As Savvy-Saver-In-Training, I’m an apprentice to anyone who’ll have me. This time, I looked to Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com for help.
Their “Money Makeover” has eleven tips in the “household” category which, they claim, can save you upwards of £6,750.
1. Gas and electricity
- The problem is that I’m a renter in a shared house. I’ve no idea how long I’ll be staying in my current pad, and to get the cheapest deals you need to tie yourself in for at least two years, or incur early exit fees that negate the benefit of switching suppliers in the first place. Secondly, opting for direct debit gives you great savings. Unfortunately, I can’t rely on my housemates to transfer the money before the bill leaves the joint account. Every time we accidentally fall into the overdraft, we incur a £25 fine, which also negates the savings you get initially.
2. Food shopping
- The argument goes that we’re all duped by the supermarket. We are too thick to understand that just because something is “three for two” doesn’t necessarily make it a great deal. Apparently we’re comforted by the words “discount” and “savings”, too blind to read our shopping lists (because we’re all doing shopping lists now, boys and girls, aren’t we?).
- As I’ve written about my food shopping before, I’ll leave you to read my other posts on this subject.
3. Council tax
- It’s said that 400,000 homes are in the wrong council tax band, and are paying too much. Within minutes, you can check how much all of your neighbours are paying, to give you an idea of whether you’re one of the 400,000. I clicked onto direct.gov.uk and had a nosey to see what the houses around me were paying. With the exception of one house, which has been extended, and is now much larger than all the rest, we are all in the same band. No savings to be found here, then.
4. Home phone & broadband
- MoneySavingExpert says that you don’t need to pay any more than £15 per month to get top-notch telephone and broadband. Well, now I feel like a numpty. I did a lot of scouting around a couple of months ago, trying to get the best deal for our house. Orange was the one I settled for, and they charge us £25 per month for high speed broadband and unlimited phone calls at any time. The only upside I can see is that at least our bill is divided by three, so I’m only paying £8.83 each month. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.
5. Childcare costs
- Alleluia, praise the Lord! Not applicable.
6. Cut boiler cover costs
- Fortunately, my landlord is responsible for our boiler repair (which is rather frequent, in my house). No savings for me.
7. Free international calls
- I don’t make any international calls, but if I did, I’d use Skype anyway.
8. Calling mobiles
- My mobile contract gives me more free minutes than I use, and our home phone gives us free calls to mobiles.
9. Should you use a water meter?
- Already got one.
10. Cut your digital TV costs?
- We only have Freeview, which, as the name implies, is… free.
11. Direct debits
The instruction is thus:
“Being a Cancellation Hero is simple: unearth EVERY wasted regular payment and stop any you no longer need or use. “
As I’m pretty hot on keeping my finances in order (if not in the black) I’m well aware of what each of my direct debits is for. On the website people complain about having paid white goods insurance for over five years, without even realising! I’m not sure how you could do this, but I, for one, do not.
Well, Mr Lewis. I’m not very impressed with your eleven tips. You told me I would save seven grand, but the only saving I’ve made, I was already doing, without your help. Sigh. Still, I hope this has helped someone.