With bills on the up, the old adage to look after the pennies is still relevant. Here are tips that may help
Whether it's by switching energy providers, remortgaging your home, or seeking out tax refunds, there are myriad ways to help you weather the cost of living crisis.
Your expert: An experienced mortgage broker, property expert and investor, Tayo offers authoritative advice on shows such as Rip Off Britain, Watchdog and Morning Live.
Keep your house warmer for longer
The increase in energy prices has stolen the headlines for some months now and is likely to have a significant impact on most UK households. One of the ways to counter this is to find ways to keep your house warmer for longer without using as much energy. Here are three cheap or free solutions that could help reduce your gas bill over time. Reduce your water temperature. If your water is too hot to touch, your boiler is working harder than necessary and you could save some money by reducing the temperature. Use door and window draught excluders – again, this may stop your boiler working harder than it needs to. Maximise the effectiveness of your radiators. Regularly bleed them, and ensure they’re not hidden behind large objects such as sofas, which stops them working as efficiently as possible.
Be forensic with bank statements
At times, life can be so busy that we don’t regularly check our incomings and outgoings, even though we know it’s good practice. But it’s worth having an occasional look at a monthly statement to assess all your bills. Pay particular attention to direct debits as, even though they’re generally small, they represent regular costs. If you find two £20 direct debits that you no longer need and cancel them, this will save you £480 per year.
This is difficult for energy bills now, but you might save by switching home, pet and car insurance, or your mobile phone and broadband providers. When you tell your existing provider you’re leaving, it may even offer you a significant discount to make you stay.
Get paid to pay your bills
While you’re switching your bills, or taking on any new bills, always check cashback websites such as Topcashback or Quidco. These will give you money back if you sign up and make purchases via their website – there’s no catch. The companies pay cashback websites a commission and they pass this on to you.
Council tax refunds or discounts
Even with the government’s council tax rebate, this is a hefty bill and there are council tax reductions of up to 100% available for households, depending on your individual circumstances. Find out if you’re eligible by visiting gov.uk and searching for ‘council tax discount’ – it could potentially save you hundreds of pounds a year. Some households are also in the wrong council tax banding – if this is the case, you could receive a retrospective repayment by challenging it. Start by finding out what tax band your neighbours are in by using a handy tool on gov.uk – search for ‘check council tax band’. If you think you’re in the wrong band, use the same website to find out how you can appeal for a reduction and repayment. Just type ‘challenge council tax band’ in the search bar.
Save on mortgage payments
Mortgage payments are a big expense for many UK households, so any savings that can be made here normally pay dividends in the short and long term. While the Bank of England has increased interest rates recently, they’re still relatively low compared to those we’ve seen over the last 10 years. If you haven’t remortgaged your home recently, this may be the time to do so. Not only might you be able to secure a better rate – meaning lower monthly payments – but you can also fix your payments for a period that suits you, allowing you to budget better as you know what’s going out of your account.
It can pay to be loyal
If there’s a local supermarket or petrol station you regularly go to, it may be worth getting a loyalty card for it. These often have rewards by way of exclusive discounts on products, points that give you money off or vouchers for certain products. These can stack up after some time and it’s nice to be rewarded, especially when you were planning to shop there anyway. Many loyalty cards are free, but some have a subscription fee – if that’s the case it’s worth studying the rewards and how quickly you’ll build points to see if it’s truly worth it.
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