We see it in the newspapers and online every day. The cost of living is going up and household income is stagnating. When income remains the same and outgoings increase, it can only lead to one thing: trouble.
Yet each and every household spends more money than it needs to in a whole host of areas. Here are five of the most common – how many of them could you be doing better? It is time to make some simple changes to improve your cashflow for the year ahead.
1) Conserve energy
At this time of year, home heating costs can go through the roof – and so can all that heat that you are spending your hard-earned money generating. When did you last check the loft insulation? Beefing it up is an afternoon’s work, and a few rolls of fluffy new insulation from your local DIY store will pay for themselves in the space of a couple of months.
Also get into the habit of switching things off – and that means right off – when not in use. TVs, microwaves and chargers still use power when they are in standby mode, and it all mounts up.
2) Shop around
Human beings are creatures of habit. We buy the same old things from the same old places, often spending well over the odds. Online stores have some incredible bargains on everyday household articles. For example, how much did you spend on cartridges last time the printer ran out of ink? Yet there is a large range of HP ink at Printerinks that are a fraction of the price you will see on the high street.
It’s not just household consumables – even those energy costs mentioned above can be massively reduced by using online comparison sites to see who is offering the best deal. If you use domestic heating oil, there is even an online tool that tells you the different prices on a specific day – if you like your regular supplier, arm yourself with the information and use it to negotiate the price down!
3) Shop with care
Shopping is a dangerous business, and never more so than when you pop into a supermarket to “grab a couple of bits” and come out with a trolleyload and a £100 hole in your wallet. Did you really need all that? Write a list, stick to it and always eat before you shop – there is nothing more hazardous than walking around a food store feeling hungry.
If you pay someone else to do something that you could do yourself, you are haemorrhaging money unnecessarily. In some cases it is inevitable – unless you are qualified, you should not, for example, be going anywhere near household electrics, gas or plumbing. But many simple tasks such as decorating, repairing or adjusting clothes, looking after the garden and even basic car maintenance and servicing are things that are fun to do and will save you a fortune. Why not develop a new hobby and get the whole family involved?
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