Thursday, 28 January 2016

How to maximise your family budget

January is surely the tightest month of them all, with many of us feeling the pinch after the Christmas expense.  If you've made New Year resolutions to get your finances in order and bring down your monthly expenditure, then I've got some handy hints for you.



Switch your energy providers

You've probably heard this time and again, but many of us still haven't changed our gas and electricity companies for the best deals.  What's stopping you?

Be an energy shopper and you could save around £200 a year.  It really is simple to do, and even if you have switched previously, maybe it's worth looking again?  New companies, deals and tarrifs come on the market all the time, so it's a good idea to set up regular calendar reminders to have a quick check on an OFGEM approved comparison site.  The first time we did it we saved £70 per quarter on our gas bill alone - I had no idea we were paying so far over the odds.

Property maintenance 

At this time of the year you may not be spending too much time out in the garden. However, it is worth investing some time to check for any wear and tear or damage that may come back to hit you in the wallet later.  

Check your guttering is leak-free and clear of those autumn leaves to keep rainwater flowing properly.  Damaged or blocked guttering can easily lead to costly damp problems.  Check for dripping outdoor taps - especially if you're on a water meter as this could mean you're literally pouring money down the drain. I recently noticed our downstairs toilet cistern was faulty and water was pouring out of the overflow, both risking damp issues and racking up our water charges.  A quick change of a washer has fixed it.  If you have any outdoor pipes, it's worth getting them lagged before the cold snap finally arrives to save frozen and burst pipes and a huge bill.

Pet care

Our four-legged friends come at a price.  It had never occurred to me to shop around for cheaper vet care, but it's definitely worth doing.  Our old dog had a long-term medical condition which required daily medication and regular blood tests and it was only after asking around I realised we were paying far too much at our local vet.  We switched to one of the large chain partnerships and paid around a third of the cost for the same tablets, and they also wanted to see her less frequently for blood tests meaning our bills were hugely reduced. We still got great service, but at a much better price.

For maintenance products like regular worming and flea treatment, consider buying online instead of through your vet as you'll often be able to purchase the same product much cheaper.

Finally, pet insurance is something I'd thoroughly recommend.  Again, shop around for the best deal and plan for you, but be sure to carefully check excesses and exclusions.  I know some people who don't use insurance, preferring to save money themselves in an 'emergency fund' and while this may be a good option for some animals, I think it very much depends.  I mean, your fluffy rabbit is hardly likely to ever see you in the High Court, but a dog however could easily nip someone or run out into the road causing an accident leaving you with massive legal bills.

Staying in is the new going out

It's eye-watering nowadays the cost of a night out. Whether it's rounds of drinks at the bar; a trip to the cinema or a meal in a restaurant, the prices just keep going up and up and for many the household budget won't stretch that far.

It's still important to factor in leisure time, so a £10 supermarket meal deal and an evening with a good box set is a bargain by comparison. Plus there's no taxi fare or babysitting bill to pay! Try renting a DVD from your local library and make homemade popcorn for a fraction of the price of a trip to the multiplex.

Cashback

If you aren't already, do sign up to a cashback site. By channelling your online purchases through one of the sites, you can earn a percentage back on most things you buy.  I typically earn around £500 per year so it's well worth doing.

Most of the sites also have mobile apps too so you can even earn money instore, and some offer cutback if you scan and send them receipts of certain products.



So, how are your monthly finances looking this new year?  Do you have any great ideas you'd like to share?


This is a collaborative post.

23 comments:

  1. Lynsey Buchanan28 January, 2016 14:23

    My gas/electricity fixed tarriff was due to finish on 31st January so I switched my energy provider and got saving of £200 a year. I also used the topcashback site and get £30 cashback for going through u-switch and e-on are giving me £15 Tesco voucher for being a new customer. Happy Days

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done Lynsey! That's made you £245 better off just like that, and you used an OFGEM Accredited Energy Comparison Site too.

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  2. I recommend dry January as another way of saving! It's not why I did it (3 days to go....!!) that was for health and willpower reasons but it's certainly good on the finances too.

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  3. Great ideas, I switched my provider last year and it actually really helped in terms of saving a bit extra!

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  4. I disagree with the energy providers.
    Our provider is not the cheapest, but he sells 100% green electricity. It's worth it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well actually, I'm with you here.

      We perhaps use the same provider? I decided that I'd rather pay a premium and have 100% green electric, so we just switched our gas supplier. Still managed to save quite a lot of money, and my conscience is clear!

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  5. I recommend living here where the supermarkets have such little choice compared to ours that you don't want to buy anything anyway! :D No, in all seriousness I have cut back in a lot of areas in January, including going into the city where all the nice shops are...

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    Replies
    1. It can be very tempting to spend when it's all there in front of you can't it?

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  6. Cashback sites really are amazing - I can't believe more people don't use them x

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    Replies
    1. I know! So easy to use and it really does add up.

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  7. We are on pre-pay for gas and electric and after threatening to leave my current provider as I was convinced they were taking more money than they should they finally looked into it properly and I was right all along. £10 now lasts a week on the electric and same on the gas and we are a family of 4 with tv, (my) laptop, and all the usual going on x

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    Replies
    1. Oh well done you for standing your ground. I'm glad it paid off.

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  8. I am due to change our electric and gas, but with all the talk of reductions I am leaving it a month to see if they all come down!

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  9. I loved the "staying in is the new going out" bit. Made me smile :) Excellent points in the post, and I do have to check our providers soon, so thanks for reminding me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you manage to find a better deal!

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  10. I really need to look into changing our energy provider, we are paying a lot more than we need to.

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  11. Staying in is definitely the new going out! We've had some wonderful nights in with friends recently. January such a tough month - as a freelancer, I only get paid for the days I work and all that time off over Christmas has made it even tougher.

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  12. I'm all for staying in - especially in January! Cashback sites are also great. I'm a huge fan.

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  13. We were tied in to our energy supplier but I really do need to check and switch now

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