It’s that time of year again. The summer holiday credit card bills have come in, and Christmas is only 13 weeks away. And to top it off, school seems to be sending out requests for money on a daily basis.
If so, taking a look to see if you can trim your household bills can be a pretty sensible idea. Sticking with the same providers year after year is an easy way to pay too much. Up to 60% of UK households haven’t changed their energy suppliers in the last few years, and if that includes you, it could be costing you hundreds of pounds every year.
So I decided to take a look at my own household bills, and see if I could trim my costs anywhere. I knew that I was already on a good tariff for my gas and electricity, because I checked those back in February. Also my utility supplier emails me if any cheaper deals are available, which is handy! I had renewed my mobile phone contract and home insurance earlier in the summer, but I was pretty sure I could still trim some costs.
Tip 1 – Check your renewal dates
My first tip is to make sure you keep a check on when your contracts are up for renewal. It’s very easy to let renewal dates slip by, and then you are stuck with whatever prices your existing supplier gives you. I made this mistake earlier in the summer when my home insurance came up for renewal. I put the letter to one side and forgot about it until after the policy had auto-renewed. You could mark the dates on a calendar or set up reminders on your phone, whatever works for you. Just don’t let them go by unnoticed!
My first target was my car insurance. My renewal documents had come through by email in mid-August, so I knew that I needed to move quickly on this one.
Tip 2 – Use a Comparison Website
There are plenty of comparison websites around now, which make checking your insurance and utility quotes really simple. I headed off to Compare the Market because I had all of my car’s details stored on there from when I last renewed my insurance. But it’s important to remember that some companies like Direct Line and Admiral aren’t on comparison websites. So don’t forget to check those as well!
Tip 3 – Keep your details up to date
I nearly made a mistake when I put through my car insurance quote! When I renewed last September, Lyle was still playing tennis. That meant I was driving around 25000 miles per year taking him to training and tournaments. Since he gave up tennis in February, my mileage has plummeted to less than 800 miles per month, or 9600 miles per year!
My insurance quotes came down from £287 for my renewal offer, to just £201.14. That’s a saving of £85.86, not bad!
Tip 4 – Use a Cashback website
My next move was to see if I could cut the cost any further by using a cashback website. Cashback websites like Quidco or TopCashBack do exactly what the name suggests – they give you money back on your purchases. The system doesn’t always work perfectly, because sometimes purchases don’t track properly and the money can take a few months to be paid back. But it’s worth trying if you are making a big purchase.
I put my car insurance details through and found that I could claim £25.17 back on my car insurance. That brings my car insurance renewal down to just £175.97 – saving me £111.03 on my initial figure!
I could possibly have brought that down further if I’d phoned my original insurers to see if they could beat it.
Next I turned to my cable TV package. We’d been with Virgin Media ever since we moved into this house 15 years ago. We were paying for a landline that we never use, broadband and the top level TV package with Tivo. We hardly watch any of the channels, so I was sure that I could save money on this bill.
Tip 5 – Know your figures
I thought we were spending £90 a month on our cable TV, but when I logged into our account I realised that we’d been paying £100 a month for the last three months. That didn’t seem right! I usually keep a check on our bank account but I’d taken my eye off the ball over the summer. When I looked at the bills, I noticed that a £9.99 charge for ‘premier sports’ which I didn’t recognise. I wasn’t happy about that!
As with my car insurance, the first step was to do a comparison for prices. I went to Uswitch and typed in our postcode. Straight away I realised that there were much better deals than we were getting for staying with Virgin Media! If we moved to NowTV, we’d lose some TV channels but to be honest we only watch a handful of channels, and we’ve got Netflix and Amazon Prime as well. We’d make some serious savings, and there’s even cashback available through Quidco!
It might take me a while to get through to Virgin Media to cancel our contract. But I’ll keep on trying because that’s definitely a change that is worth making. Our bill would come down from £90 to just £38 a month – that’s a saving of £624 over 12 months!