Research by Neilsen Online shows that the fastest growing UK websites are those that give you the chance to save money. The Walkers Crisps website, for example, grew 2,575 per cent from 17,000 users in June 2007 to 444,000 in June 2008 after its Brit Trips promotion.
So we thought we'd pass on our money-saving tips to you. We've found the ten best websites to save you real cash this year. Saved elsewhere? Let us know.
1. Use free software - save £300
There are some programs you just can't live without, but that doesn't mean you have to be held to ransom by paying through the nose either. Instead of choosing Microsoft Office, try OpenOffice instead. You'll still have all the usual programs (minus Outlook) and it supports every format imaginable.
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It's not just Office that you can save cash on. Try Paint.net instead of Photoshop Elements, and Windows Live Photo Gallery instead of standard photo software. Incidentally, Windows Live Photo Galleryhas the best panorama stitching tool ever – absolutely free.
2. Save on food shopping - save £1,000
Food is one commodity which has spiraled in price, but onlineshopping doesn't have to be expensive.
Mysupermarket.co.uk enables you to do your food shopping online and then compare your shop to other supermarkets, finds equivalent price deals automatically, and gets them delivered, saving you the petrol too!
The site even lets you use loyalty points, as well as running their own loyalty scheme on top, and boasts you can save 20 per cent on the average shop – that's over £1,000 a year for the average family!
3. Get money off anything - save 10 per cent and get free delivery
Neilsen's research shows that one of the UK's biggest growing sites is myvouchercodes.co.uk. This site lets you search for money off codes or the latest deals, often saving you 10 per cent or 20 per cent.
Another site which is great for this is myvouchercodes.co.uk, which boasts a community of the most eagle-eyed skinflints on the internet. Their forums are a great place to find and share bargains.
4. Don't pay over the odds for utility bills - save £340
Electricity, gas and now water prices are rising fast, but don't be caught out by paying more than you should.
Use a price comparison sites like moneysupermarket.com and simplyswitch.co.uk to find out what other companies can offer. Simplyswitch.co.uk claims you can save £340 a year from migrating from the worst deal to the best.
5. Ditch your photo printer - save 11p per print and £60 on ink
One of the most expensive parts of your PC to run is the printer, so when you're looking through this year's holiday photos don't immediately go for the print button.
The average print from your photo printer costs around 20p, but getting your photos printed professionally from a site like SnapFish costs just 9p per print, and you usually get a fair amount free as well.
If printing is unavoidable then use a program like InkSaver (XP only) which you can configure to save your ink. Even relatively light printers using 25 per cent ink could save £60 a year, which more than pays for the $35 price tag.
6. Cancel your landline - get £10-a-month mobile broadband instead
Stop gifting money to BT for slow internet speeds and rubbish service and replace your landline with Skype for calls and a 3G broadband plan.
Skype calls are free to PCs and cheap to landlines anywhere in the world and a 3G dongle can cost as little as £10 per month and still get you a 7Mbps connection – even on the train to work!
7. Get what you deserve - claim it
The government takes great pleasure in giving you tax credits for this and bonuses for that – but if you don't understand the process you could be missing out on hundreds of pounds.
Entitledto.co.uk is a quick way to find out what you can get from the government. Fill out the private and secure survey about your status and it calculates what you're entitled to claim.
8. RSS Feed Gold Box - get the best deals
One for US readers: www.amazon.com has a section on the home page called Gold Box which included all their best deals. You can subscribe to an RSS feed of this page, so the latest deals will be forwarded straight to you – be warned though – this may end up costing you more in impulse buys!
9. Sell your stuff - whatever you can get
OK, so this one's obvious. But one man's rubbish is another man's treasure goes the old adage, and that's precisely why eBay has become so popular. See what unwanted possessions you can sell for easy money.
10. Cancel Sky+ - save £10 a month
You may not think you could live without Sky+ but your PC is more than capable of doing the same job for free (on free-to-air channels, naturally). Windows Vista and XP MCE both have Windows Media Center as standard, which enables you to watch, record and rewind live TV, as well as luxuries like series recording and remote access from mobile devices.