Ask the Expert: What can I do to save money?
Christmas is always a time when people feel their finances get stretched – and with the season just around the corner, what better time to make sure you have your finances in check?
Q: What can I do to save money?
A: Whether you’re in debt or not, it’s a good idea to take a long, hard look at your finances at least once a year.
If you find that credit card debts eat up a lot of your money, it could be worth taking a look at our blog on how to curb credit card spending.
Here are also five top tips that will help you save money.
1: Monitor what you spend
First off, if you’re looking to save money, take a look at your current spending habits. It’s very obvious but that is the case with many things to do with planning your finances. Its just sometimes we forget to do the obvious. Actually writing down what you spend and on what, is a great place to start.
Create a budget of your incomings and outgoings from all accounts: including any savings, your mortgage payments, any debts such as credit cards and all your daily and weekly spends to run the household.
2: Compare prices
From a big purchase (be it Christmas presents, white goods or utility bills) to your weekly shop, it’s worth taking time to check various options to see if you could save some money. In some instances you could save over £100 by comparing prices in store or online. You might be amazed at the difference in something as simple as running back to a local store versus shopping at a large supermarket in terms of what you can save.
3: Look at installing a smart meter
Energy companies suggest that using a smart meter can cut bills by up to £150, by giving owners more control over their heating. This could end up saving a lot of money over a few years!
4: Use loyalty cards
Various supermarkets and other shops offer loyalty card schemes, such as Tesco’s Club Card, Sainsbury's Nectar Card and Boots Advantage card. These cards give shoppers points back for items purchased, and as we all know, points make prizes – or in this case, money off.
With these cards, look out for special deals as well, for example, ‘double points’ weekends.
5: Review all of your borrowing
For those with a mortgage, make sure you are on the best deal you can be for your circumstances. If you are not currently tied into a deal and you haven’t reviewed you mortgage for some time talk to your mortgage advisor or IFA and review your position with them.
If you have credit card debt make sure you are paying off those with the highest charges quickest. If your credit card debt is too high and is putting pressure on your monthly budget look to see is a consolidation loan an option to reduce your monthly outgoings. If you do go with this make sure the fees and charges are clear to you and you understand the implications longer term.
Christmas should be a fun time of year but it can be one of the most stressful for many people due to the financial implications. If you haven’t already, start to think about what you need to do to make it as enjoyable a time as you can by planning your money in the best way you can. Small amounts of money saved over a longer period can build up rather than trying to find money last minute which can lead to panic borrowing which is generally more expensive.
For more hints, take a look at our post on how to manage your money.