It’s a new year and that means a fresh start for you finances. If you’ve resolved to be more savvy with your money in 2018 Which? explains how haggling, cashback and other money-saving tips and tricks can help you meet your goals.
2017 might have been rough on your wallet, but it’s never too late to turn things around and get your finances into shape again.
To help we’ve got some great money-saving tips to take into 2018, which we reckon will save you hundreds – and in some cases – thousands of pounds.
1. Set a budget and stick to it
The first step to saving money is to take a cold hard look at your incomings and outgoings to make cuts (it often starts with shop-bought lunches) and plan a budget.
You might also benefit from personal finance software that can help you manage your money better.
Find out which packages fared best in our tests using our personal finance software reviews and check out the video below for a brief rundown of what to look for.
2. Automate your savings
It’s easy to use all the extra money you free up in your budget on extra treats rather than saving it. But there are more and more ways to get into the savings habit without actually doing much.
Chip, for example, is a free automated savings app that monitors your spending habits, works out what you can afford to save and siphons what you can spare out of your account.
It moves this money into a Barclays savings account. The rate of interest starts at 0% but you can earn 1% for every friend you recommend, up to 5%.
The app is available for Android and iOS devices and works with Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Lloyds Bank, NatWest, Nationwide, RBS, TSB, Halifax, First Direct, Co-operative Bank and Metro Bank accounts.
Alternatively, if you don’t like the idea of giving an app permission to monitor you money you may be able to turn on an automatic saving feature with your bank account.
Lloyds Bank and TSB offer customers a ‘Save the Change’ feature which rounds to the nearest pound each time you spend and shifts this into a savings account – you just need to switch it on.
3. Get a railcard for cheaper train journeys
If you travel by train more than a few times a year a railcard can help you slash what you pay.
They cost £30 a year, but can save you a third on standard and first-class off-peak tickets, so you could potentially cover the cost with the savings on your first trip.
Some are only available to people of a certain age like the 16-25 Railcard, the new 26-30 Railcard and Senior Railcard (60+), but there are also other options.
The Two Together railcard can help you and one other person travelling at the same time save a third on fares. So, couples, friends and family that travel as a pair can really cash in.
Alternatively the Family & Friends Railcard can save those with children aged 5-15 a third on adult fares and 60% on kids’ fares. Up to four adults and four children can travel on one card.
For more tips on finding cheap train tickets read our guide and watch the video below.
4. Switch to a cheaper mortgage
If you own your home, it’s likely that your mortgage repayments are your biggest outgoing so it’s worth checking if switching to a new deal can help you save.
On a £180,000 repayment mortgage lasting 20 years, a deal charging 4% would cost £1,091 a month. Remortgaging to a 2% rate would cost just £911 – saving you £180 a month or £2,160 in a year.
Just remember to factor in early repayment charges and product fees when weighing up how much you could save by switching mortgage deal.
You can get expert advice on whether switching mortgage is a good move for you from Which? Mortgage Advisers.
5. Take advantage of family subscriptions
In your budget plan you would have probably cut off the so called ‘zombie’ subscriptions but there are ways to make the ones you actually use cheaper.
The main way to save money on a variety of monthly subscriptions is by moving to a family package.
Depending on the size of your house this could save you your family up to £539.40 over 12 months compared to taking out individual Spotify Premium subscriptions for £9.99.
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6. Freeze interest on credit card debts
The Money Charity estimates that the average UK household has around £2,559 of debt sitting on a credit card.
This balance attracting interest at 21.2% APR will take over six years and cost £1,495 in interest to clear if you pay £66 a month.
But you can freeze the interest and speed up the time it takes to clear what you owe with a 0% balance transfer credit card.
By switching to a 39-month 0% balance transfer deal with no fee, for example, you could pay the same £66 a month and clear the debt in just over four years – saving £1,495.
- You can compare the best 0% balance transfer deal for you with Which? Money Compare.
Find out more about how balance transfers work and the answers to all your balance transfer questions in our comprehensive guide.
7. Haggle on household bills
Haggling might sound daunting but Which? research shows you can save around £725 a year just by questioning the price of your household bills.
In October 2017, Which? surveyed more than 2,000 people about their haggling experiences and 58% said they had negotiated sizeable discount.
For tips on how to haggle online and in the shops check out our ultimate guide to haggling.
8. Stop auto-renewing
While we’re on the subject of household bills, another great way to save money is to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of auto-renewing.
Insurance firms tend to raise premiums after your first year and rely on apathy to make you pay more for the same deal.
Even if you think your renewal quote sounds like a good offer it’s always worth checking what you can get elsewhere. Price comparison sites make this a simple exercise – use our guide to find out how to use them to find a better price on insurance.
9. Get into the cashback habit
If you shop online you should try to get into the habit of using cashback websites to save every time you make a purchase.
Quidco estimates members earn £305 back each year while TopCashback claims members amass a whopping £356 per year with this simple shopping trick.
You can find out more about saving and making money with cashback websites in our guide or get a quick introduction in our video below.
10. Switch on debit card rewards
Some banks and building societies now offer cashback reward schemes that pay up to 15% when you spend with your debit card in-store and online.
Santander has a scheme called Retailer Offers, Halifax calls its version Cashback Extras, Lloyds Bank uses Everyday Offers, Nationwide has Simply Rewards, while HSBC and First Direct have schemes that are tied into Visa Offers.
The cashback opportunities are tailored to your spending habits but you will need to activate them. You can do this through your online banking or mobile banking app.
Once you’ve selected the offers you want, you just need to spend on your debit card to make a saving on your spending.
11. Join more loyalty schemes
Loyalty schemes that are free join are a great way to rack up savings as you spend.
Most of us will have supermarket loyalty cards like the Tesco Clubcard or the M&S Sparks card but there are lots more schemes you might not have heard of that can help you build up points that turn into vouchers or give you access to freebies.
12. Pay less tax
You can easily pay less tax without breaking the law.
The taxman can’t touch money you save into an ISA or profits that fall within the capital gains tax allowance.
We’ve got loads more tips in our guide 30 ways to save on tax.
38 other easy ways to save money
For more easy ways to save money this year check out our mega guide 50 ways to save money.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.