When money is tight, even small savings can make a lot of difference. It’s one thing to cut costs by changing what you eat or holding off on buying new furniture, but when it comes to keeping your home clean and hygienic, there’s really no way to do without those essential purchases. You do have options, however, as these tips will make clear.
Only buy what you need
This one may sound obvious but a lot of people find it tricky to stick to in practice. Special offers that tempt you with discounts can persuade you to buy things you don’t really need and leave you without enough money to spend on the things you do. Multi-buy offers may sound great but they’re only useful if you can use up everything you buy and do without the illusion of abundance tempting you to be more wasteful than usual. Think about what’s actually practical for your home and not about what you’ve seen on TV or what your friends have got.
Beware of brands
When you see things advertised on TV or in magazines, it’s tempting to think in terms of popular brand names, but it’s usually cheaper to buy generics. Often you’ll find that big stores have their own versions of big name products that are almost identical and just as resilient. Don’t be tempted to spend extra money in order to buy into a particular lifestyle image, especially with items that few people are likely to see you using anyway.
Cheap or long lasting?
Often, choosing household items requires you to strike a balance between price and longevity. Items designed to last a long time generally cost more and many people consider this a worthwhile investment, but even if they break down sooner, cheaper items are easier to replace. The best thing to do is to work out the average lifetime of each (internet reviews can be helpful with this) and then compare the costs – if an item is only expected to last half as long, it should be half the price, and so on.
A key factor in how long things last can be how long it takes before parts of them break and how easy and cheap those parts are to replace. It might sound reasonable to buy a cheaper washing machine with a sealed drum that’s only expected to last three years before you repair it, until you realize that the sealed drum means the repair will cost almost as much as buying a new one – at that point, paying the extra in the first place seems like a better option.
Some items are designed so that you can only repair them using expensive proprietary parts, and it’s generally better to avoid buying these in the first place. If you buy a vacuum cleaner, choosing a model that doesn’t need disposable bags can save you a great deal.
Sometimes it isn’t necessary to spend any money at all in order to get what you need. Free samples are a wonderful thing and the Internet makes them easier than ever to obtain. If you need to touch up damaged paintwork, for instance, a free sample may give you all the paint you need. Samples also mean that you can get a better impression of the quality of some types of product before you buy.
Where to shop
Although the prices may seem low in your local supermarket, the chances are that you could do better by shopping around. Sometimes second-hand items, whether from thrift stores or places like Freecycle, are in good enough condition to last for years. Online, you can try auction sites, use search engines to compare prices, or visit sites like carolwrightgifts.com, which are specially designed to focus on low cost practical solutions to household problems.
Insure your purchases
These tips can help you get better deals on what you buy, but they can’t protect you from being ripped off by unscrupulous sellers. Always make sure you keep your receipts and, if you’re shopping in person, the names and addresses of the stores you visit. When you shop on line, use a dedicated payments service like PayPal that includes insurance cover, or a debit or credit card with the same kind of back-up. Don’t be tempted to use cards that don’t offer you this kind of protection, or you could find yourself in trouble.
Most people find that more careful shopping can save them a lot of money, even in areas where there seemed to be no room to cut back. Give it a try and you might be surprised by what a difference it makes to you.