Money is tight for many people, yet most could make savings by taking a few simple steps to clean up their finances.
From credit cards to gas and electricity tariffs, there’s always money to be saved somewhere by switching to a cheaper deal. Most of these are half-hour jobs and can be done with a phone call or online.
So roll your sleeves up as we show you just some of the ways you can tidy up your finances and save yourself some money.
The average annual percentage rate (APR) on a credit card is 17.32%, according to the Bank of England, and many people will be paying more than that on their credit card debt. However, by switching to a 0% deal, you could significantly reduce the amount of interest you are paying.
For example, the Barclaycard Platinum with Extended Balance Transfer credit card is currently offering a 22 month interest-free period. So, if you have an outstanding balance on another credit card which is accumulating interest, you could save yourself those interest payments each month and start making more leeway on paying off the balance.
It is important to clear your debt before the 0% period ends as you will then be charged the representative APR, which in the case of the Barclaycard offer, is 17.9% (variable).
Cards with offers like these tend to have some sort of eligibility criteria, and the Barclaycard Platinum with Extended Balance Transfer is only available to customers with an income of at least £20,000 and an excellent credit rating.
But even if you don’t have an excellent credit rating, other cards like Capital One’s Balance card, which offers 0% on balance transfers until November for customers with average to good credit ratings, are available.
Gas and electricity
MoneySupermarket.com research found consumers can lower their energy bills by 22% by switching to the cheapest providers and tariffs. The average household could typically save £220 by moving to a better price plan.
Despite this, industry regulator Ofgem says the majority of gas and electricity customers have never switched providers.
If you get your gas and electricity from separate providers, switching to one company for both can earn you a dual fuel discount. If you inherited your provider(s) from the previous occupants of your home, there may be a more suitable and competitive provider or tariff for you.
You can also get discounts for paying via direct debit and for managing your account online. There are plenty of online comparison services which can help you find the cheapest deal.
If you have money in savings accounts but not a tax-free Individual Savings Account (ISA), you’ll be paying tax on the interest. However, interest earned in cash ISAs is paid tax-free.
For the 2012/13 tax year, you can invest up to £11,280 in an ISA. You can invest your entire ISA allowance in a stocks and shares ISA or up to half of it (£5,640) in a cash ISA.
If you’re a driver, car insurance is one of those expenses you can’t avoid. There are things you can do to lower the cost of your premiums each year, beyond driving safely and building up a No Claims Discount (NCD).
Adding a named driver to the policy, especially if they’re more experienced, can bring your premiums down a bit. The assumption is that because of the shared usage of the car, you’ll be using it less and will therefore be less likely to be involved in an accident.
Increasing the amount of excess you’re willing to pay in the event of a claim can also bring down your costs – but remember that accidents do happen, and if you do make a claim you’ll have to a pay it, so make sure it’s genuinely affordable.
However, while these are all things worth considering, the easiest way to save money on your car insurance is to shop around and not just accept your insurer’s renewal quote. When it comes to insurance, loyalty is not rewarded. Drivers who use MoneySupermarket save an average of £400 on the cost of their car insurance.
These are just a few ways you can save money by reviewing your finances. Other things to check are your mobile, broadband and TV tariffs plus other insurances such as home insurance. Switching to the most competitive deal could save you hundreds if not thousands of pounds over the course of the year.