Finances play an essential part in many of our lives and can have a severe impact on relationships and mental health when things are not going smoothly.
Whether going through an uncertain financial period or simply looking to overhaul the monthly budgeting, it is worth looking at different ways to lower the family spend.
Here are six ways that may help reduce household outgoings.
Start at the Beginning
It may seem obvious, but starting at the beginning and getting an overview of income and outgoings is the first logical step to take.
This process can be done by reviewing direct debits and standing orders on each account, along with any recurring debit card payments.
Direct debits and standing order are pretty easy to check as most banks who offer online banking have tabs or links on accounts to review this information.
Recurring debit card payments can be a little more tricky to look for and are transactions that have been authorised in advance like a subscription, think Birchbox, Netflix, and so on.
They can be something that comes out regularly, whether weekly, monthly, or even quarterly and are often overlooked.
The best way to spot them is to go through monthly bank statements and note anything that appears to be coming out as regular payments.
Once armed with all the information, make a list of it all and ask the question: do we need it?
Instant cost savings can be made from cancelling subscriptions that have been forgotten, contracts that have lapsed, or being ruthless with those small, regular transactions that come out every month.
It all adds up.
Go on the Utility Hunt
There are some outgoings that we’ll never get away from—broadband, electric, gas.
With competition for custom higher than ever, companies are extremely competitive to grab new business.
It doesn’t always pay to be loyal to one brand.
Price comparison sites can often do the hard work by searching against a large bank of utility providers to see who can offer the best rates.
Many companies also offer easy switching services so that things can transfer over stress-free and easily.
When on the utility hunt, have existing account details to hand like energy usage and broadband speed so a comparison can be made and cost savings reflected.
Keep an eye out for any incentives to switch, such as cashback, reduced payments for the first six months or gift vouchers.
These can really sweeten the deal.
Change the Council Tax Payment Schedule
Everyone hates paying it, but it’s a bill that really should never be missed.
Most councils are very open about talking through payment difficulties, so it’s essential to let them know what if there is any problem paying.
Typically council tax is paid over ten months, but many local authorities can give the option of paying over 12.
By doing this, it can reduce monthly outgoings and make a monthly budget more manageable.
If there is a reduction in wages, check to see if there are any exemptions that can be applied to the council tax bill to make it cheaper.
A list of exclusions may lower the rates are typically listed on the local council’s website and can include carers allowance, student allowance, and a reduction for lower-income households.
Review APR on Existing Credit Products
High numbers of consumers live in their overdraft monthly, which can be one of the most expensive forms of borrowing.
Review current credit products to see if there is a cheaper way to manage that money.
Credit cards and loans are something that thousands of UK residents have, but they may not always be on the best deal.
With credit ratings changing frequently, the APR that was on offer when taking the product may be higher than what is on offer now.
Again, using price comparison sites can look to see if there is a cheaper alternative, whether consolidating it all into one payment amount at a more competitive rate or merely transferring it over to a more affordable APR elsewhere.
It may be that the 0% credit card offer expired, and it’s been too much hassle to review.
Look if there is another 0% offer that is available and move the balance to that card.
Switching can result in a lower payment and less money paid in the long run.
With many companies giving the opportunity of performing a soft credit search, details of offers can be given before making a full application that may impact a credit score.
Shop Smarter, Not Harder
There are numerous discount stores, such as Home Bargains and B&M, selling high quality, branded products, so this is a perfect starting point for the family shop.
Be prepared and shop with a list to take advantage of their low costs on brand name products.
If buying online, check first to see if there is a discount code.
There are lots of sites that exist offering discount codes for no additional cost, whether it be for free delivery or a percentage off the final basket, every little bit helps.
If there’s a student in the house, check if they can sign up to Student Beans or Unidays to access student discounts.
Other sites to look out for that can lower the monthly spend are loyalty reward sites that offer cash back for shopping online.
It may be the same places that consumers usually buy at, but by clicking the link through their website, customers can build up cashback rewards.
Sites like Quidco or Topcashback offer these facilities.
Review Insurance Products
Whether home insurance or car insurance, companies tend to increase their insurance premiums every year, even if no claim has been made.
Loyalty does not pay, so review insurance policies each year three to four weeks before they are due to lapse for the best deals.
For home insurance check to see if the cover is providing too much, do you need £500 worth of food cover if your freezer breaks?
Do you even have £500 worth of food in the freezer?
Some of these policies come with these points as standard, so it could dramatically reduce the insurance cost by removing unnecessary items in the cover.
Financial worry can have a significant impact on our daily lives, so it is essential to keep in control of the budget.
From lapsed offers and subscriptions to shopping smarter, there is sure to be something that can help everyone save a bit of money.
Checking will make it worth it in the long run.