Guilty of overspending at Christmas? Aren’t we all. Between the food, gifts, party outfits, and yes, the post-Christmas sales splurge, it’s one of the most expensive times of the year. But don’t fret because with the new year comes an opportunity to sit down and review your finances – and getting a better bottom line is easier than you might think (and we’re not just talking swapping your favourite Pret sandwich for a packed lunch!).
If you’re willing to look at the finer details, there’s plenty of money to be saved. Direct debits are particularly worth reviewing. Chances are, you’re still be paying into a monthly care plan for items you no longer own, need or use. Sound familiar? Read on for seven easy ways to cut out unnecessary expenses – and save money…
1. Ditch monthly care plans
Every time you buy a gadget or electrical item, you’re offered a care plan – and if you’ve taken these up, you’ll have small amounts like £9.99 as direct debits each month. But once the item has been used for a couple of years – such as your sluggish laptop with outdated software – you’re more likely to want to upgrade it rather than have it repaired. Save the £120 a year to cover a PC and put it towards a new one when the old one finally dies.
2. Check your entitlement to travel insurance
Check your bank perks, as travel insurance is often free (watch for exclusions if you have a health condition or you’re over 70). If not, consider an annual policy; it’s cheaper if you travel more than once a year.
3. Switch to a SIM-only mobile contract
During the first 24 months (or sometimes 12 or 18 months), part of the bill pays for the cost of the phone. Once this term has finished, you own it. So why are you still paying for it? You can easily cut your monthly bill from £30 to £10 by switching to a SIM only contract. Search at uswitch.com.
4. Got a Child Trust Fund? Update it.
CTFs have been replaced by Junior ISAs (JISAs) which usually have better rates, a wider choice of investments and lower charges. Six million children are stuck in the old CTFs and if their money is in savings, it really pays to switch to a JISA. See moneysavingexpert.com/savings/junior-isa
5. ‘Stitch’ financial products together
This means you’ll have just one renewal date and one direct debit. House buildings and contents are one example. Buy together and you only have to deal with one company and can get a discount – directline.com gives 35% off if you buy both online. Find more at gocompare.com and confused.com.
6. Remember to switch off
Switching off a light for just a few seconds will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again. It might sound small, but it will save you around £15 on your annual bill.
7. Get an app
Find yourself drifting into your overdraft? Keep on top of your finances with Daily Budget, which calculates a personal daily budget based on your income and fixed costs, like bills and transport. Any extra money will carry over, too.