However, with MoneySupermarket research revealing that 74% of people have had to curb their spending over the past 12 months, cash-strapped Britons need to take matters into their own hands and become their family’s own Chancellor.
Figures from Lloyds TSB show that 46% of Britons put at least three-quarters of their income towards bills and other essentials in February.
That’s worryingly high, particularly with 47% of those who responded to the MoneySupermarket survey holding out little hope of their financial situation improving of its own accord.
The good news, though, is that you could reduce your bills by more than £3,000 a year – just by ensuring that you are paying as little as possible for everything from your credit card to your home energy.
Clare Francis, site editor at MoneySupermarket, said: “Apathy is rarely rewarded and switching from average deals to the market leading option on a range of financial products could save households £3,100 over 12 months.”
Here, we show you how to do just that.
Switch your mortgage and save £1,234.18
A recent MoneySupermarket poll found that one in four consumers has benefited from lower mortgage repayments since the Bank of England base rate fell to its current level of 0.50% more than three years ago.
That still means that millions of homeowners have yet to start taking advantage of the available savings, though.
Someone with a £150,000 mortgage on the average standard variable rate (SVR) of 4.83% could, for example, save themselves £1,234.18 a year switching to a two-year, fixed-rate mortgage from HSBC at 2.54% with a £1,999 fee.
Move your savings and earn £296 in extra interest
Savers have had a hard time of it over the last few years. But even with interest rates at their current low level, the account you choose will have a massive impact on your returns.
The current average rate paid by easy access accounts is just 0.20%. However, the market leading WebSave easy access account from West Bromwich Building Society pays 3.16%.
A saver with £10,000 in an average account could therefore generate an extra £296 in interest by switching to it.
Change your credit card and save £243.85
Anyone with a lingering credit card balance could save hundreds of pounds in interest by switching to a 0% balance transfer card.
And moving a credit card balance of £2,000 from the current average rate of 17.32% APR to the market-leading, 22-month Barclaycard Platinum Card with Extended Balance Transfer, would save you £243.85 (taking into account the balance transfer fee) over the next 12 months alone.
If you are concerned about being accepted for top deals, however, it is a good idea to use the MoneySupermarket SmartSearch credit profiling tool to avoid damaging your credit score with rejected applications.
Swap your personal loan and save £394.00
A personal loan can be a great way to borrow money on a budget due to the fixed repayments you make over a set period – usually between three and five years.
The rates charged vary considerably, though, so it is worth shopping around. You could, for example, save £394 over the next 12 months by borrowing £7,500 via a five-year Marks & Spencer Personal Loan at 6.0% APR, rather than taking out a loan with the average rate of 15.74% APR.
Switch your current account and earn £50.25 in interest/save £206.40 on overdraft charges
Failing to get the best deal on your current account means paying over the odds for your overdraft, or missing out on interest on your credit balances.
Someone holding £1,500 in an account with an average high street rate of 0.65%, for example, could gain £50.25 a year by switching to the Halifax Reward current account, which pays a £5 bonus each month if you pay in £1,000.
And someone who spends a lot of time in the red could save £206.40 by switching to the Nationwide Building Society Flex Account, which charges 18.90% AER on authorised overdrafts – putting the annual cost of borrowing £500 at £93.60.
Move your car and home insurance and save £500
Car insurance is a legal requirement, while failing to take out adequate home insurance means running the risk of being left with nothing should your home be burgled or burn down.
Fortunately, shopping around for the most competitive cover, and opting to pay annually rather than monthly, can lead to huge savings.
On average, consumers who use MoneySupermarket to switch their providers save £373 on car insurance and £127 on home insurance.
Change utility companies and save £224
The high cost of home energy is one of the main issues for cash-strapped families, with 62% of the MoneySuperMarket survey respondents admitting to turning off their heating even when it’s cold in a bid to save money.
However, you could save hundreds of pounds a year by moving to the best available online direct debit deal.
By switching to the best online tariff as opposed to the average standard quarterly cash and cheque (QCC) tariff, a typical household could save £224 over the next 12 months.
Bundle up your TV, phone and internet and save £125
While loyalty to a single provider does not always pay – particularly when it comes to financial services – bundling your TV, phone and broadband together could save you £125 a year.
What’s more, you will benefit from the ease of dealing with one provider rather than three.
Move your travel insurance and save £31
Being under financial strain does not necessarily mean that you have to miss out on an overseas break – particularly if you save yourself a packet by following these tips.
It does, however, make it doubly important to get the best possible deal on everything from your accommodation to your travel insurance. Opting for an OUL Direct policy could, for example, save a couple going to Spain for a two-week break £31.
Remember though that an annual multi-trip travel policy could be more cost-effective if you intend to go abroad more than once this year.