My week of being clever with my cash

These are the kinds of savings I make every week – and you can do it too.

When I started Be Clever With Your Cash I wrote a series of blog posts under the title Save-ometer. Every day for a year – every single day – I kept track of what I spent and how much money being clever with your cash could save. The figure at the end of 12 months surprised me. It was a whopping £13,917. 

I tried to repeat this in 2016, but it wasn’t to be. Painstakingly detailing all the possible savings takes a long time, and to be brutally honest I had better things to do!

So rather than a year, I’ve kept track for just for one week. Everything I’ve spent has been totalled up, and I’ve calculated what it could have cost if I’d just spent without thinking.

Here’s a video diary of the savings as I made them:

Could being clever with my cash make me £12,000 better off?

So, the total was a saving of £237! Just from one week.

That’s around £1,000 a month, and over a year adds up to £12,325!

I wouldn’t be surprised if I hit this total, or even exceed it.

Yes, not everything I did this week will happen every week. But there are plenty of potential savings (and big ones too) that didn’t happen this week. And this doesn’t even take into account things like switching energy, getting the best interest rates or cashback.

Your week won’t be the same as mine, but the principle remains the same. Of course, it doesn’t mean I’ll have an extra £12k in my bank. But it does mean I can do more with what I earn.

Think about how you spend – be clever with your cash – and you’ll have more money to spend as you need too – whether that’s on essentials, luxuries or even just building up savings.

If you want a breakdown of all the ways I spent and saved, keep on reading.

How I made savings of £237 in one week

Here’s my diary of what I spent and how I saved.


Today I was at work in central London, and out with friends in the evening.

– Tube

  • Cost: £9.50
  • Saved: £3
  • Made (from cashback credit card): 9p

Now I don’t travel into town every day I don’t buy an annual season ticket (normally the biggest way to save). Instead, I pay with a contactless card. I took four trips today and the daily cap was £9.50. Individually the journeys would have cost £12.60, while a day travel card would have been £12.50.

I also used my American Express card, which earns 1% for every full pound I spend, so that’s 9p made (I promise these small savings do make a difference over the year!).

– Lunch

  • Cost: £1
  • Saved: £6.95
  • Made: £0

It took me five minutes this morning to make a sandwich for lunch. I’ve not weighed out exactly how much cheese I used or calculated the price of each tomato I used, but for two cheese and salad sarnies it comes in at around a quid. If I’d popped down to the Chilango burrito joint below my work it would have cost £7.95!

– Drinks

  • Cost: £11.75
  • Saved: £0
  • Made: 11p

I bought a round for my colleagues after work. It was only a quick drink so normally I’d avoid rounds as I either end up paying for more than I drink or feeling bad I didn’t buy a drink in return. But this was a little different as we were celebrating my friend’s new baby.

– Dinner

  • Cost: £22.50
  • Saved: £14
  • Made: 22p

However, I then went on to dinner with old school mates. We went to Wahaca, a good value Mexican chain, and found it was Taco Tuesday! This knocked £4 each off the bill, plus staying there for an extra drink and playing free table football worked out £10 cheaper than the original table tennis plan.


One of my days working at home on the blog, but again, meeting up with a friend in the evening.

– Breakfast, lunch & dinner

  • Cost: £0
  • Saved: £3.85 (average amount wasted on food per person each week)
  • Made: £0

Today I was working at home so food is obviously going to be cheaper. But I took advantage of our freezer contents to use up leftover bolognese. The average family wastes £600 a year, working out at £200 per person, on food that goes off or leftovers that are thrown away. So the £3.85 figure I’ve used is the average weekly amount people save.

– Tube  

  • Cost: £5.60
  • Saved: £0
  • Made: 5p

– Free comedy

  • Cost: £0
  • Saved: £17 (price of a Comedy Store ticket on a Wednesday)
  • Made: 11p

Tonight I headed to ITV Studios to see a free recording of Harry Hill’s new panel show. You can get tickets to all sorts of TV and radio programmes, and though they can be frustrating when you watch the same joke again and again in retakes, it’s still a very cheap way to see some entertainment.

– Drinks

  • Cost: £11.50
  • Saved: £7.70
  • Made: 11p

It’s a Wednesday night so there’s no need for a double! However, that’s the standard serving at the bar we visited. So I asked for singles, saving close to £8.


Another day at the office in town, then a trip to the movies after.

– Tube

  • Cost: £6.70
  • Saved: £0
  • Made: 6p

– Lunch

  • Cost: £1
  • Saved: £6.99
  • Made: £0

– Cinema

  • Cost: £4.25
  • Saved: £10.54 (extra to go to the Vue cinema around the corner)
  • Made: 4p

After work, I head to the Odeon in Panton Street, near Leicester Square. Tickets here are already cheap, but I’ve got an NUS card (here’s how you can too), and not only does that give you student price, you get an extra 25% off at Odeons from Monday to Thursday. I also saved an extra 10% through buying an Odeon gift card from Zeek.


An early start today as I headed into London for the newspaper review on Share Radio.

– Tube

  • Cost: £9.50
  • Saved: £3
  • Made: 9p

– Wifi/cafe

  • Cost: £0
  • Saved: £4 (price of one hour BT wi-fi pass or a drink and cake)
  • Made: £0

I had a few hours to kill between the radio slot and meeting up with other money bloggers for lunch. I needed to work, but rather than heading to any old cafe where I’d have to buy food and drink, or pay for wi-fi elsewhere, I went to a place I know I can work in peace and not have to spend any cash.

Frustratingly the free wi-fi didn’t work, but I was able to “tether” the data from my phone and use my contract.

– Lunch

  • Cost: £17.50
  • Saved: £0
  • Made: £0

We headed to Dishoom in Covent Garden for lunch. Though not the cheapest place, it’s exceptional value for the quality you get.

– Cinema

  • Cost: £9.38
  • Saved: £6.62
  • Made: £0

A few weeks back I bought a membership for the Picturehouse Central in London. It’s an amazing cinema. Membership gets you four free tickets, £3 off other tickets and access to a great members bar (where I often use as an office when in town).

I managed to get the membership half-price at £37.50, meaning the “free” ticket worked out as £9.38 rather than £13 – but with all the future savings I’ll make with the card it could potentially be less.

– Supermarket

  • Cost: £41.86
  • Saved: £22.50
  • Made: £0

Yes, that’s right we saved around 25% on an online Waitrose order. There are a few ways we did this. First, we used special offers on things we needed. Second, we used own brand or cheaper options for some things. Third, we signed up for Waitrose Pick Your Own Offers (giving 20% off selected items). Fourth, we returned substitutions we didn’t want (it’s a waste of money keeping the replacements if they’re not want you want). And finally, we used a discounted gift card from Zeek.


Catching up with friends in South London, a (horrendous) Crystal Palace football match and then dinner with friends.

– Petrol

  • Cost: £46.47
  • Saved: £3.74
  • Made: £46p

Petrol isn’t cheap, but we knew we’d need to fill up so did it locally rather than on the M25.

– Football

  • Cost: £23.50
  • Saved: £16.50
  • Made: 23p

The last match I’ll be able to use my NUS card to get a discount at as they’ve now changed the definition of concession from “student” to 18-21 years old. On current form that might be no bad thing.

– Train

  • Cost: £2.30
  • Saved: £1.40
  • Made: 2p

I used contactless for this short train trip after the match. Since this route isn’t run by Transport for London, you’re encouraged to buy a paper ticket, which actually would have cost more than tapping in and out!

– Beers

  • Cost: £4.50
  • Saved: £1.49
  • Made: £0

Another NUS discount, this time at Co-op, where tasty craft beers were three for £5, then even less with a 10% student discount.


Some shopping, then forward planning for a train trip next month.

– Ikea

  • Cost: £35.75
  • Saved: £30
  • Made: 35p

I needed some storage for my office and it worked out close to half-price cheaper in Ikea than WH Smiths for the equivalent.

– Train

  • Cost: £42.50
  • Saved: £72.50
  • Made: 42p

I’m going to Sheffield next month. Buying an off-peak return on the day could cost £115, but I made a huge saving getting a ticket in advance, even just four weeks ahead.


Back in the office for the last day of my challenge.

– Tube

  • Cost: £7.80
  • Saved: £0
  • Made: 7p

– Lunch

  • Cost: £0.92
  • Saved: £3.67
  • Made: £0

On Monday’s I don’t bring a packed lunch. Instead, I take advantage of the O2 Priority Moments offer to get a £1 Boots meal deal. And since I use a discounted gift card, I save another 8%!

I’m not even on O2 anymore – there’s a trick where anyone can get the offers!

– Supermarket

  • Cost: £4.34
  • Saved: £1.56
  • Made: £0

My last purchase for the week was to nip into the little Sainsbury’s below work to nab some reduced items. I’m a little obsessed with grabbing these bargains and putting into the freezer for a later date meat and fish far cheaper than full price.

Totals for the week

  • Spend: £320.12
  • Saved: £237.01
  • Made: £2.43

If this was a typical week, that would work out as saving £1,027 a month, and a huge £12,324.52 a year!

The cashback from the credit card would add up to £126.36 a year, and I’ve not even factored in cashback from bills and interest on savings.


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