As wages and pensions struggle to keep pace with rising prices, more of us have learned the old-fashioned virtue of making our money stretch further. Here are 10 ways careful budgeting could make your money go the distance.

1. Draw up a budget

If you're overspending every month, tot up all the cash coming in this month, and all the payments going out. Drawing up a budget can really help you see where unnecessary money is being spent and can help overcome any personal financial crisis.  Or use the free online budget planner at Money Advice Service to see where you can cut back.

2. Cut food bills

The average family throws away £60 worth of uneaten food every month, costing more than £700 every year. You can dramatically reduce that with better planning before food shopping. Plan meals to use up any perishable foods in your fridge before you go shopping. Only multi-buy if you can use, save or freeze what you've bought. Buy frozen food and defrost only what you need.

3. Plan your weekly shop

Find out which local supermarket is cheapest for your weekly shop by keying in your basket at website MySupermarket.co.uk. This shows how much you will pay at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Waitrose, Aldi and Lidl, so you can head for the cheapest.

4. Stop frittering!

Avoid frittering your heart-earned cash on takeaways, sandwiches every lunchtime and nights out. Shunning your daily latte, taking a packed lunch to work and skipping the pub after work could save you hundreds of pounds over a year. Bigger steps, like quitting smoking, will save even more.

5. Slim your debt repayments

If you're paying interest rates of 20% or more on an overdraft, credit card or store card, you're burning money. If you can't afford to pay them down, try consolidating them into a personal loan. You can now borrow £7,500 from as little as 4%, although you need a clean credit record to qualify for the best rates.

6. Drive down fuel bills

Petrol prices vary greatly station to station, but you can find the cheapest in your area by visiting website PetrolPrices.com before you fill up. The site is free and once you have signed up, a search takes seconds. If you can save 5p on a litre of petrol, you will save £2 every time you fill up a 40 litre tank.

7. Be disloyal

Banks and building societies reserve their best mortgages, savings and credit card deals for new customers, leaving existing customers languishing on inferior rates. Fight back by shopping around using websites such as MoneySupermarket.com and MoneyFacts.co.uk.

8. Cancel old contracts

If you have signed up to, say, a 12 or 24 month mobile phone or digital TV contract, keep track of when it expires. Then secure a cheaper deal, either by negotiating with your existing supplier or switching to a new one. Buying your broadband, TV and home landline as a 'bundle' is often cheaper than buying them separately.

9. Claim your state benefits

Around 2.5 million pensioners fail to claim state benefits such as pension credit, council tax benefit and winter fuel payments, losing up to £872 a year. Millions of working families fail to claim tax credits. Free website Turn2us.org.uk can help work out your entitlement.

10. Clear out the clutter

Don't clutter your house with stuff you never use, sell it online via sites like Gumtree, eBay, Music Magpie or your local car boot sale. It can become addictive.

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