Spring clean your finances in lockdown

The start of the new tax year is the ideal time to give yourself a money makeover. This year, as the coronavirus lockdown continues, the need to save money is even more important. While our previous blog looked at the immediate steps you should take if you need to save money urgently, this one will give you some suggestions if you’ve got a bit more time on your hands and want to give your finances a refresh. We’ve selected our top money management tips below which should hopefully save you hundreds of pounds over the coming year.

Sort your subscriptions and direct debits

Subscriptions to streaming services like Netflix or meal delivery services like HelloFresh could be incredibly beneficial during the lockdown. But you won’t be able to use others like gym memberships, travel passes or sports tv packages. Even before the lockdown, the Money Advice Service calculated the average person wasted £18.62 per month on unused subscriptions. A good way to start your money makeover is to cancel or pause any subscriptions you’re not using anymore. You should also make sure you’re getting the best deal on any new subscriptions before signing up. Many services will offer a free trial, refer a friend bonus or introductory discount.

Once you’ve chosen which services you no longer need, remember to cancel the direct debits. If you haven’t done so already, it’s also worth setting up direct debits on your other monthly utility bills so you don’t accidentally miss payments. In addition, paying by direct debit can often get you a cheaper deal for some bills as many energy suppliers only offer direct debit tariffs which mean you may miss out on the best deal if you don’t consider this payment option.

Energy bills

When looking at energy bills, you may notice that you’re using more energy than usual while you’re stuck at home during the lockdown. If you’re on a standard variable tariff – the most expensive rate – you’re likely to be surprised by how much you’re spending. Using Youtility to compare energy suppliers and switch to a cheaper tariff could save you around £300 each year if you move from a standard variable tariff to one of the cheaper deals in the market. After you switch, try to provide regular meter readings to ensure your direct debit is set at the right level, so you aren’t building up credit or debit in your account. If you have an Economy 7 meter, you should also consider whether it is the best option when you’re working from home. The night rates for the meter will be cheaper than the standard cost of electricity, but the day rates for using electricity are much higher.

Sign up to loyalty apps

Another of our lockdown tips is to sign up for any voucher or loyalty programmes on offer from the supermarkets, as your spend there has likely increased. Signing up for a loyalty programme such as Tesco Clubcard or Boots Advantage could save you money on your essential shopping over the long-term. MoneySavingExpert also has a helpful guide on ways to save money on your weekly food shopping and get the most from supermarket loyalty schemes.

Switching other suppliers

Along with energy, it is worth looking at switching your suppliers for your other monthly bills. If you’ve reached the end of your mobile phone contract, you should be able to reduce this bill if you are planning to keep your old handset. You could also look at switching broadband providers for a cheaper rate or faster download speeds which may be helpful if you’re working from home.

Finally, you may want to consider remortgaging if your initial mortgage term matures during the lockdown period. If your current deal expires in the next couple of weeks, your bank may switch you onto their standard variable rate which means your monthly payment will increase. It is still possible to remortgage during the virus outbreak via online providers. You should also think about speaking to a mortgage broker to see if you can get a cheaper deal now the base interest rate is at a record low. Recent research from CACI found that 11 per cent of all mortgage maturities in 2020 will take place this month as more than £20billion of loans will reach the end of their initial term. If you are one of these borrowers, you could save thousands by remortgaging sooner rather than later.