We've been bending over backwards here to find new ways to save cash. We started at A and have been slowly working our way up to Z trawling the net for thrifty tips.
We've been bending over backwards here to find new ways to save cash. We started at A and have been slowly working our way up to Z trawling the net for thrifty tips. And it has taken many, many man hours. OK, no, we didn't really try to work our way through the alphabet but every now and again we find things that we reckon are worth highlighting. Some you already know about but have forgotten to use, some are fairly new...
Order your home heating oil now
Oil (at least at time of writing this) is at $60 a barrel. Prices at the petrol pumps have been holding reasonably steady but what about your home heating? If you're depending on oil for your central heating then now is a good time to check your tank. If you reckon you need a fill, don't wait til the first few chilly days of October when you need to heat your house, order it now. Demand in the middle of July isn't exactly high which is why you'll pay a bit less. You could try ringing around a few local companies which is a bit fiddly but up to recently the only way to do it - or go online to Boilerjuice.ie. Fill in your details and they offer an instant quote. You get a better price if you need to fill your tank (usually a 1000 litres depending on the tank). The site is also planning to bring buying weekends into operation soon. So what's a buying weekend? If everyone orders at the weekend, the synchronisation allows the nice people at Boilerjuice put in a bulk order first thing on Monday morning meaning, in theory at least, a cheaper price for everyone. If there aren't enough people in your area ordering at the same time and the group discount is not available, you can still go with the original quote you were offered by ordering as an individual.
Use free web texts instead of sending them from your phone
Look if you didn't have access to the web you wouldn't be reading this right now. We sometimes forget what is readily available for free and spend money unnecessarily just for the sake of convenience. Bet if someone texted you right now you'd pick up your phone and text them back - spending a few cent - depending on your account settings - in the process. This can eat away at your credit or add to your bill so why not try sending a webtext. All of the mobile phone operators provide this service on their websites and it's free. Although depending on the provider you will have to pay a set fee if you go over the limit. You can send 250 web text messages a month with O2, and 300 with Meteor or Vodafone. And you have a nice big keyboard to do it on. What's not to like? You don't have to sign up or commit to anything - just remember to use it.
It sounds simple but why not ditch the car a couple of days a week and car pool to work. You'll save on fuel and wear and tear. Try the new all-Ireland website Tripmi.ie - a site that "connects drivers and passengers for carpooling and drivers with other drivers to car-share". According to Liz Gill and Breda Walsh, founders of the site, carpooling cuts drivers' travel costs by at least 50pc, reduces carbon emissions and traffic congestion. Plus it'll be easier to find a parking space if there are fewer of us on the road. Here's how it works - you can create a profile on site and choose your preferences - talking, smoking or music (or all three?). You can then find your TripMates and communicate through the site without revealing any personal information. If you don't make a match, the site will store your trip details so future TripMates can get in touch. Tripmi also caters for groups - the school run, weddings, music festivals or sports fixtures. The site is free for individuals.
Find home remedies in the kitchen
Just how did they clean things in the 20th Century without Cillit Bang? The web is full of ideas - chief among them vinegar. The humble bottle of white malt has a lot more uses than you think. Ok so you may like to drown your chips in it but you can also use to take the irritation out of jellyfish stings, descale your kettle or iron, clean your washing machine and dishwasher, take stains out of clothes or even clean your bathroom with it. For best results use white or distilled vinegar (the brown stuff will stain). Get yourself a spray bottle or wait til you've used up the last of your usual spray cleaner. (Wash the bottle out if that's the case). Fill your bottle with one part vinegar to one part water and use it to spray over your loo and handbasin - if you want something that smells more refreshing adds a few drops of lavender oil. (You must have some essential oils left over from Christmas lying around somewhere). Then simply wipe off.
Clean the dishwasher by running a cup of vinegar through the ordinary wash cycle. Same goes for your washing machine. It'll cut through any limescale and greasy build up. A handful of baking powder and a half cup of vinegar will unblock a drain - rinse with hot water afterwards. Fancy making some bread and don't have any buttermilk in the house? Add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk. Wait five minutes for it to thicken and viola - buttermilk.
Have friends everywhere? Sometimes email just won't do. Why not use Skype? It can be downloaded free on to your computer and will allow you make calls all over the world for nothing - using your dial up or broadband connection. It's available to individuals and business users and so long as the person you are calling also has Skype then you can blather on to your heart's content as long as you like - for free. Hurray! You can also get Skype on your mobile phone and if you have a Skype number (for which you will pay a fee) people at home in the same area code as your Skype number can ring you abroad for the price of a local call. You won't be charged for taking the call, unlike your mobile phone. This last one is probably only worth having if you travel a lot.
Read your newspapers online
We seem to have an insatiable appetite for the news. But it costs €1.80 a day for a quality broadsheet. It costs up to €2.50 for a Sunday newspaper - and you've been limiting yourself to just the one cos you're a little more cost conscious these days. If you add it up, buying a paper every day at €1.80 comes to €10.80 by Saturday morning - and that's before the €2.50 for the Sunday paper. Hmm.... €13.30 a week on something that you're going to throw out (ok, recycle) anyway. That's €691.60 a year or a decent sun holiday abroad for two adults. Well you can read them all for free online. Ok, there's not the same satisfying run to the shop on a Sunday morning for the paper and some overpriced freshly baked muffins or that latte with an extra shot but you'll be able to pick and choose what interests you without handing over any cash and there's far more variety. We're not saying stop buying newspapers altogether - there's no denying there's a certain pleasure to perusing the news while having a cuppa or while you're on the bus/waiting in the doctor's surgery but just think about it. If you're unlikely to get a chance to read the newspaper today then don't buy one - or wait til you know there's a supplement you want to look at - eg the business section in the Irish Times is on a Friday or the sports section is in the Irish Independent on a Monday. Most quality Sundays give a good overview of the news over the previous week if you want to treat yourself then. And, in fairness, we could all use a fresh muffin to go with the hard-to-digest news. But if you can't make it to the shops try the Sunday Tribune online, The Sunday Business Post and the Sunday Times.