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This book is designed to help you in many ways. While its main objective is to save you money, precisely how much you wish to save depends on you. There are ways to save a little and other ways to make greater savings. Some require very little in the way of effort, others are not possible without a certain degree of sacrifice or compromise in your life.
Most of us do not earn as much as we think we need, and are constantly left wishing for that little bit extra. This book will not necessarily make you money, which is a different area altogether, but it will help you to utilise what money you do have more efficiently. The book contains valuable advice such as how to make more efficient use of your central heating system, and useful tips such as the secrets of getting a bargain, plus general hints on other areas of life that can save you money.
You may be familiar with many of the ideas mentioned in this book, but do you practice them? Saving money is a little like a régime or diet, it has to be followed strictly for any effect to be noticed. It will take a little while of following this book’s advice before you reap the rewards, but it will be worth it in the end when you find you have more money (or fewer debts) than usual.
Table of Contents:
How To Manage Your Money
Entertainment and Leisure
Keeping The Children Amused
Running Your Own Business
Who can resist a bargain? The shops seem to go from one sale to another. With discounts of 30-60% commonly advertised, it all sounds too good to be true. The allure of sale items is immense and the satisfaction of getting a ‘bargain’ is rewarding. There is, however, a number of rules to learn before you commence your bargain hunting.
• Set yourself a limit on how much you are going to spend and don’t go over this limit.
• Check that the goods you wish to purchase are not damaged or faulty, or you are at least aware of the condition of the product. Many sale items are seconds or damaged stock so they might not be as much of a bargain as you might think.
• Check whether you can return the product if you are not satisfied with it, e.g. if you buy a new jacket but are not sure about the colour, ask them if they will give a refund if you return it.
• Shops are not obliged by law to exchange or refund goods simply because you later decide that you don’t like the colour or the style, but many shops have the decency to go beyond their statutory duties in the name of customer care. Your statutory rights ensure that you have the right to a refund if a good purchased is not fit for its stated purpose, or had been described prior to the sale in a misleading way. A simple change of mind after a purchase does not give you the right to a refund, but many shops care sufficiently for customer relations to offer refunds voluntarily.
• Check the prices of the same product in other stores. If you find it at the same price in another store, tell them and they should try to beat that price.
• Try for a further reduction in the price, as they are often open to dropping the price even more if you make the effort to ask. This is not so much the case with the chain stores, but individual shops have more flexibility.
• Never appear too eager when enquiring about a product that you know you want. If they know that you are definitely going to buy the product they know that they will not have to drop the price for you. It is better to appear only mildly interested, then say ‘Well, I might be interested if the price could be lowered’. They will either laugh at you or come to a compromise that you are more than happy with.
• Check that the product you are buying comes with a guarantee.
• Think carefully if you really need it. Do you have the room and time to make use of it, or is it going to be stuck in the garage in a few months? If you have ever bought a piece of exercise equipment, you will be familiar with such a scenario.
• Don’t lose your judgement.
There are savings to be made in the kitchen both in terms of time, money and the environment. Some of these points may seem obvious or you might already practice them but there is no harm in reiterating these simple savers.
• Don’t overdo it on the washing up liquid. Most detergents are concentrated and only need a minute amount. Don’t squeeze them into oblivion!
• When hand washing either dishes or clothes, always wash from the cleanest to the dirtiest items. This will save both water and detergent.
• Always use a washing up bowl, rather than using the sink. This requires less water to fill: in particular, less hot water, which is expensive. It also allows rinsing (in cold water) exceptionally dirty items over the side of the bowl if you only have a single sink unit, before putting them into the bowl. This keeps dirt out of the bowl and means you are less likely to have to change the hot water.
• Do not wash anything under a hot running tap when you have the plug out.
• Never boil more water than you require: it is waste of water and fuel. If you are making a drink for one it is more cost effective to boil the water in a saucepan (with the lid on, of course) on a gas cooker rather than to use an electric kettle.
• Use a vegetable steamer so it is possible to cook all your vegetables in one pan as opposed to using a number of pans.
• A pressure cooker is a very efficient method of cooking and a number of items can be prepared quickly and easily.
• If you have a gas cooker do not let the flames lick around the edge of a saucepan. This is a waste of fuel and it can ruin your pan. If you have an electric stove, choose an appropriate size ring if you have a choice.
• When using the oven, try to make full use of it. Vegetables can be cooked along with the main course to avoid using the rings. Once you get the hang of cooking many different things together, you will find it will save you time and reduce the amount you have to wash up. Dishes such as casseroles are ideal for cooking in an oven and it is hard to overcook a casserole! If the oven is being used for baking, why not prepare two or three times the original amount and freeze the extra if possible. It will save time in preparation and fuel.
• It is possible to turn the oven off 10-15 minutes before the dish has finished cooking as the oven will retain enough heat to finish the dish off. This only applies to dishes that require a long period of cooking, i.e. over 1 hour, and always double check that the dish is sufficiently cooked.
• Try to keep the lids on pans when you are cooking, unless it specifies in the recipe that you should keep the lid off.
• The smaller you cut your food up the quicker it will cook, saving you precious time and money.
• If you know in advance that you will be cooking something from the freezer, put the food in the fridge to let it defrost thoroughly before cooking. It will cook faster and use less energy.
Keeping The Children Amused
We have all been told stories of the bygone days when children were given a hoop and a stick to play with, and if they were lucky they had a bag of marbles or a lump of coal. This was a far cry from the current world of computer games and the latest space toys.
One of the main contemporary problems is that many toys are merchandise products derived from films or television programmes. Whatever might be in vogue one month could well be out the next when a new super hero arrives. A popular cartoon or television series might be accompanied by a range of products such as toys, books, stickers, clothes or even food.
Children display a remarkable degree of persistence when it comes to trying to make parents purchase these products. It is all very well if you can afford to indulge your children with all that they want, but for those with a low budget or even a moderate wage it is just not possible as these items are far from cheap. Trying to teach your children the value of money and instil in them a sense of control is all part of being a parent. Children have to learn that they cannot have everything they desire because life unfortunately is not quite like that, although explaining this to a young child is never easy.
Keeping a child amused does not have to cost a great deal of money. We may laugh at recollections of how children were kept amused in the past, but perhaps we have just forgotten how much fun could be had without incurring great expense? Many of the old pastimes and games have been lost in a haze of television and computers. Just remember that personal computers have only been around for about ten years! People might argue that keeping children amused has always been expensive, but at least computer technology tends to fall in price as it improves in quality, and there are many fine multimedia educational packages available now which will become less expensive as time goes on.
For those who are not enthusiasts of the computer age, here are a few reminders of how to keep the little darlings amused for next to nothing (or even nothing at all):