We’re certain that no-one would want to pass up an opportunity to save some money on their regular bills – particularly in the current economic climate. Sadly, however, there isn’t a magic wand that you can wave to simply reduce your monthly outgoings. Although, there are plenty of ways that you can potentially reduce your bills if you devote a little time and effort to devote to the cause.
One of the best ways to save money on bills, of course, is to reduce your usage across the various services you are contracted to, such as gas and electricity. But what else can you do? Here are some quick(ish) wins that might assist in bringing those bills down and keeping you in the black.
Use a comparison site
It sounds obvious but use an internet comparison site. This will help find the cheapest deals available on things like your car, home and health insurance, loans and credit cards, energy providers, mobile phone and broadband services. Even if it’s just a few pounds saved each month here and there, this can all quickly add up to quite a substantial saving across the year. Ofgem estimates that the average customer could save around £305 a year by switching to a better energy and gas deal.
Put aside some time to go through all your regular bills. Then, see what other deals are out there that you could switch to in order to save money. Remember that not all companies are represented on price comparison sites. Extending your search a little might also prove beneficial. Make sure you compare all deals carefully. Ensure that you are still getting the level of protection and service you need. Be mindful that some deals are cheaper because they provide fewer or restricted benefits.
Also, be aware of any fees that might be applied by your existing service provider if you choose to exit any contract with them early. Generally, the best time to switch providers is when your existing contract is expiring or when renewal is approaching.
Ask your supplier for a cheaper rate
Let’s say you have found a cheaper deal for your electricity elsewhere. Give your supplier a call and let them know. In many cases, they will be prepared to match the cheaper rate in order to keep your business. Even if you haven’t found a cheaper rate yet, what is the harm in calling your supplier and asking them for a better price? Suppliers often have special deals available for new customers, which they may be willing to offer to you to prevent you from switching your business to a competitor.
Check you haven’t duplicated your cover
These days, many companies and some employers and trade unions provide additional benefits ‘free’ to their customers/employees/members as part of a package of facilities. For example, many banks now offer ‘packaged accounts’. This is where for a small monthly fee, you get their standard bank account facilities, plus a range of additional benefits. These can include annual family travel insurance, emergency breakdown cover for your car, mobile phone insurance as well as discounts on a range of other services.
Make sure you aren’t paying twice for the same services. Take care to check the level of cover these ‘free’ policies provide as they are usually just the basic level.
Review ALL of your regular outgoings
Look at all of your outgoings to see if you still need them. Do you use that gym membership? Could you be on a better deal that reflects when you actually use the gym? Are you getting value out of that regular wine/beer/food subscription you pay for? When did you last review your broadband contract and your various TV packages? It’s all too easy to ignore these regular commitments because it’s too much trouble to change them. However, an occasional review could put £100’s back into your budget.
Remortgage your home
Your mortgage repayments are probably your biggest monthly outgoing. In the same way that you should explore cheaper car insurance deals each year when your policy is coming up for renewal, it’s important to regularly review your mortgage deal to ensure that it remains competitive and matches your personal financial circumstances.
This is particularly true if you have a tracker or fixed rate mortgage deal which is about to expire and your lender is looking to move you onto their standard variable rate (SVR). This could prove to be less suitable for you and more expensive than alternative deals available on the market.
Remortgaging allows you to move the mortgage that you currently have to either a different deal with the same lender (usually referred to as a product switch) or to a new deal with a different lender. If you are interested in exploring the opportunities and savings that a remortgage might be able to offer, then speak to a mortgage advisor and broker such as ourselves here at Mortgage Light. We’ll help you find a deal that best suits you and your financial circumstances.
Pay your bills on time
Sure, it’s obvious advice, but pay your bills on time and keep your borrowing within agreed limits! Late payment and excess borrowing fees are other costs that can very quickly mount up if you don’t control your finances. Your bills are amongst the most important of your outgoings and how you manage these will be reflected in your personal credit score. This may, in turn, impact the cost of any future credit you might apply for.
We recommend trying to pay your bills as soon as you get paid each month and by Direct Debit if possible. If you have bills that come out at different dates throughout the month, see if your supplier will move the payment date to a date nearer your payday. That way, you will know that they have been paid and it will help you monitor how much you have available for the rest of the month.
Make necessary changes to your insurance policy
Life looks a little different for everyone since the Covid-19 pandemic. Do your insurers still have an accurate idea of your lifestyle? For instance, perhaps you are using your car much less as a result of working from home more. Check your vehicle insurance policy to ensure that your reduced annual mileage is noted. This may help you reduce your annual premiums. Does your home insurer know that you are working from home a lot more now? They should be made aware of this. It could help reduce your annual premiums because the house is no longer left unoccupied for much of the time.
Install a smart meter or water meter
If you aren’t sure what a smart meter is, it’s basically a digital online, gas and electricity meter. It measures and displays how much gas and electricity you are using and how much this is costing you. It helps households closely monitor their energy use and encourages them to economise by choosing what appliances to have on and when. Doing your laundry at night using cheaper electricity, for example, is an easy way to save energy and help keep bills down.
One of the most attractive parts of a smart meter is that it takes the estimation out of measuring your energy usage. It automatically sends your meter readings to your supplier at least once a month. This ensures that the bills you receive are based on your actual usage and not an estimate.
Water meters work in a similar way. The average UK water bill in England and Wales is just over £400 pa. There is no way to switch water suppliers, but you can potentially reduce your water bills by installing a water meter. If you don’t have a water meter, you pay a fixed price for your water based on the rateable value of your property, regardless of your actual usage.
If you think your household may have a low water usage, then a water meter could be beneficial. You’ll only pay for the water you use. In most cases, it is free to have a water meter installed. Be careful, however, as households with a high water usage may find a water metre pushes their annual water bills up.
Switch to energy-efficient appliances
It’s not just showerheads that can be more efficient. You can find a number of energy-efficient appliances on the market; washing machines, dishwashers, fridge freezers, kettles and much more.
Of course, splashing out on a host of new energy-efficient appliances may seem like an expensive option, however investing in these items can save money in the long run. It’s been estimated that you could save £3,360 over 10 years by switching to more energy-efficient appliances. Look for that all-important A-rating next time you need to replace or buy a new household appliance.
Check that you are in the right council tax band
You may be interested to learn that 100,000s of households are in the wrong council tax band due to something referred to as ‘second-gear valuations’. This is a result of the council tax system launch being rushed back in 1991. Could you be one of those households? It’s certainly worth doing a little research to find out. This should only take a matter of minutes. If you suspect that you are, then contact your local council to challenge this.
At Mortgage Light, we are mortgage experts – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t help with your overall financial health. Offering good advice is what we do best.
If you are looking for ways to reduce your bills and want to make your mortgage work better for you, let’s chat. Pick up the phone and talk to us on 01908 597655 or contact us via our website.