It's official – Britain's economy has moved into reverse. And if the economists are to be believed, things are going to get worse still before they get any better.
Already, thousands of families are feeling the pinch from higher mortgage payments, food prices and energy prices – and with the prospect of a rise in unemployment on the horizon, now is a good time for all of us to take a look at where we can make some savings. Even if you don't lose your job, pay rises are likely to be small or non-existent over the next year, and if you're coming up for remortgage on your property, you are likely to be facing a rise in your monthly payments.
The good news is that there are dozens of easy ways for most of us to save. Although gas and electricity bills are rising, most families could make a significant saving on their energy costs by switching to another supplier – as long as they have not switched within the past few years. Visit a comparison site such as uswitch.com to compare the different packages.
And it's simple enough to cut energy bills by keeping your heating a degree or two lower, switching off appliances and ensuring that your property is properly insulated. The Government is now providing subsidies for insulation, so it might not cost as much as you think, and can cut hundreds of pounds a year off your energy bills.
Another quick way to save is by making sure you are not paying too much interest on the debts you have. If you are holding a balance on a credit card, why not switch it to one of the many cards offering 0 per cent transfer deals? You can compare the best cards at sites such as moneysupermarket.com.
Shop around for the best rate on your savings too – if you are getting less than 6.5 per cent, you are missing out. Moneyfacts.co.uk has a list of the best paying accounts.
And if you are coming up for renewal on your home or motor insurance, use the comparison sites to shop around for a better deal. Most insurers will increase their premiums each year, reserving the best deals for new customers. If you have cable TV, get rid of it – Freeview offers dozens of good channels these days. And do you need to eat out as much as you do? More nights in, and packed lunches can save you hundreds more pounds a year. If you live close enough to work, you could also consider trading in the tube or car for a bicycle.
Before you get carried away with cost cuts, however, remember there are some things that you should hang on to. For example, don't think that you can do without your home insurance; if your house burns down, you'll wish you hadn't done that. And only cut your pension contributions if you really have to. After the recent rout in the market, your monthly pension contributions are buying in at what many professional fund managers believe to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you stop now, you'll be missing out. Furthermore, if you want to retire before 70, you will need to keep saving hard – as we are all living much longer these days.
It is going to be a tough year ahead but those who save hard and keep a lid on their spending will be well positioned to survive unscathed.Reuse content