It’s perhaps one of the most tedious parts of being an adult to some people, but managing your household bills and making sure that you’re cutting costs where possible can make a huge difference to your disposable income. This in turn means that you’re able to save more, rely on credit less and, essentially, make things a little easier for yourself.
The main things that you need to consider when it comes to getting the best deal on your bills are:
- Council tax
- Electricity and gas
- Communications (mobile phone and internet)
- TV license
Even by reducing each of these by a small amount, you could end up saving a healthy amount over the course of a year.
The importance of doing a COVID audit on your outgoings
Many people have found that their outgoings have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effect that measures have had on their work and lifestyle. For the scores of people working from home full-time for the first time ever, the costs of running a home office can come as a bit of a shock.
From the gas and electricity used for heat and appliances to extra tea and coffee, the costs involved with home working soon add up, even if you’re saving money on travel. Particularly in winter, keeping your home habitable twenty-four hours a day can get expensive.
Start by looking at how much you’re currently spending
Nobody likes looking back through their bank statements, but it’s a great place to start if you’re trying to cut costs. Adding up how much you’re spending on bills and subscriptions each month will give you better visibility on what you might be paying too much for, and give you something to compare to when you go looking for better deals.
5 ways to cut your outgoings
Luckily, there are lots of swaps that you can make, which could end up saving you a significant amount of money in the long term.
- Look out for underused (or even unused) subscriptions for things like entertainment and media. Cancelling or pausing things you’re not making the most of will save you money – and some services will offer you a discount if you try to cancel, so you can carry on enjoying the service while saving money.
- Check that you’re in the right council tax band, and that you’re taking advantage of any deductions that you’re eligible for, like single-person occupancy, or if anyone in your household is a full-time student. You can challenge your council tax band under certain circumstances – check gov.uk for more information.
- Use a comparison site to see if you can save by swapping energy providers. This is one of the biggest areas where you can save – sometimes up to £500 per year if you’re currently on a standard tariff.
- Look at getting a smart meter, which will let you monitor your energy usage in real-time – meaning that you can make changes to your habits as soon as the costs start creeping up.
- If you’re currently paying a fixed rate for your water, it might be cheaper to switch to a water meter. Again, this gives you more control over what you pay.
An extra trick if you’re required to work from home due to COVID
If your employer requires you to work from home when you would usually be in the office, you can claim tax relief worth either £62 or £124, depending on your tax band. Because of the pandemic, the rules have been changed so that you only need to claim once, and you can claim for the whole year as long as you’ve worked from home for at least one day.
- Don’t just let things tick along, keep an eye on household bills and change suppliers when there are savings to be made.
- Take advantage of new technology, like smart meters.
- Make sure you mitigate working from home during the pandemic.