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Things are tough right now, and we’re all looking for ways to save money wherever we can. You may well feel you’ve tried everything and ends still won’t meet. But it’s always worth having a look at what you’re spending to see if there is anywhere you can save money without making things harder for your family.

And remember you can always access help from the Money Talk Team. This service helps parents make their money go further and find any ways to save money.

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Money saving tips

Tip #1: Shopping lists and meal planning

Mum and toddler preparing food in the kitchen

For lots of families, food shopping is one of the biggest costs of the week. Planning meals and taking a list with you when you do the weekly shop can help you save money, as you’re only buying what you need, rather than what looks good. Lots of supermarkets' online shopping sites also let you save your shopping list, so it’s quick and easy to do the shop every week.

Our page on feeding your family on a budget has lots more tips, as well as advice on available support.

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Tip #2: Shop second-hand

Charity shops and second-hand stores are great places to shop for clothes and toys. Not only will you save money, you’ll also be doing your bit for good causes and the environment. Why not try challenging your wee one to find a toy or gift that fits your budget in a charity shop and see what they come up with?

Find out more on our shop second-hand page

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Tip #3: Shop around for mobile and broadband

There are lots of ways you can save on your mobile and broadband packages. You can find helpful tips for lowering the cost on the Ofcom website.

If you’re having problems paying your bill, it’s a good idea to talk to your provider as soon as you can. Ofcom has more advice on what to do in this situation and you can always get advice from the Money Talk Team.

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Tip #4: Save on travel

All young people and children aged 5-21 years can apply for a card to access the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scheme. If your child is aged 16-21 they can apply themselves, but if they’re younger then you’ll need to apply on their behalf. You can find out more about the scheme and how to apply at

If you’re travelling by train, Scotrail’s ‘Kid for quid’ offer means that for every paying adult, up to four children can travel for £1. This all year-round offer, including school holidays, and is valid on off-peak and weekend travel. To find out more visit the ScotRail website.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to save on travel too. The Transport Scotland website has information about other free or discounted travel schemes here.

You can use the Traveline journey planner to plan your journey.

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Tip #5: Save money driving

Of course the easiest way to save money on fuel is to leave the car at home – but for many of us this isn’t an option. However, there are ways you can save on petrol or diesel, like making sure your tyres are always inflated and clearing any clutter from your car so you’re not carrying extra weight.

For more tips, take a look at the Money Saving Expert website.

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Tip #6: Talk to your bank about your overdraft

An overdraft lets you borrow money through your current account by taking out more money than you have in the account – in other words you go “overdrawn”. There’s usually a charge for this, either a one off charge or interest on the loan, or maybe both.

You can ask your bank for an overdraft – or they might just give you one when you open the account. Having an agreed overdraft is nearly always cheaper than going overdrawn without an overdraft in place. 

However, an overdraft is a type of loan. If you need to borrow money, there might be cheaper ways to do it. Our information on borrowing money has advice on this. You can find out more about overdrafts and how they work on the Money Helper website.

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Tip #7: Switch your bank account

One way you may be able to save is by switching your bank account. Some banks offer cash incentives for you to switch, or you may find that another account offers you better rewards, like cashback on bills, or a cheaper overdraft. You can find the best account for you using a comparison website – the Money Saving Expert website has tips for finding the right account for you.

You might think switching sounds like a hassle, but the Current Account Switch Service makes it easy for you (even if you’re in overdraft) and is completely free, as any interest or charges incurred as a result of your switch will be refunded.

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How to make sure a broken appliance doesn't break the bank

It's an absolute nightmare when you have to replace or fix an appliance. For those times when it simply isn’t worth fixing something, there are ways to make buying a new appliance cheaper. Here are some tips to help.

Tip #1: Hunt around for local swaps

There are lots of groups across Scotland where people are giving away appliances to anyone who can come and pick them up. Have a look online for groups in your local area (for example, on Facebook or Gumtree) and maybe even post what you are looking for into a group. You never know your luck!

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Tip #2: Shop second-hand

Buying appliances second-hand can save you a lot of money. Look for stores that have the ‘Revolve’ logo. Revolve is a re-use quality standard for shops who sell second-hand goods in Scotland. This means any appliances sold there will have been checked over so they work, PAT safety tested and meet modern safety standards.

You can find out more about shopping second-hand here.

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Tip #3: Check if you’re eligible for grants or support

There is lots of help out there for families who need a hand getting kitchen supplies and appliances, including budgeting loans or budgeting advances. You can get advice about grants and loans from the Money Talk Team.

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Tip #4: Apply for an affordable credit loan

Affordable credit is a more reputable alternative to high cost credit, such as pay-day loans. It is offered by not-for-profit social lenders. These companies aim to help you access credit, even if you’re on a lower income. They also provide further financial advice such as help in applying for benefits, opening a basic bank account or debt advice.

You can find a credit union near you here. One organisation, Fair For You, offers affordable loans to buy essential household items that the borrower can pay back in flexible instalments.

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Tip #5: Buy energy efficient

Energy efficient products can be more expensive but it's worth it over a long period of time because you'll save on your energy bills. You can find out more about choosing an energy efficient appliance on the Energy Saving Trust website. Our page on saving on energy bills has more tips.

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