MONEY is tight for most of us these days but sometimes we make things worse by needlessly throwing away cash.
Here are some of the most common ways you may be wasting money, and how to make it stretch further.
THROWING IT AWAY
The average household bins an unsavoury £18.57 of uneaten food every week. That adds up to almost £1,000 a year, according to figures from https://www.vouchercloud.com.
There is plenty you can do to cut down on your food waste, says Lindsay Cook, co-author of advice book Money Fight Club.
?Check your fridge and storage cupboards and plan meals using perishable foods before you go shopping.
Put the oldest yogurts, ready meals and cold meats at the front of the fridge so that foods don?t pass their sell-by dates lurking at the back and only multi-buy if you can use, save or freeze what you?ve bought.?
Buying frozen food and defrosting only what you need can also save you money.
FAILING TO BUDGET
If you?re overspending every month it?s time to draw up a budget. Tot up all the cash coming in this month and all the payments going out.
If this shows you are overspending, start by cutting back on non-essentials, says Jane Symonds at the Money Advice Service. ?You can do a detailed breakdown of your spending using our free budget-planner at MoneyAdviceService.org.uk/budget.
?Then commit to putting any savings into a rainy day fund in case of emergencies.?
OVERHEATING YOUR HOME
The average household now spends £1,315 a year on gas and electricity, according to Ofgem.
Turning down your thermostat by just 1C can cut your bill by 10 per cent a year, or about £130, says Martyn Bridges at heating firm Worcester Bosch Group.
Alternatively, use individual radiator controls, rather than the thermostat, to increase heat where you need it and reduce it where you don?t.
?Don?t cover radiators with furniture or long curtains. This will block a surprising amount of heat.
Getting your boiler serviced annually or replacing an old model will save money in the longer run.?
SQUANDERING TAX RELIEF
The Government gives you valuable tax incentives to invest in a pension.
If you don?t take advantage, you are making a mistake, says Andrew Tully at retirement specialists MGM Advantage.
?If you?re a basic-rate taxpayer, for every £80 you invest in a pension the Government will top it up to £100 and 40 per cent taxpayers only need to invest £60 to get the equivalent of a £100 contribution.?
Similarly, if your employer is willing to contribute to a pension, including the new auto-enrolment scheme, you?re throwing money away if you don?t sign up, says Tully.
FRITTERING IT AWAY
The average UK adult wastes £99 a month on takeaway meals, sandwiches at lunchtime, and nights out, says Julie Hutchison, family finance expert at Standard Life.
?The worst culprits are those aged 25-36 who fritter away £129 a month needlessly.?
Shunning your daily latte, taking a packed lunch to work and going home after work rather than nipping to the pub could save hundred of pounds over a year. Bigger steps, such as quitting smoking, will save you even more.
Paying interest on debts If you?re paying interest rates of 20 per cent or more on your overdraft, credit card or store card you are simply burning money.
If you can?t afford to pay down debts try consolidating them into a single personal loan.
Clydesdale Bank, Derbyshire Building Society and Sainsbury?s Bank all offer personal loans from just 4.6 per cent on sums between £7,500 and £15,000.
These rates are only available to those with clean credit ratings, however.
NEGLECTING ISA SAVINGS
If you?re a taxpayer with cash sitting in the bank, shift the money inside your annual cash Isa (individual savings account) allowance, says Richard Fearon of Halifax Savings.
?You can save up to £5,760 this financial year without paying a penny in tax on the interest.?
OVERPAYING FOR GROCERIES
Find out which supermarket is cheapest for your weekly shop by keying in your shopping list online at website MySupermarket.co.uk.
This will show you how much you will pay at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury?s, Aldi, Morrisons and Waitrose.
You can then submit your shopping list online or take it into the store and do your shopping yourself.
New app Shopitize also allows you to browse and compare products at UK supermarkets.
Don?t clutter your house with stuff you never use, turn it into extra cash instead.
Almost one in three Britons now sell things on sites such as Gumtree and eBay, according to research from Standard Life. Or try cash-for-clutter site MusicMagpie.
Personal finance expert Holly Thomas says: ?Years ago people turned to car boot sales and some even took a second job. Now they are turning to online companies to help generate extra cash.?
FAILING TO CLAIM CASHBACK
Millions of people join money-off sites such as Vouchercodes.co.uk, Topcashback.co.uk, Quidco.com and Hotukdeals.com or carry supermarket loyalty cards, then fail to claim their rewards.
About £220 million goes unspent a year, according to Plastic Card Services.
Keep all your deals in one place on website or app Bownty.co.uk, which warns you when deals are about to expire.