Christmas and New Year can be expensive so after a season of indulgence it’s a good idea to quickly get your finances back on track. Watching the pennies can be difficult but a good place to start is balancing your books - review your most recent bank statement, list your outgoings and work out your total income and see how much you have left over.
Taking control of your money is the first step - but if you really need to cut your spending then here are ten top tips to help reduce your running costs.
1. Clear the cards
Credit card debt is expensive and can be a big drain on your finances. Look to transfer your balances to 0% balance transfer deals and start paying them off without paying the interest. If you still need to spend on your card then look for one which offers a deal of 0% on purchases (make sure the rate doesn’t jump very high when the introductory rate is over).
2. Make a record
An 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.
3. Swap shop
There is fierce competition for your business these days – especially when it comes to your grocery shop. Try swapping to a different supermarket for a week or two and compare the costs.
4. Cut the fuel bills
If you’ve been with the same gas and electricity supplier for a while then shop around. The utilities market is highly competitive and several websites that 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, to make sure cheaper insurances offers you all the cover you need.
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.
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.
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. Try voucher websites
Whether you are looking to eat out or treat yourself to a new pair of jeans there maybe vouchers available with discounts, free shipping or other special offers. There are money off coupons available for almost everything from holidays to new vacuum cleaners so it’s always worth seeing if there is a voucher out there for you!