Are you struggling to pay the bills? For most of us, the solution is to work more hours and earn more. However, this needn’t always be necessary. Quite often there are ways to lower weekly expenses that many of us don’t think to try. Here are just a few ways that you could be actively lowering the cost of living.
How many of us are guilty of sticking with the same energy provider or car insurance company simply because we can’t be bothered with the effort of switching? Whilst insurance companies may provide a no claims bonus to loyal customers, these are rarely worth sticking out for and many companies will cap the amount of years that this applies for. There are plenty of energy providers and insurance companies out there that will try to win people over with new customer rates. Taking advantage of these by swapping every couple of years can be a great way to save money – far better than any loyalty scheme. Comparison sites such as USwitch can help you to shop around.
Remortgage your home
If you have a mortgage, this too could be worth swapping if you’re planning on staying where you are for the long run. Remortgaging could find you far lower interest rates and monthly payments, although could mean releasing any equity you’ve earnt from your home (making it a better long term solution, unless your property’s value hasn’t gone up). Some lenders will even let you switch with a low credit rating – you can read more from 1st UK mortgages on the benefit of this. Always read the small print as many amazing mortgage deals will only last for a couple of years at most before charging you full whack.
Buy low energy appliances
Are you regularly shocked by high electricity bills? The appliances you’re using could be to blame. Some of the most power-hungry appliances in the home include dishwashers, washing machines, tumble dryers and refrigerators. Rather than getting rid of these you could swap them out for low energy versions. These consume much less power and can be identified by their Energy Star rating. There are also other devices in your home that you can reduce wattage on such as lights. Halogen bulbs and LED lighting can save some homeowners hundreds of pounds a year.
Use an energy monitor
Energy monitors tell you exactly how much gas and electricity you’re paying for as you use it. This may help many homeowners to be more frugal by seeing the money spent rise before their eyes. There are different types of energy monitors including smart monitors (which send data to your providers) and pre-paid meters (in which you pay for an amount of energy beforehand before topping up). Find the solution that’s most financially sensible for you.
There are plenty of ways in which going eco-friendly can slash your bills. Governments around the world have been taking action to make green living cheaper and in some instances you can even get grants to make eco-friendly home improvements.
Insulation is one of the most popular ways of saving money on your bills by keeping heat trapped in your home and preventing you having to use as much gas for central heating. Features such as loft insulation, double glazing, cavity wall insulation and draft excluders can all stop you from reaching for the thermostat as often.
When it comes to electricity meanwhile, many homeowners are investing in solar panels as a way of getting rid of these bills entirely. Whilst these do cost a fair bit to install, you’ll eventually make up the costs over the years. Even if you don’t want to go the whole way, there are options such as exterior solar lighting which can save you some costs.
As for your water bills, these too can be cut by going green. Having a rain barrel in your garden to use for watering plants can prevent the need to turn on the hosepipe. You can even go one step further and invest in greywater recycling for you home, re-using drainage water from your kitchen sink and shower for processed such as garden sprinklers and toilet flushing.
Meanwhile, when it comes to your car, opting for an eco-friendly vehicle can save further costs. Electric vehicles are completely tax free, plus you’ll pay much less on fuel.
Raise your insurance excess
When it comes to insurance schemes such as vehicle insurance and property insurance, a simple way of cutting your premiums is by raising the excess or deductible. This is the amount that you’d be willing to pay for repairs out of your own pocket when making a claim. Whilst this can be risky, you could be the type of person that never has to make a claim and therefore could save a lot via this method.
Secure your possessions
Insurance companies base their rates on risk and so by investing in security items you can lower the risk and subsequently lower your rates. When it comes to your home, this could include anything from installing a burglar alarm to fitting CCTV. As for your vehicle, you can lower your rates by purchasing security features such as a steering lock, or by keeping your car in a garage if you have one.
Limit your loans
Whilst loans aren’t strictly bills, they still go out in regular instalments like any other bill. When taking out any loan, whether it be a car loan or a personal loan for a home improvement or a mortgage, it’s worth always opting for a fixed term rate. This way, you know that your rates won’t suddenly rocket up without warning one year.
Another thing to consider when taking out loans is the amount of loans you’re paying out. Having too many debts will not only affect your credit rating but could get confusing, causing you to miss payments that aren’t automated. In such situations, a debt consolidation loan can be worth taking out, paying off all your other loans so that you only have one loan to focus on.
Budget your food shop
On top of bills, another regular expense for all of us is food and drink. By budgeting a set amount each week, you can stop overspending on impulse buys.
There are plenty of ways to lower our food and drink bills. Opting for supermarket own brand food can be a great way of saving costs on essentials such as bread, sauces, toiletries and soft drinks. Making use of coupons can also help to lower your expenses – these can be readily collected online and through magazines and newspapers.
As for healthy eating, contrary to popular opinion you can usually save a lot of money by opting for fresh foods over processed versions. You won’t’ be paying for the packaging and can often get discounts on multiple items. Then of course there’s the option to go wholly organic and grow your own fruit and vegetables, which will save you money dramatically.
Love your leftovers
Instead of chucking what you don’t eat, keep onto and eat it the next day. Many of us can waste a lot of money by only buying for each meal. Eating leftover pasta the next day or turning leftover meats into a curry or casserole can be a great way of saving money on your weekly shop.
On top of cooked food, it’s also important to make use of what’s already in your home before it goes out of date. Planning your week’s meals ahead might allow you to get through packages of vegetables or cartons of eggs. Also don’t forget to check the freezer, where bags of peas and sweetcorn can often go forgotten.
The web is a great source of free recipes for using any spare ingredients you can think of. One particular site that specialises in doing this is Foodwise, which gives you a list of meals you can make with the ingredients you have available in your kitchen cupboard. Also don’t forget to check those cookbooks you may have gathering dust somewhere in the house – these can be valuable sources for new meal ideas.