Seven ways to prune your outgoings

Ruth Jackson with seven money-saving tips, including how to make your garden grown on the cheap, and an alternative Christmaas postal service.

Get thrifty in your garden

If you buy a large plant for your garden, split it in three "so that you get two or more plants for the price of one in order to fill your beds faster", says Miss Penny Pincher in The Daily Telegraph.

Get paid to shop

Supplement your income by becoming a mystery shopper, suggests Penny Pincher. Retail Eyes offers a range of jobs from visiting a pub to staying in hotels. The idea is that your feedback will help companies improve. The pay is £5-£10 per hour on average. Visit for more.


When you're shopping, don't be afraid to negotiate. This has always been possible when buying large items, but as times get harder for the high street, your power as a buyer increases. In the past I've managed to get around 10-15% off clothes that are in some way damaged. Last weekend Topshop offered me a whopping 33% off a dress with a tiny tear. So have a go after all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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Sell your old mobile phone

There are more than 80 million old phones lying around in Britain with a value of £1.6bn, says Melanie Wright in The Sunday Telegraph. Websites such as or will buy your phone from you. They usually then sell them on in the Middle East, Africa and South America so you can feel good about recycling at the same time as making some cash.

Christmas post savings

When it's time to post your Christmas cards, avoid those red post boxes. If you're sending cards locally, a cheaper choice than Royal Mail is Scouts or Guides post. Between 25 November and 1 January they are allowed to operate a postal service and charge a small fee, says Which? At most it is usually 21p, but this may vary around the country check with your local group for more details.

Get the cheapest tickets

If you are planning to go and see a show or concert, start with This new website operates as a price comparison site and will search ticket vendors for the cheapest deals.

Halve the cost of half term

Special two-litre bottles of Fanta, Sprite and Dr Pepper currently come with 'two for one' entry vouchers for the top Merlin group theme parks attractions including Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Legoland and Sea Life Centres.

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings accounts 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.