40 ways to simplify your finances

Energy economising

  1. Keep the thermostat at a constant 18-21°c or lower. Adding 1°c costs £60 a year.
  2. Unplug chargers and switch off TVs at the mains. Standby mode eats energy!
  3. 90 per cent of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat the water, so opt for a 30°c wash.
  4. You can now switch gas and electricity supplier within three days. Go to Yours Switching Energy or 0800 008 7777 to get a cheaper deal.

Entertainment savers

  1. Over 55s can watch discounted ‘silver screenings’ at cinemas. Some cinemas include snacks and drinks.
  2. Sign up to restaurants' websites to get 50 per cent off or 2-for-1 vouchers.
  3. Dine out for less by opting for a set week-day lunch menu instead of dinner.
  4. Get discounted theatre tickets on the day of a show by ringing the playhouse or sign up to websites that offer free tickets by partnering up with theatres.

Shopping savers

  1. Write a list before you go shopping - and stick to it. Ignore last-minute items at the till enticing you to buy more.
  2. Use stores' loyalty cards to make savings in a short amount of time.
  3. Check sale offers before you buy including previous price. Also, use online price-checkers and smartphone apps to see if you can purchase your chosen item elsewhere cheaper. And ask yourself if you really need it!

If you're getting a bad deal, move!

Supersize savings

  1. Don't assume because you're with a well-known brand that you're getting a competitive rate of interest. Some of the best rates are available with unfamiliar providers.
  2. If you are getting a bad deal, move! Even if you are tied into a fixed account its worth contacting your provider and ask what the penalty will be to switch.
  3. Open a regular saver – If you're saving towards a goal, check regular savings accounts, some pay up to 6 per cent interest for 12 months.
  4. You can save up to £15,240 completely tax-free in an ISA, ideal for people wanting a simple, no-fuss account.
  5. Many of the best savings accounts allow a limited number of penalty-free withdrawals, so in order to make sure you earn what you are expecting, don't fall foul of the rules.

Better borrowing

  1. If you took out a loan a few years ago you may be paying over the odds on interest. Shop around for something better.
  2. Payday loans should only be used as a last resort. Your overdraft can be a cheaper alternative.
  3. If your bank account is overdrawn, look at the money-transfer option on credit cards. For a fee you can credit your bank account and avoid excessive overdraft charges and instead pay it back in card repayments.
  4. Paying interest on card debt? Move it to a 0 per cent balance transfer card. Then concentrate on paying off the debt before interest applies.
  5. Take out a cashback credit card and earn when you spend.
  6. Ditch store cards. Some charge 29.9 per cent interest!

Cover cost-cutters

  1. Opt for a higher voluntary excess to cut premiums. But ensure you can afford it if you have to claim.
  2. Many people over-estimate the rebuild cost of their home and under-estimate the level of contents cover they need, so recheck.
  3. Some home insurers offer discounts for Neighbourhood Watch scheme members and for having an alarm and qualifying locks.
  4. If you've given up smoking for more than 12 months you may be able to get lower critical illness insurance premiums, so shop around.
  5. Consider what you really need from a private medical insurance (PMI) as certain benefits increase the cost dramatically.
  6. Auto-renewal of insurance is a costly mistake as the perceived convenience of staying put can see renewal premiums rise extortionately, so switch! Find cheaper car insurance at Mustard.co.uk or speak to a Mustard adviser on 0330 022 7421
  7. An annual multi-trip policy could save you money compared to buying several single-trip policies if you travel abroad more than twice a year.

Pension pointers

  1. Get a state pension forecast from gov.uk/state-pension-statement so you know how much it will be and when it'll be paid.
  2. Your personal allowance is an important tax break. Couples can spread investments between them to ensure they use both allowances, potentially a combined £22,000 of tax-free income a year.
  3. Saving into a pension is a tax-efficient way to set yourself for retirement. For every £1,000 you pay in, the government adds £250 even if you are a non-taxpayer.
  4. Pay more into your workplace pension. The contribution from your employer is free.
  5. If you buy an annuity, shop around for the best rate. Call 0300 123 1047 or visit www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk.

Bargain breaks

  1. Book now as bookings are up on last year so last-minute bargains will be far between.
  2. Fly mid week - it's cheaper.
  3. Have your summer break in June or September, cheaper than July and August.
  4. When asked if you'd like to pay in sterling or local currency, choose local currency to get a better exchange rate.
  5. Travel with just hand luggage to avoid check-in bag fees. For less than a week, it can be done!
  6. Head to Turkey for value sun holidays and Budapest for cheap city-breaks.

Thanks to PromotionalCodes.org.uk, Hargreaves Lansdown, ABTA, Moneyfacts.co.uk, GoCompare.com & uSwitch.com

  • There are more money-saving tips in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.