I don’t think there are many of us who couldn’t do with a little help putting the brakes on our spending. It’s so easy these days to shop online and find yourself clicking Buy Now. More than once. Or take it for granted that you are still getting the best deal on, for example, your home insurance. So here’s a reminder on how to save yourself some money this year…
Why not set yourself the (worthwhile) challenge of taking a proper look at your expenditure?Then you’ll be able to identify ways you can save money (thankfully most of them won’t disrupt your lifestyle very much).
Everyone is different but most of us have similar overheads. Here is a basic list than you can amend to your own particular circumstances:
- Property insurance
- Property maintenance (ie boiler servicing)
- Council tax
- Supermarket purchases (food, wine, cleaning materials etc)
- TV (licence fee, subscriptions ie Netflix, Now TV)
- Car/motorbike (HP, fuel, road tax, insurance, servicing)
- Bank charges/interest
- Mobile phone
- Electricity and/or gas
- Window cleaner
- Pet/s (food, insurance, vets bills)
- Private health insurance
- Gym membership
- Holidays/hobbies/travel insurance
- Loan repayments
Simply write down what you spend a month on each, using your bank statements as reference (rather than guessing!) Then, set some time aside to work your way through your various overheads to see if you can reduce them.
Never accept the automatic renewal amounts that insurers, mobile phone and broadband suppliers and the like send you. Contact them before the renewal date to get a better deal.
As we all know, there is often a considerable wait when you phone a supplier, but when that gets on your nerves, just remind yourself how much money you are likely to save. When you finally get through, tell them quite blatantly that you are thinking of leaving and ask what is the best deal they can do for you. No point in being shy and retiring – it’s easier to be bold on the phone than face to face. I have ALWAYS got some sort of a discount by doing this.
This approach also works with utilities suppliers – have a look at comparison websites at least once a year. You’ll often be delighted at how much you can save on essentials like gas and electricity.
Consider changing your bank account to one that pays interest and cashback on your direct debits (the new bank will organise everything for you so it’s not so daunting a prospect these days).
Are you on the correct council tax band? Martin Lewis, the money saving expert, has this to say: “Many council tax bills rose by 5% in April 2019 – so it’s worth checking if you’re in one of up to 400,000 households in England and Scotland who’s overpaying. In 10 minutes, at no cost, you can check and challenge your council tax banding, potentially slashing what you’ll pay in future AND getting a rebate going back years. Thousands have tried and succeeded, and payouts in the £1,000s are commonplace.” MORE INFO
Everyone will find something different to cut back on, but in my case a priority was to tackle the cost of entertaining. When I actually analysed how much dinner parties were costing us, I was shocked.
So we now have one pot suppers with drinkable plonk. I’m now less busy in the kitchen, the guests and the amount of fun we have are exactly the same, the food is much simpler but just as delish and, best of all, it is so much cheaper! I went one step further actually. Whenever a girlfriend asks if she can bring something, I now reply “Yes please, a dessert” or one of the other courses. And they never mind because they know I will return the favour when we get invited to their home.
I also got more organised with my supermarket shopping. I now decide what I’m going to cook at the beginning of each week and then make a list of the ingredients to take with me to the supermarket. It doesn’t always work perfectly because supermarkets are past masters are getting you to buy things you don’t really need, but the list definitely helps. The other advantage of forward planning for me was that I always have food in the house so we are far less tempted to go out to restaurants to eat. Plus I always have some of those Dine In For Two for £10 ready meals in the freezer which stops us ordering in a takeaway. My third ploy is to buy less expensive meat and fish – some of the vegetarian meals I have made have been super delicious – as well as the added bonus of being healthier.
I didn’t want to give up my beauty treatments but I did decide to do my own pedicure every other time. The polish wasn’t as neat, but to be honest, it wasn’t that much different either! And Husband now mows the lawn at the weekend instead of paying someone else to do it.
We all like to treat ourselves now and again. But think about all those times you’ve bought non-essential items and ask yourself how long did that good feeling last? It will make you feel good now, but later, you are just paying an extra monthly bill or larger credit card payment.”
In my case it related to clothes. But instead of clicking on the Buy Now button, I remembered my overstuffed wardrobe and all the items in it that I never seem to wear or that I ‘save for best’. Now, I try new combinations of clothes from my existing wardrobe – and I feel like a million dollars because my outfit feels new (even if it isn’t).
By the time you have considered everything on your own list you will probably be knackered, but very happy! The upshot for our household was that I saved £1300 a year. So, if your bills are a bit of a worry and you’d like to save yourself some money, you now know what to do!
Read Annabel’s post: Money saving habits: how to make the best plans for your retirement