5 cheeky money-savers for you and the family

One thing I’m always on the lookout for is how to make a saving, and I reckon I have a pretty good nose for a bargain. Getting a good deal is an inherently satisfying feeling, but it’s also becoming something of a necessity. Figures released last week showed that inflation is climbing, and household budgets are thus being squeezed.

That’s challenging enough at an individual level, but when you have a family to feed (and entertain), the effect is magnified, and it really can create a stress of its own as you try to balance the books each month. The good news is that, with small incremental savings, and taking advantage of good deals out there, you can trim your outgoings without much sacrifice. And with the internet and technology making marketplaces ever-more competitive, there are bargains aplenty to be had.

Here are five to kickstart your road to saving…

The bank switch

No one enjoys dealing with the bank. In fact, you usually only do it when something is wrong. And given the fact that they all now offer such pathetic rates of interest on savings, my disdain for them is complete. Yet by switching, you can make it work for you. For example, changing to an HSBC Advance account fetches a bonus £150, plus a further £50 if you stay for a year. Another good one is the Co-Operative Standard Current Account, which offers £125, plus £5.50 per month. And then there is First Direct, whose excellent customer service compensates for the fact that their switching bonus is ‘only’ £100. Whichever way you decide to go – go somewhere, because switching is easy (it’s up to the banks to arrange it all for you), and the rewards are handsome!

Cut your credit card

No, don’t actually cut it. It’s a useful piece of plastic to have when it is used correctly! However, for those with a balance big enough that it isn’t cleared each month, and, worse still, one you’re stuck making minimum repayments on, well… you’re getting burned on high rates of interest. Fortunately, this can be fixed quickly and easily by either transferring the balance to a 0 per cent credit card (most of which offer three years interest free), or by consolidating the balance with a cheaper loan. Either way, it doesn’t need much effort on your part, and the savings are immediate.

Fight the power

Gas and electricity providers have built a reputation for squeezing every penny they can from us, but the worst trend of all is how they treat existing customers. Banking on our lack of willing to switch, they invariably put you on a sub-optimal plan once your initial one is complete. So much for rewarding loyalty! Either way, don’t fall foul to it! Constantly reassess the plan you are on, and whether it works for you. This site is a particularly good one for checking. But whether you change provider, or simply the plan you are on, don’t be idle. A small amount of proactivity can save you hundreds of pounds each year.

Free activities

BP enjoying a day out with ParkLives.

Keeping your kids entertained, especially during school holidays, doesn’t need to cost a fortune. In fact, there are loads of fun things to do for free. Take ‘em to a workshop at Pets at Home. Get tennis coaching in 38 locations around the UK via TennisForFree. Check out some of the hundreds of free museums and galleries around the UK. There are plenty more if you have a look online as well. Oh, and another handy tip… you can use your Tesco Clubcard on family day trips too!

The Easyjet trick

When it comes to family holidays, airlines pretty much conspire against us during school holidays. It’s unbelievable that they can get away with it, in fact. However, there is a loophole. When you next
fly Easyjet on your holiday, book a Flexifare ticket outside of the school holidays for you and the family. Then, once that’s done, all you need to do is switch it to your preferred dates. The flexible ticket will cost more, but, compared to the difference in ticket prices, you’ll almost certainly make a hefty saving.

Aside from the above, there are many other ways to make savvy savings. Sites like Moneysavingexpert are very good for ideas too. It just takes a bit of willing and cunning, and then you can make your lives a whole lot cheaper – and get more out of it as a result! 

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