The main focus of this blog is how to save money on food and drink across London (simply because we like food and live in London!). However, there are a ton of other ways you can make money. Some are simple, some are niche, some require a bit of effort – but hopefully at least one of our tips will save you money.
You might be exempt for paying for prescriptions, dental treatment, or other health costs if you have:
*Certain health conditions e.g. diabetes mellitus, certain types of epilepsy, or cancer
*Are on a low income
*Are pregnant, or have given birth in the last 12 months
Just remember, you need to apply for an exemption certificate first – you can’t just claim free meds at the pharmacy!
NHS – You can save money on NHS prescriptions by prepaying for them. A prescription costs £9.35 per item, but prepaying for an unlimited number of prescriptions works out as either £30.25 for 3 months or £108.10 for 12 months (payable monthly via Direct Debit)
NHS LIS – If you have a low income, the NHS Low Income Scheme could help you pay for:
- NHS prescription charges
- NHS dental treatment charges
- the cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
- the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment
- NHS wigs and fabric supports
How much help you get depends on your weekly income and necessary outgoings, plus any savings or investments you have at the time you apply. If the amount you have left is low, you may be able to get help through the NHS LIS. Any help you’re entitled to is also available to your partner, if you have one.
Universal Credit claimants who had previously taken out a ‘hardship payment’ between 2014-2021 might be entitled to their money back. Just ask the DWP to review your claim here. Deadline to apply for this is 19th June, 2023
Save money on rent
Property Guardians live in temporary accommodation, often as a caretaker. You play less rent than normal, get more space to yourself, and get to stay in some interest buildings (as random as old police stations, old churches, former pubs etc). However, you may end up sharing larger properties with other Guardians, and may end up moving more often than normal. This BBC article sums it up quite well.
Share a home with an older person – There are schemes where older people living alone, take in a younger person who pays a much reduced rent in exchange for help around the home and companionship (such as watching TV together, or doing their food shopping for them). Perfect for anyone who enjoys helping others, and a bonus can often be living in a bigger space than if you were renting normally. Check out these companies here, here and here.
Housesitting – this is more a way to get free holidays with your accommodation paid for, but worth a look!
Is your rent going up because your landlord says their mortgage is going up? It costs you £3 to check who owns your home and if there is a mortgage on the property. Also, here’s a good video on what you can do if your rent is going up.
Join the gym for free!
Are you a Southwark resident? Southwark Council is offering FREE swim and gym access in six of the borough’s leisure centres as operated by Everyone Active!
TSB has become the first bank to launch an emergency ‘flee fund‘ of £50-£500 for domestic abuse victims.
It also offers a safe space in its 220 UK branches.
Free eye tests
If you have a close relative with glaucoma (parent, sibling or child) then you’re entitled to a FREE eye test! You can also get a free eye test if:
- You’re aged 60 or over
- You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
- You’re under 16, or under 19 and in full time education
- You are registered as partially sighted or blind
You might also be eligible for free eye tests if you or your partner receive certain benefits, such as Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, or Universal Credit, or if you’re under 20 and the dependent of someone receiving these benefits.
Foster and SEND families
The MaxCard is a two-year discount card for families of SEND and looked after children (those in foster care or those with additional needs). You can get free or discounted admission to attractions across the UK, from bowling alleys, zoos and castles. The costs of these cards vary as they’re provided by local authorities and certain charities, but costs start from £5.
Help to Save is a government scheme which aims to help those on Universal Credit save for the future. You can save £50 max a month, and you get a bonus for every £1 you save over 4 years.
Are you eligible for free broadband? If you’re on a pension or universal credit, you can benefit from this six-month offer that TalkTalk are doing with the DWP. Apparently over 4 million people are eligible, yet only 1.2% of people claim this.
Plus visit Kew Gardens for only £1 – just bring proof that you’re on UC with you.
If you’re unemployed and looking for work, you may be entitled to discounted travel with TFL in London, including 50% off adult fares on the bus or Tube.
Buy cheaper clothes and shoes and electronics
Save money on shoes by buying ex-display shoes and imperfects from OffCuts (from Office) and Imperfects (from Schuh). They might be slightly scuffed or damaged, but for the most part, they’re an excellent way to get quality shoes for much cheaper, all year round.
Sample sales are where you can buy brand new clothes at between 50-80% RRP! This is usually excess stuff that hasn’t been sold, and can include shoes, clothing, jewellery, bridal wear and even furniture. Have a look here and here to see current sales.
Charity shops are also a great way to buy second-hand clothes cheaply. A top tip is to shop at charity shops in rich areas as you have a much better chance of getting designer items which are often very good quality.
Buying electronics? Check out the Amazon Warehouse which sells returned or mildly damaged products for cheaper.
Use a VPN when shopping online
Looking to book your next holiday? Use a VPN before you purchase anything as Brits are charged hundreds of pounds more for travel bookings made through a UK website than foreign domains.
Similarly, use a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon? VPNs allow you to get a cheaper deal or even access to films not available to watch in the UK.
Buying software? Use a VPN! Read more here.
Are you a grandparent or a family member who looks after a child(ren) aged under 12 while their parents work? You can apply for “Specified Adult Childcare Credit” from the government. More details here.
Make the most of your shares
Do you have shares?
Make sure you make full use of their perks e.g. one share at £1.72 in Mitchells & Butlers (pub chain) will give you 20% off pub bills. Similarly, one share at £11.38 at Youngs and Co (pub and hotel chain) gets you ongoing money off beer.
It’s not just food – one share in Bloomsbury Publishing at £4 gets you 35% off on books. If you have shares, see what other benefits you could get and you might even save more than the cost of the share itself!
Credit card or debit card?
If you have an problem with an order, it turns out to be faulty or fake, or if the business goes into administration, your credit or debit card provider allow you to chargeback – which is a way of getting your money back from the provider easily and painlessly. However, make sure you put any transactions over £100 on your credit card as you then get Section 75 rights, which gives you even more protection if something goes wrong with your purchase.
In education and under 19? You can get free sanitary towels in schools if you need them to access your education.
Tricky Period collaborate with libraries, stations an other community spaces to provide period products for those experiencing homelessness and poverty. Collections and donations are both welcome.
Ask for Sandy in Morrisons to get two free towels – no questions asked.
Camden libraries offer free periods – no questions asked
Bloody Good Period donate towels to refugees and asylum seekers in London
Get £15 off your first order of period products with Ohne!
If you’re a student, you can get a range of discounts via your NUS, Totum, NUS Extra, UniDAYS or StudentBeans card, including:
- Iceland – 15% off your food shop in store – no min spend
- Amazon prime – get 6 months free
- Co-op – get 10% off groceries
- Clothing – clothing stores do a variety of discounts
Offers are very comprehensive, and cover everything from IT, travel, entertainment, makeup, fashion etc. If you’re a student, worth getting at least one of them!
Find lost money or pensions
My Lost Account helps you find any bank or savings accounts you might have lost track of (and have money in!). It’s a free service, so worth trying out even if you’re super organised and have never lost track of anything.
Track down any pensions you may have forgotten about.
NS&I also allow you to check if you have any Premium Bonds (or unclaimed prizes)
Iceland – interest-free loans on your food shop
Iceland are offering interest-free loans of up to £75 to people struggling to buy food. This allows people on a budget to buy food online and in-store. Repayments are set at £10 per week, and you can apply for multiple loans if needed
If you’re aged over 60, you can get a range of discounts:
- Iceland – 10% off your food shop every Tuesday – no min spend
- B+Q – 10% off gardening products every Wednesday
- Specsavers – Free eye tests and 20% off glasses and lenses
- Alton Towers – 50% off entry
- Cinemas – the large chains offer discounted tickets (including free tea and biscuits at quite a few of them!)
- Travel – take advantage of discounted tube, train and bus tickets from local providers
Everytime you buy anything online, make sure you search for voucher codes before checking out, as that’s just an easy saving.
VoucherCodes have gone further and started to guarantee that all their online voucher codes will work, or otherwise they’ll give you a £20 gift card. Read more here on what to do if you spot an incorrect or invalid code, and how to claim your freebie.
AllotMe – Love gardening? Borrow a neighbour’s garden and grow your own fruit and veg! Have a garden but doing nothing with it? Lend it to a neighbour and let them turn it into something special!
Allotment – Otherwise, see if there are allotments near you. There are waiting lists as they are very popular, and not every council has them, but look here to see what is available around London.
Get support with energy bills
British Gas – Struggling with bills? British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charity which helps families and individuals facing financial hardship and energy debt across England – regardless of who your current provider is.
British Gas – If you have an energy debt between £250 – £750, then this fund (opening on 12th September) can help you pay off your debt. You don’t even need to be a British Gas customer to apply.
Priority Services Register – this is a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations. Contact your energy supplier or network operator if you are struggling to pay for energy, or think you may find it difficult. Rules means suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford and you can ask for ‘emergency credit’ if you use a prepay meter and can’t top up.
The Mayor of London’s Warmer Homes programme provides free heating, insulation and ventilation improvements for low income Londoners who own their own homes or rent privately. Grants between £5,000 and £25,000 are available to eligible low income homeowners and private tenants,
WFH tax refund
If you work from home, you may be eligible for a tax reduction. Find out here if you’re eligible.
Become a mystery diner where you can eat out for free! Usually you buy a certain meal, do a task, then get your money refunded after the meal. There is a small bit of work involved, but you can choose assignments – although the plummy ones do go fast!
Plus it’s not all restos, if you’re over 18, then you can also mystery shop at pubs, bars and supermarkets which sell alcohol.
Register your property
Own a home? Reduce fraud against you by registering your home, and you’ll also get email alerts when certain activity occurs on your monitored properties, so you can take action if needed.
Are you married?
Are you married?
You could save £252 a year by transferring some of your Personal Allowance to your partner.
Save money on travel
Split My Fare allows you to find the cheapest way to save money on train travel. Just enter your journey here to find the cheapest possible tickets.
Want to go by car? You can car-share for one-off and regular trips with LiftShare, or you can hire a car for the hour or day as needed.
Travelling abroad? Not only can you go via National Express, but if you want to fly, don’t take the train or a taxi to the airport, that’s right, just book a bus or coach!
Free tickets to gigs, festival, sporting events
Want to get free tickets to sporting events or musical festivals? Volunteer to work with them as a cleaner, as a steward or in some other way, and you often get a free ticket in exchange for a bit of work. Here’s a great article on how you can attend Glastonbury for free if you work as a litter picker.
Rent out your place temporarily
Make a bit of spare cash by renting your house or flat (rented or owned) to a TV and film company! London is the most popular part of the country for filming, and companies need property of all kinds, from stately homes to grotty bedsits. Look here or here for more details.
Be a guinea pig
If you have time, but not much money, why not be a guinea pig for students or learners? Your ‘service’ might take 2-3 times longer than normal, but you get a really good service that is usually being monitored by an expert.
- Want free dental care? Get it at King’s here.
- Need a free or cheap haircut/blowdry/colour? These are done by hairdressing students (but always supervised by an experienced hairdresser!) and can take 2-3 times as long as normal priced cuts.
Open Barbers in Hoxton run a ‘pay what you can’ scheme for all genders
Free London Barbers in Shoreditch offer free barber cuts
Hari’s in Chelsea offer discounted male and female cuts from £7
Hob Academy offer free cuts and blowdries, or £20 for colours
The Gina Conway Academy (Notting Hill, Fulham, Wimbledon) offer cuts for £5 and colour for £15
Sassoon Academy offer men’s cuts from £3 and colour from £25
Toni & Guy offer cuts for £10 and tints from £30
Half price food before closing
ITSU offers half price sushi 30 mins before closing in all their branches, as do Abokado (half price sushi and salads) and The Japan Centre. Plus a number of bakeries offer this as their products are meant to be eaten on the day of making. So keep an eye on what time these places shut, and slink in slowly before closing…
Some local areas organise small ongoing discounts of independent shops (usually between 10-30% off RRP), so this is a good way to save money if you always buy a morning coffee on your way to work, buy lunch now and then, or even buy flowers every weekend. It’s worth checking out discounts aimed at residents or local workers for the area you live/work in. For instance, see what’s happening in Baker St or London Bridge or Local Buyer’s Club or Maida Vale or Brent or Greenwich or Waterloo/Southbank.
Yellow sticker savings
Yellow stickers – a.k.a. reduced to clear items in supermarkets. Each supermarket has its own yellow sticker schedule, but generally, the closer to closing time and the bigger the store, the better the discount. More generally:
Tesco – first reduction at 8am, second reduction in the afternoon, then the biggest reduction in the evenings.
Waitrose – first reduction in the morning, second reduction mid-afternoon, then final reduction an hour before closing. The smaller Waitrose’s tend to have poor pickings so worth visiting a bigger store.
Sainsbury’s – Prices reduced by up to 25% by 1pm, then 50% at 5pm, then up to 75% at 8pm. If you go half hour closing, you can very easily get some 90% off bargains.
Lidl, Aldi and Morrisons – Check first thing in the morning for offers up to 50%, then an hour before closing for similar offers.
It’s all very random and feast-and-famine in terms of what you might bag, but you can get some fantastic bargains.
AKA the Lifetime ISA – all you need to do is pay in £4k each tax year, and the government adds a 25% bonus on top! You must be over 18 or under 40 to open one, and you can only withdraw money if you’re buying your first home, are aged 60 or over or have less than 12 months to live. More here.
Don’t have a spare £4k? Never mind – you can open one with at least £1 (and even then you’ll still earn 25% on that)
Download app –> free coffee
A lot of the larger companies have apps where if you download them, new app users can normally claim a free gift – sometimes a sweet treat, sometimes a coffee. And if you’re a regular somewhere, especially coffee shops and bakeries, they often do loyalty schemes where if you buy 6 coffees, you’ll get the 7th free. Here are a few examples.
Does your work offer discounts? Most obvious discounts are for NHS staff, or even students, but quite a few organisations often have schemes which aim to offer certain discounts such as reduced gym fees, help with paying your travel fees, save money on your weekly food shop (for you and family members) etc. It does vary from company to company, but it’s worth checking on your work intranet for more details.
Share your subscriptions!
Got a Netflix account? Great – ask your friend with an Amazon Prime account if you fancy sharing passwords (and not only doubling what you can view, but at no extra cost). Has your flatmate got a gym membership which she only uses twice a week? Use it for when she doesn’t go to the gym, and offer her your ASOS next day delivery membership details. Share what you have and borrow what you don’t.
Birthday freebies are a nice bonus, especially if you like to go out and treat yourself on your favourite day. Quite a few places offer a free coffee or slice of cake on your birthday, so make sure you make full use of that!
Tickets for Good offer free tickets to NHS staff, charity users and healthcare students across the UK! This includes sporting finals, West End theatre tickets, world-class festivals and huge music gigs. You just need to pay £3.50 booking fee.
Visit Kew Gardens for free – just bring your NHS ID with you.
Got kids? There’s a few ways to save money, including
Kids Eat Free offers which is normally where a child gets to eat for free when an accompanying adult buys a main meal. there are a few exceptions though. These tend to mainly run during half-term and summer holidays, though some are year-round.
Blue Peter – Get a Blue Peter badge for free (and minimal effort from your child!) and a benefit is that you get free entry into over 200 Blue Peter attractions including theme parks, zoos and museums. Kids must be 6+