The cost-of-living crisis is making a real difference to the way we live. With inflation currently at the highest level it has been for decades, it’s more important than ever to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to reduce costs.
With this in mind, here are my top tips to get discounts on the products your money is being spent on every week.
Google Chrome extensions
One way to maximise your online spending is by downloading Google Chrome extensions such as Honey and TopCashback.
Both of these extensions work on the Google Chrome browser and sit in the top right of your screen. When you’re using a website they have deals for, the application will ping.
Honey activates at checkout, by monitoring the discount codes people use. When you get to checkout, the Honey application will notify you that you might be able to save. If you approve the notification, it will quickly try every discount on offer and use the one that leads to the lowest checkout price.
TopCashback works in a similar way, except instead of trying codes, you need to activate it before you start your purchase. The application will then redirect you to the TopCashback website before sending you back to the website you were originally on.
TopCashback will then get a commission and pay you back a percentage of the sale price. This means that you will pay the top amount at the checkout, and the cashback will be paid into your account on the TopCashback website. The cashback is usually processed within a week or two, and then you’ll need to request the money.
NHS and student discounts
Personally, I use Bluelight for NHS discounts and Unidays for student discounts. There are other discount providers for students, such as Student Beans, but they do require a little more effort. You need to go to their app, check if there is a deal, collect the discount code and add it to your purchase.
One of the reasons I love Bluelight and Unidays is because they’re one of the only ways to get savings on your groceries. For example, Bluelight currently have a discount at ASDA. Groceries make up a significant proportion of peoples’ spending, and shop-wide discounts at supermarkets are rare, so this really is one to be cherished.
Loyalty cards and coupons
The benefits of loyalty cards (such as Tesco Clubcard or Nectar Card) often work in two ways – pseudo-cashback in the form of ‘points’, or coupons based on your regular purchases. These coupons are usually sent to your door, and normally provide great discounts.
You can find coupons in other places too, like magazines or online. If you want to invest a bit of time in couponing, Money Saving Expert has a great page showing loads of the best options.
For larger purchases, you can try price comparison to minimise the impact on your pocket. There are two types of price comparison – comparison between shops and comparison within the same website.
This is best seen on Amazon, where you can get price trackers that show the historical prices of items for sale. This means you can see how good the current price is in comparison to historical prices, as well as allowing you to spot cyclical price drops.
In terms of price comparisons between suppliers, the in-built Google price comparison is pretty good. I also quite like blog post price comparisons, as they give you a bit of context on the product and usually display the information is a more digestible way.
It should be noted that these blogs are usually affiliated to certain shops, and therefore may not be giving a completely balanced view of the market.
My final tips is to explore wholesalers. Wholesalers are places where you can bulk buy everyday products from the companies that businesses buy from.
A well-known example of this is Costco, but there are many others. A lot of wholesalers will require you to have a business to access them, but Costco allows medical and health service employees to get a membership as well.
Wholesalers provide an opportunity to buy the products you use week-in, week-out at incredibly low prices, but they do come with the downside of upfront cost. It’s great to be able to buy pasta and chickpeas for a massive discount, but it’s less nice to have to buy a month supply at a time.
Finally, bulk buying things you use a lot of will also protect you from inflation on those products for a while. With items like pasta significantly increasing in price, you won’t need to worry about that for another few months because you’re protected by your bulk purchase.
I appreciate that the ideas here pale in comparison to the financial difficulties facing us all at the moment. However, I hope that this article provides you an inflatable raft – it won’t hold the waves back, but hopefully it will help you to float long enough while we wait for the storm to pass.
If you want more tips like this, as well as an introduction to bank accounts, saving, investing and buying a home, I cover it all in my book: 15 Minute Finance (available on Amazon).