Tips and tools to manage your money everyday

Here is a 2 page Money Help in Cambridgeshire Checklist that you can use to help yourself or others.

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This page will help you check out tips and ideas to save whenever shopping. It includes ideas for recycled and second hand as well as ways to save on weekly essentials like food

Needs and wants

Keeping in mind the difference between needs and wants is a good place to start.

Martin Lewis’s first rule of shopping is to always check if what you are buying is a need or a want:

Need = something you have to have for your basic well being, e.g. lighting, housing, food and transport – before you do any other shopping make sure you have put money on one side for these first.

Want = something you would like to have, e.g. a new TV, clothes, magazines. This is the stuff that tempts us when we are out shopping but can also cause us stress if we cannot really afford and end up in debt or with bills we can’t cover.

If it is a ‘want’ you need to check you can definitely afford it   by following these three steps:

  1. How much money do I have right now? Find a way to keep track of your balance on a phone, online or by checking at ATM. If you take an unauthorised overdraft it is very expensive
  2. What else will I have to buy this week / this month? Make sure you have worked out your budget for the month before you spend money you may not have.
  3. Can I wait instead?Think how urgently you need this – can it wait? Can you set aside a small amount of money each month and save up for it rather than buying now? Avoid costly ‘rent to buy’ offers – they are seldom good value and can tie you into long term expensive loan contracts

Even if the urge to spend is strong try walking away and thinking about overnight  – and see if you feel the same the next day…


Recycled, free and second-hand

Recycled, free and second-hand goods – there is lots of choice

  • See what’s advertised in local papers and on the internet such as Freecycle, Freegle, Gumtree, Preloved , Ebay plus there are lots of local Facebook groups that sell and swap items
  • Get to know your local charity shops, car boot sales, jumble sales, auction houses and even the Council refuse site – it is amazing what people throw away
  • If you are decorating try your local paint recycling organisation – great choice and low prices – click here for CCORRN in Cambs
  • See if you are eligible for free goods from your housing association or grant help to buy household items – particularly household essentials like a cooker or fridge or washing machine. Look at our help in a crisis page

Shopping online

Being online can save a lot of money – research has shown that savings of over £500 a year can easily be made by using the internet to compare prices, get vouchers and discount codes and check reviews before buying.

If you do a supermarket shop online your basket adds up as you go along plus you can organise cheap time slot for home delivery and save money that way.

Go to the website of your preferred supermarket or  try a comparison site:

Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert is a fantastic web resource for everything to do with saving money online  – take a look at

If you are shopping online always check the site is reputable and that the online checkout is secured by having https:// at the beginning of the address rather than just http:// or look for the padlock icon next to the website address in your browser address bar




Here are some top tips to help save money on your food bills and eat well.

Plan ahead

Planning meals ahead saves money and makes life easier

  • Work out for the week ahead what meals you will have and only buy what you need. Download our meal planner
  • Always make a shopping list
  • Use websites to compare prices before you go
  • Set yourself a spending limit (and stick to it!) – shopping online helps here because the basked adds up as you go along
  • Keep your shopping receipts and check them week on week to see how you are doing
  • Freeze when you  can – buying in bulk or freezing leftovers or heavily discounted goods can be a great way to save

When you are shopping

Shops spend a lot of time working out how to make us spend:

  • Don’t be tempted by offers such as “buy one get one free” unless you can use them or split with a friend
  • Always try to compare ‘unit’ prices (e.g. price per kg or price per litre or price per item) – sometimes goods that are promoted are not always as cheap as the same items in different sizes
  • Look  at the higher and lower shelves – the supermarkets put at eye level what they most want us to buy
  • Take the downshift challenge –  branded goods are not always the best or tastiest – you can save a lot by buying from supermarket Economy and Value ranges
  • Try not to go shopping when you are very hungry – the cafe’s and bakery counters may tempt you to buy more than you need.

Other tips:

  • Don’t forget about local markets and farm shops  or even try growing your own
  • Avoid regular takeaways – a £5 burger meal once a week = £260 a year.




Foodbanks provide emergency help. There are foodbanks in most towns for anyone in need– you need to have a foodbank voucher to claim a parcel for 3 days food help.

Vouchers are available from a range of care and advice workers such as doctors, CAB, health visitors and social workers as well as housing officers.

To find your nearest foodbank  go to our service directory or look up the information on the Trussell Trust website