From the rising cost of motoring to the money spent on food, the cost of living is on the way up for Britons. The big six energy suppliers have already bumped rates upward this year, and half of local authorities have pushed council tax by the highest allowable amount, 4.99 per cent. A raise beyond that level would require a referendum. Even water prices are climbing – and there’s nothing you can do about higher water bills, except lower your consumption.
In all, the household spending burden is more than many families can afford, so residents are seizing every opportunity to reduce what goes out the door for routine expenses. While some of the costs may be beyond your control, you can trim expenses in a number of key areas, making the most of your household income.
Know What You Spend on Household Bills
Paying household bills becomes a routine, so it is easy to miss increases in the amount of money going out the door. For instance, if yours is like many households, you may not realize you paid an average of £883 more for energy during 2016, than was paid in 2010. Add this year’s increases and it’s easy to how the steady climb interferes with your monthly budget. Regularly evaluating your household spending highlights exactly where your money goes, giving you the opportunity to make adjustments to your lifestyle habits and shed unnecessary costs. In the case of energy spending, sites like Moneysupermarket.com and uSwitch.com provide tariff comparisons you can use to find better deals.
Use Direct Debits to Save on Payments
Reducing administrative costs saves money for companies, so many of the places you pay bills are willing to share the savings – but not always. The competitive energy industry commonly extends discounts to payers meeting certain conditions. That means using direct debits result in lower bills from many suppliers. Your insurance provider may be a different story. Most companies expect you to fully pay for cover up-front, so breaking your premium into monthly instalments – even those paid by direct debit – costs you more money, in the long run. Each of your household service providers sets its own terms, so making the most of direct debit savings requires a close look at each of your accounts.
Utilize Council Tax Discounts
Your council tax bill isn’t necessarily set in stone – you may be eligible for discounts. If you live alone, for example, you are entitled to a 25 per cent discount on council tax payments. But these aren’t the only circumstances that qualify for a reduced tax bill. Some members of your household may not count against the tax, but unless you follow-through, you won’t get a discount. Students and residents under 25, who are enrolled in approved training programs are not subject to the tax, as well as some mentally impaired occupants. If these exceptions apply to your household and you haven’t made notification, you may be paying too much council tax.
Are you receiving benefits or on a low income? If so, your circumstances may qualify for council tax discounts; contact your local authority to explore specifics about council tax requirements.
Cut Insurance Costs
Carrying-on without insurance is foolhardy, but so is paying too much for cover. Renewing on receipt of a notice is the easiest way to keep cover in place, but it may also be the most expensive approach. Instead of sticking with the status-quo, evaluate your insurance needs at each renewal period, with an eye toward savings. Loyalty may help keep costs low in other household spending areas, but the insurance industry is competitive, so switching providers often results in lower premium payments. In one noted example of Britons overspending for cover, Moneysupermarket found UK home owners may be wasting as much as £37 million annually by automatically renewing house cover.
Some household bills are beyond your control, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck, overpaying for residential goods and services. Use these and other common sense approaches to start saving money today.