January is the best time to take stock of your finances and prepare for a worry-free year ahead
Living has put together some of the best ways to save money this year. You would be surprised how much you could save just by taking some time to properly organise your finances, so here are our top tips…
1. Get a better phone deal
Providers will offer their best deals to new customers. If you are spending above your allowance of calls and data, ask your provider to give you a better deal. Remember that you can always look elsewhere. You may also consider buying a phone second hand from somewhere like CEX where you will get a two-year warranty and getting a sim-only deal rather than paying a much higher price on a contract phone.
2. Switch your car and home insurance every year
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every year I switch car insurance between Direct Line and Churchill, both owned by Direct Line Group. Their websites both have live chat and their paperwork is practically identical. By switching between them I get the best deals as a ‘new customer’. I’ve saved up to £100 per year on my car insurance by using this tactic and the live chat makes this free and convenient to do. I’m not saying you need to choose these companies, but it’s worth playing this little game with insurers to get the best deal for you. I do the same with my home insurance – honesty, I know it’s a pain, but this is one of the best ways to save money.
3. Get a car that’s kinder to the environment
It’s not to everyone’s style, but the road tax on a Fiat 500 is around £30. Meanwhile, the Renault Kadjar’s 108bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine emits just 99g/km of CO2, making it tax-exempt if registered before April 2017.
4. Pay upfront
If you have the money, it’s worth considering paying for your bills up front for the year. It’ll be a big hit one month but then you are quids in for the rest of the year. I pay my line rental in advance to save on hiked up monthly payments throughout the year. This can also be done with car insurance and home insurance.
5. Get a free overdraft
We’d all be debt-free in an ideal world but following Christmas most of us are likely to have etched into the overdraft. But this can come with costly interest rates if, especially if you have gone over your arranged limit. It might be worth switching to an account which offers a free authorised overdraft while you try to pay it off. With some accounts this can be as much as £250 interest-free.
6. Marriage allowance
If one partner earns less than the personal allowance (£12,500) and you are married or in a civil partnership, the person on the lower income can transfer any unused personal allowance to the higher earner. Up to £1,250 can be transferred in 2019-20, potentially saving you up to £250. Read more here: https://www.which.co.uk/money/tax/income-tax/tax-rates-and-allowances/marriage-allowance-explained-a5zku9t98m3j
7. Use loyalty schemes and be a smart shopper
There are so many ‘own brand’ alternatives to the big names when you do the big shop – so consider making swaps. In fact, some things are worth axing altogether, like unhealthy pasta sauce for example. Instead blend a tin of tomatoes with some herbs, fresh garlic, chilli and seasoning, it’s so much nicer and cheaper. And make sure you get rewarded for your supermarket loyalty by using those points! Benefit from money-off your shopping and discounts on eating out, travel and even holidays.
Cutting down on meat and choosing cheaper cuts can really make a difference to weekly shop too. Braising beef in a slow cooker to enjoy a piping hot stew when you get home from work is the best! With a move towards vegetarianism and veganism, there’s loads of choice and meat-free alternatives out there also.
8. Make cash from a hobby
Save money by making money. Everyone in the UK can earn up to £1,000 from a hobby tax-free. Do you make stuff and sell it on Etsy? No problem! You don’t need to declare those earnings and that’s an extra grand a year in your pocket. Plus, if you and your partner are super crafty (in both senses of the word) you could bag an extra £2k per year! Great for holiday spends or to put away if you’re saving for a house or renovations.
Bear in mind, however, that if you think you’re going to earn even a penny over that amount, you’ll need to register for self-assessment. More on that here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tax-free-allowances-on-property-and-trading-income#trade.
9. Become a student and get a student card
It’s never too late to learn new skills. If there’s a course you have your eye on, check if it’s eligible for UNiDAYS or a TOTUM card and start saving hundreds on fashion, food, tech and Amazon Prime.
10. Grab more discounts by signing up to email mailing lists
You can unsubscribe at any time, but this way you’ll never miss a great deal from your favourite retailers. All you have to do is check your inbox.
11. Don’t buy bottled water
Most people have become wise to the negative effect this has upon the environment – and their wallets. There are plenty of places where you can refill your canteen or sustainable water bottle for free, so make the most of them.
12. Turn down the heating
Do you really need it turned up to 30 degrees in all rooms? Turn down the heat and turn off any radiators in rooms you’re not using. Reducing room temperatures by just 1°C could cut your heating bills by almost 10%.
Do you have any tips on the best ways to save money? Let us know by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on our Facebook page.
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