Every year I try and spend one day doing an audit of my finances. Today was that day, so here are the best bits of the Thriftea Finance Audit. It’s worth remembering that as we’ve recently moved, I haven’t looked at the mortgage, home insurance and other big house-related financial decisions. This is mostly the small stuff.
Please also remember that I am definitely not qualified to give any sort of financial advice. These are just a few little tweaks that, in my personal experience, could save you some money.
If you have the option to manage your fund, actually manage it. Check where your funds are invested – try and do this once a year. Seek advice from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about to help you decide the level of risk and where to invest.
Look at each of your accounts in turn. Do you have any accounts with a monthly fee? If so, are you getting the full benefit of whatever that monthly fee covers? I have a Santander 123 Current Account with a £2 fee, but with the cashback and interest earned (usually around £5-6 per month), I’m making more than enough to cover the fee. If your monthly fee covers travel or phone insurance or roadside assistance, check the T&C and read some reviews; what’s the excess in the event of a claim? Will it give you the protection you need? Is it worth it?
Check your current interest rate; is it competitive? Do you have enough in there to make it worth switching? If so, head to Money Saving Expert for its bank account comparison.
Are you earning the best possible rate (and benefiting from the ISA allowance) for your savings? If not, move them!
I use Quidco, so the tips I’m sharing are for Qudico, but I’m sure the same applies wherever you’re getting your cashback. Are your registered cards for in-store purchases up to date? Mine weren’t, meaning I was missing out on in-store cashback from retailers like Debenhams, JD Sport and The Works.
Whilst you’re there, check whether cashback hasn’t tracked for any major recent purchases and whether you have any receipts to upload to claim cashback.
I signed up for a Tesco Delivery Saver annual pass. We get shopping delivered most weeks (which I maintain is far more economical than visiting the supermarket) and although I always go for the cheapest slots, that means £1 or £2 per week, most weeks, so that’s up to around £100 per year.
Tesco has an offer on at the moment with 12 month plans now for the price of 10. I got sent a half price voucher in my last Clubcard statement, which meant that I purchased a 12 month pass for £27. Best of all, I can choose any slot I want as it’s the anytime plan. If you’re worried you won’t make back the money spent, then Tesco offer a grocery eCoupon if you spent more on the plan than you did on delivery charges in the year. Asda, Sainsburys and Ocado all do similar plans.
I also signed up for Quidco’s Click Snap groceries; by sharing my online food shopping details, I now automatically receive cashback whenever I purchase any of the items they have on the site’s promotion. You don’t even need to go in through Quidco first. Simples!
As we’ve just moved, I’ve just switched my utilities. By changing my gas and electricity supplier to a fixed tariff with dual fuel and direct debit discounts, as well as loyalty points, I’m set to save over £300 a year. I used the Cheap Energy Club to switch, but there are usually good deals on cashback and price comparison sites.
There are more deals than ever on media packages. We don’t have a TV package, but like most people we do have broadband. We currently also have a landline, but only because it doesn’t cost any extra on the deal we’re on. Make sure your package does what you need it to, haggle with suppliers and use cashback sites for extra moolah.
Do you have any credit from previous utility suppliers that you haven’t claimed? Amazingly, they’re not obliged to give it straight back to you. As I’ve just switched, I’m keeping a close eye to make sure my previous supplier gives my credit back!
The government programme for rolling out smart meters to all homes begins this year, but some suppliers are getting ahead. Check if you’re eligible to receive a free early install (just Google your supplier’s name and ‘free smart meter’) to get ahead in managing your energy bills. In the meantime, submit latest meter reads and check how accurate your billing is – do you need to adjust your payment?
If you claim expenses from your employer, is your organisation scheme robust enough to ensure you always claim back everything you spend? If not, get a notebook and pen, an app, a receipt wallet, or whatever works for you and make sure you keep on top of those claims.
Check what you’re eligible to receive from your employer and that you’re making the most of these benefits. For example, my employer offers free eye tests. If you have a partner and you both have health insurance, is it more cost-effective to switch to having one policy through one employer with both of you on it?
Are you eligible for a uniform rebate?
Check you’re getting a good deal on whatever insurance – home, life, car, pet etc – you currently have by running a few simple price comparisons. If you’re missing out, switch. If you think you have a good deal, call and threaten to leave and see if there’s room for improvement. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Have you made a note of the date your contract is due for renewal? Mine isn’t due yet, but we’ve just changed N’s. He’s gone from £37/month to £15 by switching to a sim-only contract and keeping his current handset. The deal is much better with more minutes, unlimited data and other perks like cheap calls to premium rate numbers. Use the same tips to negotiate as apply to joining the gym.
It’s amazing how many places will offer their members discounts or loyalty points. Before making any big purchase, check to see what you’re entitled to and make sure you have bookmarked the relevant web pages, or downloaded the apps. We bought a bike through N’s healthcare last year and got a £250 rebate.
Get Nectar points in lots of places you might not expect (like eBay, Currys and Just Eat) and install the toolbar for points every time you search.
Lots of banks are offering discounts to their customers including Santander, who offer up to 15% cashback at a select number of retailers, Lloyds, who offer free cinema tickets or magazine subscriptions, Barclays who offer Freedom Rewards at over 70 partners and Nationwide, who offer personalised Simply Rewards at a number of shops and restaurants. Make sure you’re opted in and know what you need to do to claim any offers.
Memberships and Subscriptions
Look at each membership or subscription you have, whether it be the gym, a magazine or Netflix, and check that a) you can afford it and b) you’re getting the full value from it. Suppliers won’t usually tell you if there’s a cheaper deal that has been introduced since you signed up, so go and check!
I usually pull out of the loyalty cards in my purse at this point and get rid of anything I no longer use. It’s useful to remind yourself what’s in there – a token for a free card at M&S in this case 🙂 I also hadn’t realised that Boots no longer send paper vouchers to Advantage Card holders; you need to download the app to get your offers – I’ve been missing out! Some loyalty cards aren’t worth it either because you don’t ever shop there or because the scheme isn’t generous enough for your points to ever amount to anything, so get rid of these cards and it will encourage you to use the ones you keep.
The same applies to your email inbox. Go through and unsubscribe to everything you no longer want that’s filling up your inbox and you’ll find yourself reading what’s left more carefully and not missing out.
Phew… now sit back, relax and know that you’re saving some hard-earned money!