IT is known as the most depressing day of the year, with Christmas credit card bills starting to arrive and the winter weather taking hold.
But dad Ian Williams, 53, is set for the upcoming Blue Monday, having saved £2,000 last year by shopping at cheaper supermarkets, bartering for bargain phone contracts and watching free TV.
You can beat Blue Monday – as the Christmas credit card bills start to come in – by cutting your costs by up to £4,000Credit: Getty Images – Getty
And today we show you how to follow suit and cut up to £4,000 off your living costs for 2021.
Communications manager Ian is married to office administrator Nicola. The couple have two children, who are in their early twenties.
He swapped Tesco for Aldi, saving £20 a week, and switched mobile phone contracts to SIM-only deals with Giffgaff, paying £8 and £6 for him and Nicola.
Ian, from Ruthin, Denbigh, said: “We don’t have Sky as there is enough to watch on Freeview.
Ian Williams, 53, saved £2,000 last year by shopping at cheaper supermarkets, bartering for bargain phone contracts and watching free TVCredit: Mercury Press
“We do have Amazon Prime as that is worth the £79 annual fee because it includes free delivery on online shopping.”
Another reformed spender is Sarah, 34, from Hull. She paid off her debts by slashing her outgoings thanks to advice from debt charity StepChange.
She said: “I saved money by switching suppliers for monthly bills, which made my budget go further.
“If you are struggling, don’t bury your head in the sand. Seek help with your debts.”
So grab a pen and paper and become a savvy saver as you take The Sun Money debt audit — it will be your best-spent hour this year.
CUT NON-ESSENTIAL SPENDING
SHOP at a cheaper supermarket or swap expensive brands for stores’ own-brand value products.
SAVE: £20 a week, £1,040 a year
DON’T upgrade your mobile phone. Switch to a cheap SIM-only deal instead.
SAVE: £40 per month (with £10 SIM-only deal compared to £50 contract), £480 a year
Don’t upgrade – switch to a cheap SIM-only deal insteadCredit: Getty Images – Getty
WAIT to buy until the price for the items you want drops in a sale. Or you can use a voucher code. But the cheapest option of all is to buy from charity shops when they eventually reopen.
SAVE: Hundreds of pounds a year
DITCH paid-for TV contracts and watch Freeview, free streaming or YouTube. Note: You still need a TV licence.
SAVE: £30 a month, £360 a year
DUMP expensive gym memberships and go for runs outside and use free council gyms in parks.
SAVE: £50 a month, £600 a year
Dump the gym and gain the pounds by exercising in the parkCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Katie Watts, consumer expert at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “It’s really important to make a budget, and stick to it.
“You can ‘downshift’ your groceries.
“Drop a brand level on everything and if you don’t notice the difference, keep it.
“Never buy anything without first looking around for vouchers, sales or cashback.
“With all your non-essential spends, ask yourself: Do I need it, can I afford it, and if so, is it any cheaper elsewhere?”
CUT ESSENTIAL COSTS
Change over to a cheap gas and electricity deal using a switching website.
SAVE: £200 a year.
If you have a mortgage, check for the cheapest rates by using a fee-free broker, for example, London and Country.
SAVE: £500+ on the mortgage amount paid over a year and £500+ on the broker fee.
Call and negotiate cheaper prices for broadband, home phone and insurance cover, including car, breakdown and home building and contents.
Broadband savings can be substantialCredit: Getty Images – Getty
SAVE: £20 off broadband and home phone per month and £20 off insurance policies per month, £480 a year.
KATIE said: “You can save hundreds, possibly thousands, by switching and saving money on your mortgage, energy, broadband, mobile contract and insurance. Loyalty rarely pays.”
- Use any savings to pay off debt. You lose more on debt interest payments than you gain on banks’ interest rates.
- Switch your credit card to a cheaper rate deal and prioritise paying it off.
- See if you qualify for any benefits.
Get free advice on clearing debts from services such as the National Debtline.
A spokesman said: “If you can, put extra money to one side each month so that you can build up a pot throughout the year to help cover bills that are not paid monthly and any unexpected costs.
“If you are struggling to cover your essential bills and are not able to put a small amount of money aside each month, seek free debt advice from National Debtline as soon as possible.”
A BAN on home repossessions will be extended to April under proposals by the City regulator. But consumer credit firms might be able to repossess goods and vehicles again from January 31
The Financial Conduct Authority said its draft guidance reflected the dire consequences of losing your home rather than a TV or car.
Current guidance says firms should not enforce repossessions before January 31. This will be extended to April 1.
But credit firms will be able to take back goods on other credit.
STAY SHARP AS JAB STINGS ROLL ON
Remember, the vaccine here is only available on the NHS. You can’t pay to get it done privately – don’t fall victim to scammersCredit: Ziv Koren
By Ashley Hart Head of Fraud at TSB
VACCINATION scams are continuing to hit people at their most vulnerable.
I said in December this scam would explode – and it has. Millions have had the jab already and we are all keen to get one. But fraudsters are looking to pounce.
Remember, the vaccine here is only available on the NHS. You can’t pay to get it done privately.
You also do not need to pay for a slot for your jab. We have already returned £1,000 to a customer who was stung by a fraudster.
Across the industry, losses will be significant.
Fraudsters are sending emails and texts asking targets to get ready for the vaccination by updating their NHS details.
A link takes you to a very convincing version of the NHS website, where you are asked to verify your personal details – and enter a payment card number for “verification only”. This is a scam.
Instead, your details will be used to rip you off.
Bogus adverts even offer to sell vaccination kits online. And in the worst case I have seen, a woman aged 92 was given a fake vaccination by a criminal – in exchange for cash, of course. It doesn’t get any lower than that.
All you need to do to ensure you get the jab when your turn comes is to make sure you are registered with a GP.
You can find information about this on the real NHS website (nhs.uk).
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