Let’s face it, everything is getting more expensive while many of us are seeing our wages stay roughly the same. Even if the recent budget was quite positive. You don’t want to start cancelling things that you use or enjoy but the costs can start to make things difficult. The good news is that there are lots of little ways you can save money on a variety of bills and household expenses without always giving something up.
Heating your home
After the mortgage or rent, one of the biggest expenses homes face is their gas and electric bills, especially in winter when we use the heating a lot more. So what can be done to reduce the cost of keeping the place warm and comfortable?
1. Turn down the thermostat
No-one wants to walk around the house dressed like they are ready for a day trip to Greenland wearing multiple layers of clothes. But if you can add a cardigan or a jumper and turn your heating down by 1 degree, you can potentially save 10% on the cost of your heating bills. Also look at night time temperatures – does it need to be as warm when everyone is tucked up in bed?
2. Smart thermostats
A smart thermostat might mean paying out a little money at first, but it can save you money in the long run. For example, if you are all out at work and school during the day, you can set the thermostat at a lower level. Then have it raise the temperature just before everyone comes in so the place is comfortable.
3. Check the insulation
The loft is where we lose the most heat so having the insulation up there checked can save you money. The better the insulation, the more heat is kept in the house and the less electricity is wasted heating the place. Having 270mm insulation can cost around £400 to have installed and can save around £250 a year in heating bills – so within two years, you have made back the investment.
4. Turn down radiators in unused rooms
If you have a spare bedroom that is just used for storage or a utility room that houses a few appliances, considering turning down the radiator to a low setting. You can also fit reflective foil behind the radiators to make more of the heat generated.
We all like to watch TV, surf the internet and chat with friends or family on the phone. But entertainment costs as they are often called have a way of spiralling and become a serious household expense. So what can be done to reduce costs?
1. Look at the channels you use
Take a look at your TV channels package and be realistic – do you ever watch the movies? Are you an ardent sports fan or only watch a couple of games a season? Movies and sports packages with companies like Sky can be the most expensive parts of the subscription and you want to get your money’s worth out of them. If you don’t think you are, ring the Sky cancellation contact number to see what you might save by removing them.
2. Check if bundling is cheaper
Companies like Sky want you to have as many things with them as possible. This means that bundle entertainment features can save you money. If you have Sky TV, consider getting a quote for their landline and broadband packages – you will often get a discount for being an existing customer. Companies like Virgin and BT will often do something similar. Make sure you are comparing like to like with the features of the package though, as cheaper without the features you need is false economy.
3. Consider adding your mobile phone
Companies like Sky are in everywhere and that means they are now offering great deals on mobile phone contracts as well. Again, like broadband services, it can save you money to have a number of things with the same company. Use comparison sites to see what the standalone mobile companies are offering in terms of handsets and monthly cost then contact the company you have other services through to see what they can do.
One area that has seen a big increase in recent years has been the household food bill. Managing the costs of it can be a full-time job but there are some tips to help.
1. Consider supermarket own brands
Lots of us have been trained that a specific brand is superior to a supermarket own brand. And while this might be the case, it is also worth trying those own brands. Something like tomato ketchup, baked beans or even bread are often used alongside other products and the difference between a brand and a supermarket own might not be that noticeable.
2. Make use of loyalty schemes
If loyalty schemes don’t cost anything, join them all. Supermarkets are always sending out special offers and promotions that can save you money. And systems like Tesco Clubcard and Nectar from Sainsbury’s mean you get money off your bill for the shopping you do with them. So you are getting paid for your shopping, in a way.
3. Go DIY
Readymade products like smoothies can be expensive when you compare the cost of buying the individual ingredients and making your own. Plus you can personalise them for your tastes. Consider frozen fruit where possible as you don’t have to worry about it going off before you use all of it. And all you need is a reasonable blender that can mix it all up – these can be picked up in supermarkets or on stores like Amazon for not a lot of money.
4. Understand deals
Deals like 3-for-2 might be good if you planned to buy two of the item and know you will use it. Or for dry or tinned goods, even frozen stuff if you have the room. But understand the deals and make sure you can use the extra items you are buying, or you don’t save money. And watch for those price increases when something is on offer – if you don’t need it today then it might pay to wait if you only need one of the item.