Times are tight but frugal life doesn’t have to be boring. Follow these secret money-savers and you’ll still be able to afford the little luxuries in life…
* Don’t be a mug, bring a mug
Anyone who takes their own mug into a branch of Starbucks receives a 25p discount off of the price of their beverage, whatever it is. Someone who buys a drink there every day would save more than £90 throughout the year. Another lesser-known Starbucks discount: anyone buying a filter coffee to drink in its stores in the UK or Ireland can have a free tall filter coffee afterwards.
* Milk your birthday
Sign up to restaurant e-mailing lists, tell them your birthday and many will email you a discount code for a cheap meal around the big day. Of course, it would be remiss to fake this. But they don’t tend to ask for birth certificates. To anyone dining out with kids, chains including Chiquito and Beefeater offer free meals to children accompanying adults.
* Book online
Attractions including Legoland and Chessington offer much cheaper deals online, while a night at the movies with cinema chain Cineworld costs 10 per cent less if you book online first.
* Use your member discounts
Schemes ranging from AA and RAC breakdown cover to American Express credit cards offer discounts in entirely unrelated places just for members. AA members, for example, receive 50 per cent off Villeroy & Boch tableware, 10 per cent off Etihad flights and Hertz car hire and up to 60 per cent off West End shows. (theaa.com/rewards).
RAC members can benefit from two-for-one stays at Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels and free child tickets for each paying adult at attractions including Legoland and the Eden Project.
* Subscribe to your favourite magazines)
Regular magazine readers will save a bomb by subscribing to their favourite glossy rather than buying lots of individual copies. A year’s supply of Elle magazine can be secured for £12 from the Hearst website - that’s about the cost of only three newsstand copies. Visit hearstmags.com. Members of the Tesco Clubcard loyalty scheme can exchange £16 of vouchers for a year’s subscription to magazines including FHM and Good Housekeeping.
* A site for not-so-sore eyes: contact lenses)
Contact lens wearers can save a bomb from buying lenses online rather than from the optician. Check if it’s cheaper to just pay for an eye test at your optician, then take your prescription online. Visit lensfinder.co.uk to find the cheapest supplier. And to find out which supermarkets sell their versions of the big manufacturers’ lenses under their own logos, visit moneysavingexpert.com.