Disability Horizons guru Fleur Perry, social commentator and editor of our new sister site, Disability United, shares her top 10 money advice tips to help you take control of your finances.
In this difficult time of disability cuts and rising prices, managing money can feel like a nightmare. It’s oh so easy to look at the paperwork in the corner and say; “I’ll go through it all tomorrow.” But if you always put it off, it’ll never get done. These 10 simple tips will help break it down, so you can tackle it in bitesized chunks, making you feel in control of your finances.
1. Check your on the best energy deal
Research by First Utility shows that British households supplied by the Big Six energy companies (Scottish Power, British Gas, Npower, EDF, Eon and SSE) are paying £4 billion more this year than they should be. That works out as £293 per household that could be saved by changing supplier. If you haven’t compared energy prices in the past year, you could seriously be paying over the odds.
2. Check if you’re receiving the right financial support
Although there have been cuts, last year £13 billion of benefits went unclaimed. Make sure you’re not part of next year’s statistic using an online disability benefits checker.
3. Start an honesty book
Every time you spend any money, write it down in detail. The more honest you are in the book, the better. Instead of writing ‘supermarket shop’, write ‘groceries for meal’ and ‘impulse bought giant cookies’ [the author is guilty as charged]. That way you’ll be able to easily identify where you could be cutting back if you need to.
4.Get to know your interest rates
There are few things more boring than interest rates, but it’s worth every second of that boredom. For loans and credit cards, the lower the better, whereas for ISAs, current accounts and savings accounts, aim for the roof, as high as the sky. You can use sites such as Which? Money Compare to see which have the best interest rates.
5. Check your bank statement
Been overcharged? Been hacked? It’s rare, but it pays to check every so often.
6. Plan to shop around
Ask yourself honestly, when was the last time you went to a different supermarket? Do you always buy from the same online retailers? Talk to friends about what deals are where and discover something new. Or just browse the online forums, there are plenty of people out there looking for bargains to share.
7. Invest in yourself
Have you ever wanted to study? Or travel? Try doing something totally crazy for no other reason than because? Do it. It’s much easier to save if you know what you’re saving for. Whether your chosen dream requires putting a quid in a jam jar every week or putting half your income into a savings account, make sure you have a reward planned for all that hard saving.
8. Plan something fun for free
Think back over the past year or so… what was the most fun you had? Was it really that shopping spree which involved 3 hours travelling on a train? Or was it that really random time you and your best friend just got in the car and drove in a random direction and found the weirdest little cafe with the best coffee? Fun things don’t necessarily need to involve spending lots of money, have a look at what events and activities are happening in your local area for free.
9. Take control of your utility bills
TV, phone and broadband packages vary greatly between companies. Add in streaming services for films and music, and this can eat a big hole in your current account. If you’re paying monthly for extra channels, on demand features, and advanced viewing, think about how many hours of fun you’re getting for the price; some may be worthwhile, some may be a lot of money for not a lot of usability. Find out what other options are available by using a site like USwitch to compare.
10. Get more free money advice
The Money Advice Service is a free, independent and impartial advice service that works with other organisations to help people make the most of their money.
By Fleur Perry
Share your tips and save your friends some cash by tweeting us @DHorizons with the hashtag #moneyadvicetips.