WE'VE all been there when your bills are staring you in the face, your bank account is running low and you know it’s time to revisit the household budget.
There are several ways to help reduce the bills which are raking up your household budget and causing you to worry about getting into debt.
Andrew Johnson, money expert at the Money and Pensions Service said the New Year is the perfect time to reassess your household budget.
He said: ‘The New Year is a good time to take stock of your household budget and see if there are areas where you can cut back.
‘It will help you if you’re struggling to make ends meet or if you want to build up your savings buffer.’
Cutting your household budget takes into account several factors – food, phone contracts, clothing, energy, broadband and general bills, but there’s lots of savvy tips to reduce the hefty figures.
Here we speak to some experts and look at the top thrifty ways to help slash your household budget this year.
When the household budget is especially tight, it's a good opportunity to explore ways in which you can cut back on spending on regular bills.
Can your mobile phone contract be reduced if you shopped around for a new one? This is particularly important when your mobile contract is coming to an end.
Every year, new mobile phones come out and new contracts are released, meaning the monthly bill increases if you upgrade.
Instead, you can use online tools to analyse your phone bill, negotiate with suppliers or use a price comparison website to find the best contract.
Or simply don’t have a contract and go for a cheaper SIM only contract. This may mean an initial upfront cost, but it will save you money and cut your overall household budget.
Thrifty Facebook user Emma Fay revealed: 'My fiancé and I have a Spotify premium account which we share between 5 of us…
‘Our 3 friends basically pay it for us! Also, we’ve both gone for SIM only contracts at only £8 each for unlimited texts, calls and 12gb of internet’.
While Ross Henderson from Essex said he chose not to upgrade his phone to another costly contract, and now pays just £10 per month instead.
The New Year is a good time to take stock of your household budget
Food prices are edging upwards, thanks to the dwindling value of the pound and brexit.
British shoppers have noticed food and drink suppliers pushing up the prices in supermarkets and think it can be difficult to tell whether or not they are getting a good deal.
Thrifty fan Ross said he now shops at cheaper supermarkets to cut his household budget, adding: ‘People should try different supermarkets.
‘The cheaper ones usually have better produce anyway as more people use them, the shop restocks quicker and they don’t have food sitting around.’
Alternatively grocery shoppers can save cash by snapping up yellow-sticker bargains. It varies between shops, but it’s usually between 6.30pm and 7pm or an hour before closing for the best deals.
While Miguel Barclay, author of One Pound Meals, has an app called Comparasaurus. It checks the shelves at the supermarkets in real-time and gives you the prices.
You can also find brand dupes, check the unit price, put five items back at the end of your shop, buy cleaning products in bulk and avoid eye-line items, instead looking to the bottom shelves, for cheaper goodies.
Elsewhere Lizzie Grant of Declutter on Demand said it’s worth sorting through your freezer to help reduce your household budget.
She said: ‘It’s definitely worth sorting through your freezer as well as clearing out your food cupboards to use up things that you had forgotten were there.
‘Try to plan a menu using these items so you don’t overshop for more than you need.
‘Also just stick to the list of what you actually need for meals rather than getting tempted by what you see.
‘That way you should end up spending less than your usual household budget!’
Unfortunately energy, broadband and council tax are a number of bills that we’re always going to have to pay for. But there are ways to lower the costs.
The first step is to create a budget to track your income and outgoings – the Money Advice Service has a budget planner tool to help you get started, says Andrew Johnson.
The money expert said: ‘From there, you can work out whether there are areas where you can cut back or start saving.
‘A good way to do this is to make sure you shop around for the best deals on essentials like energy or broadband.
‘Check comparison sites to see if you’re getting the best deal on your credit card, mobile phone and energy supplier.
The average household can save £300 a year by switching gas and electricity supplier.
‘You can also save hundreds and even thousands of pounds by shopping around for a new mortgage or reviewing the one you already have, which you should do at least once a year.’
Online users also recommend turning appliances off standby mode when not being used and switch standard bulbs for LED.
Other thrifty enthusiasts recommend spending a minute less in the shower each day and only filling the kettle with the water you need.
But Andrew, from the Money Advice Service team, says switching up your mortgage is a great way to save on your household budget, but you need to do your research.
He says: ‘You should check if there are any penalty clauses or fees for switching your mortgage before making any changes.
I sold unwanted Christmas and birthday gifts on eBay and Depop
‘You can also review bills like Council Tax, as depending on your circumstances, you may also be eligible for a reduction.
‘For example if you’re on a low income, live alone or have a disability. You can find out more by enquiring with your Local Authority.
‘For further information on cutting back on bills, visit the Money Advice Service website’.
Elsewhere on social media, Hannah Maxted revealed she cut her household budget by coming up with a clever plan.
The Facebook user said: ‘I sold unwanted Christmas and birthday gifts on eBay and Depop and then invested the money in a trading app for beginners.
‘I knew if it was in my bank account I’d end up spending it so this way I’m (hopefully) earning money on it and can’t spend it!’
Meanwhile fellow Facebook user Tajja Gohl revealed she ‘got rid of temptation’ and removed online shopping apps from her phone to keep her household budget low.
But Anthony Morrow, the founder and CEO of low-cost financial advice platform Open Money said there’s many ways to cut your household budget.
Top tips to save money
- Be mindful when filling the kettle
- Make your own lunch and batch cook
- Remember to switch things off when you’re finished
- Review your incomings and outgoings
Be mindful when filling the kettle
Anthony said: ‘For many, the kettle can be a welcome distraction when working from home – especially when we need a nice drink to warm us up.
‘But we should always be mindful that we’re not overfilling the kettle.
‘It might seem like a small thing, but only boiling what you need will save significant amounts of energy and money over time.’
Make your own lunch and batch cook
The expert also suggested you should batch cook at home to reduce your household budget – as it’s the best way to get a ‘bang for your buck’.
He added: ‘There are potentially huge savings to be made when it comes to your working from home lunches.
‘A great way to make sure you’re getting bang for your buck is to batch cook meals in advance.
Leaving computers, TVs and other electrical equipment running when you’re not using them can also add pennies onto your energy bills
‘In the winter months in particular, hearty soups, warming stews and casseroles are just a few things you can cook in bulk and save for throughout the working week.
‘Preparing portions for each day can help you cut down the amount you spend nipping out for lunch. Those supermarket meal deals might seem cheap and convenient at the time, but it all adds up.’
Remember to switch things off when you’re finished
And another simple tip to slash your household budget, is to switch electrical equipment off once you’re finished with it, says Anthony.
He added: ‘Leaving computers, TVs and other electrical equipment running when you’re not using them can also add pennies onto your energy bills.’
Review your incomings and outgoings
While Anthony from Open Money said it’s always a good idea to review the past few months expenditure and create a monthly budget including mortgage/rent, bills, groceries, transport costs, spending money and savings.
He said understanding where every penny goes can help identify where you’re potentially overspending.
While budgeting experts thinkmoney have compiled the ultimate list of budgeting tips which can save you £496 on your annual bills:
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