From the free apps to help you keep an eye on expenses to the clever ways to cut back on contracts, cost of living expert Greg Marsh shares his top tips for saving money on bills ahead of the winter
ith energy costs forecast to hit £3,363 per year for an average family this winter and an autumn of financial discontent loomingnow is a good time to take stock of your hourshold outgoings.
Financial admin is never at the top of anyone’s to-do list, but by putting aside a couple of afternoons or evenings to go through things, you can make some worthy savings and feel more in control of your finances.
Here are 10 simple steps to save you money on bills.
1. Make a list of all your regular household expenses
Consider all current accounts, cards and even Paypal transactions – for every person in your household. (You can use free apps like Plum to make this easier)
2. Check if you’re in or out of contract for each service
Most of your recurring bills (think broadband, mobile, energy) start out as contracts, with the very best prices applying to the first part of the contract only. But many households are out-of-contract and that usually means they’re paying more than they need to.
3. Start with the bills that are out of contract
Once you’re out of the contract’s ‘minimum term’, you are free to cancel, switch or renegotiate right away. For the others, set a reminder for just before your contract ends and then follow the same process.
4. Cancel any unwanted subscriptions
Your household will likely have one or more subscriptions you could cancel. One quick trick is to cancel them and see who complains! Another trick is to consolidate: does someone else in your house already have Spotify? They could add you as an extra user and make do with one account.
5. Cut back where you can on existing services
Next, look for providers where you might be paying for more than you need. A great example is mobile data: 2 GB/month is enough for most of us, and 5-10GB of data if you’re regularly watching videos on the move. Yet many people are seduced by expensive 20GB or even 50GB packages, the vast majority of which will go unused. Same with broadband: do you really need 300MB for the occasional Zoom call from home? (The answer is no, by the way: most people don’t need super-fast broadband, even if they work from home. Providers make a lot of their money by over-selling these premium packages).
6. Be prepared to switch whenever possible
It does take time and energy, but even going through the motions of switching will help you get the best price currently available. Bear in mind that most providers will be only too happy to offer you discounts if you threaten to leave. It’s amazing how often this works with broadband, mobile or satellite TV companies.
7. Keep shopping around for the best price
If you are offered a better deal from an existing provider, don’t feel you have to take it on the spot. If they offered it to you once, it will most likely still be there once you’ve finished calling around their competitors. Just take a note of the offer, thank them and call back later once you’ve done your research and are ready to make a decision. Make sure to compare apples with apples: draw up a table showing the total price of a contract for the whole of the contract period.
8. Make sure you cancel payments for unwanted services
If you switch or cancel a service, make sure you aren’t continuing to pay your old providers. In some areas, they’ll be canceled for you by the new provider, but sometimes you’ll have to do it yourself.
9. Regularly check who has a direct debit mandate on your bank account
Direct debits are convenient, but they’re all too easy to forget. You can normally find all the authorized payments by logging into your banking app or website. Check that each live direct debit is for a service you’re still using.
10. Stay on stay on top of things
Keep a list on the fridge door of who your providers are, who pays for what, what tariff or deal you’re on, how much you’re paying, and when you come out of contract. This helps you to repeat the steps and get great prices all over again in a few months’ time.
The bottom line
This may all sounds like a lot of work, but remember that the way most of these service providers do business is to attract new customers with low prices, knowing that the majority won’t stay on top of things. That means that as soon as you’re out of a minimum contract deal, chances are you can save money by switching again.
It pays to be prepared. Make a plan to keep on top of what’s going on in order to save money further down the line, or better still, sign up to a service that does it for you.
Credit: www.standard.co.uk /