Tuesday, 16 September 2014

10 practical tips to save money on driving

Driving is expensive. Cars are expensive to buy, insurance is expensive (check out our blog about saving money on car insurance). Then, after all that, there's still tax and fuel to worry about!
Whilst we all know that the real way to save on fuel is to walk or to cycle, sometimes that just isn't practical. So, rather than suggesting that everyone moves to within walking distance of their work, we've compiled a short list with some tips on how to drive as cheaply and ecologically as possible.

The first five points in this blog relate to techniques to use whilst driving. They focus on using as little fuel as possible whilst also remaining safe.

1. Turn your engine off – If you're in standstill traffic, there's no point in leaving your engine running. If it is safe to do so, and you will be stationary for more than about a minute, just switch your engine off. Modern cars use virtually no extra fuel when they’re re-started without pressing the accelerator so you won’t waste lots of fuel turning the car back on.

2. Keep in the highest suitable gear –
Driving at lower engine speeds helps to keep fuel consumption to a minimum. As a very general guideline, aim to shift to a higher gear at between 1800 and 2000 revolutions per minute (RPM). Don't forget to keep safe though. keep in mind that depending on the car and the driving conditions this might not be suitable.

3. Close your windows if travelling at 60mph or more – The aerodynamic drag on your car of an open window at speeds of 60mph or more adds to your fuel usage. Keep your windows closed at high speeds. 

4. Slow down – Those speed limits are there for a reason! Avoid excessive speeds. Driving at 85mph uses approximately 25% more fuel than 70mph. 

5. Smooth acceleration, gradual braking – This is about anticipating the road ahead. Pull away steadily and smoothly and start decelerating early so breaking doesn't have to be abrupt.

The next five point relate to the upkeep of your vehicle.

6. Check your tyres regularly – It is recommended that at least once a month (and before long journeys) you check that your vehicles tyres are at the correct pressure. Under-inflated tyres are not only dangerous and but also increase your fuel consumption. While you're there you should check the level of tread on the tyres, this is not only to ensure your vehicle is legal to drive but also because worn out tyres can be hazardous.

7. Cut excess weight – Keep only necessary items in your vehicle. We've all been guilty of leaving stuff in the boot for too long, but the extra weight will be costing you petrol. Travel light wherever you can.

8. Air conditioning – use air conditioning sparingly as your engine has to work harder to power the air conditioning machinery. If driving at low speed, open the window instead.

9. Remove unused roof boxes and bars – Roof boxes can be a great way to extend the storage space in your vehicle, but they create a huge amount of drag. Drag means that your engine will have to work harder and that means using more petrol.

10. Only start your engine when you're ready to leave – Modern engines don’t need to be warmed up, so idling before you start a journey simply wastes precious fuel.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Back to School Money Saving Tips

Kitting the kids out ready for Back to School can cost a small fortune. There seems to be a list as long as your arm of essential kit to buy. To help, we have put together some fab money saving Back to School tips, which can make the start of the school term a little easier on your wallet.

Back to school tips:

Stick to a list - Write down a list of everything you need. Then don't veer from your list. There
will be plenty of pretty extras crying our for you to pick them off the shelves (and little voices pleading too) so resolve not to budge and stick to your guns.

Do an inventory first - Before you hit the shops, check if you have any items on your list around the house. It can be tempting to just head out and buy the whole caboodle brand new but it's worth a look first. Have you got pencils and rubbers hiding in drawers? Have you got t-shirts and jogging bottoms that you can use as gym kit? Can last year's lunch box be washed and used again?

Pre-loved can be as good as new - All it takes is a quick clean and nearly new items can be as good as new but will save you a small fortune. Our Nearly New boards are a great place to look for expensive items, such as school coats, logo-ed uniform and blazers, branded P.E kit etc items. If you don't see any listed then post a 'wanted' ad and you might be in luck. Before you hit the shops with your credit card, make it your first port of call.

Check the charity shops - Try charity shops near your child's school, which often have uniform in stock.

Does the school have second hand uniform sales? Ask other mums (or on the noticeboard) to see if they do. Often there are fab second hand sales near the start of term, selling hand-me-down and unwanted uniform and you can find some real bargains.

Hunt down bargains - At the end of the summer holidays supermarkets and high street stores are often tripping over themselves to tempt you with cheap uniform deals and BOGOFs. If you find a multi-pack going for a song or a great deal then buy in the next size up too and stock up.

Buy plain and jazz things up - Plain supplies are often much cheaper and you can add your own personal touch with stickers, badges and colourful doodles. Pound shops are a good hunting ground for plainer items, which you can then customise. Use fabric marker pens to add dots or doodles or pictures to a pair of plain white plimsolls or stickers to transform a plain lunchbox or water bottle into a one your child will be excited to show off to his friends.

Stock up throughout the year - Whenever you spy things in sales or going for a bargain then stock up throughout the year. Make a drawer of 'spares' for when your child goes up a size in clothing or you need to replenish pencil box supplies.

Biro power! You can buy some really colourful and fancy labels but if you want to save a few more pennies on the last leg of your Back to School buying trip then you can use a biro or fabric marker to write your child's name on washing labels and on their pencil cases and lunch boxes instead.

Good luck!