I have a reasonably good grasp of my personal and household expenses but like everyone there are times that I need to cut bills and save money. This may be because of a change in circumstances (e.g. Rise in nursery fees), or because it’s good practice to stop occasionally and see if you’re getting value for money.
So what can you do if you feel that your household bills and expensive are increasing, you want to save for something special but don’t have any disposable income to put away, or you just want to create a bit more wiggle room in your bank account?
Downgrade your television and streaming packages
Check your satellite and cable packages and see if they are value for money. When Small Boy was born I was surprised how little time and mental capacity I had to watch a film. When I looked at the Planner of recorded shows, there were very few films and most of the television programmes were available on Freeview anyway. It made no sense to pay thirty quid a month for channels I wasn’t watching.
It’s worth shopping about here if you’re out of your contract with your provider as you can make an instant saving by terminating. Alternatively, if you’ve been a long standing customer they might offer you a better deal to stay, but don’t get stuck in another contract if you’re not really watching the paid for channels.
We use our main TV aerial now and a mix of streaming services. Amazon Prime and Netflix all offer free trials and at less than £8 per month both offer value for money. One word of caution on Amazon Prime is that it doesn’t offer ALL of the programmes that are available for streaming, many cost your extra, so it’s worth the trial
If you are wedded to Sky channels (Atlantic for Game of Thrones and Fox for The Walking Dead spring to mind), I highly recommend NOW TV. You get a range of basic Sky entertainment packages, box sets and catch up (including Channel 5, BBC iPlayer, More Four, ITV etc.) all as part of their monthly pass and costs less than a tenner.
You buy a NOW TV pass for the month or pay monthly by Direct Debit and you can cancel anytime. You can also buy a Sky Sports Pass, Kids Pass and a Movies Pass. You can download the Now TV app to your phone, tablet or direct to your Smart TV. Alternatively, you can buy small set top streaming box from them or most supermarkets and home electrical retailers.
We have the NOW TV box upstairs as we had that first on an offer (less than £20 for a box and a pass) and a ROKU stick in own main TV (which has all the TV players, the NOW TV app, Netflix app, Amazon app…. The list goes on).
Check your utility contracts and swap
Martin Lewis has a Money Saving Expert Cheap Energy Club which helps you easily compare providers. It makes it very easy. I switch every year and have managed to stabilise our bills so we’ve had no increased for about three years. Many providers will charge you a fee for cancelling your contract early but not all will. I have found with gas and electricity, mobile phones and domestic broadband it’s sometimes worth buying yourself out of the contract because you could save yourself more money than the exit fees. Also, make sure you check TopCashback or similar sites before you sign up to another provider as you might get some cashback by signing up to a new provider.
On year I saved £20 a month! Switching utility providers is not as daunting as you would think and most. Usually you only need to register with the new provider and they’ll take care of it.
Are you paying for insurance or enhanced bank accounts you don’t need?
We’ve all heard about misselling paid for bank accounts, but sometimes your circumstances just change. Do you pay for a current account in order to get mobile phone insurance, car breakdown cover or family insurance? Dig out the policy terms and check that the £10 – £20 you are spending a month is more than you would pay for the cover elsewhere in individual policies. It may represent good value for money but if you’re duplicating cover with insurance policies you have elsewhere, you may not be.
Downgrade your mobile phone package – do you need that much data?
Check your bill and see if you can save yourself some money here. Note down the minutes, texts and data you actually use and check online to see if you could get a better deal. Ring your provider and ask them too. You may have to haggle if you’re still in a contract, but there is often a window within that where you can downgrade. In some cases you might want to upgrade – sometimes paying less a month can cost you more in the long run if you end up paying per minute because you’ve exceeded the limit. Data is usually where you can downgrade. If you have a broadband provider that gives access to Wi-Fi like BT you probably don’t need as much data as you think. Connect to Wi-Fi when you are out and about and at home. There may be few occasions when you really have to connect to the internet and listen to music that absolute second!
Record your dates and keep an eye for them?
Write down the dates that your contracts with your utilities and service providers end. Create a spreadsheet, diary reminders, whatever works for you, but keep an eye on them – set up a diary reminder in your phone. About 8 weeks before they are up for renewal, start shopping around. Use cashback sites and comparison websites to compare deals. If not it’s easy to get swept up with an auto renewal which could mean you spending a lot more than you need to.