With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, naturally funds could be running low while wishes remain … well, they just remain. So here is a little present from me to you


Infinite needs and limited resources: the central economic problem, forcing us to make choices. Yes, it seems cynical and daunting, but there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Relief may not come from money on trees; those pennies from the couch won’t make you rich; and anticipating the death of a wealthy relative is not the best idea. But there are secrets on how to shop smart, get free stuff and even earn money from spending.

Shops may seem like the most mundane places, but they are designed to draw in your loyalty and incline you to overspend. To find the best prices and deals, use price comparison websites like mysupermarket.co.uk and hotukdeals.co.uk. These will do the hard work for you, and you can have the cheapest products listed in seconds. Simple.

Another tip is to avoid the shopper psychology trap. This refers to those bright signs, helplessly hypnotising you and drawing you in like a moth. They entice you with ‘amazing’ offers like saving all of 5p on that pack of cat food. You lose all control and reach up for that box, fingers brushing the cool surface, heartbeat racing as the bold sign whispers sweet encouragements. Stop. And remember: you don’t need this — you don’t even have a cat. Instead, ignore these signs and look around the store more, especially check bottom shelves as they have cheaper products than those at your eye level. Also, avoid meal ‘deals’ when choosing a lunch. And under no circumstances fall for the trap of buying those little bags of sweets when you’re at the checkout — the shop’s last attempt at making you buy stuff you don’t need. In fact the best idea is to pay in cash, so the allure of an overdraft does not plunge you into years of debt.

Completely skint? No worries, there are lots of ways to get freebies, such as on freecycle.org. It will match you with people who want to get rid of their old stuff; sure it may be used, but beggars can’t be choosers. At conventions and university fairs you can easily get new stationary, snacks and canvas bags all for free. There are also ways to make money by offering your opinion on sites like ‘i-say’ and ‘swagbucks’ who pay you to complete surveys on all the topics under the sun. Just remember to never leave money on these accounts but check it out as soon as you reach the payment threshold, as you could lose out if it shuts.

Now the best part: making money whilst spending. This paradox may seem too good to be true, but there are ways to outsmart those pesky retailers. One way is to use cashback apps like ‘shopitize’ and ‘checkoutsmart’, these do as it states on the tin: give you money back for buying products, sometimes more than you paid in the first place! Another way to get paid for using products is to become a product tester, for places like producttesting.uk.com. You will be sent products to try out at home like face creams or gadgets, or if you’re lucky you could get free tickets to cinemas and theme parks — just for your opinion.

There you go. Unless you fell asleep halfway through this, by now you should be a money-saving guru yourself. Just remember that saving money is great, but you don’t have to spend the rest of your life as a Scrooge — you can still have fun and buy cool stuff. Just for the right price.

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