If money’s tight, finding ways to reduce your outgoings is a good way to make quick savings. By taking a close look at all your costs you can find some relatively pain free ways to keep them down, ideally below the level of average household bills in the UK. Here are some money saving tips to get you started.
Switch, switch and switch again
Checking that you’re getting the best deal on all your household bills is a good place to start. If you’re able to switch them you can make quick and easy savings. Some of the main ones to investigate are:
- Mortgages – If the initial discounted interest rate you signed up to has ended you’ll have moved onto the standard variable rate (SVR) which is likely to be more expensive. Finding a new deal can make a huge difference. Even if your circumstances mean a different mortgage lender is unlikely to take you on as a customer, you can still get the best deal your current provider has.
- Gas and electric – Contract terms are usually one year with energy providers, they should remind you when yours is coming to an end. Don’t ignore them, they’ll just move you onto their standard tariff. Instead look into switching, especially as new customers are often offered better deals. Also, consider using one provider for both utilities since duel fuel tariffs are often cheaper.
- Landline and broadband – Are you using all the data and minutes you pay for? Look into getting a service that’s better tailored to what you actually need. If necessary you can avoid paying for either by using a mobile phone and an internet dongle which can connect your computer using 4g.
- Mobile phone contracts – Built into most contracts is the cost of your phone, so if you haven’t upgraded when that contract ends you’ll be paying for one you’ve already bought. Signing up to a new contract will give you an opportunity to reduce your payments and upgrade your phone (although steer clear of the most expensive models). If you don’t use your phone for more than the odd call, it may be worth switching to pay as you go.
- Insurance – Products you’re required to have such as car insurance and buildings insurance, will often be set to auto renew. It’s easy to let this happen without thinking twice about it, but a quick search before they’re due is likely to bring up some better deals. When it comes to break down cover, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives to big names such as the RAC and AA.
Don’t fear the haggle
When you’re coming to the end of a deal you’re in a strong position. Your current supplier wants to hold onto your business and rivals want to take it off them. Rather than relying on what you find online, a quick call can eek out even more savings from providers eager to sign you up.
Pay by direct debit
Many companies such as utility providers will offer you a cheaper deal if you pay monthly by direct debit, they may also offer you a discount if you opt to receive your bills online rather than in the post. but keep them in check. It’s easy to lose track of direct debit payments since they quietly leave your bank account each month. So regularly check them to make sure you’re operating as cost effectively as possible. Are you still using that gym membership or all those streaming services?
How much TV do you need?
Talking of streaming services, there are lots of ways to watch television beyond the packages you get with providers such as Sky, Virgin and BT. Combining a cost effective internet service and a TV platform such as Freeview, with Netflix and Now TV could work out a lot cheaper.
Streaming services usually operate on a monthly contract that can be ended at any time, so you can chop and change to suit what show you want to binge watch. You can also share costs. For example, one of Netflix’s plans allows four people to watch at once, so you could share the cost with friends and family.
Dip into water meters
You can’t swap water companies since only one will supply your area. However, it might be worth having a water meter installed. This means you’ll pay for the water you use rather than a fixed rate.
A rule of thumb is that it’s likely to work out cheaper if you have less people than bedrooms living in your house. And if that isn’t the case you can usually swap back to fixed payments within 12 months.
Put on a jumper
Turning the thermometer down by 1°C degree can reduce heating bills by £80 a year, insulating your home and using efficient energy controls can make a difference too. Also, some electricity tariffs charge less at night, which makes it cheaper to run washing machines and charge devices once the sun goes down.
There are lots of ways to reduce your shopping bill. These include starting to use a lower price supermarket for your big weekly shop or swapping premium brands for supermarket own brands. You can also try shopping later in the day when discounts are put on some fresh products.
One for the kids
Childcare is a huge expense for many parents so make sure you’re using all your entitlements including 30 free hours for three and four year olds and tax free childcare which is available for children up to the age of 11.
Tax free childcare doesn’t just apply to nursery care or afterschool care, it can also be used for holiday clubs and classes too.
Pay off unsecured debt
If you have savings and unsecured debts such as personal loans or store cards, your debt will probably have a higher interest rate than your savings. Where this is the case you should use savings to pay off as much of your debt as possible.
People with high interest credit card debt can move it to cards that charge less, sometimes 0% for a certain period of time.
Occasionally your circumstances will mean you can’t afford your outgoings, no matter what you do. If this happens and you begin to struggle with debt it’s important to get some advice as soon as you can.
If you need to access funds quickly one option is to sell your house to us. We’ve been buying residential property for more than 30 years and specialise in completing sales in a short space of time, seven days if necessary, and with as little fuss as possible. Get in touch if you’d like to chat.