Inflation may have fallen to a tolerably low 1.5 per cent but with clothing, transport and alcohol prices all bucking the downward trend, most of us are still feeling the pinch.
The good news is that, even in austerity Britain, thereís plenty you can do to cut costs ñ and you can get lots of things for free. Here are seven ideas that wonít cost you a thing.
1. Commute with a colleague and halve your travel costs. With research indicating that the average worker spends £161 a month on fuel, train fares and parking fees , car-sharing is a sure fire way to reduce your expenditure. Itís the equivalent of getting six monthís travel for free.
2. Take trips with other families so you can share costs. If youíre planning any half-term adventures, go with friends so you can take advantage of group discounts on travel and entrance fees. And make sure you take a packed lunch!
3. Get food for free by picking wild fruit and nuts. Autumn is a great time for foraging and you can freeze or cook your finds. Blackberries, sloes, rowan berries, sweet chestnuts, wild strawberries, bilberries and plums are just some of the delicious goodies you can pick.
4. Call your mobile service provider and haggle for their best deal ñ using their Freephone number, of course. A recent Which? survey found that 81 per cent of people got a better contract just by talking to their provider, saving an average of £5 a month .
5. Clear out your attic or garage and take the contents to a car boot sale. Or use an online auction site, if you prefer.
6. Book next yearís holiday in advance ñ but make sure itís a pay-later deal. If you only want flights, be flexible about when you travel ñ off-peak, mid-week and night-time rates are usually cheaper.
7. Clean up your credit report so you get the best deals. Look for errors, such as mistakes in your address, closed accounts marked as open and duplications ñ and take them up with the relevant lender. Set up direct debits to avoid late payments, shut down old accounts held with ex-partners and get yourself on the electoral register at your current address. You can see your Experian credit report as often as you like with a free trial of CreditExpert .
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