Being better with money tops many people’s list of New Year resolutions. If you’re planning to save more in 2017, we’ve got a series of budgeting hacks that will help you put that plan into action, leaving you with more money for the most important things in life.

Switch from plastic to cash

When it comes to paying for everyday purchases, plastic isn’t always fantastic. The Mirror reported that people are likely to spend more when using credit cards. Equally, if you use chip and pin or a contactless card to pay for everything, it quickly becomes difficult to keep track of how much you’re spending and where.

The solution? Use cash.

Let’s say you withdraw £100 on a Monday to cover expenses such as food, fuel and entertainment for the next seven days. This means you know exactly how much spending money you have. When you run out of paper and coins, you run out of money.

If you’re super frugal and have £20 left at the end of the week, only taking £80 out the following Monday is something that will help you save even more money.

Cutting down on food wastage

One of the biggest everyday expenses is food. That doesn’t stop the average household wasting three weeks’ worth of food every year, totalling over £133. One of the best ways to cut down on food wastage is to make a meal plan for the whole week or even month. This way you will know what you’re going to eat every single day, what ingredients you need and what you already have stored away.

Check before you chuck

Failing to realise the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use-by’ dates is another big reason why so much food gets wasted in this country. As a rule, you shouldn’t be eating anything past its use-by date. But best before dates are a little different. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) say they have nothing to do with safety and just mean the food will be past their best flavour but will still be safe to eat.

Buy best before food at huge discounts

Just before supermarkets close is the best time to find heavily discounted food (yellow label) that’s about to go out of date. At the same time, retailers such as Approved Food have found success selling all your favourite brands after their best before dates. This means you can enjoy up to 70% savings on products manufactured by Coca-Cola, Heinz, Kellogg’s and much more.

Just measure it

Modern laundry detergents are two or three times concentrated. This means a full cap is too much for most loads of washing. Using an excessive amount of detergent can cause damage to your clothes and washing machine. Measuring out the recommended amount means you use less detergent per wash, which is cheaper and helps to make your clothes and appliances last longer.

Make ‘em like they used to

When your nan was young, they didn’t have half the cleaning products that are available today. Instead, she kept her home spotless with handmade products, which are both cheaper and less toxic than modern cleaning supplies. From homemade window cleaner to laundry detergent, Greatist provide instruction on how to make 27 thrifty, chemical-free cleaning products.

Shop around for your energy supplier

There are lots of energy suppliers, which means it’s often possible to find better deals than the one you currently have. Ofgem research found that comparing or switching energy tariffs can save households as much as £300 a year. Even if you can’t find a better deal elsewhere, switching to a monthly direct debit will reduce your costs with most suppliers.

Saving on water bills

You can’t choose your own water supplier, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save money on bills. If you’re worried about using too much water, you can have a water meter installed for free. Without a water meter, your bill is calculated using your home’s size, location and other factors. But with a water meter, you only pay for the water you use. If you’re careful, this means you could save £100s.

Efficient energy use

You’ve probably all seen the adverts about how turning off devices at the mains can save money on energy bills. But did you know that appliances manufactured before September 1999 consume a lot more energy than those sold today? For example, Energy Star say a standard-sized dishwasher with an energy star rating uses an average of 12% less energy and 30% less water than standard models.

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