Household Bills - Review, Compare, Haggle, Repeat
We have stressed the importance of budgeting in our three part series on the topic. Simply put, it is important to ensure that what you are paying out for household bills and rent or mortgage does not exceed your disposable income (i.e., your income after tax has been deducted).
However, once a good budget is in place, it is important to review it frequently to make sure it is still fit for your life style and there are no expense leakage or lifestyle creep leading to more expense than you should have. There are a few items on your household budget that you must ensure you have at least an annual reminder to review them as failure to do this will lead to your friendly providers increasing the fees on them but claiming that they are giving you a good deal!
One of such an item is your home insurance (which could comprise of home and/or content insurance). As an example of how bad it could get, one of our MoneyNoters had taken out a building and content insurance with a bank that shall not be named. The monthly premium was £25 per month, unfortunately she had failed to review and compare insurance prices for three years and continued to accept the bank's premium which had grown to £65 a month! She came to us for a Money Chat and this was flagged up during our conversation, she has since taken action and her monthly premium has now dropped to £27 per month.
So which items on household bills should these apply to? We set out a non-exhaustive list below. Most of these you can achieve better quite through a comparison website or switching website.
Home insurance - Your current insurer will usually send you a letter to let you know when insurance is up for renewal. They are also mandated to let you know what you are currently paying and how that will change. Regardless of this, it is important to set a reminder and make sure you compare premiums annually.
Car insurance - Same as above and with these insurance make sure you are covered for all the things that matter to you.
Electricity and gas bills - We cannot over emphasise how important it is to review your energy bills. If you do not then you may end up on your provider's standard variable tariff which is typically very expensive. We have set out links to comparison websites that can help you with your comparison and switch.
Digital TV, mobile phone and broadband - Always call them frequently to ask for new deals or reduction in tariff and don't forget to use your loyalty as bargaining chip!
You are probably thinking that this feels like a lot of stress and hassle for something so tiny but if reminders are set appropriately and comparison websites used effectively then there i say you may actually start looking forward to the exercise. Good luck!