GRANNY’S advice to make do and mend might have fallen on deaf ears in the heady days before the global banking crisis, but post-crash, more of us are looking for innovative ways to save and even make money.
Here are ten household hacks that might help your money go a little further.
As the BBC comedy show Peter Kay’s Car Share illustrates, taking part in a car share scheme can be a good way to get to know people. But it’s also a highly effective way on slashing the cost of your travel, cutting road congestion and reducing your impact on the environment. Your company might operate a car share scheme, but if not, there are many car pooling websites to help drivers and passengers connect. Sharing website www.TripshareEdinburgh.com estimates that the average user of its service saves £880 a year in travel costs. If you only need to use the car occasionally, consider selling yours and joining a car club , so that once you’ve paid the annual fee
of £60, you’re only paying for the car when you’re using it.
Patch up your computer
When the family computer is running a bit slow, it can be tempting to throw it out the nearest window, let alone at the tip. But by just spending a few pounds, you can save yourself hundreds, and help the environment too. Changing or re-installing your computer’s operating system or spending a few pounds to add more memory can in some cases make your computer run like new.
Look out for schemes such as Remade Edinburgh’s computer clinic , which offers free advice on giving your PC a new lease of life. Computer chips typically contain as many as 60 different elements - some of them rare
metals which are mined at great human and environmental cost, so reviving your old computer will not only save you a bit of money, it will ease the burden on the environment
Go swapping, not shopping
Swap shops are a great way of ensuring your unwanted possessions and clothes go to a good home while at the same time allowing you to pick up something new you might not be able to otherwise afford. National websites such as www.swapz.co.uk offer an ebay-style platform for swappers to peruse wanted goods. Clothes swapping is hugely popular, with a host of “swishing” websites offering the chance to refresh your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Look out for forthcoming swishing parties in your area too.
Grow your own food
You’d be surprised at how much food you can grow in your garden - even if it’s on your windowsill. The likes of potatoes, carrots, leeks courgettes, squash, strawberries and beans are all fairly straightforward to grow in the Scottish climate. You don’t even need to spend money on plant pots - you can use old tins, buckets - even old tyres can be repurposed as as potato planters. A good place to start is at Grow Your Own Scotland which has loads of advice on how to start your own edible garden.
Rent out your driveway
If you have a driveway and aren’t using it, you could help alleviate any parking and congestion problems in your area while at the same time making a bit of cash. Renting out your parking space is easy thanks to a range of sites such as Just Park , which offers short stays and Park Let, which offers monthly lets. Both sites take a commission of around 20 to 25 per cent but you could still potentially pocket a few hundred pounds over the course of the year if
parking is at a premium in your area.
Sew it up
Don’t throw away clothes just because there’s a button missing or they have a small rip. If darning isn’t your strongpoint, online resources such as www.ifixit.com offer tutorials in mending clothes - and more - as does loveyourclothes.org.uk. Or you could attend a community repair surgery such as Remade in Edinburgh, which has sewing tutors on hand to help with repairs and minor alterations.
Take the upcycle path
Upcycling - repurposing old, tired household items to give them a new lease of life - doesn’t simply save you money and help the environment by reducing on waste. Whether it’s turning an old ladder into a new set of bookshelves or crafting a chair out of an old suitcase , upcycling projects can be both satisfying and fun, if not addictive.
The Rags to Riches project at Govanhill Baths in Glasgow is a hub of upcycling activity, with regular local inspiring events and workshops.
Rent your clothes
We wouldn’t think twice about hiring a kilt for a wedding but for some reason, many of us still buy expensive suits or dresses for one-off events that spend the rest of their life languishing in a wardrobe. Indeed, it’s estimated that the average UK household owns £4,000-worth of clothes - a third of which goes unused. Websites such as Girl Meets Dress and My Secret Dressing Room allow customers to rent clothes that might be well outwith their budget if they were to buy them, for as little as £30 a time. As well as saving you money - because let’s face it, if you bought it the chances are you’d only wear it once or twice - clothes rental gets the most out of these items, making them more
Offer your house as a student homestay
Language schools and universities across Scotland are always on the lookout for host families to provide bed and board for foreign students. The options are usually fairly flexible - you can provide breakfast only, or dinner too, and the length of stay could vary from a few days to a few weeks. The schools will usually sort out all the paperwork and pay you directly too. It’s a great way to meet people from all over the world and many hosts - especially those whose children have flown the coop - find the process of looking after a foreign student as they find their feet and learn the language very rewarding. The University of Edinburgh and University of Dundee both offer homestay
Weekly rates can vary from around £140 to as much as £280.
If you’re not an enthusiast, DIY, car maintenance or garden work can seem like a bit of a chore. And on top of that, there’s a good chance you’ll need to get your hands on a tool that will quite possibly be expensive and may spend much of its life gathering dust in the shed. That’s where tool sharing comes in. Street Bank aims to create community networks to help neighbours directly share the likes of ladders, paintbrushes and drills as well as any expert knowledge or skills they might have, helping to build community spirit as well as DIY projects.
Recently-opened charity Edinburgh Tool Library , meanwhile, allows members to borrow from its growing catalogue of donated tools.
• This article was produced as part of a partnership between The Scotsman and the Scottish Government