Hello everyone! Last week we featured an article dealing with 10 ideas of things to do cheaply/free whilst on lockdown, which targeted all the fun stuff you can do right now with your extra time! However, it’s also an absolutely excellent time to review some of those financial things which too often just get “put off” in day to day life.
No, it’s not an April Fool despite the publication date – you really can save!
It’s these things where you just put together lots of little changes that can actually add up to making a really significant differences to your finances. Mostly they’re super easy, and just require a little bit of time or easy paperwork.
So let’s go get those savings!
Negotiating your TV Package
Now more than ever, you might be appreciating the benefit of having your box sets or some good TV at hand! I’m going through quite a few things at the moment and really appreciating being able to catch up on shows that I’ve wanted to watch for some time.
However if you’re with Sky or Virgin Media those services becomes increasingly pricey over time and past initial offers, much as I think they’re good services. Both companies are very willing to negotiate deals and if you haven’t done so yet, this is a great opportunity.
The easiest way to negotiate a new deal is to call up – now this can be scary for most as a lot of people dislike the idea of confrontation, but it’s actually an easy and hassle free process. I wrote an article earlier in the year about my own experiences negotiating with Sky and so you can read about what the process entails and how to negotiate here.
If you’re finding like me you’re finding Netflix/Amazon Prime are your prime watching right now, you might also want to think about reviewing what you’re actually watching and if it’s worth cancelling Sky/Virgin, something I included in a prior post of general moneysaving tips.
Review your energy spend
This one is actually especially important right now as if you don’t work from home normally, you may find that your spending on gas or electricity is going up over these strange months.
It follows a similar pattern to most things – if you don’t actively switch your deal the price creeps upwards. Usually never enough to a noticeable in a single month, but over time a real difference begins to emerge. I’ve seen cases where people who haven’t reviewed their energy plan in years have literally saved hundreds of pounds.
It’s especially worth doing if you rent a property, as often household bills just get rolled from tenant to tenant and never challenged. (Just make sure you ask your landlord’s permission first, they’ll usually say yes!)
It’s easy and you won’t notice any changes to your service, just a little paperwork.
The easiest way to do this is to use a comparison service. I personally like MoneySupermarket’s interface – just put in your postcode and ideally have a recent bill handy and it will tell you what you’d be paying with various providers vs. your present tariff.
I recommend also considering the reviews of energy suppliers as well rather than just picking the cheapest. Operational pressures in the market have meant that some of the very smallest suppliers have struggled and this had led to consistently poor service.
If you saved money, let us know!
Review your insurance
I put this here because it’s basically ditto on the above – use exactly the same principles to check on your home, car and pet insurance. Again, I recommend Moneysupermarket for running a quick comparison and the above links will take you there.
Simply another area which is a simple bit of paperwork that can result in big saving.
Important Caveat: I do not recommend switching to trying to change travel insurance at the moment (April 2020).
This is not all the time, I’d normally be all for it – just not right now.
The reason why is that owing to the present situation, insurers will keep you fully covered under existing policies if you let your travel insurance roll/renew without a break in coverage.
If you switch, you often won’t be covered for additional disruption. (Besides which, a lot of travel insurers just aren’t issuing new travel policies at the moment anyhow).
Start saving cashback when online shopping
I’m going to beat this drum again – the single most simple thing you can do in terms of effort versus benefit to improve your savings is to start collecting cashback when online shopping with TopCashback.
This is especially important at the moment – with most physical shops closed owing to the outbreak, most of us are doing whatever shopping we are doing strictly online only.
Cashback works by you going to whatever website you’re buying from via the TopCashback website. Where that website would have paid commission to an advertiser (like if you clicked on a banner add) they give it to you instead. Often, this results in your getting 5-10% of your purchase back.
Really nicely you often still get cashback on sale items, so you can end up multiplying your discounts.
It makes absolutely no difference to the purchase process or what goods to receive. One of the very first posts when I started this website was a post about the magic of Topcashback and you can read that here, along with some tips for getting the most out of your cashback.
What has been your best ever saving with TopCashback? Mine remains a 17% cashback on Expedia, making a significant difference to my holiday accomodation costs. Let us know in the comments!
Out of contract? Switch to SIM only
I’m consistently surprised by the amount of people who don’t realise that after their mobile phone contract is up don’t realise they can switch to a much cheaper deal.
The Government put in place legislation that will automatically switch you over at end of contract, but it still may not be the best deal for you. If you’ve been on an expensive Iphone contract for instance, you can switch from paying £40+ a month to £6-12.
Eliminate any money running away from your account
It can pay off to simply and quickly run through a few recent bank statements and taking a quick look to see “is there things you’re paying for but no longer use?” Especially if something is online and set to auto-renew, it can be easy to forget about that service you signed up for a few months ago but have never actually used. Use it, or lose it.
If you’re looking to expand this into looking at planning your outgoings, Fiona at Miss Penny Money has some excellent advice on how to create a family budget.
A couple of things didn’t make the list, and why
In more normal times, there are a couple of other things that I’d have included in any review of your finances.
- I would normally recommend a review of checking if you’re getting the best return on your savings from any bank accounts. However saving rates are sadly so low right now with the latest cuts in interest rates that benefits are slightly negligible, although there are some ok rates out there. You may as well do it if you have time (and you can read our guide here) but I wouldn’t suggest this is a priority.
If you are looking to compare or when things get back to normal, I’m a big fan of Pocketrate’s interface for this – it shows each type of account and lets you search by account type with the tabs at the top easily and quickly.
- One of the biggest savings you can make is by switching your mortgage if you have one and are near the end of your term and are on a single variable rate.
Annoyingly despite being an excellent time to do this, lenders have massively pulled back in terms of what they’re offering in mortgages unless saying with the same criteria or you’re at an excellent loan to value. Still worth looking if you’re in that boat, but more difficult than it usually is.
And that’s it! If you’re had success, or have any other tips to share then please do let us know in the comments below.
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