4 Ways to reduce the costs of running a property

Ned Browne

Follow our advice and you could reduce some of the major cost overheads associated with running a property

1. Council tax

Firstly, if just one person lives in your property (or just one adult) you may be entitled to a 25% discount.  So, if this is the case, contact your local council as soon as possible.

You’re also entitled to a 25% discount if the person you live with is medically certified as having a “severe mental impairment” (e.g. Parkinson's) or has had a stroke.  Again, if this is the case, inform your local council.

In addition, it’s thought that 400,000 households in England and Scotland are in the wrong council tax band.  If you think your property has been overvalued you can apply to have this changed. 

To check sold prices of properties on your street, head to nethouseprices.com.  You can then check this against council valuations (for Scotland head to: https: saa.gov.uk; for England it’s: gov.uk/council-tax-bands). If there’s a discrepancy, write to your council.  But only if your property has been overvalued.

 

2. TV/phone/broadband

Many households are paying hundreds of pounds each month on expensive TV packages. If you enjoy watching television, it might be worth rethinking what you’re paying for and whether it’s worth it.  

The two cheapest add-ons are Amazon Prime and Netflix. The former costs £79 each year (or £7.99 a month, which comes to £95.88 each year). As well as thousands of free movies and TV shows, you also get, amongst other things, free next-day delivery, free photo storage and free music streaming.  

Netflix costs just £5.99 per month for its cheapest membership package, which allows subscribers to watch on one device at a time in standard definition. Netflix is great for high-quality original content.

As most bills have continued to rise, the cost of broadband has continued to fall—that’s the impact of a truly competitive market. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get broadband without having a landline. For the best deals, head to one of the price comparison websites, such as uswitch. 

As an aside, some broadband providers offer bundled packages, such as mobile SIM only and broadband, which are often very competitive.

 

3. Contents and buildings insurance

The golden rule is this: loyalty doesn’t pay. Again, the price comparison websites are the best starting point. The first two you should try are Moneysupermarket and Confused.com. Try to get quotes a few weeks before renewal, as that tends to lead to lower quotes. Also, don’t pay monthly, as you’ll almost certainly be charged interest.

Other tips: Good locks will reduce the cost of insurance and will pay for themselves over time. Plus, try to avoid unnecessary add-ons, such as accidental damage cover.

 

4. Garden maintenance and household furnishings

Some garden costs are unavoidable, but it’s definitely possible to save considerable sums by taking cuttings, planting seeds and scouring the Internet for the best value tools. Also, many people give away unwanted plants and equipment on websites such as Freecycle.

Household furnishings can also be purchased or sourced for free in the same manner. But, if you are buying, spend the money up front to save buying twice. Also, always consider upcycling and restoring existing items.

Update: I wrote the first draft of this article in April. Since then I renewed my contents insurance, broadband and mobile phone contract. After about an hour of shopping around, I managed to reduce my monthly outgoings by more than £57. That’s the summer holiday paid for!

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