12 Nov 2009

Nifty Thrifty (Part 1)

The recession will have taught a number of us to exercise more caution towards our finances, prompting us to make clever savings, and for our money to work harder. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of it (being no financial adviser!) but by simply using a healthy dose of common sense, I embarked on a journey to streamline my outgoings, made a few savings in the process, and I thought I would share those simple tips with you! Handy all-year round, not just in the run-up to Christmas…

It has to start somewhere so it might as well start with your monthly bank statement. Take a critical look and take action! It may sound obvious but, if you haven’t yet looked into your mortgage repayment terms, now would be a good time to start, by scheduling a meeting with your mortgage provider. It could also be worthwhile to consult an independent financial adviser who would be able to submit interesting mortgage plans to you, and then transfer over.

The same tactic applies to all your other outgoings, from home insurance to life assurance, through to telephone and utility bills. Tell yourself that you have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain! Here are 2 juicy examples:

  • For the last 11 years, I was tied up to an expensive yet inflexible mobile phone contract that simply didn’t work for me. But out of habit, complacency, or fear of the unknown, I stuck to it. Then I took a leap of faith in March and decided to switch providers and move to the pay-as-you-go formula. Now I am just wondering why I didn’t switch earlier, as I am saving between £10 and £20 a month!
  • I felt discontented with our telephone/ broadband/ digital TV package. We had been long-time customers and felt taken for granted, whereas new customers were being incentivised. We gave the company a ring (actually quite a few persistent calls!) and eventually they agreed to review our account and offer a discount (once we threatened to leave them!).
The fact that you are a long-term customer, a good payer and/ or in receipt of a bundle of services (ex: gas and electricity) from one provider, will go in your favour and add clout to your claim. As companies will not reward your loyalty outright, you will have to be the one making that call.

Bills aside, I started to look at my purchasing patterns and identify areas for improvement, for instance paying more attention to those shopping coupons and store loyalty cards that may be underused or overlooked. In-store, I started to pay more attention to offers, and limit impulse buys.

Although supermarkets deliver the convenience of shopping, you need to realise that they also have a negative impact on local communities, draining livelihood out of them, with local shops struggling for survival. Also bear in mind that although our 4 main supermarket chains may compete with one another on price, they may not be necessarily cheaper or offer higher quality of produce than the local competition. Think about the fishmonger or the butcher for instance. (to be continued)

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