Like a lot of people, I don’t have a bottomless bank account, and there’s not usually much left in it at the end of each month. However, I have learned some ways to save a bit of money here and there to reduce monthly outgoings.
The first thing that I did was start an excel spreadsheet with all the monthly outgoings on it and my income. This helps to know exactly how much is needed each month and whether there is a shortfall. But if you are creating an accounts sheet, don’t forget to account for the small things as well as the big things. So as well as the mortgage/rent, allocate how much is needed for car parking, mother and toddler groups, etc.
After moving in, I found out that we were on a water meter. Slight panic at the amount of water that 6 of us use each day! But fortunately, with three children under 19 (or five in my case) and being on tax credits, we could go onto a scheme that would reduce our monthly bill from an estimated £100 a month to £25 a month. It is a considerable saving and makes a big difference. It is not just for people with small children as certain health conditions qualify. There is also a range of benefits that are included in the scheme. To see if you are eligible, take a look at your water company’s website.
My Sky bill includes the broadband, telephone (evening and weekend call free), and T.V. package, but not the line rental. I pay, on average, $70 a month for this plus B.T. line rental of $12, so $82 in total. Then I found out that B.T. was offering a better, as in cheaper, deal so rang Sky to tell them I couldn’t afford their bills, so was moving to B.T. for the broadband and phone. Amazingly, within 30 minutes, my average $82 total bill was down to $42 a month. This was due to agreeing to pay Sky the line rental, matching B.T.s phone and broadband offer and giving us free calls all day (which costs an extra $5 a month, but they said I was spending around $16 a month on requests). So $40 a month saved from a 30-minute phone call.
This no longer applies to me, but for many with a short-term financial problem, such as being on maternity leave, re-mortgaging, or extending the term up to the new pension age may be an answer. It can reduce the payments for the immediate future and you can always up to them in the future as situations improve.
If you’re on a low income or benefits and pay rent, you may be eligible for some help with the payments. Each council seems to have slightly different rules, so it is worth checking on their website. You will need evidence of income and all the money that you have in your bank accounts. If you have more than £15000, then you won’t be eligible. It can take a few weeks overall and involve a pile of paperwork, but worth it if you are struggling to meet your rent payments.
If you are single, you can claim a 25% discount on your council tax bill. Just contact your local council and tell them that you wish to put in a claim as a single person, and they will apply the discount to your annual bill.
If you are on benefits or a low income, you may also be eligible for some help with your council tax payments. Again, contact your local council.
Do some research. Two of my children use the bus every day to go to school or college, and it saved a lot of money to pay annually compared to daily. $4 a day versus $500 a year. It means a significant upfront cost but worth it long-term. I currently put $10 aside each week to pay for next year’s annual bus ticket so that I don’t have to find it in one lump sum.
Electricity and Gas Bills
Try ringing up your supplier and ask for their range of tariffs. Often they do a reduced fare for combined electric and gas, especially if you pay by direct debit. I moved the duty to save $20 a month. There are many comparison websites to help you find the cheapest supplier and tariff – such as uSwitch – and it helps if you have a recent bill to hand so that you know your current usage.
I am a big fan of Aldi and Approved Food. I find Aldi the cheapest but know that other people may find an alternative cheaper. The disadvantage is that they don’t do home delivery. It would be perfect if they did. Please Aldi x
I meal plan so that I only buy what I need rather than on a whim. I do not buy anything else on a ‘just in case’ I need it. You won’t need it as you have your menu in your hand. If you shop in this way, you will be surprised at how much you will save. I budget $85 a week for food and cleaning items for the six of us. Sometimes it is a little bit under and sometimes a little bit over, but I generally manage it.
Martin’s Money Tips
If you are not already a subscriber, please join up. It is free! He emails every week with tips on how to save money and vouchers. Well worth a quick read as I have saved a lot through him, and it won’t cost you a penny.
If you have not already signed up, then do it. It is a place where people post things they want or don’t want for free. I have got rid of stuff that we haven’t wanted to people that have needed it, and equally, I have received some beneficial things. It can save you a lot of money, although you sometimes have to wait quite a while for the thing you need to come up, and you need to email people back quickly as items are snapped up.
Facebook Selling Groups
More people are using these groups as an alternative to eBay and other selling/buying sites. There are no fees to pay and no postage as they tend to be local groups. I have sold and bought a lot in these groups, and it is straightforward and addictive. Great for saving money or making money.
That’s it for now, but I will post more tips for saving money in the future.
N.B. These are tips from my personal experiences and not meant to be a professional opinion.