MONEY SAVING EXPERT: New year’s resolutions
IS it wrong to admit a secret love of January? For one month only, being savvy with cash becomes sexy. People lust to sit down and tackle bills, rather than run a million miles. So let me take advantage of this unnatural fervour, and suggest the key MoneySaving resolutions that can save some £1,000s.
1 I resolve to…properly assess my finances.
I’m sure you know how much you earn, but do you know how much you spend each year? Without knowing both, you don’t have a real handle on your finances.
Spend more than you earn and, at best, you eat up savings.
At worst, you build debts, which can make finances spiral out of control. So it must be calculated, not estimated.
To find this out requires a REAL budget.
I don’t mean willy-nilly looking at a month’s expenditure – that misses out things like Christmas, holidays or new sofas – I mean a year’s finances.
The free www.budgetbrain.com tool does this for you and shows how to balance your finances if there’s an issue.
2 I resolve to…check if I can reclaim £1,000s in PPI.
Before you skip this one, thinking ‘it ain’t for me’, read this email sent to my site: “Because of your prompting to check I had PPI insurance with a loan, I realised mine had over £5,000 of PPI I had neither asked for, nor knew about. I received a cheque for £5,224.”
Anyone who’s had a card or loan active over the last six years, ie, they were still paying it then, should dig out the paperwork and check. Banks have put aside £6 billion to pay claims.
Reclaiming’s easy – you just send off a quick letter. Full step-by-step guide with free template letters at www.
3 I resolve to...haggle with call centres.
In mature industries such as phones, mobiles, TV, broadband, breakdown cover and more, companies grow by tempting customers from other firms, not by grabbing customers new to that market (eg, almost everyone has a mobile).
Thus if your deal ain’t cheap, tell your provider you’ll ditch and switch unless they improve it. Often you’ll be put through to ‘disconnections’, really ‘customer retentions’, whose job’s to keep you. A poll of 3,000 users on my site showed haggling worked for a whopping 78% of Sky TV, broadband or home phone users, 73% of AA breakdown cover customers and 72% of Virgin Media.
4 I resolve to…repay my credit cards in the right order.
If you’ve multiple cards, don’t just repay the same amount off all. Focus repayments on the highest interest rate to clear the highest quickest. Only repay the minimum on the rest.
Once it’s gone, focus on the next highest. However, if you’ve just one card, beware paying just the minimum, eg, £3,000 at 18% could take 27 years to clear.
5 I resolve to…save £300 on my 2012 energy bills.
The typical home on a standard tariff in the UK pays £1,350 a year for its gas and electricity, but could pay as little as £1,030 on an online billed tariff.
If you haven’t switched recently, do a comparison to see how much you can save.
Simply use a www.consumerfocus.org.uk approved comparison site.
Just put in your details and they tell you your area’s cheapest.
Better still, through special links listed at www.moneysavingexpert .com/gaselec, you an get £30 cash back or even a crate of wine on top.
6 I resolve to…not auto-renew my car insurance.
If you auto-renew, STOP! You’re wasting a fortune. Car insurance costs have shot up hugely. Yet by simply combining comparison sites like Moneysupemarket.co.uk, Confused.com and Gocompare.com, you can slam that down due to the sheer number of quotes.
Though always check the policy’s right for you.
For those willing to put the work in, then see if cashback of up to £100 for the policy is available via sites such as www.topcash back.co.uk or www.quidco.com
7. I resolve to...
get a £200+ tax refund on my work uniform
If you wash your work uniform – whether it’s full nurse or police attire, or just a polo shirt – you may be able to reclaim tax.
Provided you only wear it for work, if you wash and maintain the clothes, you may be due an extra taxfree allowance each year.
The amount can be anything from £12 to £56 back per year – and you can backdate claims for up to six years. Full help at www.moneysaving expert.com/ uniforms
8. I resolve to… prepare for next Xmas NOW
Buy cheap wrapping paper, cards decorations and even presents now while they’re super-cheap in the sales and pop ‘em away.
If you struggled to pay for Christmas just gone, work out what you spent and, if it was, say, £600, then save £50 a month, so you won’t risk borrowing.