This was a headline this morning and as always with these Expert Advice articles, raised a chuckle on a somewhat dreary day outside as most of it is common sense.
With the start of a new financial year (Apr 6th) just around the corner, most of us are already aware of our financial situations and lackings.
Unlike making New Year resolutions, a new financial year gives us the opportunity to look at our income following new tax breaks and our outgoings, and try to tweak the latter a bit here and there, especially those of us who are strapped for cash most of the time.
I did a post some time ago triggered by ways of saving money (here), but it never hurts to have an update, though the basic ideas aren’t much different.
Top of the list today was energy savings and switching suppliers.
There are some comparison web sites which do all the calculations for you. You can have reduced rates for dual fuel tariffs (gas and electricity), but for us we are tied to the marina for electricity.
Actually, it’s pretty cheap at 18.5p per kwh with no added tax as we buy from the marina, and they cannot charge it or pass it on.
We use bottled gas for our cooker and replaced one 6kg bottle last June, so we will be looking to replacing another relatively soon. At £27 a bottle, I don’t think we’ll better that.
There was also mention of savings, and with the pittance of interest rates, most people are shopping around for the best deals.
Regular savers can get a better rate, but in some instances there are catches, like you have to save a set amount for a minimum period or tie up your money in a ‘bond’ for a year or so. If you need your money in a hurry, you might not be able to access it, so read the small print.
There are some cheque accounts that pay interest or attract a higher rate on your savings, but these nearly always have a monthly managerial fee and you have to pay a minimum amount in every month. Switching funds between accounts doesn’t count apparently, so even a deposit of £500 every month may not be possible for those on low incomes or working zero hour contracts and thus income is erratic.
Don’t forget mortgages, though these may not be as freely available as they were a few years ago. There are still fixed rates available, but I am out of touch, so can’t really comment. All I would say though is that whilst interest rates remain low, they will be going up eventually. Hopefully you will have some flexibility in your budget to accommodate an increase. If not, think about it now. Best to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. You can always put that little extra ‘cushion’ into a savings account.
Old Faithful, the Credit Card was also listed.
Transferring balances still offer some good deals, but at the end of the day, you still owe the money, so it’s only delaying payment and not necessarily reducing it.
We no longer have ours after a farce of an on-line payment going wrong because the bank put us in dormant because we hadn’t used it for a couple of months !
Ours didn’t have an annual charge though, and we repaid the balance in full every month, thus not attracting any interest either. However, as a cashflow tool and provided you do repay the balance in full, you can have as long as six weeks free credit if your timing’s right.
Membership cancellations for gyms and clubs you don’t use are plain common sense, and going back to fee’d current accounts, why pay for one with perks you are never going to use?
Mobile phones and broadband packages are something else that can be addressed. But again, it all comes down to whatever suits you, what you expect from your service, and reading the small print. No good getting a good cheap deal then finding out you use your entire monthly 5GB in one day!
With the WIFI connection problems we have here, we’ve looked into alternatives.
We use the internet a lot, and every day, so a limited package is too restrictive.
If we had a landline, we could get an unlimited broadband deal with no trouble whatsoever. However, no mobile phone provider does an unlimited package unless it’s tied in with SKY or some other subscription communication network.
Still, you cannot better something that is free, so we are sticking with the marina!
Insurance premiums also came under comment, and although it may be convenient to pay monthly, just bear in mind the interest charge that has been applied, sometimes as much as 10%, and that’s on top of the government’s insurance premium tax which is going up to 10% . If at all possible, try and save for your next annual insurance over the current year.
I always add 10% to whatever the cost was and save accordingly towards the next one. Even now, I am putting money by towards our 2017 bills, having done the same for 2016 last year. It works for us, and we are earning a few pennies interest in the meantime.
Interestingly enough, there’s another headline in Yahoo today about Financial Advisers and are they worth their fees.
My answer? It all depends what you want advice on.
I’m no expert on anything, but I am a number cruncher in both work and play, so I’m always juggling figures to work FOR ME, and not for somebody else.