With a subtle but noticeable inflation in the price of various things in the UK such as milk, diesel and bus tickets to name a few, the cost of living is creeping up. With Christmas being the time of year where it’s handy to have extra money in your back pocket, you may be looking for ways to reduce your bills and help ease your hold on the purse strings. Having extra money as disposable income gives you the freedom to spend money where its appreciated most. On wine, presents for your family, tinsel and more wine. If you’re looking for solutions to cut back to give you extra cash in time for Christmas, start by putting your frugal hat on and begin to trim the fat from your ever-increasing monthly expenses by working your way through the 4 points below.
With so many bills to keep track of it’s difficult to know where to begin, but we need to start somewhere so we’ll start with what seems to be everyone’s prize possession. It’s commonly found in your back pocket, under their pillow at night and generally attached to you 24/7, it’s your phone.
If we actually took a moment to think about how much our phone costs us on a yearly basis and work out the amount we’ve spent over the last 5 years or so. It would probably sum up to a healthy figure fit enough to buy you a fairly decent car. With the average UK phone contract costing £324 a year, this amounts to £1620 over five years. Far too much money to ignore considering most of that money is wasted paying for data we never use or paying for data beyond our contractual limit.
Either way, it’s difficult to win with mobile phone contracts unless you consider using smarty.co.uk. The reason being is because, for any data you don’t use from your mobile phone contract in a month with smarty, the equivalent amount in cost for the data is taken off your following bill. Equally, if you step over your data mark, this means extortionate charges will become attached to your bill, with Smarty you pay the exact same rate for data after your limit has been exceeded, there are no additional charges. With Brits on average wasting around 3.4gb per month, that wastage in monetary terms amounts to £178 million. This is money the UK could save, if they transitioned to a contract provider who charged them only for the data they use.
Food bills are tricky territory to take control of, as it’s not a simple one monthly direct debit payment like all of your other bills. With the risk of overspilling your budget, as you decide to add what seems like a harmless pack of sausage rolls, a cheesecake, and a novelty mug to the trolley before you know it you’ve poured over your planned food shopping budget, just as you probably did last week. It’s evident that for some of us, just keeping a mental note of a food budget isn’t enough to keep you within the money bracket you promised to stick to. Which is why you might need to use a few tips and tricks to prevent you from overspending.
By attempting the following for cutting back food shopping bills, you could make some savings in time for Christmas:
-Set a realistic budget for your family size -Create a meal plan for the week so that you only shop for the ingredients you need -Withdraw your food budget from a cash point to help you stick to a budget -Leave your card at home to make sure you don’t overspend
The foreseeable embarrassment of reaching the cashier, and having to take things off the conveyor belt because you don’t have the cash in hand to afford the shop you’ve put together, is perhaps just the right amount of fear you need to encourage you to stick to your budget. So if your usual lackadaisical attitude towards food shopping isn’t cutting it, add the future prospect of a realistic budget and cash in hand to help keep your shop within the set limit.
Also, where you shop is a massive factor for helping you to cut back. If you’re currently shopping at Waitrose or the local convenience store, then this could be part of the problem why your food budget is eating up most of your income. By trying alternative shops that are renowned for cheaper food items, you can keep more money in your pocket by still achieving a full fridge for your family. Stores you might like to try are Lidl or Aldi. The self-packing leaves much to be desired, but the prices of the food coupled with more money left for disposable income make it all worth it.
As the winter months draw in, the price hikes announced by various energy providers in recent months have made an impact on gas and electric bills enough to make you look twice at your statement and forecasted yearly amount in horror. For some reason, a lot of brits remain loyal to their energy providers, whether they can’t be bothered to change as its too much hassle or they feel it won’t make much of a difference, but it will. Luckily the task of keeping track of various energy companies energy prices isn’t as arduous as you might think.
Before you leave this section to ponder the next point for saving money, the cheap energy club is all you need to help you find the best energy provider tailored to your requirements. On signing up, you will be required to enter a few details such as; your postcode, the size of your house and your forecast from a recent bill. This will enable the energy club to provide you with a list of energy companies that can save you money. It’s simple and free to sign up, and you will receive a notification by email everytime a new energy provider beats your existing energy company. This will give you a heads up to switch without you having to scour the internet for the best deals.
Also, if you choose to switch provider, you can use Quidco cashback site to search for the provider you are hoping to set up with. By clicking on the provider through Quidco, you could be rewarded with cashback, or alternatively money taken off your first bill with your new provider. Either way, this means more savings for you to spend on treating yourself or others.
The council tax band assigned to your property determines the amount of tax you pay. Each group is usually allocated a letter with A being the cheapest, B is a bit more expensive and so on. You council tax band is supposed to be appointed based on the information about the house/flat you live in, such as the number of bedrooms, the value of the property and the number of people living there. However, it’s not unfamiliar for a council tax band to be incorrect. For example, with new build homes, for the most part, the council doesn’t have the time to appoint someone to each individual house to assess what band is most appropriate for each dwelling. Because of this sometimes your council tax band is merely a reflection of other properties situated close to your residence. Which means you could be paying a Band C monthly council tax fee for a Band B dwelling.
For more information about your council tax band, you can visit the government website. Here you will be able to find what your council tax band is. If you believe the amount you are paying for council tax is incorrect, you should contact your local council to ask how you can dispute this. Either way, it doesn’t cost you anything to check, and you have nothing to lose if your council tax band is right and potentially a refund to gain if your assigned group is wrong.
The above four suggestions are just a few of many ways you can work to reduce your monthly outgoings. To help to give you extra money in time for Christmas and to look forward to more disposable income in the new year.