images (84)30 Money-saving Shopping Tips


Is the credit crunch forcing you to tighten your belt? Here’s how to shop wisely and save a packet.

1 Go Downmarket
Me, shop for my bathroom at a plumber’s warehouse? Well, yes, if you want to save money… Don’t be afraid to brazen it out and swap shiny, trendy shops for basic warehouses or DIY sheds – you’ll find much the same stuff there, but at much lower prices.

2 Buy Own Brand Labels
Why splash out on a name – whether for cleaning products, cereals or homewares – when many own brand buys are just as good? Look out, too, for ‘value’ ranges, which are cheaper still. Check the ingredients if you’re worried about what’s in them – often, there’s not a lot of difference between ‘no frills’ and own brand ranges.

3 Home Remedies Are Free
About to splash out on a bunch of expensive cleaning products? Why not save money and make your own? Bicarb of soad is great for scouring surfaces and cleaning carpets, vinegar is a great natural glass cleaner and descaler. We’ve got loads of other natural cleaning tips – don’t miss them, they’re free!

4 Buy Rechargeable, Reusable, Recyclable
Do what our grandparents did and be thrifty. Ditch kitchen roll for dishcloths; chuck out furniture polish and use E-cloths (from supermarkets); get rechargeable batteries; don’t pay for plastic bags at the supermarket, take your own trolley… All these things can cost more initially, but in the long run, you’ll make big savings…

5 Buy What Lasts
Getting a great sofa for £100? Truth is, you’re probably not. You get what you pay for with furniture, but how do you know if you’re getting a great deal? Check out our feature, What To Ask When Buying A Sofa so you can look for the tell-tale signs of quality.

6 Make Your Appliances Work Harder
There are lots of ways to go green and save money. Keeping your freezer full makes it work more efficiently; putting a lid on a pan of water makes it boil more quickly; even using washing balls (from Lakeland (opens in a new window)) in your washing machine reduces the amount of soap powder you need to use… Or you could just pick an eco friendly appliance to begin with.

7 Can You Do A Cover Up?
Buying a new sofa? Look for one with loose covers – it will last longer purely because you can wash it when it gets dirty. Having a sofa re-covered is very expensive, as is having new loose covers made. Do the really sensible thing, buy your new sofa with two sets of loose covers – that way, it should last forever.

8 Bought From Ikea?
Most of us have… but if your sofa or armchair is looking abit worn, you can find replacement covers from Bemz (opens in a new window), which sells a fab range of inexpensive covers for Ikea (opens in a new window) furniture.

9 Need A New Bed?
Perhaps you don’t – perhaps a new mattress will do the trick instead. If you’re buying a new mattress, get a mattress protector to go over the top – it will lengthen its life. Fancy memory foam but can’t afford it? You can buy memory foam ‘mattress toppers’. Take it from us, they’re fab… and a fraction of the price.

10 Go For Flatpack
Okay, it’s cheaper, it’s not always well made and it can look like, well, flatpack. But, if you’re a dab hand at DIY and can put it together well (and by well, we mean you might have to add a few extra screws and bolts here and there to make it really sturdy), it can be just as good as more expensive pieces. The trick is to choose wisely and customise it – just check out our feature on Ikea Hacks if you don’t believe us.

11 Get Freestanding Furniture
We know that fitted furniture is a better use of space, but it’s more expensive. Freestanding furniture (flatpack or not) is cheaper and can be just as sturdy. Tall shelving unit or wardrobe abit wobbly? Screw it to the wall at the top and back and it will be just as good as fitted… but cheaper.

12 Buy Big
Choosing to buy bigger packs of everything from cleaning products to cans of paint is usually always better value than buying lots of smaller packs – and don’t forget to keep your eyes open for ‘buy one, get one free’ offers – you can even find these when you shop online.

13 Buy A Set
Looking for new dining furniture? Buying it as a set – in other words a table and four chairs – is much cheaper than buying it as separate pieces. Similarly, buying a box set of cutlery or china is cheaper than buying the pieces on their own.

14 Find A Sneaky Bargain
Don’t just look in the obvious places – there are great bargains to be had from places that sell ex-showhome furniture (try your local Yellow Pages for one nearby); go to discount outlets and shopping villages; buy furniture that’s been returned or orders that have been cancelled – companies such as Trade Secret (opens in a new window) are good places to find bargains; and ask when that sofa you’ve been eyeing up in the window will be sold at an ex-display price.

15 Buy Online
Well, we would say that, wouldn’t we… The famous 4Homes buyer’s guides are a great way to start, plus, soon, we’ll be bring you the 4Homes Where To Shop guide to finding bargains and great buys around the UK. You’ll find the best online buys if you go to price comparison websites.

16 Buy At Auction
Well, we all know that you can get some great deals by buying a house at auction, but it’s also a good way to buy all sorts of other goods, including furniture, at well below market price. Or, you could bid online on Ebay (opens in a new window).

17 Don’t Spend A Penny
You know, it’s much more green to buy recycled, antique, junk shop or just well-loved furniture, and these pieces bring with them a character all of their own. So, why not join your local Freecycle group and see what you can pick up?

18 Make Your Own
Adding curtains or blinds to a window can be hideously expensive, but why shop for them at all when they can be made fairly simply by someone with even the barest of DIY or sewing experience. Follow our how to guides to measuring for curtains, making unlined curtains, lined curtains and fitting blinds. What to bear in mind? If you’re looking for fabric seconds, check for imperfections in the fabric and colour and make sure there’s enough fabric to make everything you need.

19 Get A Secondhand Bargain
Don’t shop for new when second-hand will do just as well. This goes for everything from furnishings and building materials to curtains and blinds. Charity and junk shops are a great place to look for everything from kitchenware to fabrics and curtains. Or, try The Curtain Exchange (opens in a new window), which sells good quality windows dressings at much lower prices than they would be if new. Try salvage yards (opens in a new window) or (opens in a new window), too – reclaimed bricks and timber cost less than new.

20 Buy Last Season’s Range
Who cares that much about fashion? Buying discontinued stock means you don’t have to compromise on quality, but you can still get a great bargain. The downside? There’s less choice, but beggars can’t be choosers…

21 Drop Your Standards, Not The Quality
Looking for a new throw? Perhaps some bedlinen or a new carpet? All-cotton, all-wool, all-silk is all lovely but all costs a packet. Instead, look at compromising a little on quality with a mix. So, choose a cotton percale where you might once have gone for Egyptian. Equally, choose a wool/nylon mix carpet. The results aren’t as luxurious, but they’re cheaper and surprisingly, cheaper synthetics often last longer than all natural products.

22 Go Where You Can Get A Freebie
Buying a new carpet? Getting a sofa? Find out which shops throw in a freebie. Perhaps the sofa company will deliver for free if you ask them nicely – click here to find out how to haggle for a bargain – or maybe the carpet company you’ve chosen throws in the delivery and fitting of their carpets?

23 Go For A Look-Alike
So, you want a new hard floor? Perhaps a real wood oak or limestone tiles? Forget it if you’re trying to save money… but that doesn’t mean you have to forget good looks and quality. You can buy some great look-alikes, or just choose wisely, and save lots of money. So, instead of oak flooring, go for an engineered wood or wood-effect laminate; instead of limestone, choose slate which is cheaper, or ceramic which is cheaper still.

24 Buy During The Sales
Sounds obvious? Many of us have got out of the habit of shopping in sales times, but when it comes to buying larger items, such as new kitchens, sofas or flooring, you can make some huge savings. Bear in mind this golden rule: some companies have permanent sales on – doesn’t mean you can’t ask for more of a discount (or added extras) than they’re offering.

25 Know What’s Cheap & What’s Not
Just as flat-pack furniture is cheaper than solid, so other types of fixtures and fittings vary in price, so it pays to do your research before you set your heart on a particular scheme or look. For example, DIY store own brand paint is cheaper than branded paints – you just have to bear in mind that you’ll have less choice. Equally, built-in baths cost less than freestanding ones; kitchens that come flat-pack are cheaper than those that arrive solidly built from the factory… and so it goes on.

26 Change Your Colour Scheme For (Almost) Free
Fancy a new look for your living room? Don’t feel the need to rush out and buy brand new cushion covers and throws – you could just dye your soft furnishings instead. You can do this yourself at home – but if you want to do the sofa covers or curtains too, we’d advise you seek out professionals.

27 Rifle Through Rubbish
Revamping your home? So are your neighbours… Check out skips for materials or bits of old furniture that they’ve thrown out and that you could reuse or revamp – but remember to ask first if it’s okay to take them. Or, go to (opens in a new window) for some great bargains.

28 Get Credit
If you’re making a big purchase, chances are the company will offer you interest-free credit to let you to spread payments over a period of time. If you take a store card out, you may even be offered a first-purchase discount. Use these, then cut up the cards… Don’t be tempted, ever, by store cards long-term or by deals which mean you spread the payment but end up paying more. It’s better to save up than buy at all in this case.

29 Get Money Off
Is delivery of your new armchair included in its price? If you could squeeze it into your car, ask how much money they’d take off if you drove it home yourself.

30 Do You Need It?
So you might WANT it, but do you need it? We’re not going to patronise you here… okay, we might abit. But ask yourself – can you live without it for another couple of months? Try it, by then you might have changed your mind about having it at all…