Saving money in the home can be hard, especially when it’s back to school time with all the expenses that this entails. You need the new clothes and all that stationery, not to mention the electronic devices kids demand. While there are ways to save in this process, using second-hand lists and existing clothes, you might still need help to cut back this autumn. There are a host of ways you can save money in the home and make life more affordable. Here we offer some of the best tips and hints for keeping your costs within your control.
Working out the basics
Getting your monthly spend down to the basics is an essential part of making life more affordable and saving money in the home. Understanding what these basics are and how much they cost you will help you manage your budget better. Therefore, step one in any money management programme is to list the bills and expenses you cannot avoid. Adding these costs up will give you a benchmark figure you will need to earn each month to stay on course.
Part of this is understanding what a basic shopping experience looks like, the items you definitely need to buy, and those more like luxuries. Planning a menu for the week can help this basic shop manageable.
Once you know the amount of money you definitely need, you will know how much additional cash you have to spend on the extras. There are online budget calculators that can help you to do this.
Before you buy luxuries, be sure to build in some resilience to your finances. You need to be prepared for changes that you might not be able to predict in the future.
Change your internet and phone tariffs
Data is one of the more expensive items we buy nowadays. We might have been in a tariff for a long time, having grown comfortable with the routine of paying the bill without much thought. In some ways, your chosen provider is likely hoping you don’t look too closely at how much they charge you.
There are price comparison websites that can now do all the hard work for you and save you a lot of money. These websites will also help you avoid the call centres that can steal your time and all your patience.
Updating your phone tariff may be cheaper still if you chose a SIM-card only deal. While it is tempting to go for the latest phone, often the one you have does all you need (as grudgingly as we want to admit this). If you do go for a deal with a new phone, you can always sell the old one to make some instant cash.
Switch energy providers
Ofgem is keen to promote shopping around for your energy supplier. As in many sectors, loyalty does not pay with energy companies, and many of the best deals are offered to new customers. Comparing and switching suppliers or tariffs can make a massive difference to your electricity and gas bills, in the hundreds of pounds a year. It also couldn’t be simpler to switch, and some websites can manage the whole process for you without ever contacting your current company.
Go to your chosen site and enter your details, including your current supplier and postcode. You will then be given a host of options. The most obviously cheaper option might not be the best. You should also look at the flexibilities the company offers you, whether there are incentives to switch, the length of the initial offer, and their commitments to the environment. Certain providers offer an Energy Switch Guarantee, which will help with future savings.
Saving energy in the home
Utility costs continue to be a significant expense in our homes. It is one of the easiest ways to save money in the home too. First, making a simple switch to LED light bulbs might be more expensive to begin with, but they last longer and use less energy. Over a year, you will save money with the right light bulbs. You could also turn your thermostat down a degree and save significantly, as well as explore schemes that offer insulation in the home to lower heating costs.
There are a host of small ways that you can save money. Each of these suggestions by themselves won’t save much but together could be significant. For instance, only boiling the amount of water in your kettle that you need or covering pans with a lid when you are heating up water. You can wait until the dishwasher and washing machine are full before putting on a cycle.
If you have money to spend on home improvements, installing a smart thermostat can make a significant difference, along with the purchase of smart plugs. Smart plugs will prevent phantom electricity loss from your devices that suck power even when switched off.
Do-it-yourself when you can
Learning to do basic jobs around your home is the perfect way to save money. Doing the painting or repairs yourself will save you a considerable amount. Not only can these DIY projects save you cash, but they can be fun and rewarding. Learning to grow your own vegetables, for instance, is a great way to teach kids where their food comes from.
However, doing DIY jobs is only cost-effective when the work is within your abilities. Certain jobs around the home should be done by a professional. Also, if you undertake work and get it wrong, hiring someone to put it right can cost you more money in the long run.
Make it harder to spend online
Finally, and possibly the most effective cost-saving technique is to make it hard to buy online. Saving your card details online can make purchases so easy that pressing buy feels effortless and the money spent unreal. If you have to find your card or hand over cash, you become more aware that money will exit your bank account.
Consequently, sign out of sites and delete your card details from websites. Then, keep an eye on your bank account and check where your money is being spent.
The way we deal with money nowadays makes it easy for our budget to get out of control. The months pass before we realise we are overspending or being charged too much. These easy tips will help you regain control just in time to spend more cash on your kids.
Article by Aodhan O’Donnell, founder of Power to Switch, a free-to-use, independent price comparison service for home energy in Ireland.