The bills the bills

Household bills have soared over the last year, effectively leaving British homes £5 worse off a week, analysts say. And, despite an Atlantic gap, it seems that nobody’s immune from the inevitable penny-pinching that will ensue following the US slowdown.

None other than Posh Spice herself has been minding the purse-strings of late, spotted this week shopping in budget store Target in Hollywood. Becks meanwhile was bringing home the bacon, taking part in a pre-season tour of China with his LA Galaxy side.

Given such strains on the pocket some money saving ideas may well be in order, and with competition for business rife amongst high street providers there are certainly plenty of ways to make those all important savings.

MoneyExpert.com suggests some ways to get more for your money.

Switching does the job

It’s the most commonly talked about way of avoiding unnecessary penalties but switching from your current credit card to one that offers a 0% balance transfer deal is still a great way of cutting down on monthly bills.

A balance of £3,000 on a credit card deal charging 15% APR, which is really at the low end of the scale, will cost a whacking £450 across the year. If you can switch the balance to a 0% deal that lasts for 12 months and structure your repayments to clear the debt in that time you’ll clearly make a major saving.

Credit card companies are more cautious these days about so-called ‘rate-tarts’ so you’ll need to keep an eye out for any balance transfer fees they impose, and work out exactly which deal suits you best. The Virgin Credit Card, and the Platinum card from Barclaycard are currently offering 0% deals for 15 months and 14 months respectively.

Costly car insurance

The new number plates are just around the corner and with the usual rush for new cars it’s likely that many drivers are going to face some pretty steep insurance bills.

Again you can save yourself a great deal by simply shopping around for the best deal, and even if you’re sticking with your old car it’s definitely worth checking your insurer’s still offering you the best deal.

If, despite shopping around, you find that a one off bill for car insurance is still too much to face there are a number of providers now that allow for monthly direct debit payment. While this spreads the cost many providers charge a fee for the privilege, so it’s important to calculate the total cost before signing up.

A better deal on current accounts

The current account market is undergoing a bit of a shake up at the moment. At one end providers are beginning to offer decent in-credit interest rates, and at the other the fees they charge on overdrafts are starting to be curbed. Now only nine providers charge 29% or over for going into the red without permission, but a number do still charge a relatively high amount.

If you’re likely to be seeing red in the coming months it’s definitely worth considering a current account that won’t penalise you heavily for doing so. If, on the other hand, you’re current account is in a rosy condition you should look to make the most an account that pays you a decent rate of interest.

The Alliance & Leicester Premier Direct Account at 8.5% and the Abbey Account at 8% top the tables, though you’ll need to make the most of them soon as the rates are only for a limited period.

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