With costs constantly rising, it can seem impossible to save money. Where do you start? What can you really save and is it worth the effort?
Where do you start?
The importance is to begin; it can feel daunting at times as bills mount however, avoiding the issue won't improve your circumstances. The map above is of the Savoo Savings Town: a community brimming with money-saving ways. After initially visiting the budget-planning centre in the middle, just hover your mouse over a building or area and click on the subject you want to investigate. Each location has a series of tips and ideas to help get you started on your money-saving journey.
What can you save?
Potentially thousands. It's important from the outset to log your savings in a notebook or a document on your computer, watching them grow as you wander through the Savoo Savings Town.
Is it worth it?
Categorically yes. As an example, half an hour spent choosing the right gas and electricity supplier combined with being savvy with your usage could save you in excess of £500. From avoiding impulse buys to simple money-saving techniques, you can transform cash-zapping habits into instant savings.
Create a budget
Knowing where, when and how you use your money puts you back in control of your spend and is the first step in helping you reduce your outgoings, a step that could easily take under an hour.
Gather bank statements, cash receipts, annual and monthly payments you make, along with wage slips, income from self-employment, pension and any benefits you may receive, then fill in a budget planner. This will tell you how your income compares to your outgoings and analyses where you spend.
Whilst you're filling in the outgoings, look for non-essential spends (and be ruthless) that you could immediately cut back or even do without and log them in your notebook. With essentials, are there ways by being canny you could reduce spend? Finally, add up the potential savings, write down the total in your logbook and act upon them. What will saving this amount mean to you? List the benefits. Whenever you need a reminder of why you're doing this, refer back to these points.
Return to the Savoo Savings Town and pick a section that catches your eye, ideally one you feel that you could make instant savings - seeing rapid results helps with motivation.
Taking a break can be just what the doctor ordered; here are some handy hints at keeping costs down whilst still enjoying your holiday.
There are plenty of low-cost hotels and B&Bs to use as a base when booking breaks away. If one is above the budget you can afford, why not ring to see if they will offer you a discount? There are several reasons that could persuade them to reduce the price.
Visit the negotiation page advising how to gain a discount.
Package holidays can offer good value but you may find that organising your own costs less.
Search for hotels via www.lastminute.com and www.expedia.co.uk; contact the locations yourself, asking them for their best offer and also visit www.booking.com, picking the best value between them all.
Travel insurance is important to have whilst you are abroad. You can compare policies at Comparethemarket.
Hiring a car online is easy with plenty of options available. It is worth checking to see if there are any voucher codes available that will give you a discount.
So, you've booked the holiday and the time off but what about those added extras? Holiday bits and bobs can zap the budget but planning these elements in advance can save hundreds of pounds.
Following the savvy shopper's technique can save you a fortune when looking to purchase products. Most shops promote their own price, often showing how it is favourable compared to the Recommended Retail Price (RRP). However, you can see as much as a 50% difference between retailers' prices for the same item so it's worth shopping around.
Monthly and annual bills eat away at your finances. However, it's great to open up your bank statements to find that, by dedicating half an hour of your time, you've managed to regularly reduce them. In most instances there is huge competition for your pound and, by following some simple research techniques combined with negotiation skills, you can often find a better deal.
Sites similar to Energy Helpline help you establish the best gas and electricity deals. Filling in your details online will take minutes if you have your current bills to hand; you could save £300 so it's worth the time invested. Many suppliers offer a discount if you pay by monthly direct debit and it's often cheaper to order online.
After ensuring you are on the best deal, learn how to reduce your bills further by visiting the Utility Bills page.
This sector is notorious for offering discounts to new or existing customers, with people reporting savings of up to 50%, especially if it stops you from signing up to another supplier. It's worth giving the company a call to see if you can negotiate a better price; click here for some specific advice on getting the best discount for your bundled package. All you need is half an hour's groundwork and you could potentially save several hundred pounds. A vast proportion of that groundwork can be done by using a price comparison site. If you are currently with a supplier, check if you are out of contract - a perfect time to ask for a better deal.
The same goes for mobile phone packages. Whether it's a contract with phone, pay as you go or a sim-only deal, visit a comparison site, plug in your details and choose the best deal for you.
Buyer apathy is rife when it comes to insurances, as many customers just renew their policies with little thought. But policy costs can change significantly year on year so it's worth shopping around to take advantage of great offers, especially with companies incentivising you with 'new joiner' prices. Take a look at a multitude of quotes online as well as doing your own research on others. Often it's cheaper to buy online than over the phone as it saves on administration costs.
Other ways to get cheaper quotes on your insurance are:
Search the Internet by inputting "breakdown cover" and plenty of options pop up. Whether it's a new policy or your current one is expiring, always look at several companies' prices before committing, pitching one against the other, asking them what is the best price they will offer.
Fuel poverty (when a household needs to spend 10% or more of its income on fuel) affects many UK households. However, bills can be kept to a minimum by following some simple energy saving tips.
If you were born on or before 5 July 1951 you may be eligible for some tax-free help with the Winter Fuel Payment. If you receive certain benefits, in exceptionally cold weather there is also the Cold Weather Payment, giving you £25 for each seven day period of very cold weather.
Installing a water meter may help to lower bills; read this guide designed to help you reduce your consumption.
If you live alone and your property cannot have a water meter installed, for example in a block of flats, speak to your supplier and ask them for a water consumption assessment. See how the quote compares to your current flat-rate bill. This is known as an 'assessed household charge'.
Check whether your drainpipes take rain water from your roof and they're not connected to the sewerage system as, if they're not, you may be entitled to between £17 and £50 a year off.
Kitting out kids for school can be costly but, with a few helpful tips, you can avoid unnecessary spending, saving a small fortune.
Cars are expensive to buy, run and service, with bills quickly mounting up. Firstly, it's worth considering if you need your own car. If the answer's yes, how can you bring the costs down?
If you drive less than 6,000 miles annually then joining a Car Club may be a cheaper alternative, assuming you have one in your area. The cars are parked locally and bookings can often be taken at the last minute. You hire the car for the amount of time you need; this can be hourly. Examples of clubs include www.zipcar.co.uk and www.citycarclub.co.uk
A quick and simple way to save money is to be more economical with your fuel. Here are some fuel-saving ways:
Calling in an expert to fix minor problems can be financially draining - there are often many jobs that we could do ourselves, saving cash if we only knew how.
Wickes offer DIY videos showing how to make many improvements, ranging from insulating lofts to replacing radiators with putting up fences in between. They also offer several good idea guides including home decorating and gardening tips.
B&Q also help the DIY enthusiast with How-to guides as well as plenty of videos on their YouTube channel. They also run 'You can do it' classes on a number of subjects with courses ranging from 2-4 hours and prices starting at £10
If you fancy trying to lay wallpaper or want to know how to replace a tap or washer, Channel 4 have a dedicated page to all things DIY.
Sometimes the necessary tools are too expensive to buy but, before you hire items, why not ask neighbours or friends if they have them. Alternatively, visit Streetbank as there may be someone registered in your area with what you need.
Be aware of your limits; there are many jobs that require you to call in an expert as you may cause more damage (or danger to you or others) tackling them yourself. However, you can reduce the costs by hiring a tradesmen for a good price.
Supplementing your income with jobs that you can do in your spare time helps to pay the bills. Below are some easy ways to add money to your bank account.
Learning to become a savvy grocery shopper is hugely beneficial: observing prices of your regular purchases, avoiding them when they are overpriced and snapping them up when a bargain. Many stores entice you with fantastic '2 for 1' or half price offers, only to raise the price the following week. Savvy shoppers realise this and, when the price goes up, they swap to a competing store whose turn it is to promote the special offers - making significant savings on their shopping basket.
More savings can be made by following some simple steps to further reduce your bills.
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