26 September 2016
Make savings on your bills
Can you honestly say you regularly review your monthly bank statements with a fine toothcomb? As the busy summer period draws to a close, now is an ideal time to review your regular outgoings and hunt for better deals that could save you money. In Principality Building Society’s bill breakdown, Naveed Mohamed, Head of Product Management and Pricing, shares his tips for assessing monthly bank statements with the potential of making big savings along the way.
With the rush of daily life – whether it’s the school run or dashing to and from meetings - it can be difficult to find the time to review your finances. More often than not, we accept the figures printed on our monthly electricity, gas or mobile phone statements without actually assessing if we’re getting a good deal or more importantly if money could be saved by shopping elsewhere. But finding the time to ‘breakdown’ your bills is a hugely worthwhile exercise that could save you hundreds of pounds over the course of a year.
The obvious ones: gas and electricity
Household utilities which keep your home running like clockwork will likely be one of your biggest annual outgoings. With this in mind, there are plenty of highly competitive rates from a variety of providers on offer, with great potential to save you money. Take note of your outgoings for both gas and electricity over the course of several months and use this as a basis when shopping around. It’s important to know what tariff you're on, if you’re unsure you could check your latest energy bill or call your energy provider to provide a breakdown. Price comparison websites are useful for research of this kind as they’ll show deals from the large well known providers as well as smaller firms, allowing you to get a scope of the market. Consider using online price plans or paying by direct debit which could qualify for further discounts at the same time. It is worth looking at your provider’s website on how you can save energy around the home. For example, you might want to consider whether you keep your hot water boiler on all day, as this might help bring down your gas bills.
The ones you shouldn’t forget about: landline and broadband
It’s typical to want to stay with your broadband or landline provider because you don’t need another list for your to-do list, but not reviewing your contracts for months or even years could put you in line for price hikes or mean you’re missing out on recent package deals that are far more cost-effective. The key here is looking at your broadband and landline rental as a bundle; these services are generally interlinked which means some deals don’t allow you to have one without the other. Even if you don’t want to leave your provider, go armed to them with a better deal from elsewhere and see what reductions they can offer you. This will be particularly worthwhile if you’re a valued customer of several years.
The one with haggle power: mobile phone
Many of us rely more on a mobile phone for communication than a landline nowadays, using it every day for both work and speaking with family or friends. For this reason, we quite often accept that monthly contract prices listed by mobile phone providers are set in stone. Wrong. You have plenty of ‘haggle power’ here, especially if you’re nearing the end of your contract. Be ready with your monthly usage as this will directly affect your tariff and it’s often worthwhile having a set budget in your head, letting your provider know you cannot stretch further than this. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know what deal you could have secured for yourself. Another option is to go ‘SIM only’ and keep your phone for another year or two.
And for good measure…read your statements
Do you know exactly what outgoings are leaving your account each month? Likewise, do you know exactly what standing orders you have set up? Take some time to thoroughly read your bank statements to cross check what payments should be taken out each month. You might be surprised at what crops up that you weren’t even aware of and therefore could well be saving money. It’s worth reviewing your monthly subscriptions and cancelling those reoccurring payments that are no longer required and not only will your bank statements be up-to-date, but you’ll find yourself with some extra money to store away.
A good suggestion to taking control of your finances is producing a budget plan. It takes little effort, and most of those who do say it gives them peace of mind. Setting up a budget can also mean you’re less likely to get hit with unexpected costs and more able to identify areas where you can make savings.
It’s a great feeling making savings, especially when it significantly affects how much you can put away each month. But be realistic: while cutting back on a daily takeaway coffee, for instance, will save you a few pounds per week, actually taking time to review your large bills could put you in line to make much more significant savings. It will take time, through careful research and negotiation with your providers, but you’ll be left with peace of mind that you have the best deal possible and potentially hundreds of pounds to safely save for the future.