May 23, 2016
Property gossip August 2016

1: So here’s the obvious one. Now days most people regularly switch energy suppliers, seeking out the best deals available. However, not everybody finds the time and others may have tried this a few years back and found that the potential saving hardly seemed worthwhile.

Well prices and deals do change. When your deal comes to an end you will usually be moved onto the standard tariff, costing you more than before. If it’s been a while since you last switched, why not spend half an hour looking around on-line. Your current supplier can tell you how many units of gas / electric you have used over the past 12 months, which will be helpful when browsing through the price comparison websites.

Don’t be worried about asking the question, you are entitled to the information and don’t owe your current supplier any loyalty, not when they are offering new customers a better deal than the one you will be moved onto once the contract ends.  Also, when conducting your research don’t just rely on one price comparison website.

Something else to consider is that dual fuel accounts have pros and cons. While it was once assumed that a dual tariff was definitely a cheaper option because of discounts, there are now many specialist companies that supply just one fuel, and sourcing them separately might be beneficial so it’s worth looking at this option too.

2: Most people have some kind of television entertainment deal, such as SKY, BT or Virgin Media; often wrapped up with a landline and broadband deal.

Recently, a friend mentioned having received a letter from SKY advising that her monthly subscription would be increased. As a long term customer, who had not discussed her account for some years, and having only recently encountered the same situation myself, I suggested she give them a call asking “what would I need to do if I want to leave SKY?”.

Naturally this provoked the question “why do you want to leave?” to which my friend answered “my bill is going up and friends are telling me there are now better deals around, and more choice in terms of supplier”.

Whilst my friend could of course drop certain parts of the TV package, she utilises both the movies and kids channels and the hubby loves his sport.

Firstly they, as expected, suggested the package reduction option, but when this was ruled out they offered her a new deal. My friend thanked them for the offer, saying she would first shop around and if that deal proved to be the best one she will call them back.

Not wanting to give the other suppliers a chance to win her away, they offered another, improved, deal and my friend made an annual saving of more than £200, and still ended up with the full package.

It’s certainly worth looking at the various entertainment and broadband packages currently on offer, through the various suppliers. Check to see if you are currently in a contract and if you are then make a diary note to review your needs at the appropriate time.

3: Is your council tax correct? are you paying too much? It might be worth checking with the VOA

to find out whether your property is classed in the same band as other similar properties on your road. Several years back my husband and I done exactly that and we ended up receiving a rebate, dating back several years – it’s got to be worth checking.

4: Before you move over to a water meter, check to see if it really will save you money. A meter will calculate sewage pumping costs too so you might want to visit The Consumer Council for Water to use their water meter calculator. This is a “must do” before switching over to a meter.

5: If you pay your bills at the bank / post office and still receive your bills through the post, you could save money by setting up a Direct Debit and requesting a paper-free billing option. You can still access your bills on-line and a Direct Debit will ensure your payments are received on time. By going paper-free the utility company will save on postage and staff-time so they usually offer customers a financial incentive for taking this option.

6: When it comes to insurance, not all companies are listed on price comparison websites. For insurance products you may benefit from contacting Direct Line, Zurich and Aviva; 3 of the biggest insurers out there, none of which (at the time of writing) can be found on price comparison websites.

7: Finally, when was the last time you looked through your bank statement? Perhaps there are memberships you no longer want, or subscriptions you simply do not need anymore. What about your bank charges, are you paying for a service that appears to give you multiple benefits, but which you don’t actually use?

With the newly introduced tax free saving rules, some banks may offer a free banking service, or one that offers you a better deal than you might currently be getting. Again, we are all so busy in life that reviewing our banking arrangements hardly gets a second thought.