We’d all love to lower our household bills and free up cash for fun hobbies, but it can be hard working out how and where to cut back.
At the end of 2016, The Office for National Statistics revealed that the average household spent £528.90 a week on bills (including rent), with the highest amounts going on transport and energy. Here are a few simple ways to keep your bills in check…
Manage your mortgage
Just because you have fixed monthly mortgage payments doesn’t mean you can’t save a bit of cash along the way. Are you definitely on the cheapest rate? Look around at other deals on the market through comparison sites like Compare The Market and MoneySupermarket - it may be worth switching providers. Weigh up the potential savings versus early leaving fees though. The best long-term saving is to make overpayments on your mortgage to pay off the debt sooner – but first check with your provider that there are no penalties for doing this.
There’s also the ‘offset mortgage’, where you have a savings and mortgage account linked together with one provider. You just repay interest on the mortgage debt minus your savings. You can see current deals at uSwitch.
Phone, broadband and TV deals
There are so many TV, landline and internet deals out there right now, choosing one can seem like a minefield. First reassess your current package: is it a good rate and do you use what you’re paying for? Forking out for TV channels you never watch is a waste of money, so contact your current provider to ask about other packages. Do you pay for daytime landline calls but only ever use your mobile? Switching to an evening and weekend call deal is often cheaper. With broadband, do you need all the data you are paying for? If not, choose a lower level. Most service providers such as Sky and Virgin Media offer better deals for bundle packages that include phone, broadband and TV. Shop around on price comparison websites like Broadbandchoices.co.uk to find the best rates in your area. Find out more information on cutting your phone, broadband and TV packages down here.
Food shopping savings
Keep seeing food prices on your receipt going up? Try these smart shopping tips: sign up to supermarket loyalty cards that give you points or vouchers - a great way to get money off your bill - and search online discount websites like Voucher Codes for coupons. You can shave more off your food bill by making weekly meal plans so you only buy what you need. Buy own-brand products and cut down on pricey takeaways. Find out more information on how to save on your food bill here.
Watch out for water payments
Reducing your water bill is simple – just use less water! There are many ways to do this. Only put the dishwasher and washing machine on when they’re full. Get a water butt to collect rainwater and use that to water your plants. Take fewer baths and more showers and check out free water-saving devices such as tap aerators from sites like Save Water Save Money. Look into getting a water meter installed, so you only pay for the water you use. The Citizens Advice Bureau website is a must-visit for tips on cutting your water bill costs. Find out more information on lowering your water bill here.
Keep childcare costs down
If you have kids, paying for childcare is a big dent in your finances each month, but help is on offer. If your child is aged three or four, they are eligible for fifteen hours of free childcare a week from the government with an approved provider. Some two-year-olds qualify for this funding too, if their parents receive certain benefits. Thirty hours of free childcare are available to children whose parents both work over sixteen hours a week and earn under £100,000 a year. See gov.uk for full details. Childcare vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare schemes are another great way to save, so check out gov.uk for information. You can also look into local nanny-shares advertised on local Facebook groups for further help. Find out more information on keeping childcare costs down here.
Clever clothes shopping
We all love hitting the shops but is your love of fashion draining your bank account? Wait for your favourite stores to hold their sales, then buy pieces at a cut price. You’ll often find bigger bargains on stores’ websites, with many having sale or outlet sections that will make your clothes shopping more in tune with your budget. Buying second hand from sites like eBay or a local buy and sell websites can save tons of cash. Now is the perfect time to go through your wardrobe in fact, as you could also try upcycling, which is a fab new trend where you can update old clothes for a new purpose.
Reduce those energy bills
Paying sky-high prices on your energy bills? Reduce your gas bill by fitting an energy-efficient boiler and making sure your home is well insulated to prevent heat loss. Fitting thermostatic radiator valves means you can control the temperature in each room, so you only warm the rooms you use regularly. Download your service provider’s app to get more control over meter readings and to ensure you don’t overpay.
For electricity bills, make sure you’re on a good deal by using an online comparison website like uSwitch. Dual fuel with gas included isn’t always the cheapest. At home, save on power where possible by switching standard light bulbs to energy-efficient LED bulbs. You can also save by not leaving electrical items on standby, as it uses a lot of power and get a Smart Meter from your provider to monitor your power usage.
Seek out mobile savings
There are so many mobile deals on offer these days - contract, pay as you go, sim only – it’s tricky picking one. To save cash, put trends aside and opt for a cheaper android phone which does the job just as well. A sim-only deal for as little as £5 a month will keep your mobile costs minimal; it all just depends on how much data, texts and call time you need.
There are also many other ways to reduce costs. Restrict using data while off wireless and protect your phone from damage and expensive replacement with a sturdy phone cover. If your contract is nearing its end, call your provider and see if an upgrade is possible before you shop around; you may land yourself a fab deal. See www.mobiles.co.uk or uSwitch for cheap deals. Find out more information on keeping mobile costs down here.
Consult your council tax
It’s definitely worth checking your council tax band to see if you’re owed a refund – your house may be on the wrong tax band. The bands were decided way back in 1991 according to the value of your home. Go to gov.uk to check yours. If you think it’s wrong, you can ask for a reassessment.
There are other ways you might be able to reduce your council tax bill: if there’s only one person living in your home then you can get a single person’s discount of 25%, while disabled people, full-time students and those with a second home are also entitled to reductions. See gov.uk for details. Find out more information on cutting your council tax costs down here.
Home is where the money is.