Being responsible with your money can be exhausting.
Shopping around and comparing prices to ensure you don’t end up paying more than you need to takes time and effort.
Thankfully when it comes to household bills, firms are starting to develop ways to essentially put the shopping around process on autopilot and do it all for you.
While this is most developed within the energy market, it’s certainly not the only regular bill where you can let someone else do at least some of the work for you.
As I mentioned above, the one household bill where automation has really kicked off is our energy bills.
When you get to the end of your provider’s fixed tariff you end up on their standard tariff, which tends to be significantly more expensive.
But there are now a host of automatic energy switching firms, which promise to track the market and move you over to a cheaper deal before you are moved to the standard tariff.
There are a few different models here too.
Some don’t charge you a penny, relying on the referral fees they get from suppliers for making money.
As a result, they will only include suppliers who actually pay these fees ‒ not necessarily every supplier on the market.
Others go for a subscription model, where you pay an annual fee and they then include every supplier in their calculations.
It’s also worth doing your homework to establish how often they check the market whether there are deals around that will save you cash ‒ some are constantly running checks, while others only do it once a year.
Ensuring your savings aren't eroded
Getting a decent return on your savings can be a time-consuming process, especially if you have a sizeable sum divided into different pots.
You need to keep track of when each account is set to mature and then go through the hassle of applying for a new account when it’s time to move that money, with yet another set of login details to commit to memory.
Savings platforms are designed to take a lot of the hassle out of the process.
You simply sign up and, when an account is about to mature, you’ll be informed that it’s time to move and be given a list of approved accounts to choose from, which means you won't have to go through lengthy application forms year after year.
Everything is centralised through the platform, making moving your money to a new account ‒ and therefore continuing to earn a decent rate of interest ‒ far simpler.
As we explain in our definitive guide to savings platforms, some charge an annual fee while others simply take commission and most won't have access to the entire market, so you need to do your research before choosing one.
Monitoring your mortgage
Home loans are expensive at the best of times, but as with energy deals, once you get to the end of your initial fixed or variable offer, you get moved onto a much more expensive rate.
With mortgages, it’s called the standard variable rate (SVR), and according to research from online brokers Trussle, you could end up overpaying on your mortgage by a frankly absurd £4,500 a year if you end up sitting on the SVR.
While there isn’t exactly an automatic way to get your remortgage handled, sites like Trussle do offer a mortgage monitoring service where you enter your product details and it will contact you as and when it reckons you could save cash by moving to a new deal.
In truth, any decent mortgage broker will contact you months ahead of the end of your fixed-term anyway to run you through your options as well.
Annual car insurance quotations
The easiest way to ensure your car insurance is sorted each year is to sign up for your policy to be automatically renewed each year.
Trouble is, that’s a disaster of a move as insurers crank up the cost of your cover each year. Your best bet is to shop around and find a new deal.
While there’s no service that will take over all of the shopping around and switch for you, there is AutoSergei from CompareTheMarket. All you have to do is search for car insurance on CompareTheMarket’s website or app.
It will then contact you with updated quotes around three weeks before your next policy would need to start. You can then check all the details are still right and take your pick of the best quotes.
Out-of-contract mobile phones
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but with mobile phones, there are some providers who take advantage of their customers whose initial contract has come to an end.
While they may be happy with their handset, these users end up paying a small fortune for their tariff, particularly compared to what they’d be paying if they opted to move over to a SIM-only deal.
The trouble is that providers haven’t been too wild about raising awareness of this fact, which has resulted in Ofcom giving them a nudge to stop being quite so greedy.
Some of them have stepped up too.
Virgin, for example, will now move out-of-contract customers to the equivalent 30-day SIM-only deal, while O2 will the monthly bill to the same level as an equivalent 30-day SIM-only deal.
Meanwhile, Tesco will cut monthly charges to the ‘best available’ tariff.
Chances are you could save more by actually cancelling your contract and shopping around for a great new deal once your tariff comes to an end, but these sorts of pledges are at least a decent backup option as you know you aren’t going to get completely milked for money.
Work to do
Clearly, there is still some work to be done in terms of getting more auto-switching services up and running in a similar fashion to the various energy switchers.
But there's a clear direction of travel here – people want to be able to hand over the management of their money to someone else, so that they don't have to worry about it.
It's now up to firms to get smart and work out ways to offer that across a host of household bills, and not just gas and electricity.