After a season of indulgence, why not trim the excess spending and get those finances in shape? If watching the pennies is an alien concept, a good place to start is with a balancing act. Review your most recent bank statement, list all the outgoings, work out your total income to the penny and see where that leaves you. Make a habit of doing this every month, as it’s the first step to taking control of your money.
Once your bank balance is understood, make a start on cutting back. Here are our top ten tips for reducing your running costs:
1. Swap shop
You may know your aisles in your regular supermarket and be enticed by a points card, but have you tried a low cost store? You could make a big saving, so give it a try one week and compare the cost.
2. Clear the cards
Credit card debt is expensive and can be a big drain on your finances. So, stop using the cards, transfer your balances to 0% deals and concentrate on paying them off.
3. Make a record
A very easy way to assess your expenditure is to write down every penny you spend. You may be surprised how much your daily cappuccino or weekly magazine costs you and listing your outgoings can make it easier to identify where you can make savings.
4. Cut the fuel bills
If you’ve been with the same gas and electricity suppliers for two years or more, shop around. The utilities market is highly competitive and several websites, such as www.uswitch.com, will show you the best deals on offer in your area. Paying by direct debit and managing your accounts online can help you to save even more.
5. Shop around for insurance
When your vehicle and home insurance is up for renewal, make sure you’re getting good value. Online comparison sites could help identify cheaper providers and you may have access to preferential rates through any professional association you belong to. Check the cover, though, to ensure the benefits aren’t cut along with the premium.
6. Big brand, big price tag
Why pay more for a name and nice packaging? Your food shopping bill could be reduced just by opting for a shop’s own brand item rather than the well known equivalent. The produce is often made in the same factory anyway!
7. Switching hour
Get those appliances switched off at bedtime! A standard TV uses 2 watts of power on standby, so turning everything off is an easy way to keep the electricity bill down. Switching off the lights whenever you leave a room is also a sensible habit (apparently, even the Queen does it!)
8. Reuse it
Rather than throwing boxes and tins in the recycling bin, could you find a use for them and save some money on storage items? Plastic takeaway cartons make good containers for leftovers, cereal boxes can be trimmed to make file holders and sweet and biscuit tins are great for storing smaller things like pens and screws.
9. Walk don’t drive
Leaving the car at home and going on foot not only helps the environment and burns the calories but saves the pennies. If it’s only a mile or two, consider walking and you’ll soon see a tank of petrol lasting longer.
10. Make the most of low rates
Last, but most certainly not least in terms of the potential saving: is your monthly mortgage payment as low as it could be? It’s no secret that interest rates have been at an all-time low for many months, so if your mortgage deal has ended, consider switching to save money. It isn’t as much hassle as you might think and most lenders offer incentives, such as fee free deals, to keep the cost of switching down.
Check out our Guide to Remortgaging for more information.
YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.