Thursday, 27 December 2012
Save (at least) £2,013 in 2013
The ecomonic outlook may still be gloomy, but the good news is that saving a fortune next year isn't as hard as it sounds
By Sarah WillinghamWe’re all feeling the pinch, but a few clever savings can totally revolutionise your budget. Here are 12 easy ways to boost your finances in 2013…
JANUARYSLASH YOUR INTEREST PAYMENTS
The dreaded Christmas credit-card bill will arrive this month so switch your credit card to a company offering an introductory interest-free deal – there are plenty of them around. If your current credit card bill is £1,500 (charging 18% APR), an interest-free deal will save you £22 per month – or £264 per year. The best deals are at www.letssavesomemoney.com
FEBRUARYCUT THE COST OF YOUR CAR
Petrol continues to be a massive expense for the average household, so shop around for the best prices – and make sure your tyres are properly inflated (this will save some pennies straightaway). Log on to www.petrolprices.com and you can get an email every week telling you the best fuel deals in your local area. This could save £10 per month – or £120 per year.
And never, ever just automatically renew your car insurance. Shop around and play around with some of the variables (but don’t lie!) and you could save an average of £400 per year.
- A no-claims bonus of five years or more could lower your premium by 60% to 70%. You will find your current no-claims bonus on your insurance certificate.
- Raising your excess by a couple of hundred pounds could cut your premium by up to 20%.
- Your job title can add hundreds to your premium. Choose different titles that still apply to you and see if the premium changes. Don’t, for example, opt for ‘unemployed’ if you are a housewife/househusband.
- Do not pay more for mileage than you have to. Driving less than 15,000 miles a year can lower your premium by up to 10%.
Open a cash ISA before 6 April to take advantage of your annual tax-free allowance. The best have excellent introductory offers so don’t be afraid to switch when the deal ends.
APRILCHANGE YOUR SHOPPING HABITS
Clever shopping can save you a fortune. With beauty products, for example, head to the baby aisle at the supermarket. Staples such as cotton wool, cotton buds and some great moisturisers are cheaper here. The ingredients in make-up remover and baby wipes are often identical but the wipes can be gentler on your skin and usually smell lovely, too. Baby shampoo is also great – and much cheaper.
MAYSAVE ON YOUR HOUSE
This is the big one. With a £150,000 mortgage, you could save an average of £1,776 a year by shopping around for a better deal. With interest rates at an all-time low, you could be missing a trick by not remortgaging. A phone call to free independent mortgage adviser London and Country (0800-953 0591) costs nothing and they’ll soon tell you if you could save money.
The average saving made by those looking elsewhere for home insurance is £119, so switching your provider could also save you money. It is also a really good time to check how much contents cover you have, because many people are under-insured.
The average UK household spends £2,487 a year on holidays. But you can often save about 40% on the same break. Look online, check with tour operators, use flight comparison sites and then haggle. You can usually knock the price down once you know what others are charging.
If you can, travel during unsociable hours and outside school holidays for the best deals. To cut the cost of accommodation, try house-swapping sites such as www.lovehomeswap.comand pay nothing at all.
JULYTHREE TRAVEL SINS TO AVOID
Never buy your travel money at the airport: £21m per year is wasted through poor airport exchange rates and high commission charges. If you wait until you get to the airport to buy currency you will rarely get the best deal – in fact, it usually costs up to 11%. Order your currency in advance and get the right credit card before you go.
- Never wait until you get to the airport to book your parking. Even booking the day before can save you money but the earlier you do it, the bigger the savings are likely to be. Depending on the time of year (summer is obviously more expensive) getting your parking sorted early can save you up to a third.
- Check your mobile phone charges. Please don’t wait until you have racked up a big bill before checking what your data roaming or call charges are when travelling abroad – they can be very pricey. Speak to your mobile provider in advance and often they will be able to offer you a special package. Although charges for data roaming in Europe are now capped, be careful when travelling outside the EU and make sure to use free or low-cost Wi-Fi services such as Skype and Jajah to cut your costs when calling.
When you need a vet, get a few quotes fi rst. Even if you already have a vet, check whether you are getting the best deal.
You can also save a fortune on pet medicines. Most high-street chemists stock (more cheaply) products commonly prescribed for veterinary treatment and will order others for you. According to the Competition Commission, British vets add up to 68% to the price when dispensing medicines.
This advice is endlessly repeated, but it is so important: if you haven’t switched to a cheaper energy provider yet, then please do it now. The average saving after shopping around is £230, but you could save as much as £420.
Even if you have switched, making some quick changes to how you pay your bills (it is often cheaper to pay by direct debit, for example) can save money.
Understanding how much energy you use can also make a difference to your bills. By using an energy monitor, you can see what you are using and when. You may notice that leaving your telly on standby is costing you £35 per year, or that your child’s computer is wasting energy. Being armed with this sort of knowledge can help you change your behaviour and reduce consumption.
We like the CM160 monitor by OWL, from www.theowl.com
Use a cashback credit card when you do your weekly shop. The Santander card offers you 1% cashback at supermarkets, 2% in department stores and 3% at petrol stations. If you are disciplined enough to pay the balance off in full every month then you could be making money back on your shopping.
Sign up to cashback sites such as www.topcashback.co.uk and www.quidco.com and start earning money each time you buy anything. Cashback deals can be brilliant but only if you use them wisely. Never just look for the cashback deal – you should always shop around for the best price first.
NOVEMBERSELL BEFORE YOU BUY
I try to sell any unwanted items lying around the house before I buy at Christmas. Sites such as eBay, www.preloved.co.uk and Amazon are great at this time of year, both for selling unwanted items and also picking up bargains with the proceeds.
DECEMBERMAKE MONEY TO PAY FOR CHRISTMAS
Sign up to some online survey sites such as www.valuedopinions.co.uk and www.globaltestmarket.com where you can be paid for giving your opinion. You’ll get lots of emails so set up a new Gmail or Hotmail account, but you could make up to £50 each time.
For more money saving tips go to www.letssavesomemoney.com
Daily tip from the lady archive
"DEEPLY-ROOTED is the idea that men are indifferent to dress, while the ladies, God bless them, think of nothing else"The Lady, With Prejudice, 8th January, 1942
PRIVATE HOUSE in Andover/Winchester area requires personable, experienced, professional cook with own transport (live-out). Must be calm, adaptable, energetic, happy to use seasonal produce from garden and able to provide healthy, imaginative dishes. In addition to producing meals for owners, required to provide lunch for estate staff during week. Usual hours 0800-1600, Monday-Friday, but flexibility required for w/e and evening work. Salary negotiable. Contact: Apply Box 15495Apply now
Q: The Queen has received a £5m boost in the funds she receives from the taxpayer to carry out her official duties. Do you approve?
Yes - the Queen does a great job and is well worth it - 59.5%
No - the UK economy is struggling and this is unfair - 40.5%