Can I Reduce the Cost of Living in my House?

Many of us are very happy living in the house that we are in, but we might find that it is rather expensive. There might be things that we can do though, that could make it cheaper to live there.

Buy Rather Than Rent

If you rent your home then you will find that it could be more expensive than if you have a mortgage. It can therefore be worth looking into whether it is possible to buy your home. If you are renting from a council or housing association you will find that it can be possible to buy your home form them. This may not make much difference in the short term, but it can make more of a difference in the longer term. This can be particularly important once you are retired and the mortgage is paid and you no longer need to pay anything out. It may even be possible to buy a private rental if the owner decides that they want to sell up and you could even try to tempt them with an offer to see if they are interested in selling.

Check Council Tax Band

Many people are paying too much council tax because their band has been incorrectly calculated. It can be worth searching online to find out whether this might be the case for you. Of course, it could be the case that you are not paying enough, but you do not need to worry because if the band has changed then the council tax charges do not changed until the house is sold. However, if you are paying too much, it will be adjusted quickly for you.

Switch Utility Providers, Insurers etc

There are a lot of different things that have to be paid when you have a house. You have to pay for contents insurance (and buildings if you own the house), for electricity, gas, water, broadband, phone etc. All of these things can really add up. However, it can be possible to reduce the cost of these by switching the provider. You cannot switch your water provider but you can all of the others and it is worth checking to see whether you can find any cheaper ones. Chances are that there will be cheaper providers and it is worth looking at them carefully to see whether you think that you want to switch to them. They may not be companies that you have heard of but do not let that put you off. Take a look at the reviews and then you will be able to judge more easily as to whether you think they might eb a company that you want to try out and that you think that you will be able to trust.

Insulate, do Work Yourself etc

There are also other changes that you might be able to make. If you get the home insulates, perhaps change windows, put in carpets and things like this, you will be able to do this if you own the house but not if you rent, although you could ask your landlord about it. You could also think about other things you could to save money such as doing jobs in the home yourself. Some people pay others to do repairs, decorate the gardening, cleaning and ironing. If you do any of this then it could be a good idea to think about whether you would like to stop paying someone to do those jobs and to do them yourself. You could also cut down of your usage of electricity, water, gas and things like that which will help you to keep your bills down.

Should I Put my Savings in a Fixed Rate Bond?

There are lots of different choices for savers but a fixed rate bond may be one that you are considering. IT is a good idea to think about whether this might be a good option for you. It is therefore good to think about what this bond is and whether it will work for you.

What is a Fixed Rate Bond?

A fixed rate bond is a type of savings account where you can save you money at a fixed interest rate. This means that for the duration of the bond, the interest rate will remain the same. This term will vary between bonds and will be at least a year but could be usually anything up to five years. The term will be determined by the provider and will be set in a number of exact years. The bond will tend to start on a specific date and will mature on a specific date, so all holders will open their accounts on the same day and their bonds will mature on the same date.

What are its Advantages Over Other Savings Accounts?

  • A fixed rate bond often has a higher interest rate than some other types of savings accounts especially instant access accounts. They want to reward you for letting them have your money for a long time and so the rates will be more attractive.
  • You cannot draw the money out easily and sometimes not at all which means that you if you want to make sure that you will not be able to get hold of your money then this could be a good way to do it.

What are the Disadvantages Over Other Savings Accounts?

  • Although the interest rate can be high when you take out the bond, if you keep the money in it for five years, you could find that the interest rate goes up and there are more attractive accounts but you will not be able to use them. You could also find that you might even find better bonds, but you will not be able to transfer your money.
  • If you need the money, you may not be able to get it at all. There are some fixed rate bonds where you can withdraw money but you will forgo your bonus or some interested. There are some where no withdrawals are allowed at all. It could be a case of making sure that you check this out before you take out the bond so that you can be clear on what the rules are and decide what you think will work for you.  
  • You may find that there are limits on how much you can put in the bond. You may have a minimum as well as a maximum amount that you can put in the bond and this could restrict you.

Is it Right for me?

It is important to think about whether this type of savings account will work for you. Consider whether you will be happy tying your money up for this amount of time. Of course, you may just pick a one year bond and then it will not be that long compared to a five year bond. You may also be able to choose a bond which allows withdrawals which could be less of a risk. You should also think about whether you are willing to take a risk on the fact that you might get a better interest rate but you may not be able to move the money. You also need to think about how much money you have available to save and whether that is an appropriate amount of money to work with this fixed rate bond that you are interested in.

Tips on Paying Less at the Supermarket

We all buy food from supermarkets, but we can feel like we are spending more and more each week. However, there are ways that we can spend less and it is worth thinking about whether any of these things might help you.

Avoid the Special Offer Areas

One of the places that we tend to spend the most money that we do not need to spend is the special offers area. These are cleverly placed at the entrance of on the ends of the aisles so that it is easy to find them. They often have junk food offers and they will also normally be branded products. You may find that the items are things you normally buy, but if this is the case, you will spot them on the shelf where you normally buy them as they will have them there as well. It can be tempting to buy things that are on offer as they seem so cheap but if they are not items that you were intending on buying then you will find that you are actually spending more money, not less.

Avoid Going too Often

It can often be the case that when we go to the supermarket we will buy a few extra items that tempt us while we shop. The more often we go, the more chance we have of buying those few extra things and so we will reduce that temptation by going less often. It will also mean that you are more likely to use up the food that you have which will make there a lower chance of you having food waste due to not eating it before the use by date.

Take a List and Stick to it

It can be really handy to have a list. If you start at home carefully checking what you need and what you do not need it will mean that you only buy the things that you really need. This means that not only will you not be stockpiling items that you do not need, but you will also make sure that you eat things before the use by date, rather than having them go off because you just cannot eat everything in time. It will also save you having to return to the supermarket because you have forgotten something.

Compare all Prices

It is a good idea to keep comparing prices when you are shopping. This means that you should look at all of the items that you are buying and see whether there are cheaper alternatives. Compare brands and also compare types of food, so whether frozen, canned or fresh. Also see whether there are different similar foods that are cheaper. It is a hassle to start with, but once you get into the habit of comparing things, then you will find it more automatic and you will get a better idea of where the cheaper items might be found.

Avoid Buying Everything There

It can be tempting to make shopping more convenient by buying all of the things we need at the supermarket. So, we tend to buy toiletries, cards, clothes, books, electricals and all sorts of other things at the supermarket while we buy our food. They may be cheaper for some of these things, but it is wise to compare the prices as you may find that they sell for less elsewhere. For example, toiletries may be cheaper in pharmacies, books online, cards in discount card shops and electricals online too. It can be worth making some enquiries first to make sure that you are getting the best prices for the items that you are buying.

Ways to Make Money in Your Free Time

If you want to earn a bit more money, then there are lots of things that you can try. One way is to see if you can make some in your free time. Even if you do not have a lot of free time, there will still be some things that you can have a go at.

Sell Things you no Longer Need

You could spend some time having a sort out in your home so that you can see whether you have anything that you no longer need that you could sell. It is easy to sell things these days, particularly online and so you could easily make some money form it. You will fond that local social media groups and car boot sales apps will allow you to sell things quickly and easily and people may even come and collect them from you and pay you. It can be a great way to raise a lump sum of money but you will not be able to make a regular income from it as you will eventually run out of things that you can sell.

Do Some Surveys

There are some companies that will pay you to do surveys for them. These can raise a small amount of money and you are likely to be able to do them regularly. It will not make lots of money, as the rate of pay is very low but it can be a way to just add to your income and it can be a lot of fun as well. It will not be good if you need money fast though as you will often have to accumulate a significant sum of money before you can cash out.

Try a Free Lottery

There are quite a few free lottery sites online and they can be a lot of fun. You will have to check the website to see if you have won. This is because they are funded by advertising, so they want you to see the adverts. They will have different draws for different amounts, and you may want to look at some reviews to decide which of them to sign up to or perhaps you will want to try a lot out. They are very much better than the real lottery as you do not pay out anything and you have a better chance of winning. However, you will find that the jackpots are a lot smaller.

Do Some Freelance Jobs

You might be able to find some freelance jobs that you can do which will enable you to be able to make some extra money. These can be good because you can choose what you take on depending on the time that you have and how much you are prepared to do the work for. There are all sorts of things available to try out such as graphic design, programming and writing so it is worth having a look to see whether there is anything you would like to do.

Monetise Your Hobby

If you have a hobby that you enjoy then you could try raising some money by making money from it. It might be that you make things that you can sell and this will make it easy to get some money. However, if you do not make anything, you may still be able to make some money by making videos, a website or even writing books about your hobby. It will not necessarily bring in much money or bring in money quickly, but it will enable you to make money in a way that will hopefully be fun for you.

How to Save Money on your Phone

Most of us have a mobile phone and pay out money for it and on it. We might have bought the phone and then use pay as you go to top it up with credit when we need it. We might have a contract which gives us extra calls, texts and data because we pay in regularly and the contract may even include a phone of some sort. All of these cost money and a lot of us end up paying a lot more money than we need to. There are lots of possible reasons why we may end up paying too much, but below are a few possibilities.

Have a Phone in a Contract Which is Cheaper to Buy Alone

It is well worth checking out whether you are paying too much for your contract because it includes a phone. You will sometimes find that there is a phone included in a contract and this could seem really good. However, you need to work out whether it is really as good as it seems. It could be that you could get a similar contract without the phone included for significantly less money. Of course, you will then potentially have to buy a phone, if you do not have one already. However, you could possibly save up or even get a loan for as little as £100 which could be cheaper than buying it through a contract. It is worth doing some research and some calculations to find out.

Use Data Unnecessarily When it Could be Free

Many people will use their phone for Internet use a lot and they may be charged for this. If they wait until they are in an area where there is free broadband, then this will save them money. If you do it because you have it as part of your contract, then consider that you could get a cheaper contract with less data, if you tried harder to only use minimal data or free data.

There are lots of ways to save money on mobile phones.

Use Lots of Calls When a Landline Could be Cheaper

Many people will use their phone a lot to make phone calls. This can cost a lot of money and so it can be worth thinking about whether it is better to get a landline to make them. You can often get a landline to include the cost of calls and so that could work out to be a lot cheaper. It is worth calculating this though and also thinking about whether you will be happy to wait until you are at home to make the calls that you need to make.

Send Lots of Texts When a Call Could be Quicker

If you pay for texts then you should watch out as to how many you are sending. It can often be the case that you will send texts back and forth and spend quite a bit of money on a conversation when actually it could have been cheaper to call and quickly discuss it. So make sure that you are aware of the costs and whether you are paying more than necessary by sending too many texts.

Buy the Latest Phone

It is always tempting to get the latest phone. You might want to keep up with your friends or be ahead of the game with the newest one. It might be that it has a new feature that you want to try out or something like this. However, always keeping ahead like this is really expensive so you need to be careful that you are not spending more money than you can afford.

Not with the Cheapest Provider

It is also wise to make sure that you check the prices across different providers. You may feel loyal to one, but you could end up paying lots of money for your loyalty and you should therefore check and make sure that you are not paying more than you need to be and decide whether it could be worth swapping.