While we’re not encouraging you to go out and splash the cash, there are times when a little investment really pays off. Those of us on a budget know that a big supermarket shop is less expensive than multiple trips to a convenience store or that a flask of coffee is cheaper than stopping off at your favourite café – but are there other times when it pays to buy?

Here we provide just a few examples of how a shrewd purchase will save you money in the long run.

A gift for . . . yourself!

Gift cards are not just for friends and family at Christmas. Buy one for yourself and you could save cash on everyday groceries, your morning coffee or a trip to the cinema. Discounts range from around one to 10 per cent, and even if you only save a few pounds each time, it soon adds up over a year. Check out sites like Zeek for participating retailers and rates.

Pay a ‘fare’ price

If you use the train more than three times a week, you could save money with a season ticket. While the price of the card, and your discounts, depend on when you are travelling and which station you are using, you can easily work it out using a season ticket calculator.

Many local bus operators also offer season tickets, so the more journeys you buy, the cheaper it is. Always think about how often you actually use the ticket – but if you go to work by bus every day, chances are you’ll get your money’s worth.

Occasional travellers can also save big with rail and coach cards. A 16-25 Railcard or Senior Railcard will set you back £30 per year though you’ll save a third on journeys. If you have a disability, the Disabled Persons Railcard costs £20 a year and also reduces ticket prices by a third. Coach firm National Express operates a similar discount scheme, with a range of cards available.

Not eligible for any of these? Don’t worry – a Two Together Railcard can save you and a friend a third on journeys taken together. Before buying any railcards, do a quick online search to find discounts codes. Although offers vary, we found a 10% discount code for a Two Together, bringing it down from £30 to £27.

Slowly does it

As the nights draw in, nothing is more comforting than coming home to a hearty stew or warming curry bubbling away and ready to eat. However, cooking takes time and is probably the last thing you feel like doing when you’ve finished work. Rather than heating up a ready meal or worse still, ordering a pricey takeaway, consider investing in a slow cooker instead. Typically costing £30, it makes preparing meals from scratch easy and convenient.

There are plenty of tips online on getting the most out of your slow cooker – and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll find it’s ideal for cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken thigh, for example, is around half the price of breast and delicious when cooked over several hours.

Go low

Advances in technology mean newer cars and household appliances are more energy-efficient and cost-effective than ever. If you’re driving an old gas-guzzler consider selling or scrapping it for something newer and smaller to reduce the money you spend on tax and fuel.

When replacing appliances like kettles, washing machines and fridges, choose low energy models – and always see if you can get money for trading in your old model. For more details on this, visit the Energy Saving Trust’s website.

Do you have your own tips for saving money? Share your ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter.