James Walker: Spring clean your finances
Spring is finally here and we're even seeing a bit of sun!
All over the UK, we’re dusting off the sunglasses, rushing out to the countryside or coast … and buying an awful lot of sunburn cream.
Spring is also the time for spring cleaning.
Not my favourite thing in the world, but a necessary one.
It’s also when I get asked a lot for “spring cleaning your finances” tips.
Lots of these tips look great on paper, but you know if they look too tricky you’re probably never going to do them.
When I set up Resolver, I knew I had to make our complaints app as simple as possible to use or people would find getting started too stressful or intimidating.
So here are a few umber simple tips to saving cash this spring that you can follow with the minimum of effort.
Can’t face switching energy, broadband, mobile or other service providers?
Get in touch with them and ask them what the best deal they have is – and why you aren’t on it.
Get them to confirm the deal is the best one in writing – then if the firm has made a mistake you can make a complaint.
Tweet and talk online.
Can’t face waiting in a telephone queue for hours?
Use social media or “chat online” services to contact the company and ask for a callback.
Explain that you would like to speak to someone who can help reduce your costs in return for not switching.
Gym memberships, catalogues, store cards, old insurance policies.
Too much clutter can make your finances feel chaotic.
Cancel the ones you don’t need and consider combining other costs with one single business – mobile and broadband services for example.
Or combine all your warranties under one insurance policy.
Tackle the interest trap.
If you’ve got a few loans or credit cards (and other debts) don’t let them get you down.
Look for the debt with the highest interest on it (usually credit or store cards) and increase your payments if you can. Don’t save while you have debts – it’s a false economy.
You’ll pay more money in debit interest than you’ll get from your savings.
Watch out for BOGOF deals that aren’t exactly bargains.
Supermarkets and shops know we love a good deal.
But just because there’s a sale tag, offer or deal, don’t assume it’s a bargain.
I’ve seen BOGOF deals that priced items higher than they cost the week before.
Shops tend to keep the price of some items static, like bread or milk, so you think the whole store is cheaper.
In reality, other items are significantly increased to counter the loss on those household staples.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry!
This might sound a bit silly but there’s a lot of research that goes into the psychology of shopping.
When you’re hungry, you’re likely to spend considerably more and buy higher calorie or “reward” goods – so the diet goes out of the window too.
And other factors – like avoiding the busiest times in supermarkets (we are more reckless with purchases when rushed or stressed) – can help you save a packet.
Even if you only follow a few of these simple tips, you should be able to save anything up to £500 a year – and it’s really easy!
But don’t feel bad if you’re struggling to balance your cash.
There’s loads of organisations that can help you for free.