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Budgeting and money saving tips

Reduce your outgoings

It can feel overwhelming to be faced with a budget that needs to be reduced, particularly if you feel you’ve already made compromises to your lifestyle in order to save money.

But you might be surprised at what you can save with just a little extra help.

So we’ve put this page together to see if you can shave a little bit more off your regular monthly expenditure. Here are some money-saving ideas you might not have considered yet:

Organise your finances

Perhaps the very best way of organising your finances is to have a very clear idea of what income is coming into your household each month, as well as what expenditure is being paid out each month.

A document that highlights all the money coming in and going out each month is called an Income & Expenditure document.

If you want to do this yourself, then PayPlan have put together an extensive series of packs that can help you to take the first steps towards reducing your outgoings on the Self-Help Pack webpage. This page includes a link to a PDF Income & Expenditure form, so this will get you started.

Save electricity

How often do you find you’ve left a light on in a room that you’re not occupying anymore?

It’s probably more times than you realise, and every second a light is on costs money. So be vigilant and you can start saving money with just the flick of a switch.

But you could save even more money by switching your energy supplier…

Save on utility bills

Energy Helpline can help you to find better energy packages and pay lower bills using price comparisons, comparing the major suppliers in the UK to identify the best deal, and then take all the hassle out of switching with their simple online forms.

Save on broadband bills

So many of us rely on our internet service these days but there are multiple suppliers offering a dazzling array of different packages.

Although finding the cheapest deal can save you extra money, it can take lots of time to find the right deal for your needs.

And, of course, a cheaper broadband deal means more money in your pocket to pay your bills each month.

Ways to save on fuel costs

Petrol and diesel prices can be a major expense in the monthly household budget, so it makes sense to try to minimise this as much as possible to free up other money for other bills.

The good news is, with a little forethought, you can save significant amounts of money by planning your refuelling.

For example, try not to run low on fuel while on a long journey because you might be forced to fill up at motorway services which will generally sell significantly more expensive fuel than your local petrol station.

In addition, the PetrolPrices.com website is a great way of sourcing the best petrol prices closest to you – as well as the most expensive prices too.

Petrol prices can change with surprising regularity, so this website (which is updated daily) will help you source the cheapest prices that are near you. You have to register for the website, but this is free and will only take a minute or so of your time (note that there is a smartphone app for this particular service, but at the time of writing there appears to be a £2.99 annual subscription, so you may want to just use the website).

Save water

Water is, of course, a necessity and we use it every day.

Many people still pay for water on an unmetered basis. That is, you pay the water supplier a set amount on a regular basis regardless of how much you use. This amount is calculated by the water company based on various factors including among other things the ‘rateable value’ of your home. In theory, the bigger or more valuable your home, the more the water company will charge you.

Perhaps a fairer method of paying for your water is on a metered basis. Water suppliers will fit a meter to an unmetered property for free (with only a few exceptions), and if you requested a water meter and it was fitted and you subsequently feel you’re paying more now than you were before you can ask to go back to unmetered billing within a year.

If your property is water metered, it makes sense to restrict that amount in order to save money. Remember that you don’t just pay for drinking water, you pay for the water you use when you wash and flush too, so you may be using much more water around the house than you realise.

Here’s a few water saving tips to get you started:

You may find more water saving tips here: waterwiseuswitchuseitwisely, and your local water supplier’s website.

Renew your car insurance

Different suppliers of car insurance want to attract different kinds of customer, so a quote from one insurer can be far more expensive than a quote from another.

With this in mind, it makes sense to begin shopping around for new car insurance about a month before your renewal date. Your existing car insurer will usually send you a letter quoting next year’s premium 4 to 6 weeks before your renewal date, so you can use this as your reminder to begin shopping around!

Among the biggest web comparison sites are Go CompareConfused.com, and Compare The Market although Direct Line (among others) don’t appear in comparison sites.

Make your own lunch

Do you buy your lunch from a shop or a canteen? Even if you just buy pre-packed sandwiches, you can expect to pay a few pounds, and even more in London. At the time of writing (January 2013), Boots offer a ‘Meal Deal’ from £3.29 (more in London) for a sandwich, a snack and a drink, and this might seem good value.

But if we look at this more closely, you’ll see that buying five of these Meal Deals a week would cost £16.45. In a month, this adds up to about £66. This Meal Deal would therefore cost you around £800 per year.

If you could make your own sandwiches on a morning before going to work, then you can save money. A loaf of bread costing around £1.50 would probably last you all week, and you’re likely to be able to source fillings for around £5 to make the cost of your weekly lunches £6.50. Compare this with Boots’ weekly Meal Deal total of £16.45 and you’re saving nearly £10 a week.

So, using the same method of calculation, making your own lunches every day could cost just over £300.

In other words, making your own lunch each day could save you well over £400 a year (please note that these figures are for guidance only!).

TOP TIP: Even if you made your own sandwiches four times a week and treated yourself to a Boots Meal Deal once a week, you could still make significant savings.

Other useful websites to reduce your outgoings

Martin Lewis is very well known for fighting the causes of the consumer. As you would expect, the Money Saving Expert website offers lots of tips about saving money.

What else you can do

If you get to the point where you genuinely feel you’ve tried to cut your spending, and you’re still having difficulties with paying your bills, then call PayPlan now for free advice on 0800 280 2816.

If all of PayPlan’s advisers are busy when you call, you can request a call back by using the online Debt Help form.

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