Easy ways to save
Our money columnist Amanda rounds up this week’s bargains, tips and savings to help you make the most of your cash
Someone pointed out to me the other day that they get the same panicky feeling before the summer holidays as they do in the run-up to Christmas. Money starts flying out of your account at an alarming rate and everything seems to have to get done by the end of July, even if you’re not one of the lucky few heading off to the sun for six long lazy weeks.
Here’s how to keep a lid on summer spending:
Take care at cashpoints
The Foreign Exchange business thrives on panic, ignorance and simple inertia. Plan ahead, do some research and don’t throw money away by leaving it till the last minute and exchanging money at the airport – or worse, in your hotel. The rates will be needlessly high. Do not use your credit card to withdraw money from cash points abroad. Not only will you be paying commission of around 3% but you will also be paying interest the moment you take it out. Moneysupermarket.com has a great guide on how to get the best deals.
Get cheaper car insurance abroad
Don’t get stung by forking out extra for insurance when you hire a car. It’s so easy to be frightened into paying hundreds more pounds to escape the minimum excess when you’re tired and facing a long drive on unfamiliar roads in a car that has a steering wheel where the passenger should be sitting, especially when you’re told a mere scratch on the paintwork could cost you up to £500. Instead buy a generic excess insurance before you go. Carhireexcess.co.uk is offering policies for £1.89 a day covering Europe.
Make the most of the sales
If you’re an impulse buyer who then regrets filling your suitcase with expensive tat, which looked good on a beachside market stall, consider buying your souvenirs before you go. Online shops like thewhitecompany.com are clearing the decks before Christmas which means summer trinkets are great value now. Notonthehighstreet.com is slashing 70% from some of their prices. I particularly liked their freshwater pearl earrings (now half price at £10) and their seafood tea towels in red or blue down to £2.98 from £10.95. Get them now and swear blind they were handwoven on a Cornish beach.
One Christmas trick to use now is to max out your reward points. Tesco and Sainsbury are falling over themselves to win our custom at the moment. Devote a few minutes online to boosting your points. If you are doing a lot of flying this summer it might pay you pay for them with a credit card that will maximise your air miles. Which.co.uk have done all the research, so have a look at their guide.
All of nothing
All-inclusive or half-board? Take a realistic look at how you normally eat and don’t get trapped into either eating or spending more than you usually would. All-inclusive resort holidays are a great way to weather those exhausting years when the kids are tiny, demanding ice creams on the hour and happier with a burger by the pool than souvlaki in a tavern, but the novelty, and the value, begin to wane when the teenage years kick in. Do you want to spend your holiday racing to get to the breakfast croissants before the good ones run out or, even worse, forcing teenagers out of bed so they don’t miss the breakfast you’ve already paid for? B&B rates have more flexible restaurant hours and can save you more in the long run.