Down to the nitty gritty

Bank statements are a bit like Salvador Dali’s paintings – wonderful things but terrifying to look at. They always seem to show up in the post when you least expected, when you were hoping for a nice card or a cake. And it’s always more fun to hide them in the cat basket rather than actually read them, and feel sick about where your money has gone.

But not one to be daunted, armed with some chocolate and a large gin (actually that last bit is a fib, I have a cup of tea) – I am scouring the latest statement from our joint account to see where we can trim our finances.

And to be honest there’s plenty to play for. While we can’t do anything about our council tax, at £127 a month, our gas and electric suppliers might be worth changing – we paid £71 to NPower last month for both, including the dual fuel discount, which doesn’t seem overly good value. Especially as it’s not even winter yet! According to Uswitch we could save £80 a year by switching to…wait for it…British Gas. Who’d have thought it!

Our home buildings and contents insurance is £32.38 a month, life insurance is £19.63. While the life insurance is reasonably good value, according to we could save £100 a year if we switched to another provider,, which is offering it at £22 a month. I need to check the fine print to make sure we’re getting like for like. Of course, if we took paid upfront we’d get it for £241 instead of the £264 we’d pay over a year.

I’m agonising over whether we should keep our £9.99 a month Amazon DVD rental going (nearly £120 a year – yikes). It’s a bit frivolous for the frugal life, although the TV schedule is diabolical at the moment – nothing but idiots being humiliated on reality shows, Banged Up Abroad (what genius thought that up?) or Nigella winking coquettishly and rustling up some crazy meal out of chocolate and lard. And we don’t have satellite so it’s come in very useful lately. A compromise would be downgrading to the £5 a month version which allows you fewer films. The great thing is that you don’t get fined for sending the DVDs back late and you can order all sorts of weird and wonderful vids. We are watching I, Claudius at the moment (an adaptation of the Robert Graves novel) which is a bit like Rome but without the massive HBO budget (saw a hilarious scene with Derek Jacobi & Brian Blessed watching a gladiator fight without a single gladiator in it last week!).

So far that’s a potential £240 a year saved before looking at the grocery bill. I suppose a spend of £155.96 in the supermarket wasn’t too bad, but then we also rather naughtily (in pre-frugal days I might add) spent another £112.25 on eating out. There is definitely work to be done here! I wonder just how much we could pare our food and grocery budget down to? If we could at least save £100 a month here that would be a £1200 yearly saving, bringing our total potential saving to £1440. A good incentive. Bring on the 9p baked beans!  Your general thoughts/ suggestions on how else I can save some money welcome!

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2 Responses to Down to the nitty gritty

  1. Coldelephant says:

    I don\’t have a mains aerial in my block of flats so no freeview.  Might get Homechoice to replace AOL Silver because apparently Homechoice got cheaper since they joined Tiscali.  Might not be able to link up the Homechoice box with my DVD player or wireless router, but then you get broadband and freeview plus a few other things for £14.99 whereas I used to pay £17.99 for Homechoice when I last had it.
    BT asked me to pay a deposit of £50 to be held for six months when I asked to reconnect – Southern Electric sold me their telephone package for about £11 per month with a prepay suppliment to pay, total is around £20 per month (plus vat) amounting to about £20 a month for three months, and a discount voucher for £30 to use on my electricity and gas (also from Southern Electric).  Then the telephone bill went up to £35 due to my call pattern.  I normally use my mobile, which is prepay.
    So I\’m getting rid of Southern Electric for my telephone line, and I\’ll switch to somebody else, could be Homechoice/Tiscalli depending on what deal I can get.
    My advice on credit cards is, don\’t use them, and don\’t use overdrafts either – especially not overdrafts, avoid them like the plague.  Over drafts mean your salary goes in, pays off the overdraft, and you have £(?)00 to pay your rent, food, travel and bills with.  Try instead to save up around 1.5 times the money you need to buy whatever it is, use part of the money and buy it outright, and insure it with home/contents insurance.  If you are in a flat, rented, then get contents insurance, shouldn\’t have to pay more than around £250 per year for this in my opinion.
    If you want to get a promotion, get a degree.  Not in mickey mouse subjects, but in something practical like Engineering or Law.  Or you could go for skills and cards and stuff.  Make sure the college/uni you go to fits your needs and you have time for everything.  Pay the fees outright or pay by direct debit.  Experience can mean a lot, and as for skills – you can pretty much look up a list of skills for your sector and cut and paste them, most of them will be competences in your performance development review if you work for some companies these days.  Can affect your pay raise as well.  Stick in on your CV and more agencies take notice of you and ask for more info from you.
    This all means more money that is your own, every year less debt and more savings.  Takes a while, but it is pretty much what we all have to do now because the state pension will be non existant in 40 years.

  2. Christine says:

    You\’re better to keep the DVD rental and ditch the TV licence. Radios are free, the internet gets you lots of on-line discounts and keeps you entertained and DVDs keep you going on films. At least you don\’t have to pay to watch the same one repeated three or four times a year.  Also the Amazon rental costs less than the TV!!

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