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My money-saving start to the New Year: The changes I'm making to save a few quid

I'm holding my breath at the moment, because the next instalment of my student loan is on its way... just two weeks after the last one ran out. Ouch.  I'd love to tell you the last one ran out because I've spent all my cash on fancy vegan dinners and exotic travel, but no,  my life is not that exciting. It's just that the way that the people at Student Finance England divide the year up (and the cash for each chunk of the calendar) doesn't line up with my university terms, so there's always a period at the end of the year where things are a bit on the lean side.


So, this January, I've been trying to save a few quid, to try and stretch my money out until the new term. Here's what I've done so far. 

Slice my electricity bills
Recently, my old electricity company wrote to me to tell me they'd decided to up their prices by a third. Thanks, guys, but no thanks. When I first chose the old company, price wasn't so much of a factor. I signed up to the old electricity company because they offered renewable energy, so I was prepared to pay a bit more for the privilege of getting leccy that was less painful for the planet. But when electricity that shouldn't cost the earth started costing the earth - if you know what I mean - I decided to find a new supplier. Turns out that green electricity company Bulb was not only over a quarter cheaper than the old company, but they'll also give you £50 off your first bill if you sign up through a referral link from an existing user. (If you'd like to do the same, may I humbly offer my referral link? It's here and I get a £50 discount too). £50 off the first bill? That's saving the planet and my wallet.


Decluttered anything that someone else would buy
I know December 31 2018 and 1 January 2019 aren't really any different, but there's something about the change of calendar that fills me with the sense that I have the power to change all those annoying things about my life which cause me to grind my teeth down to stumps. One is having stuff in the house that isn't either beautiful or useful (it's a great bit of home wisdom that I nicked from William Morris), so I've been diligently throwing anything that isn't nailed to the floor onto eBay, WeBuyBooks, and even a site that buys scrap metal. I made £7 off a keyring that I got from work - I could almost buy a pint and a half with that. Happy days!

Living on leftovers
Every Christmas, I buy enough food for a whole football team, when I really need more like enough just for the ref and the linesmen. That means that come January, I've got a lot of food that needs using up and you bet I'm using it rather than heading to the supermarket. That expired tub of hummus? It got pureed with roasted root veggies to make vegetable mash - perfect with sausages from the freezer and a boatload of gravy. Random tubs of who knows what? Sure, let's defrost them and have them for lunch. The eight tins of chick peas in the cupboard, and the leftover vegan suet I used to make the Christmas pudding? That's the basis of a cracking stew with dumplings. All of this culinary ingenuity means I haven't had to do a big shop for a good while, and I'm hoping I can take things a bit further.

No more buying beer or chocolate
Yep, you read that right. I won't be buying booze or chocolate for the foreseeable future - definitely weeks, maybe months. (I imagine sharp intakes of breath from friends and loved ones here.) I'm not going without though, I love both, and I guess friends and family know that - they gave me a load of both for Christmas, and I bought a good chunk in preparation for the festivities, so I'm stocked up til the apocalypse. A friend also gave me a bottle of cacha├ža after buying  it and finding out "it tastes like paintstripper". If anyone asks, January is definitely caipirinha month. Cheers!


Playing my best card
Can you believe I've been a student for three years and I've never got a student railcard? No? I don't either. I'm not sure what I was thinking of. Student railcards save you a third off train tickets, and I use the train all the time. So, I've basically been paying out 30 per cent more than I needed to every time I took the train. I threw money away. No, don't say anything - I'm so mad with myself. Still, the best time to buy a student railcard was three years ago, and the second best time is today. At least I'll spend less on travel this year then I did last year. (I even got a discount on the cost price of the card by using student site Student Beans - how's that for double dipping.)

Generic medicines are a thing
Here's the one that really got me: I found that there was a generic version of one of the medicines that I'd been using, and it cost me about half the price. I knew that thing like painkillers and cold and flu meds came in both brand name and cheaper generic medicines, but I never thought that other stuff did. One quick search later, and I'd saved myself a fiver. I also managed to convince my GP to change a prescription I'd normally have to get refilled every month to the same thing but every two, so that's another £8.80 in the bank. (Those prescriptions are my entire healthcare costs for the year - isn't the NHS a wonderful thing?!)

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5 comments

  1. Happy New Year Joey, always read your blog posts but don't always comment. I find them very insightful. I was a student for four years and had a student loan and understand your frustrations around that. I think I survived as I managed to get a p/t job. I think i was lucky with my p/t job as my employees thought the sun shined out of my backside and allowed me to choose the hours. I felt like a rich student, but i was very careful with the little i had. I stayed in student halls so all bills were included. I was checking out the site webuyanybooks and my husband just walked in and said your not getting ridding of any books, afterall they will give you pennies for what some of your books are worth - have you had much luck with them. I am def. going to declutter behind my husbands back.
    I studied in Scotland, so i never paid for my dentist or nhs medicine when i was there - yes the NHS is one of UKs great treasures. I did get a student railcard and yes, it saved me loads esp. added bonus when i was organised of buying superadvance, all those journeys back and fro from Scotland to wales would have had me skint otherwise. But that was in 2001 and lots has changed, i do appreciate that. Still admire your money saving tips and we can all learn, student of not.

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  2. Good luck with eeking your way though to your next student payment - I really loved my leave loading bonus at the end of the year but the downside of taking all january as holiday is we tend to spend more. I've been avoiding the shops and the temptation but had a bit of a spree today :-( At least some things were necessary, though a few things not. I have heard that the way to keep electricity costs down is to change suppliers regularly - this is not my way but the bills keep getting bigger so I think maybe I need a change. Enjoy all that Christmas beer and chocolate and holiday leftovers - love a bit of inspiration from leftovers - that's the best! We seem to have lived on a lot of leftover nut roast and haggis over the past couple of weeks!

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  3. Happy New Year! You're off to a great start for 2019! I've been meaning to declutter for awhile now but never seem to get around to it, maybe this year... :-)

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  4. We changed to Bulb too last year. Also worth knowing if you have to pay for more than 2 repeat prescriptions a month is that you can buy an NHS prepaid card for £30 for 3 months and have unlimited prescriptions on it. It saves me loads. There's also one for 12 months.

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