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10 smart money saving suggestions

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Austerity Britain is here to stay for a while. So we suggest 10 smart ways to save money without making too many sacrifices

1. Stick to a budget

Formulating a budget may sound a little dull and you will have to spend some time sifting through your bank statements and looking at exactly where your money is going. But if you can come up with a workable budget, and stick to it, you are well on your way to being in control of your finances and having more cash to spend on the things you enjoy.

2. Stop paying charges

Financial service providers are notorious for  slapping on expensive charges when you make any sort of mistake in managing your accounts, ranging from exorbitant unauthorised overdraft charges to late payment fees on your credit card. Wy not set up direct debits to cover most of your monthly expenses?

3. Check your tax code

Millions of employees are on the wrong tax code, and it can massively affect the level of tax you pay – to the tune of hundreds of pounds a year. Making sure you are paying the correct amount of tax could throw up a welcome surprise, and result in the taxman offering you a rebate. Of course, remember the opposite is true and it’s possible that you could find out you haven’t been paying enough tax.

4. Open an ISA

Did you know that when you save money the taxman takes a cut of any interest you receive? Basic rate taxpayers pay 20% and higher rate taxpayers 40% or even 45%. Take into account inflation and most savings accounts on the market today don’t even give you a real return on your money. That’s why it is a smart move to shelter your hard-earned cash in a tax-free Individual Savings Account. ISAs are available as instant access or fixed rate savings accounts as well as stocks and shares. You are able to save up to £11,280 tax-free each year with up to £5,640 in a cash ISA. Every little helps and ISAs mean you pay less to the taxman and keep more in your pocket.

5. Pay off your debts first

If you are paying out interest on credit card or personal loan debts you should focus on paying them off before you try to put any money in a savings account. This is because the rates of interest you are charged to borrow are almost always higher than the amount you can earn on your savings. So your money works harder paying off your debts first.

6. Switch your insurance policies 

It may not look as though you can save that much by switching policies, but when you add up your car insurance, your building and contents policy, life assurance, critical illness cover, pet insurance, travel insurance and any other cover you have in place, the savings can be enormous.

7. Save big on your mortgage

You can make significant savings on your homeloan if you remortgage to a cheaper rate of interest. The average standard variable rate is approaching 5%, according to Moneyfacts, while the best fixed and tracker deals on offer are currently around 2.99%. Cutting your interest rate from 5% to 2.99% on a £200,000 mortgage would save you £2,652 a year in repayments.

8. Overpay your mortgage

When you overpay your mortgage the excess comes straight off your balance. This means you owe less and therefore you are charged less interest on your debt.  The cumulative effect of paying a bit more each month in this way can total thousands of pounds in saved interest, and you can shave years off your mortgage term.

9. Switch your utilities

With energy bills rising, it’s important to shop around for the cheapest provider. Meanwhile broadband providers have got more competitive so make sure you’re not miising out on the best rates. Simply go online and use one of the many comparison sites that let you quickly find the cheapest supplier for your needs.

10. Be prepared

Firstly, it can make sense to save up six months’ salary in an instant access savings account, as a safety net if the worst happens. Secondly, consider taking insurance to protect your income if you are unable to work. An Income Protection policy (previously known as Permanent Health Insurance) offers long-term cover if you are unable to work and can prove invaluable.

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