Save money on your spring wardrobe

Ruth Jackson explains how to dress for less this spring, plus two more money-saving tips - and one to avoid.

The world is coming round to my penny-pinching ways. A new survey from reveals that frugality is fast becoming the norm. These days, 51% of us take packed lunches to work, 52% have dusted off their piggy banks to hoard small change, and 36% of Britons are more likely to pick coins up off the street than they were a year ago.

However, some may be taking things a little too far. Of those surveyed, 20% are saving money by cutting their own, or a family member's, hair. So expect a surge in pudding bowl sales.

Get discounted clothing from 'flash' sales

Sign up to discount sites, such as or, and they will send you email invitations to online 'flash' sales that can last anything from a few hours to several days, says Huma Qureshi in The Observer.

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Last month, Vente-Privee was selling off Cacharel dresses for around £25 compared with a usual retail price of £200. Or head down to a sample sale to bag a designer bargain. You can sign up at websites such as,, and to receive more information about when sales of samples are coming up near you.

Squeeze bigger savings from your railcard

If you are lucky enough to qualify for a railcard there are several around aimed at 16-25s, Friends and Family and the elderly or disabled you can get discounts on more than just train travel. Check to see what offers are available with your card. At present, deals include 10% off holidays with STA Travel; a free trial and two free cinema tickets from; 25% off a meal at Bella Italia; and 10% off everything at Dress-for-Less.

Eat for less

Cheap food comes courtesy of Zizzi, who are offering 50% off main courses on Sundays-Thursdays until 31 May. Just print this voucher. Or if you fancy seafood, head to Loch Fyne with a voucher from and get £10 off your meal.

And one to avoid...

Anyone hunting for cheap train tickets should "think twice" before booking tickets through, says Which? The site was taken over by a private-equity firm in 2006 and complaints have rocketed since then.

Customer problems include incorrect payment amounts, difficulties with cancelling tickets or obtaining refunds and tickets not arriving on time. There were just 91 complaints in 2006, but in 2008 there were 276. operates 14 out of 18 booking websites, including those for Virgin, Chiltern and South-Western trains.

If you want to avoid using it, try booking tickets through or

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance. 

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.