Spring clean your household finances

The clocks have gone forward, and now is the time of year when people spring clean their house, throwing open windows and doors to let the fresh air in and blow those winter cobwebs away.

It’s also the ideal time to clean up your financial life. We not just talking about just about tossing out old statements and paperwork, but about doing a little maintenance to ensure that you’re getting the most out of every pound you spend.

This may sound daunting, but a little effort could save you some serious cash.

Here at MoneyExpert we’ve put together a few ideas on where to begin:

4 ‘rooms’ to clean in your financial house.

1. Your ‘mortgage room’

A mortgage is most people’s biggest expense, and with many people about to come off fixed rate deals now could be the time to switch.

There are still deals to be had even with the current credit crunch and it’s worth remembering that the property rises that we have seen should ensure that most people who bought 2-3 years ago should have equity and therefore be able to meet the lenders Loan to value (LTV) criteria.

The main thing is shop around for the best deal. Using a price comparison site will enable you to compare from the thousands of mortgage products available; discount, base rate tracker, fixed rate, offset and new flexible mortgages, which allow you to pay more of the loan off in good times and less in lean times, are a dream come true for many borrowers.

However, before switching, ask your current lender whether they can offer you a better deal, as they are likely to want to keep your business. It is also worth checking what, if any, early payment charges apply for moving.

Remortgaging could save you thousands of pounds in the long run – and could be the most profitable part of your financial spring clean.

2. Your ‘insurance room’

As with mortgages, the golden rule is: shop around to find cheapest deals. As a little extra time spent comparing quotes can save you substantial sums. And again, using a comparison site enables you to shop the market from the comfort of your home.

A word of caution is that the cheapest is not always the best. As with all financial products you need to read the small print for exclusions, that way you can pick the one that you think will best suit your circumstances. It’s a chore, but well worth doing. You don’t want to find out that you are not insured for accidental damage after one of the kids puts a ball through the window.

Buildings insurance – make sure you are not over insured.

Surprisingly many people are actually paying more for their building insurance than they need to because they think that the rebuild costs are the same as or even more than the purchase price.

In fact rebuild costs usually less than value the properties on the open market because house prices in estate agent’s windows take into account the cost of the land on which they are built.

The Association of British Insurers has a link with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for an online ‘house rebuilding cost calculator’. Using this simple tool will enable you to see if you are paying over the odds for your buildings insurance.

Click here to access this invaluable tool.

3. Your ‘utilities room’

Scottish and Southern Energy became the last of the big six utility providers to raise their prices, Npower was the first, followed closely by EDF, British Gas, Scottish Power and E.ON.

Every household in the country is now likely to be hit with average bills of more than £1,000, so how much could you save?

Consumers in the UK are free to choose which company supplies their gas and electricity. There are no changes to the pipes, or wires, all that changes is the price you pay and who you pay it to.

Our sister company SimplySwitch have made the process of saving hundreds of pounds on your energy bills a breeze, using their fuel price calculator, simply fill in some basic details on your electricity and gas usage and your existing supplier and see how much you could save.

To maximise savings which Energywatch claim can be as high as £200 you may need to buy both your gas and electricity from the same supplier, and pay bills promptly, preferably by direct debit, or be willing to manage your accounts on the internet and do without a paper bill.

Of course, as well as considering changing supplier we would recommend that you take the opportunity to look at what other energy efficiency measures you can take to save even more.

4. Your ‘communications room’

High-speed internet access has, in a relatively short space of time become the norm for many British households. According to the Office of National Statistics 73% of Britain’s 14.3m internet connections are now broadband.

However, those who signed up for a broadband package a couple of years ago could be missing out.

The supply of broadband has become so fiercely competitive, that providers are under pressure to make their deals cheaper than their rivals, and are often ‘bundling’ packages together with free phone calls and even satellite TV!

These packages, such as free weekend and evening telephone calls can add up to quite a saving over the year. But as always read the small print as often the number has to start 01 or 02, so calls to mobiles and 0870 customer helpline numbers will cost more.

Always shop around and make life easier by using a comparison site such as simplyswitch.

Then your first call should be to your existing supplier, everyone is fighting to sign up new customers and if you are out of contract and threaten to leave they may offer you a better deal in return for signing a new contract with them.

If you do decide to move, then ask for your migration authorisation code (MAC) you will need this to give to your new supplier.

You may also need to install a new driver on your computer for your new broadband connection and this usually comes on a CD-Rom that will do everything that is needed from your new provider.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *