Saving money - mum's method

I was watching Martin Lewis's show on Tuesday and he mentioned the downshift challenge. If you're already a fan of moneysavingexpert then you'll no doubt have heard of this. Basically, you drop down a level at the supermarket:

1) Premium (Finest, best)
2) Brands own (Kellogg's, Bisto)
3) supermarkets own brand
4) supermarket value

Martin suggests by doing this you could save £1000's, full details here. He does say also there maybe things you prefer buying at the next level up. His point is that you buy with your wallet, not your head. How many times have you thought x is better because a) you know the brand or b) it's a named brand?

He has done various tests and often people can't tell or prefer cheaper brands. I personally prefer cheap supermarket cola, for example, I think Pepsi & Coca Cola taste like syrup, but it is down to personal preference. If you don't like, say value beans, you move up a level on that item each week.
There's a thread on about the best and worst from each label.

I tweeted @MartinSLewis during the show when he mentioned the downshift challenge and said what about if you have to buy savers range anyway. The response was 'little we can do on that'.
Now I think he missed a good marketing point here.
Yes, I know he sold moneysavingexpert but it is a mine of useful info. How about a link to:

For me the easiest way to save money, plan meals in advance, yes it sounds like school, Tuesday we have fish, Wednesday meatballs but you can buy what you need with no waste.

I debated writing all meals down on paper and tombola style picking them out, eccentric but fun, well for me.

Another great point, again a MSE board supermarket reductions here and here. Find out when & where, and how your local supermarket reduce stock, insider knowledge.

Also use your local market / farm shop / butchers. They will tell you what is in season, how to prepare and cook.

If you can't cook, now is the time to learn. There are ways for almost everyone:
  • Cooking class (adult education centre / Jamie's ministry of food), apps, 
  • good old fashioned books (library, ebay, charity) online (good recipes and usually helpful hints and tips from people actually using the recipe),
  • experimenting (cooking isn't baking, throw what you want in, weights & measures don't really count, just a bit of sense! And I say this with a lot of end of the month meals coming from less than a carrier on Ready, Steady, Cook!)
  • Asking an elderly / lonely neighbour or family member, many family recipes are lost. You'll learn a new skill and (hopefully) they'll enjoy the company. Offer something in return and make them happy too, your first cake, Christmas lunch, first meal of new year. My neighbour, although elderly has a better social calendar than me, so what about some DIY / window cleaning.

Kate (on Thin Ice) mentioned some great ideas on her How to save money at Christmas post.

How about merging the Christmas presents and money saving one? Only things you make? Now this can turn into a nightmare if you're not careful. I tried a homemade Christmas last year, everyone got food gifts, but I made most into a hamper and costs got way out of hand.
  • Fudge is easy to make and can be flavoured with different things easily.
  • Gingerbread men? The perfect man? You can bake some for friends, attach a poem. Done.
  • Snowman poop? Reindeer poop? Reindeer food? Get the kiddos involved, the love and fun is the point of Christmas. Yes, I'd love a xyz but its not something I can bask in the warm glow of, well unless it's the SMEG fire I want!
As with cooking, if you can't sew, learn! The Internet is full of free sewing patterns as are libraries. Buy old clothes and take them apart for the fabric. Not only will you have one offs but you'll see and learn how they were constructed. Again remember that lovely lady two doors down? Ask her if she sews and could teach you. An hour a week, for a meal, a cup of tea, history transcribed for next generations, her floors mopped, whatever.

A final thought, have you checked if you could get a better deal on broadband packages?

Please leave me a comment with any other ideas you have.

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