Tightening the belt: Household bills

I’ve been rubbish with money this year. Properly rubbish. I haven’t stuck to our budget sheet. I’ve overspent almost every month. Too many pads. Too much yarn. Too many trips to the cornershop for treats. It all adds up. I usually manage to save up a little money for the summer holidays, and then again for Christmas. This year, there’s nothing. No savings. No back-up plan. No emergency fund. We’re barely making it through the month. And not because we’re hard up but because I’ve been terrible at reigning in the extra spends.

So this week I’ve been taking control. All those little jobs that should’ve been done ages ago, I’ve given myself a boot up the bum and sorted them out.

 

HOME INSURANCE

This was due for renewal anyway so it had to be done. I could’ve just let our current policy roll over. It’s far easier to file away that renewal letter and do nothing. But instead I fired up the laptop and visited a few comparison sites. I did my best to match up our current policy requirements to get a like-for-like quote. For example, I always pay a bit extra for accidental cover (let’s face it, the chances of the TV getting smashed by a rogue Duplo brick are far more likely than a flood) as well as cover for outside of the home, for things like the buggy and my purse. I also try to keep the excess as low as possible.

Of course EVERYONE else came out cheaper than our current policy. So I gave them a ring and asked for their best price. They couldn’t come close so I switched. I saved £7 per month (that’s £84 over a whole year – not to be sniffed at!), lowered my excess AND got a free cuddly toy!

 

BROADBAND AND LANDLINE

I must admit, this is something that I should’ve tackled ages ago. Our contract expired and I just let it slide. Recently I’ve noticed how much it’s actually costing us each month. We had a package that included 20Mb broadband and anytime phone calls. Paperless billing, paid by direct debit.

A quick look at a couple of the other big providers (BT and Sky) confirmed that I could get a better deal elsewhere as a new customer. Admittedly it was tricky getting an exact like-for-like comparison because they all offer something slightly different. But I was definitely paying too much.

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I gave Virgin Media a quick ring and asked them to save me the bother of switching by beating the competition. And blow me down, they did. They immediately started talking about loyalty discounts and upgrades and cashback. I am now paying £13 less each month, have a new modem being delivered, and in a few weeks I’ll be upgraded to 50Mb broadband. Bingo!

 

UTILITIES

I’ve blogged before for Zero Waste Week about ways to save water and keep our bill down after being switched to a meter system. You can read that here.

Our fuel bill is a fairly big expense once the cold weather sets in. We switched suppliers just before last winter and managed to get a fixed deal. We also have our loft insulated and an abundance of blankets, jumpers and hot water bottles. So, although I am quite careful about limiting how often we have the heating on, I know I’ve done everything possible to keep our gas and electricity bill down over this winter.

 

SELLING STUFF

No, not the children (tempting but generally frowned upon). But we’ve all got a whole stack of stuff that we’ve been meaning to sort through and clear out, haven’t we?

In my case it’s unused cloth pads and my youngest’s old cloth nappies. There are social media pages where you can sell on such things. This is one of the perks of using cloth – you can recoup some of that initial outlay. I sold three night nappies and made £30. Instant cash.

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Next on my list is the old baby stuff in the loft – clothes, pram, baby bath, toys. That stuff. Bootfairs, eBay, local selling groups on social media. There are loads of places now where you can get rid of your clutter. And allowing all that stuff to be reused instead of going to landfill is eco friendly too!

 

MORTGAGES

I need to have a look at our mortgage soon. I keep hearing rumblings in the news about interest rates. One minute they are set to rise, the next they’re staying put. It’s really unnerving. Mortgages scare me. They usually involve loads of jargon and talking to strangers as if I’m a grown-up and understand what the heck they’re on about. But it’s time to bite the bullet and see about getting a new fixed rate deal so we don’t get any nasty surprises later on.

 

So I’m going to make more of an effort to keep on top of things now. Although I do some occasional work from home, going back to work “properly” isn’t really an option until my youngest is at school full-time. Until then, I need to make sure I’m doing everything I can to keep our spending down. What’s your top tip for cutting down the outgoings?

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7 thoughts on “Tightening the belt: Household bills

  1. christy golding September 25, 2014 at 09:45 Reply

    hey have you heard of top cash back???? i do all my insurance renewals through them….last year i got £45 for buying my home insurance through them (price comparison the lowest price….then click through to the insurance website from TCB for money back….simple) and almost £30 for car insurance. …you can also click through to loads of online shops….buying clothes for kids…click through to asda/tesco and click and collect and get cashback. i also got a coat online and £2 cashback!!! LOVE it.(in just over a year i’ve had £140 cashback for buying what i was gonna buy anyway)

    • The Pie Patch September 25, 2014 at 12:25 Reply

      That’s great! I have heard of cashback websites but never used them. I’ve always been a bit suspicious. Can you really get something for nothing?! What’s the catch?! Maybe I should look into it a bit more! Thanks for reading.

  2. tinabakesbread September 25, 2014 at 21:22 Reply

    Great advice for saving money and it’s v nice that you shared it all with us. I have stacks of items, mostly books, that were destined for a charity shop but I wonder now about selling them….hmmmm. Ebay charges a fee if things don’t sell so I may look elsewhere.

    Love the story about Virgin Media and you right, it never hurts to ask. You could sell your crochet work for sure. I am loving that basket you hooked.

    • christy golding September 25, 2014 at 21:29 Reply

      ebay charges to list…. though theres a lot of free listings available (think first 100 of the month are free….though not used for a while)
      you dont pay a fee if your item doesnt sell…. you pay a final value fee if it DOES sell, plus paypal…. but a few pence is more than nothing you’d get throwing/giving it away x

      reminds me…i need to list loads of kids clothes….lol

      • The Pie Patch September 25, 2014 at 22:15

        Ah, I see. Makes sense. I have TONS of kids’ clothes to sell. Need to get organised!

    • The Pie Patch September 25, 2014 at 22:12 Reply

      I’ve bought on eBay many times but never sold before. I know they sometimes have special weekends when you can list items without charge. Something else I need to think about! Thanks for reading.

  3. christy golding September 25, 2014 at 21:26 Reply

    doesnt seem to be a catch to me… they do sometimes try and get you to pay membership (its an opt out when you join) if you’re a member they take the first £5 of your cashback (nothing to pay if you get no cashback) but you do get a slightly higher percentage of cashback by been a member.
    i just have a free account…. works good as long as you remember to click through from there. (i seem to forget a lot of times lol)
    as long as when doing insurance….you choose the lowest price, dont depend on cashback. I’ve had some declined for using a discount code…but hey ho…yes free money lol

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