snakes. This basic draft excluder is less than £6 on Etsy. There are prettier ones if you have a bigger budget but why not make your own?

This gorgeously hilarious Dachshund-shaped draft excluder is a knitting pattern available for just £1.01. If you’re at all craft-y you can knit one of these doggy draft excluders!

If, like me, you’re about as artistic as a house brick, you can make a very effective draft excluder from an old pair of tights.

Each leg can be it’s own ‘snake’. Stuff it full with paper, rags or old clothes, tie off the end and bingo.  Pop it along the bottom of that drafty door and you’ll see the end of that chilly breeze!

Free heating from your oven!

If you’re from the same generation as me you may have heard tales of woe from your own parents about how tough life was “…back in their day”.

A frequently recurring story was how, before the days of central heating, they all had to huddle around the kitchen oven to keep warm, even propping their feet by the oven door as a ‘special treat’ (presumably before being put back to work “Down t’mine”!).

Like most old wives tales though, there’s a nugget of truth or wisdom in there.

Modern ovens are very effective at getting themselves up to high temperatures. Most oven-based meals require your oven to be 180°C or higher.

What happens to all that heat, once you’re done cooking?

The answer is, usually, it’s vented out by your oven. If you have an extractor fan that can mean vented outside (pop outside your house and check next time you’re cooking on a cold day and check out the steam (and therefore heat) pouring out of your extractor vent).

Instead, once you’re done cooking — turn the oven off — and leave the door open. Let that residual heat out into your house.

Even if it stops your heating working quite so hard for just a minute or two, that soon adds up day after day.

Grown Your own herbs

The ThriftyParent household loves a good punch of flavour in our food — so no surprise we get through a lot of herbs and spices.

Many of them you’ll struggle to grown in the UK climate (good luck growing your own saffron!) but there are plenty of herbs which will grow just fine in a British garden, on your balcony or even a windowsill.

We have a thyme bush, basil plants on the windowsill, even a chill plant or two in the summer.

Parsley will grow happily on a windowsill too and a rosemary plant can help you give that extra whack of flavour in your Sunday roast. Yum!

This starter pack of herb seeds is less than £4 and includes oregano, coriander, sweet basil, mint, rosemary and thyme.

Considering a bag of fresh herbs from a supermarket is £1+ a pop, even if your budding horticultural skills give you just two portions of fresh herbs from each plant, that’s £12 of herbs… and the taste is so much better when you grow your own.

Buy hair clippers

Over on our post about things worth investing in to save money number one on our list was hair clippers.

By our back of an envelope calculations we reckoned we’ve saved over £4,000 in hair cuts by investing in £20 worth of decent hair clippers. And that doesn’t even include when ThriftyDad used them to trim the (ill-advised) beard he sported for a few months.

If you’ve got kids with short hair but especially grown-ups too, cutting your own hair (and beard!) can save you a fortune.

Save money on every wash cycle

Tumble dryerTalking of hot and cold things — how about your washing machine?

Similar to your oven they use a lot of energy to heat up water to wash your clothes.

Do you really need to wash that load at 60°? Would 40° do? Or even 30°?

There will be times when you need a hotter wash to get clothes properly clean but more often than not a lower temperature will do just fine.

It’ll not only use less energy (saving your electricity bill) but also reduce the environmental impact of each wash and can often mean the wash will finish more quickly too, saving you time and money. Win-win-win.


What are your favourite ways to save money around the house? Share them with us in a comment and we’ll update this guide (and credit you!).

Or find us on Facebook or Twitter and share your ideas there! We’d love to hear from you.

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