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After the Christmas blow-out, no one wants to look at their bank balance, but now is the perfect time to get it back in shape and change your habits to make savings.
From using a more powerful budgeting tool to family subscriptions, we’ve got a range of money-saving tips you can use to live a richer 2020.
Take a look at our 13 money-saving tips, which could leave you thousands of pounds better off and can be started in a matter of minutes.
1. Power up your budget
Personal finance software is designed to help you manage your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, income and expenditure in one place. We’ve put several leading packages to the test to find the best personal finance software on the market.
Alternatively, many of the latest budgeting apps use Open Banking – a way of securely sharing your bank account transaction information – to help you get a better handle of your finances.
- Find out more: best budgeting and saving apps
2. Automatically save your change
More than half of savers between the ages of 19 and 35 across all areas of the UK have less than £1,000 in their savings account, according to research from Nationwide last year.
If you’re looking for a simple way to kick-start your savings pot, you could try saving the change every time you make a purchase.
More and more banks, including Monzo, Revolut and Starling, are allowing customers to round-up a purchase and automatically save the change into a separate pot.
Tandem Bank is one of the only providers to move this money into a savings account that pays interest.
- Find out more: how to find the best savings account
3. Get another credit card (yes really)
If you’ve come out of Christmas in debt, make sure you’re on course to get back in the black.
Moving credit card debt to an interest-free balance transfer credit card means you’re not paying expensive interest and can concentrate on paying back the money you owe.
If you’re not in debt, then start getting something back for your spending with a cashback or rewards credit card.
By spending £1,000 a month for a year, we found that you could earn the equivalent of £220 in Nectar points, £190 in cash or enough air miles to fly to Paris in business class.
These cards aren’t suitable for borrowing, due to high-interest charges, so make sure you pay off your balance in full every month.
- Find out more: compare balance transfer, cashback and rewards credit cards with Which? Money Compare
4. Put your bills into a calendar
Great deals on energy, broadband and car and home insurance rarely last forever. In many cases, when an initial deal ends the price rockets – in the case of broadband, for instance, bills increase by a quarter on average.
Energy firms, insurers and (from 15 February) broadband firms have to inform you when you come to the end of a contract, but these notices can be easy to overlook.
By putting the end dates of all fixed-term deals into your calendar, ideally with an alert on your phone or computer, you can make sure you switch providers or haggle with your existing provider.
- Find out more: how to haggle
5. Switch your mortgage
Your mortgage repayments are likely to be one of your biggest outgoings, so it’s worth checking whether 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.
For help, it’s worth talking to a mortgage broker.
A broker can provide expert advice, compare deals from all the banks and other providers, saving you hours trudging the high street. In some cases, they can access certain deals not available directly to customers.
We recommend choosing a ‘whole of market’ broker so you’ve got access to the best deals.
6. Buy a railcard to save on train fares
Sadly, a railcard won’t make the trains run on time. But it can save you money, whatever your age.
The 16-25, 26-30 and Senior (over-60) railcards are well known and save their holders a third off most rail fares
However, any adult can buy the Two Together Railcard, saving you a third off most rail fares when you travel together, or a Family & Friends Railcard, where adults get a third off, and kids get 60% off most fares.
For travelling in the south east, you can also buy a Network Railcard for a similar discount.
Railcards cost £30 a year, or £70 for three years in the case of the 16-25, Disabled and Senior Railcards.
- Find out more: 10 tips for finding cheap train tickets
7. Switch banks during your lunch break
How many sandwiches could you buy with £175?
That’s the amount of money you could earn by switching bank last year (to HSBC’s Advance account, although the offer isn’t currently available).
Right now, First Direct, a Which? Recommended Provider, is offering £50 to new customers switching to its 1st Account.
The free Current Account Switch Service means that your new and old banks will sort out the transfer of money, direct debits and any other regular payments you make or receive within seven working days.
- Find out more: best and worst banks
8. Set your phone free
If you got your phone on a contract, it’s ‘locked’; it can only be used with Sim cards from that network.
When you come to the end of your contract, ask your provider to unlock your phone, which is generally free and better than getting it unlocked at a shop.
Unlocking means you can use it with Sim cards from any network, which allows you to find a cheaper deal and better service. Sim-only contracts start from just a few pounds a month.
With an unlocked phone, you can also use local Sim cards when travelling abroad, potentially saving you a fortune in roaming fees.
Whatever you decide, make sure your provider reduces your bills once your contract is up – otherwise, you’re effectively paying for a phone you already own.
- Find out more: best and worst mobile networks
9. Go silent on cold calls
If you get a call out of the blue asking for money or details, even if it seems like it’s from your bank, the police or the taxman, don’t trust it.
The call could be a fraudster trying to trick you into sending money. £56.3m was lost to so-called ‘impersonation scams’ in the first six months of 2019 alone.
If you receive a suspicious call, take five minutes to reflect on what you’ve been told and then contact your bank, the police or HMRC directly using a trusted phone number.
You should be equally wary about emails, texts, social media messages and people on your doorstep.
Also bear in mind that any cold calling regarding pensions has been illegal since January 2019, so any such call can be assumed to be fraudulent.
10. Sign up to more loyalty schemes
Loyalty schemes offer an easy and free way to turn your everyday spending into savings.
While you might have heard of the biggest ones, such as Tesco Clubcard, Boots Advantage and Sainsbury’s Nectar, there are some lesser-known schemes worth trying.
- Find out more: best and worst supermarket loyalty schemes
11. Use a cashback website
A great money-saving habit to adopt this year is checking whether you can earn cashback every time you shop online.
Cashback is paid within one to three months of completing a purchase, which means if you leave it to accumulate you could end up with a decent pot after a year.
Quidco and My Money Pocket claim that average members save £300 year, while TopCashback says its users save £335.
12. Switch to a family subscription
These let you share all the same benefits for a cheaper monthly fee compared with paying for multiple subscriptions.
Spotify Premium for Family, for example, allows up to six people living at the same address to share a subscription for £14.99 a month.
Depending on the number of people living in your home, this could save up to £539.40 over 12 months compared with taking out individual Spotify Premium subscriptions for £9.99 per month each.
- Find out more: TV streaming services explained
13. Invest in a reusable coffee cup
More and more high street coffee chains have started to offer discounts if you bring your own cup.
Pret, for example, offers 50p off, while Costa offers 25p and Greggs gives a 20p discount.
Which? research in October 2018 found you could save up to £130 a year on your daily coffee with a reusable cup, so it could well be worth the investment if you haven’t got one already.
37 other easy ways to save money
For more easy ways to save money in 2020, check out our bumper guide 50 ways to save money.
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.