How to make big savings with a little effort

The average home spends £1,360 every month on essential household bills. Over the course of the year, that adds up to a whopping £16,320.

One in four of us spend more than £500 a month on mortgage or rental payments alone. One in 20 spend more than £1,000. Council tax, gas, electricity and food shopping only add to the pressure.

But you could save up to £3,500 a year by working through your biggest bills and looking for cheaper alternatives, according to MoneySupermarket.com, which produced the research.

Apathy is your biggest enemy, because you can make big savings with only a little effort.

Here are six ways you could save money.

1. Mortgages

The average standard variable rate (SVR) mortgage currently charges 4.41%, but you can get much cheaper rates by shopping around. At time of writing, for example, Yorkshire Building Society is offering a two-year fixed-rate at just 1.66%. If you have a £150,000 mortgage on your lender's SVR, switching to a best buy rate would save you £2,092 a year.

2. Savings

The last five years have been a nightmare for savers. Currently, the average easy access account pays just 0.47%, but you can get more by shopping around. Britannia's Select Assess Saver, for example, pays 1.95%. If you had £10,000 in savings, switching would earn you an extra £103 a year.

3. Credit cards

If you have credit card debt that you can't clear quickly, try switching it to a balance transfer card with a 0% introductory rate. Most charge a fee of up to 3% of the balance you are transferring, but that is a price worth paying. Moving a £2,000 balance from a card charging the current average APR of 18.17% to the Barclaycard Platinum card, which charges 0% for 31 months, would save you £257. And that is after the balance transfer fee has been deducted.

4. Current accounts

The average current account pays an interest rate of 0.51%, but some are more generous. Switching to the Halifax Reward current account, which pays a £5 bonus each month plus £100 cashback, could save you £150 a year.

5. Car insurance

Don't auto-renew your car insurance, take the opportunity to find a better value policy elsewhere. Motor insurers reserve their best rates for new customers. Loyal customers typically pay more. The average motorist who compares car insurance rates at renewal will save £236.

6. Home, broadband and energy

Shopping around for a cheaper utility supplier, household insurer and broadband company could net the average household a saving of £650 a year. If you pay for digital TV, consider taking a bundle, which gives you a large discount if you take your broadband and telephone landline from the same supplier. Again, price comparison sites can speed up the process.

Even if only one or two of these apply to you, there are still big savings to be made.

Read more articles by Harvey Jones here

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