It’s Spring, so let’s do some spring cleaning! Chances are you can save a packet by going through your bank or credit card details and having a cull of what you don’t need.
Here are some tips to help you get started. But a quick ethical message. Before you start deleting, have a think about the business that’s receiving the cash. Can it fend for itself or might it benefit from a bit of largesse (if you can afford it?).
There are two main categories when it comes to saving some cash:
Things you haven’t authorised or should have been cancelled.
This can include things like old insurance policies for a mobile phone you no longer have but didn’t realise you were paying for. Or packaged bank accounts, where you didn’t want or need the extras. When you cancel these, you can seek refunds if the firm has taken your money when it shouldn’t have done.
Things you don’t need any more.
This can include subscriptions, memberships and services that you aren’t taking full advantage of.
So how do you get started?
[Like cloud digital storage, anti-virus software, music or TV storage solutions]
We use and stream so much data without fully understanding the technology – so many of us panic and just click to accept cloud, streaming services and other digital services. After all, it’s only a few quid a month, right? Ok, so you don’t want to lose all your photos in a tech failure, but you only really need one cloud storage service. Same goes for music streaming services, which are also often duplicated. With streaming sites charging around £15 a month and other services not far off, you’re wasting loads of cash. If you’re paying for two cloud services and two music streaming services and you reduce that to one each, you could save up to £400 a year.
Subscriptions and subscription traps
[Like gyms, the arts, papers and magazines, home delivery services, membership services]
Legit subscriptions: If you check out your email inbox (if you can bear it) you’ll find many a message from the various services you subscribe to. Many will be offering you deals to not cancel your regular payment. Take a bit of time to look them over. I’ve seen some gym upgrade deals that are pretty good for keeping the monthly payments going.
But ultimately, if money is tight – or you’ve just reached the point when you want a clear out – you’re usually able to cancel most subscriptions these days with around a month’s notice at most. Gyms used to be a nightmare for this, but things have improved significantly since the dark days of three months’ notice. However, if you feel you’re being significantly penalised financially and you were misled when you took out the agreement you can pursue a formal complaint.
The arts and media need your support more than ever at this difficult time. So keep that paper subscription up and support your local theatre and arts venues too.
The traps: Lurking on your statements may be one-off payments or sneaky monthly subscriptions. You may have signed up to free trials and forgotten to cancel, or tried out a service but you simply don’t use it. These payments don’t appear on your ‘regular payment’ lists so you have to trawl through your accounts to find them. Go back a year and one month, which will allow for every annual payment to be tracked down. If you didn’t authorise these payments, weren’t told you were going to be debited or you think you’ve been scammed, your bank can cancel them right away – and you might even get a refund.
[Like insurance, broadband, mobile phones]
Some contracts have significant penalties for pulling out of mid-term with broadband and mobile phones being the biggest offenders. Insurance contracts also catch people by surprise as they are an annual contract where there’s one price each year that is split in to twelve chunks. No-one really gets why this is, but it does mean that you’ll have to pay a variable fee to bail early. Beat this by saving the renewal dates in your diary a month in advance so you’ve got time to shop around and jump ship. However, if you’ve been overcharged by a business as a result of staying loyal – compare your current payments to what you’d be charged as a new customer (without the initial offers). You may be able to claim back quite a bit of cash.
Millions of us are paying for insurance policies that we don’t use or need. Check your regular payments and debits from your bank account – you may be surprised to spot a mobile phone insurance policy for a phone you’ve upgraded years ago that you’re still being charge for. Or you might find an expensive gadget insurance policy is much cheaper if you update your home insurance – ditch it! You could be able to claim back hundreds if you’ve been overcharged if you asked for an insurance policy to be cancelled. And if you have a packaged bank account and you’re over 70, then your insurance is unlikely to cover you and you might get some cash back.
[Like planes, trains, boats and everything mentioned in Get Here by Oleata Adams]
The Mirror has covered the problems that people seeking refunds for airline and packaged holidays have encountered extensively. But what about trains and other forms of transport? As a general rule, if you can’t travel, you may be offered a refund, however, other firms are only offering vouchers. We’ll have to take this to the T&C’s for each company ultimately to see if that’s fair, but don’t assume it’s automatic – contact the travel firm and ask how to claim. Season tickets do have refund policies if you’re unable to use them for extended periods, but again, they all vary so you’ll need to check out the website for the latest guide. Bear in mind that you don’t know how long you’ll have to claim for yet, so check out how the process works but hold fire.
[Like duplicate payments, overcharging and errors]
Online accounts are great, but it means we’ve become less vigilant about checking our spending. Yet there are countless errors that can occur on bank and credit card statements, from duplicated transactions, services that you cancelled that are still being billed and honest-to-goodness errors. If you spot anything you don’t recognise, ask your bank or card provider to ‘charge back’ the money. You might have to sign a statement saying you didn’t authorise the payment but usually there’s no delay. There are time limits though, so don’t hesitate.
Utilities and overcharging
[phone, broadband, energy, and more]
Most of us have been cajoled/persuaded/told to drop paper statements from utility companies. The same goes for mobile phone services. Chances are you might not need the full package you’re on and could instantly save be reducing it. Phone bills also hide a range of charges you might not have been aware of. These can include data roaming charges that you might not have realised you were paying when on holiday, premium rate text services (up to £5 each) after you agreed to let a firm send you notifications and other disputed charges. Have a scoot through the bill and flag up anything you haven’t authorised. The Phone Paid Services Authority can help if you aren’t happy with the response from the firm.
Keep it kind
Making a few savings can really help you make your cash go further, but remember that businesses are super busy these days, so for non-urgent enquiries take your time and try to avoid tying up phone lines where possible. And be friendly even if you’re frustrated. A bit of kindness goes a long way.
If you need any help or support throughout the lockdown, we’re here for you at Resolver www.resolver.co.uk