Cut the cost of child minding

Childcare can be a huge expense, so rather than paying for a babysitter every time you want a night off, use your friends. Form a scheme with other parents where you watch each other’s children for free, says Stephen Giles in The Daily Telegraph. You earn credit when you look after someone else’s children, which you can then ‘spend’ at a later date when you need a break from your little terrors. To make the process simpler, log on to Mynightoff.com, in which groups can set up a page where members can book babysitting slots.

Keep warm for less. As the nights get cold and thoughts turn to heating bills, reassess how you heat your home. One of the most efficient forms of heating is a wood-burning stove. These can be picked up cheaply at reclamation yards, and most are salvageable with a coat of blacking, says Giles. As for wood, you can usually pick it up for free at furniture manufacturers, timber yards and demolition sites – but ask before you take.

Live for free. Property management firm Camelot finds professionals to live in its empty sites – which range from penthouse apartments to warehouses – and act as guardians as a form of security, says Giles. The rents are very low and they try to secure tenants a three-month stay with a minimum of a month’s notice to quit. To learn more, visit Camelotproperty.com.

Haggle for a car. A recent survey revealed that only two-thirds of new car owners haggle on the forecourt. Before you head to the showroom, do some research on the discounts on offer, both online and in your area. Also check What Car?, which will tell you the average price you can expect to pay, says Emma Lunn in Scotland on Sunday.

Watch a film for free. If you buy two or more cinema tickets costing over £10 at Cineworld using a Mastercard before 31 October, you can claim two free tickets, says Martin Lewis on Moneysavingexpert.com. Simply keep your receipt and complete the form at www.mastercard.co.uk/cinema.

And one tip to avoid…

“Ditch those energy-guzzling outdoor Christmas lights and festoon your garden with Firewinders,” says Sarah Lonsdale in The Sunday Telegraph. A pack of the 14 wind-powered LED lights costs £100. But they need a breeze of at least four miles an hour to light up. So unless you don’t mind going without festive cheer on still days, stick with the old-fashioned option.