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Avoid the secret money sappers

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Even the savviest of people can make mistakes when it comes to saving money and those mistakes can come from the most surprising places!  Whether it is the morning coffee run, the direct debit that hasn’t been cancelled for years or the slowest of broadband speeds, I have realised that there are several money sappers out there costing consumers hundreds of pounds a year which are actually extremely easy to fix…….

Paying monthly for insurance

When you buy car or home insurance you are usually given the option of paying the cost all at once on an annual basis, or spreading the payments over 12 months.  For most people’s budgets, instalments can seem like the best option BUT it often works out a lot more expensive to do it this way.  Most insurers will charge you extra to pay monthly, for example, a company might be quoting you an annual premium of £350 but if you opt to pay monthly, they might ask for 11 monthly instalments of £35, which makes the total £385 – £35 more than the upfront cost.  This happens across the industry and can end up costing you hundreds.  Although it can be a big hit to pay for it all at once, it will usually save you a packet!

Lunch

Research conducted last year by vouchercloud.com says that we could save £1300 a year by NOT buying our lunch during the work day.  Apparently two thirds of us spend an average of £1,840 each year while those who take food from home spend £552.  It can be too easy to pop out and buy a sandwich and come back having spent well over £5.  Buy in bulk and divide into daily meals – one whole lunch can cost just £2.50 – sandwiches, home made soups and salads all cost far less than shop bought goodies. Compare your prices at mySupermarket to get the best deals or look online for offers. Oh, and cut out those snacks and coffee runs too – if you stop buying a daily coffee you’ll save HUNDREDS a year and use a ‘bobble’, a water bottle that filters tap water as you drink.  It means you never have to buy expensive bottled water again!

Direct debits

Over a third of people are unsure what leaves their account each month. Look through your bank statements and cancel all those non-essential direct debits, such as gym membership and magazine ­subscriptions (which go to an old address!)  3.6 million Britons waste £14bn on unused direct debits, and the typical family spends £70 a month on payments for stuff they no longer need or use according to a survey by moneysupermarket.com.  A big culprit is mobile phone insurance for a phone you no longer have!  However, if you can find your original direct debit agreement, you may find that in the small print it says you will be entitled to a refund if a direct debit was taken in error.  You can reclaim a direct debit for any reason and you don’t have to tell the bank anything more than it was either the wrong amount, taken at the wrong time or it was taken in error.

Paying for broadband you can’t get

So many people are wasting money by paying for broadband speeds which they can’t actually get in their area.  Just because you pay for an ‘up to’ speed, it doesn’t mean that you will get the fastest connection advertised.  A speed checker www.uswitch.com/broadband/speedtest/ will tell you what your current speed is and which networks offer the best in your area.  Customers also waste money by paying a premium for an unlimited package which doesn’t always do what it says on the tin.  Sky, Virgin, Plusnet and BT are truly unlimited but the other networks will cap your usage during peak times or slow you down with ‘traffic management’ so don’t pay for a service that you are not getting.

Spotting a few of these can save you so much cash so make sure you get fixing them straight away!

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