The festive season is upon us, and I for one am incredibly excited. It’s been a long year, but nothing can beat the mirth and festive fun that comes with Christmas. Always lurking at the back of my mind is that sinking January feeling when it’s all over, as the cold (and broke-ness) sets in. But then again, a new year, perhaps a pay rise on the cards for you?
No one will ever knock a pay rise. But unfortunately these things aren’t entirely in our control. Yet there is a way that you can give yourself increased spending power, and it’s one which is entirely in your hands: cutting down on bills. The average Brit spends nearly £4,000 on bills each year, which is pretty astonishing really. It’s safe to say that there is probably room to cut this figure down in most households. If yours is one of them, then the following tips may help your cause.
The energy saver
This is actually quite a crucial time if you want to save yourself a chunk of money on gas and/or electricity. The so-called ‘Big Six’ dropped their prices at the start of the year as the oil price slumped. But all signs are that costs are set to soar in the near future, which means the time is now to switch plan, or even supplier, in order to lock yourself into a good deal so that you pay today’s costs, tomorrow. Sites such as the Cheap Energy Club give you a real-time comparison between providers, and you’ll probably find that you can make annual savings in the hundreds of pounds by making a change.
Switch bank accounts
After the Santander 123 account cut its interest rate in half, it’s now almost safe to say that all banks are as bad as each other. But in some ways, that’s not true. Believe it or not, they’re actually still very competitive, and desperate for your business. So much so, that they offer generous incentives for switching to them. The pick of the deals has to be First Direct, who offer £100 for joining them. Given that laws passed in the coalition government effectively put the administrative burden on banks to arrange the switch, there isn’t actually much hassle involved for you. Just deposit £1,000+ in the first three months, and then you’re £100 richer.
Cut credit card debt
December in particular is a month when balances on credit cards tend to swell. We’ve all been there, but if you aren’t able to clear the balance come the end of the month, you’ll likely be coughing up a lot of money in interest, as the APR on most credit cards tends to be above 20 per cent. Depending on how large your outstanding balance is, it may make sense to cut down the cost of your debt completely. One option could be to transfer this balance onto a 0 per cent card. Alternatively, debt consolidation loans are a quick and easy way to make debt cheaper.
Consider a water meter
It’s not really something most people think about, but there’s often a big saving to be made with water. The question is: should you get a meter installed? As a rule of thumb, if you have the same number of bedrooms in your place (or more) than the actual number of people who live there, then you should definitely consider getting a meter put in. If you decide to go down that road, then with a bit of sparing usage, you should easily save north of £100 a year. Here’s a helpful tool which shows how much you could save by having a meter put in.
Dine on deals
Going out for dinner as a family is a wonderful experience, and rather a necessity in its own way. But it can also be expensive, so it’s wise to scope out the best deals out there so that these nice evenings out don’t hit the pocket too heavily. ‘Kids Eat Free’ venues tend to be the best option, and for these the likes of Crown Carveries, La Tasca, Las Iguanas and others have you covered. Otherwise restaurants like Bella Italia or Prezzo offer hefty discounts on food of up to 40 per cent.
A cut’s as good as a raise
Obviously it’s more satisfying to see your income increase, which thus gives you the choice about what to spend your money on. But it’s not necessarily a case of cutting back on your lifestyle, and rather about trimming the costs of bills so that you can make equivalent gains in terms of your disposable income. And with so many quick and easy wins, such as the above, out there, you can surely give your family a significant boost going into 2017.
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