How to have a dirt-cheap January!
If you spent a little more than you should in December, find out how to redeem yourself in January!
January is traditionally a month of belt tightening after the financial excesses of Christmas. The party season is over, so you should have plenty of time on your hands to figure how to cut your costs back and streamline your budget. Here are a few hints and tips to get you started...
Cut back on your bills
Slashing the cost of running your home may take a little time and effort, but you'll be really glad you did. The first thing you should do is join our Lower your household bills goal to get you on the right track. Here's everything you need to think about:
Your energy bills
Your gas and electricity bills can really spiral out of control if you don't keep an eye on them. But you absolutely don't need to put up with a rip-off tariff. I'm sure you're well aware you can shop around for a better deal, but have you actually done it? If you haven't, you can easily compare prices using our very own gas and electricity comparison service. Around 90% of people save £100 on average, and it only takes 10 minutes. My top tips are to choose an online tariff and use the same supplier for both gas and electricity, as this usually works out to be the cheapest option.
Your water bill
Unfortunately, unlike gas and electricity - and many other household bills - you can't switch to a cheaper water supplier. But that doesn't mean you're stuck with bills that won't budge. You may be able to save a bit with a water meter. That way you'll only pay for the water you use rather than paying fixed costs for an unmetered supply.
But it can be a little tricky to work out whether which one would be most cost effective for you. As a general rule, you should switch if there are more bedrooms than people living in your home. Find out more in How to cut your water bill. Don't forget, if you decide to get a water meter, you'll only save money if you take care to minimise your water usage.
Your TV bill
If you've been paying mega bucks for satellite TV, it may be time to think again. Find out if it's cheaper to buy your TV, broadband and phone as a bundle. Big discounts are often on offer if you buy all three services in a package from the same provider. Compare bundles here.
You should also think about whether you actually watch the channels you're paying for. If not, then you could try downgrading your package to reduce your costs.
If you want to cut your costs even further, you could cancel your TV subscription altogether, and go for Freeview instead. A Freeview digital box connects to any TV, so you don't need to buy a new digital TV. Prices start from around £20 and you'll receive up to 48 digital TV channels.
Finally, don't forget you'll be charged extra by paying for your TV licence quarterly. So pay it all in one go if you can afford to, or monthly by direct debit.
Your broadband bill
Again you can save money on broadband by switching to a cheaper deal. Broadbandchoices.co.uk is a good place to start to compare the prices of different packages. Remember don't pay for anything you don't need. For example, don't buy a package with an unlimited download limit if the only thing you use the internet for is a spot of online shopping and sending a few emails!
Your mobile phone bill
Are you paying over the odds for your mobile phone? If you've had the same contract for years then you probably are. I suggest you compare the prices and find yourself a cheaper tariff today. Mobile phone comparison sites such as Omio can help.
You'll almost certainly find that a contract bought online is cheaper than visiting a high street shop. If you don't want to be tied into a lengthy contract, SIM-only deals are becoming more popular, allowing you to choose a 30-day rolling contract. Join our Spend less on your mobile goal for more top tips.
Your insurance policies
What you should never do is allow your insurance policies - such as car, home and buildings insurance - to automatically renew with the same insurer year after year. This is one way to guarantee that you won't get the best deal as they're normally reserved for new customers only.
I hate to sound repetitive but it's time to shop around again. You can hunt down the cheapest quotes using the lovemoney.com car insurance and home insurance comparison tools. You might also be able to save a few pounds with tricks such as increasing your excess and avoiding monthly payments. Check out Ten ways to cut your car insurance costs and How to buy home insurance to find out more. You should also watch our video on how to get the best deal on car insurance.
Once you've got into good cost cutting habits in January, make sure you see them through for the rest of the year too. If you find you need extra help along the way, go to Q&A where you can ask other lovemoney.com readers for all their best tips on lowering your bills.