We’re continuing our New Year, New You series with something that affects each and every one of us - bills and regular outgoings. With the purse strings forever being tightened, we’ve selected 10 of the most effective ways to save money that could save you over £1,000 a year in total.
Cut subscriptions you don’t really need
Review all of the direct debits currently set up in your account for any subscriptions you may have taken out last year. Do you still need the SKY package or can you live without it and make-do with Freeview? Are you still an avid fan of Heat Magazine, or will a second hand copy from a friend suffice each month? Cutting out subscriptions is one of the simplest and quickest ways to cut down your monthly outgoings without making too many sacrifices.
Stick to a grocery shopping list
The supermarkets spend huge amounts of money on consultants, tasked with trying to get us all to spend more at the store. To avoid getting sucked in, make sure you’re armed with a shopping list that you stick to. Doing your grocery shopping online can also help as you can set up a list of favourites to add to your basket each month, or search for specific items across the store.
Consider own brands
You’ll often pay around a 30% premium for branded goods, often to cover the marketing costs that the big brands have to try and get us to buy their specific products. The reality is that most supermarket own-branded goods are made in the some of the same factories, but to a slightly different specification.
There’s no need to give up your beloved Heinz ketchup, but it’s certainly worth switching where you can on things like pies, cheese and household goods.
Shop for larger items at the end of the month
All stores have sales targets to hit each month, often resulting in discounts in the final few days of the month. These are often combined with pay day as the stores know you’ll have more money to spend. Try and hold out on buying fashion or other larger items such as electricals and appliances until after the 27th of each month – you may also be able to haggle a further discount in-store.
You can also take this one-step further by holding out until the end of the quarter (March, June, September) as stores will have further targets to hit. The fact is that if the store doesn’t look likely to hit the target, there will be further discounts to try and boost the numbers. By holding out for these key periods you can often save around 20% on the RRP of selected products.
Cut down on those morning coffee shop visits
With a standard coffee costing around £2.40, you can save over £100 per year just by having one less coffee out a week. It’s one of the quickest ways to really start saving some cash, which could be invested in your very own coffee machine or a weekend away to treat yourself mid-year.
Set up a new bank account
With all of the controversies taking place in 2013 with banks being fined for misleading customers (payment protection insurance being the biggest scandal), banks are now trying harder than ever to get new customers. This has led to many offering cash incentives when you switch, including Halifax who are offering £100 which they claim will be paid to you within 7 days.
There are requirements to meet such as moving across direct debits and getting your salary paid into the account, so make sure you read all of the small print before switching your bank account.
Switch Energy Suppliers
No-one can have missed the constant focus on energy companies by the media as bills continue to rise above inflation. It’s a further squeeze on all family budgets, with the annual bill for gas and electricity standing at a whopping £1,500 a year. There are ways to actively reduce this though, with switching suppliers often offering the biggest savings. This can be in excess of £200 per year and the best part is that the energy companies are responsible for all of the work, you just need to confirm the switch.
To see how much you could save by switching energy suppliers, use comparison services like Uswitch.com
and input the most recent usage information to get an accurate quote. You can also cut the cost further by switching to direct debit rather than monthly bills, as well as getting a fixed term plan so that the costs won’t rise for a pre-defined period.
Look at sim-only mobile plans
If you like to get your hands on the latest smartphone as soon as it’s released, you are probably spending far more than you need to on a mobile contract. The majority of the monthly bill is made up of paying for the handset itself, rather than the usage limits. By switching to a sim-only plan, you can save around £20 per month on the bill, which equates to £240 each year. It’s a massive saving to be made but you do have to sacrifice getting your hands on the latest handset.
If this is a step too far for you, wait for at least 3 months after a new smartphone is released and then take out a mobile contract. You’ll often find the mobile is thrown in for free, saving you over £100 in many cases. O2 has also recently launched O2 Refresh, which enables you to see exactly what the phone is costing you and to upgrade without having to wait for your contract to end. Again, this may be the best option if you always want to the latest phone but want to cut the cost of your monthly bills at the same time.
Shop around for insurance
When you get your renewal letter through for an insurance policy, whether it’s for home, travel or your car, make sure you compare it against other providers. There’s a whole array of different comparison services you can use and we’ve reviewed which can save you the most on insuring your car in our guide to car insurance comparison sites
After getting different quotes, phone up your current insurance and ask if they can beat the best you’ve been given. They may just end up knocking off some more money in order to keep your custom, or thrown in an extra benefit such as free breakdown cover.
By comparing all providers, you can save anywhere from £70 to £300 a year on the cost of car insurance, up to £100 on home insurance and up to £50 on travel insurance.
Book your travel plans early or very late
This isn’t a new idea by any means, but it’s amazing how many people still book flights, holidays and train tickets at the worst possible times. Most travel companies will run a January sale to push summer holidays, as well as promotions on hotel rooms in December. By planning ahead you can often save around 30% on the listed price.
Alternatively, if you’ve got the flexibility to book time off work at the last minute, take advantage of any late deals. All travel companies will have holidays that need to be sold and these are heavily discounted in the final 2 weeks before the date of travel. Savings often range from 15 – 45% off the cost of the trip, which can run into thousands of pounds depending on how adventurous your travel plans are.
Let us know how you’ve managed to save money by adding a comment below.