15 ways to slash your bills now
1. Go paper-free
Not only is it good for the environment, but going for paperless billing can also save you money. If you switch your preferences with your utility providers so you receive an email of your bills rather than a paper version through the post, you can save around £5 per fuel bill a year.
Not having to send out paper bills saves companies a fortune in stationery and postage costs and they are happy to hand this on to customers as an incentive.
2. Embrace the internet
Another way to utilise the internet in order to cut your bills is to opt for an online-only energy deal. These have a tendency to be cheaper than other packages as they are cheaper for the utility firms to operate. Some can be up to £300 cheaper a year than other deals.
3. Bundle up
You can cut your household bills quite significantly if you get more than one service from one provider. Whether it's getting your gas and electricity from the same utility firm or bundling your broadband, phone and television with one media company, this can lead to big savings.
4. Don't be loyal
All to often we stick with the same bank, mobile phone network or utilities provider for years. This could be costing you money though as loyalty rarely pays. Shop around to make sure you are still getting the best deal any you could save yourself a fortune.
5. Review your insurance
Even if you don't want to switch policy providers it is worth reviewing your insurance policies to make sure you aren't paying for anything you don't need. Is your home insurance covering you for a sum far greater than the value of the contents of your home?
Also consider increasing the excess on your car insurance. The more you are prepared to pay in the event of any damage could dramatically decrease your premiums.
6. Be realistic with your gym membership
If you have a full membership that entitles you to workout whenever you like, wherever you like but in fact you only use the branch down the road while the kids are at school then consider changing your membership option.
Gyms tend to offer reduced membership rates if you limit yourself to only one branch of the chain or stick to off-peak times.
7. Be savvy with your phone bill
If you are on a deal that gives you free evening and weekend calls make the most of it by trying to make as many of your phone calls at possible during those times. Also check with your provider to see what other deals they offer based on usage.
For example, if you call abroad regularly you can pay an extra £1 a month with BT to reduce you international call charges to as little as 2.5p a minute.
Or you could cut your international calling costs to zero by getting Skype. This computer program allows you to make international video calls via your laptop for no charge. You just need to have an internet connection, a microphone and a webcam.
Also check your mobile phone tariff. Are you on the best tariff for you? Many of us are paying for monthly deals that don't suit our calling habits.
For example, you may be on a £30 a month deal that only gives you 150 free calling minutes a month, and then you are wracking up another £15 a month in additional calling costs when you could just switch to a plan that costs £35 a month and gives you loads more free calling minutes.
8. Ditch the products you don't need
People waste hundreds of pounds a year on needless financial products. One of the main products we waste money on is extended warranties. If you pay £40 for a microwave, paying £11 on top of that for three years warranty is just not worth it.
Mobile phone insurance can also be pointless, as most people's mobiles are covered on their home contents insurance. Cancel that and you could save yourself around £100 a year.
9. Switch your credit card
If you have some debt sitting on a credit card switch it to a 0% interest balance transfer card and you will save yourself a fortune in interest - the average interest rate on a standard card is around 16%.
Anyone who pays off their credit card balance in full each month should seek a reward for their good financial habits by switching to a cashback credit card. These cards pay you a small amount back every time you use the card.
10. Install a water meter
In certain households a water meter can help you make big savings on your water bill.
As a rule of thumb, a water meter should save you money if there are more bedrooms than people in a household.
If you do switch to a meter and find your bills go up, don’t worry you can get rid of the meter and go back to standard bills – you just have to inform the water company you want the water meter removed within a year of it being installed.
11. Set up direct debits
Automatic payments are loved by companies as it means they know they are going to get paid on a set date. As a result many offer customers reduced bills if they set up to pay by direct debit. If you set up automatic payments for utility bills you could save as much as £99 a year.
12. Shop smarter
Before you head out to do your weekly supermarket shop make a plan of attack. Make a list and then run it through Mysupermarket.com which will tell you which of the big four supermarkets will be the cheapest for your basket of items.
Also consider switching from branded products to own-brand goods. For example, a box of Weetabix costs £1.99 but Sainsbury’s own brand is £1.49, or for a real bargain Sainsbury’s basics version is just 63p.
13. Book early
If you are planning a trip make sure you book your train tickets in advance and save yourself a small fortune. Advance tickets are much cheaper than the price of tickets bought on the day.
14. Pack your lunch
One of the simplest ways to cut your household expenditure is to stop buying lunch every day. Many of us spend around £5 a day on lunch but if you brought sandwiches to work you could cut that cost down to under £1.
15. Make the most of vouchers
Finally, before you purchase any big items or plan a night out for dinner check one of the many voucher websites like Vouchercodes.co.uk or Myvouchercodes.co.uk to see if there is a discount voucher you could use to cut the cost.
This is more usually a feature of car insurance but it can also crop up in contents, mobile phone and pet insurance policies. An excess is the amount of money you have to pay before the insurance company starts paying out. The excess makes up the first part of a claim, so if your excess is £100 and your claim is for £500, you would pay the first £100 and the insurer the remaining £400. Many online insures let you set your own excess, but the lower the excess, the more expensive the premium will be.
Also known as discount codes, promotional vouchers or promotional codes, online coupons or discount vouchers, are codes that can be entered at the checkout of many online UK retailers that gives you a discount against the item/s you are purchasing. The codes are generated by retailers and sent to certain members of the public to encourage sales.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.
Does exactly what it says on the tin: covers the contents of your home for theft and damage and also may insure certain possessions (jewellery, cycles) outside of the home. Things to watch for include the excess and also the maximum payout on individual items. Another grey area is kitchen fittings, as some contents policies say these are not contents but part of the fabric of the property and covered by buildings insurance and some buildings policies don’t cover them because they regard them as contents.
A property chain is a line of buyers and sellers (the “links”) who are all simultaneously involved in linked property transactions. When one transaction falls through – for instance, someone can’t get a mortgage or simply withdraws their property from sale, the entire chain breaks and all the transactions are held up or even fail entirely.
Moving money from one account to another, whether switching bank accounts or more likely transferring the outstanding balance on your credit card to another card that charges a lower – or 0% – rate of interest. Some card providers may charge a transfer fee that can be a percentage of the balance transferred.