Are bills starting to take their toll on your finances? Bills are a part of life, however many of us could be paying a lot less simply by managing our bills more closely. Here are a few ways that you can take control of your monthly payments and save yourself a huge amount of money.
Cancel subscriptions and plans you don’t need
The first step when lowering bills should be to get rid of those subscriptions and plans that you’re not making proper use. This may include club memberships or subscriptions to services such as Netflix or Spotify. Also reconsider insurance policies that you’ve taken out. You may be paying for an extended warranty on a computer or phone – consider whether you really need this.
There may also be ways of downgrading current schemes that you’re paying for. You may have a phone contract with more data allowance than you realistically need. You may be paying a TV subscription that includes channels you never watch. It could be worth going through your statements just to see what’s going out on a regular basis and what could be cancelled or downgraded.
Many of us will never think to switch provider simply due to the hassle of changing supplier. Some of us may cling onto a provider out of loyalty, perhaps due to loyalty points or a no claims bonus.
There’s rarely any good reason to stick with one provider for more than a few years. Providers will always be competing against one another with new deals, most of which can save you a lot more money than loyalty schemes. There are lots of places online where you can compare your energy plan, as well as comparison sites for insurance companies and phone contracts. Take the time to shop around once every six months and see if you can be saving any money. Also look out for incentives such as discounts for the first year or rewards for recommending a customer.
Consider package deals
A great way to save money on bills is through package deals. This particularly the case with insurance in which you may be able to insure multiple people on one plan or alternatively take out a general insurance plan that includes vehicle coverage and property coverage.
Package deals may occasionally throw in services you don’t want, which is something to look out for. Getting five insurance policies for the price of two might seem like an excellent deal, but if you don’t need most of those policies it could be a waste of money.
Eco-friendly living doesn’t just save the planet, it can save you a lot of money in the long run. There are all kinds of home improvements that can cut costs from your energy bills. Some people have cut out bills altogether to live off-grid due to new technology.
For example, solar panels can prevent you having to run electricity off the grid, instead getting all your power from the energy of the sun. They cost a fair bit to install, but after years of not paying electricity bills you’ll make a return. There are now home wind power devices and hydroelectric devices too for people that live by water.
When it comes to your water bill, this too can be cut by installing a water recycling system. Greywater recycling systems take all your waste water from the sink and shower and re-use it for toilet flushing and for gardening. Rainwater recycling systems meanwhile can be used the same way, with some advanced enough to purify rainwater into drinkable liquid. You can even dig a well for collecting water as well as a septic tank for storing sewerage, allowing you to live off-grid from the water mains. This can all be costly to install, but again you should be able to make it up in the long run.
When it comes to saving money on gas, insulation is the best way of doing this. Loft insulation, double glazing and cavity wall insulation can help to trap heat in your home longer, preventing you from having to reach for the thermostat as often. There are now grants available for adding insulation to some homes meaning that you may not even have to pay that much to install insulation.
Aside from home improvements, there are other ways that you can save money on bills by going green. Buying a low-emissions or electric vehicle could prevent you ever having to pay road tax, as well as lowering costs on fuel. Eating leftovers and potentially even growing some of your own food meanwhile could cut costs on your grocery bills.
Buy low energy appliances
The appliances you use in your home could be having an effect on the size of your energy bill. Many old electrical appliances churn through a lot of power. Switching to newer appliances with the energy star rating could save you money. Some appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines may have economy settings that could also cut costs. These may not always be as effective however.
When it comes to lighting, halogen bulbs and LED lights can be much cheaper to have than traditional lighting methods. In the garden meanwhile, solar lighting is a cost-free alternative that saves you having to trail cables outside.
There are also gas appliances that can use less energy including well insulated boilers and ovens that don’t let us much warmth escape and heat up more quickly. Most heat options can also be run off electricity to save costs. These may include electric showers and electric ovens. You can even run all of your heating off of solar power, although it may require a lot of solar panels to do so.
Get a smart energy monitor
A smart energy monitor allows you to see how much gas and electricity you’re using as you use it. This can allow you to be more frugal with your energy usage and may notify you of appliances that are particularly power consuming and could possibly be replaced. Smart energy monitors send all your stats directly to your energy provider so that there can be no errors in billing, unlike other monitors which may only give an estimate of how much energy you’re using. Those that particularly want to limit their energy usage can install a prepaid meter. This involves you paying for a set amount of energy beforehand so that you only use as much gas and electricity as you can afford.
Up your insurance deductibles
Every insurance provider will offer deductibles or excess. This is the amount of money you’re willing to pay yourself towards a claim before your insurance company steps in. Raising your deductible will generally lower your insurance rates. This can be a risk and it’s worth having some money left over to pay for this deductible. However, it’s likely in most cases to save you a lot of money on monthly payments.
Secure your possessions
When insuring your car and property against theft, putting into place various security methods can generally lower your rates. For example, putting your car in a garage or fitting an immobiliser can lower the risk of getting your car stolen and therefore lower your rates. With property insurance, the same applies to burglar alarms and security cameras. Be aware that such security measures may not always be worth the lowered rates. A burglar alarm may cost more to rent than the affect it discounts from your property insurance.
Check your bills
Sometimes you can save a lot of money simply by checking and double-checking those bills before paying them. Billing companies do make mistakes. This may include charging you for something that wasn’t part of your initial policy or double charging you for something.
Checking your energy bills meanwhile can help you to detect leaks. These could be losing your huge unnecessary amounts of money and in some cases, such as with a gas leak, could be very dangerous.
In all cases, if your bills seem unusually high, it pays to ring up and ask for confirmation. Someone in the billing department may be able to give you a breakdown of costs or double-check that there hasn’t been an error. If they contest that they haven’t overcharged you but you believe otherwise, there is always the added option of pursuing legal action. A solicitor may be able to meet up and help negotiate your case, particularly if you’ve been paying for services that you haven’t been receiving.
Keep onto old bills so that you can always compare new rates. If you have the option to digitise your bills, this may also be handy in helping you to store records.