Cost Of Living Crisis UK Special Part 3
In this third and final part of the Cost Of Living Crisis UK Special series, we’ll look at saving money on your groceries and shopping. The prices are going up, pack sizes are shrinking and it’s getting harder to make your money stretch far enough, so small changes to how you shop might be able to take the edge off the impact.
Three Part Series Special :
- Part 1 – Government Help, Energy Price Cap Explained & Save Money On Your Energy
- Part 2 – Save Money On Your Healthcare & Prescription Costs
- Part 3 – Save On Groceries & Shopping
Shopping Online – Get Cashback
Most people will likely already be a member of at least one cashback website, but for those who aren’t, now might be the time to sign up. Sites like Quidco and TopCashBack (TCB) are free to join and are legitimate and popular choices. They typically also offer a premium membership where members get higher cashback rates and bonuses, but it comes at a small cost, ie. they may take £5 per year from your earnings, providing you’ve earned more than this minimum threshold. I’d personally go for a free account, at least at first.
When you’re browsing online and decide on what you want to buy, close that window and navigate to your chosen cashback site. You can sign up to more than one and see which has the best offers at the time. If the cashback site lists the store you want to purchase from, then click to shop through them. They’ll usually offer you a % of cashback on your purchase or a small lump sum, which means money for nothing if you were going to make the purchase anyway. The only hiccup is if you find a more generous discount code elsewhere because most cashback sites will decline purchases made with a code that isn’t approved by them. Weigh up which gives you the best bang for your buck before buying.
It’s not just for typical online shopping either. While there are hundreds of online stores listed, there’s also cashback available on gift cards, insurance, groceries, mobile phones and SIM card packages, broadband, online gambling and bingo, experiences and days out, gym memberships, comparing energy deals and signing up to a new provider, booking accommodation and travel, etc.
I use TCB and Quidco. While you get some ups and downs in terms of occasional problematic tracking, it’s certainly better than nothing and you can earn a decent bit back if you shop online regularly or if you sign up to a new broadband or car insurance policy by clicking through them first. You could cashout to your bank account or get yourself a store voucher. Also look out for special bonuses and seasonal games where you can get a little extra boost!
These sites are technically limited to one account per person but you can have numerous accounts in each household if you have more than one online shopper. If you fancy checking them out and signing up, you can get a little bonus as a new user below:
Sign up for TopCashBack here for a £10 bonus.
Sign up for Quidco here for a £1 bonus.
[ At the time of writing – 28/10/22 – TopCashBack is offering a £2 bonus on top of cashback for any £5+ spend, subject to terms. You need to find the offer on the homepage and opt in before clicking through to the store you want to purchase from ]
Shopping Reward Apps
There are a few apps now available for smartphones that give users cashback on in store purchases for certain items, allowing them to get the equivalent of a discount or even a free product. While some such apps aren’t, in my opinion, as good or as generous as they used to be, they may still come in handy to save some pennies or to allow you to try something new.
For instance: CheckoutSmart, Shopmium & ClickSnap by Quidco are all quite popular and well-known options.
Earn From Your Receipts
You can earn yourself points just for snapping pictures of your shopping receipts, so make sure to keep them when you’ve been in store. I’d personally use a pen to mark out important info like the last digits of your bank card or any loyalty membership number (alternatively use some scrap paper to cover those parts if you may need to use the receipt in future to return an item).
The apps are usually pretty simple and straightforward but it takes perseverance. You’ll need to snap a lot of receipts to earn enough points, but if you do it regularly and partake in any surveys (if they app has them) then it’ll add up. When you have enough points, most apps allow you to get your reward as a shopping voucher or sometimes as a Paypal payment.
Here are a few receipt app suggestions :
Shop Around, Stock Up & Be Food Frugal
- Keep an eye out for deals and offers at different stores by looking at the brand’s social media accounts or by signing up for email updates. I also post some bargain buys on my Facebook and Twitter accounts from time to time, from cheap vitamin offers to cheap Kindle ebooks.
- When shopping for routine items or bigger purchases, it’s a good idea to shop around and see what’s what. Thanks to the marvels of the internet, you can usually do this fairly easily at home with a few clicks. For groceries, I check the supermarket websites of stores I’m willing to go to (like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda) and see what’s on offer, searching for the products I need to see if they’re on sale. Of course you don’t want to go travelling to and fro around numerous stores as it’ll cost you more than you end up saving, but it could guide you to where to get the best buys on that day. Make sure to check the pack or unit size when comparing prices to work out what’s the best buy.
- If you have the space at home for a little extra, it can be helpful to stock up when something is on a decent offer. If it’s perishable, check the dates and make sure you’re not letting anything go to waste.
- If you’re new to online grocery shopping, check for new user discount codes (such as £15 off a £70 spend for new users). A basic Google search should pull something up but there is a site where you can find all the current new user supermarket discounts listed in one place here. Many big brands like Asda and Tesco have such offers but the discount codes you need to type in at the checkout can regularly change, so persevere if the first you find doesn’t work.
- Be food frugal by reducing waste and make food go further. You can look online for handy tips on making food and leftovers go further or last for longer, such as freezing bread (something I only starting doing during the pandemic and have found is hugely helpful).
Supermarket Loyalty Schemes
Many supermarkets now offer their own loyalty program, though some have been getting increasingly miserly in their rewards as stores look to cut their own costs. Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury’s Nectar, the newer Asda Rewards, etc. Signing up to the basic versions of these are all free, so it’s worth doing.
The Sainsbury’s Nectar scheme has been changed quite substantially though so it’s worth bearing in mind you’ll now need a computer or smartphone to “add” the bonus points offers. To take advantage of the “My Nectar Prices” offers (discounts on a small selection of products, including those you typically buy with your Nectar card) you’ll need to use SmartShop in store. This means either using the self-scanning app on your phone, or using a self-scanner handset in store.
I’ve been using these handheld supermarket scanners during the pandemic and I’ve found them to be pretty straightforward. I’ve also found that they usually save a lot of time and energy as you can just scan the items and pack them as you shop. No more unpacking to put everything out on the till and then re-packing. I find this better for me physically and it means I can make use of the discounted prices. But I don’t like that the scheme essentially shuts out those who don’t use technology or who don’t have bank cards to pay for their shopping (as you can’t usually pay cash with self-scan checkouts).
Save Money On Petrol / Diesel
As for buying fuel, the price of petrol and diesel is just starting to come down slightly after eye-watering increases earlier in 2022. It’s still far too expensive, and while we’re not going to be able to save much, we could save a little by changing how we shop.
- There’s a petrol cost comparison site called PetrolPrices that I use. You can sign up for a free account and then you’ll be able to compare fuel costs at stations near you (or within the area of any postcode you input). I think this is a brilliant idea to give you the gist of what’s what.
- You could also sign up for loyalty schemes with particular petrol station providers, such as the BP rewards app. With occasional emailed bonuses and points for every fuel or food purchase at the station, the points will add up and it’s better than nothing when looking at such high costs.
- Then there’s maximising your fuel efficiency. Things like : Ensuring your tyres are inflated correctly (under or over inflated can use more fuel), reduce the use of air conditioning or heating if not really required, choose the option for internal air circulation for a/c rather than using air from outside as that’s more energy-consuming, change gears earlier, reduce weight in the car if there are unnecessary items being stored, and accelerate slowly and smoothly as this guzzles a little less fuel than jamming your foot down quickly.