Five tips to spring clean your household spending
With better weather, more daylight and a few bank holidays, it’s a great time of year to clean up and improve your home – and having some extra cash will really help. So, in the spirit of spring cleaning, here’s how to spruce up your finances.
There’s no need to rush through the tips if they feel like too much work. Like spring cleaning your home, start at the top of the list and gradually work your way to the bottom.
1. Check all the nooks and crannies for the best deal for you
If you haven’t already you can save some money by making sure you’re getting the best deal. Make a list of providers and work through each one. Do some research and challenge each provider to match the best deals around, though watch out for penalties for leaving contracts early. Your list might include:
- Energy provider
- Broadband and phone
- Mobile phone
- Home insurance
- Car insurance
You can do the same with your mortgage. Rates are still very competitive at the moment so you may be able to lower your monthly payments by remortgaging to a cheaper deal.
Take some time to make a note in your diary for when they all end. If you know when this is happening, you can be prepared to get a better deal – and avoid forgetting about auto-renewals.
2. Get rid of clutter
That’s the overall goal of spring cleaning, right? A nice, tidy, clutter-free home. In fact, this could also apply to your finances too. Take a look – you’ve probably got things lying around you could sell, perhaps on auction sites like eBay or on local sales sites like Gumtree.
3. Take a feather duster to your bank account
Online banking makes this easy, but if you don’t have access the first thing to do is gather your paper statements together. Then:
- Look for unusual payments or high amounts. You could have been overcharged in a shop by accident, or even worse be subject to fraud.
- Audit your regular payments: Direct Debits and standing orders come and go every month and they’re easy to overlook. Take this chance to run through them all. First look for wrong amounts and double payments. If you find an error, don’t worry. You’re protected by the Direct Debit guarantee. This means you can get a refund from your bank once you’ve let it know about the problem.
- Check for autorenewals. Are they correct? Make sure there aren’t any old cancelled agreements still active in your account.
- Are you being charged a fee? Some bank accounts come with bonus features such as travel insurance or fraud protection, but are you actually using them? They may be cheaper to buy independently.
- Switch your current account to something better. If your bank doesn’t offer you anything special, there’s actually a very competitive market right now for current accounts. Interest rates as high as 5% AER, cashback or a bonus of £100 are just some of the perks on offer. There are requirements to get these though, so read the terms and conditions first. Most importantly make sure the new account meets your needs – for example if you go into your overdraft a few times a year, you’ll want to make sure you’re not going to get hit by fees.
4. Give your nest egg a spring-time boost
If you have an ISA or other savings account, there’s a good chance you won’t be getting the same interest rate as when you opened it if you had a “bonus period” which raised the interest rate for a fixed period. The rate could have dropped down to make any money made negligible. Get in touch with your provider to see what interest rate you’re on, then shop around to see if there is a better rate.
Read the Money Advice Service guide to cash savings to see how you can make the most from your money
All information accurate at time of publication
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.