Tackle the recession without feeling the impact

Published:
10 May 2012
Topic:
News,Money,Credit Cards,Debt,Loans,Mortgages

More than a third (37%) of Britons are more concerned about their financial situation as a result of the double-dip recession, according to a poll we carried out at MoneySupermarket.

The poll also found that one in six will look to make their money go further, while 15% will try to cut back on non-essential spending. On the other hand, 17% of respondents do not think that re-entering recession will have any impact upon them whatsoever.

So how exactly does the double-dip recession affect us, and what can we do to lessen the impact that spending less will have on our lives? Read on to find out.

Will you feel the effects of the recession?

The term 'double-dip recession' refers to the fact that the latest run of two consecutive quarters of negative growth - the official indicator of recession - comes in the wake of a recession in 2009. Read Melanie Wright's article for more on what the double-dip recession means for you.

It's probably fair to say that many of us won't actually feel any direct effects of this latest dip because, if we've been feeling the financial pinch lately, the recession never really went away.

The rise in fuel, food and energy costs has meant that many are continually struggling to cover the costs of day-to-day living and this has been exacerbated by government spending cuts, rising unemployment and the fact that earnings are struggling to keep up with inflation.
 
However, research by Legal & General does indicate that household finances have worsened during the seven-month period we have been back in recession as the number of households struggling to pay their bills has increased by 1.2million.

And further research from Prudential shows that one-in-five of us are eating less healthily and foregoing our 'five-a-day' fruit and vegetables due to increased living costs.

But we don't want the recession to start affecting our health as well as our wealth, so here are some ways to make cuts that won't have such a negative impact upon your lifestyle.

 

Move credit card debt to reduce monthly outgoings

If you have outstanding credit card debt and you're just paying the minimum amount off each month then there's a chance that the debt could actually have a longer life expectancy than you do.

But if you have a good credit rating then you should be able to transfer the balance over to a card with an interest-free period that will enable you to pay off more of the balance without having to worry about any additional interest.

Barclaycard's Platinum credit card with extended balance transfer and Halifax's balance transfer credit card currently offer the longest interest-free periods for balance transfers with 22 months at 0%. Both offers are subject to a balance transfer fee, of 2.9% and 3.5% respectively.

Cut fuel bills at home and on the road

Rising fuel bills, whether they are household energy bills or petrol prices, are a problem for us all but you can make big savings by making some small adjustments.

As far as gas and electricity bills go, the first thing you need to do is compare the range of tariffs out there and make sure that you're on the best one to suit your circumstances.

It may also be worth considering a fixed rate tariff in order to safeguard against any possible price hikes later in the year. Read Mark Hoosen's article for more details on switching to a fixed rate tariff.

You can also save money by making small adjustments around the house such as lowering the thermostats at home (especially now the weather's warming up) and not leaving chargers plugged in or appliances on standby. For more energy saving tips click here.

If you want to make cuts to your commuting costs then you should consider car-sharing or even cycling to work now that the weather is better.

Review your mortgage deal

If you have a mortgage this is likely to be your single biggest expense each month so you certainly don't want to be paying any more than you have to.

If you are coming to the end of your current deal or you are worried that your standard rate may be on the way up soon - be warned, mortgage companies are always looking for ways in which they can raise the rates for those not on fixed deals - then you should look around for a better product.

MoneySupermarket's mortgage comparison tool compares a wide range of mortgages from a variety of lenders so it is worth doing a quick online comparison to see if you can save money.

However, before you proceed with applying for a new mortgage deal you should check your credit rating to make sure that you are eligible for the better deals. If you are leaving a deal early, check for cancellation fees and see if they would be offset by taking out a better deal.

Review your phone, broadband and television packages

If you are coming to the end of your mobile phone contract then you should review it and make sure that you're actually using all your inclusive talk time minutes, text messages and data.

If not you should downgrade your contract so you're not paying for services you're not using. If, on the other hand, you are exceeding your limits then you should also switch to another tariff with more inclusive minutes, text and data.

Although this will probably cost you more each month it should work out cheaper than paying extra each time you exceed your limit.

The same thing applies if you pay for a subscription television service, so you should work out whether having the movies, sports - or even the basic package itself - is worth the monthly outlay, or if you could get by without them. (A word of warning though: getting rid of the cartoon channels may also mean you are getting rid of the one thing that will keep then kids still for ten minutes!)

And if you are reviewing your subscription television service you should also look at your broadband provider as combining the two, along with a home phone package, may work out cheaper than having two or three separate providers.

When checking your broadband package you should also check that the download speeds you are getting are exactly what you need.

If you are unsure about your download speeds or usage needs then this short video should provide the answers you need.

Take a look at any other subscription services

It's also a good idea to take a look at any other subscriptions you have taken out and make sure that you're getting your money's worth. For instance, if those cookery magazines you get delivered each month are doomed to a life spent under the coffee table - still in their wrappers - then it may be worth cancelling your subscription.

Similarly, if you have already fallen off the January health-kick wagon then it is worth considering cancelling your gym membership as simply having a health club membership card in your wallet won't improve your waistline!

And even if you do regularly use the gym but consider it to be an expense you could do without then you could still cancel it and consider some alternative exercises such as jogging, cycling or home work-out equipment.

Use vouchers to buy exactly the same thing for less

As we cut out cloth more accordingly, businesses have to work that little bit harder to compete for our custom and this has led to many offering discount codes and vouchers.

MoneySupermarket's vouchers channel offers savings on everything from a weekend away to the weekly shopping and you may also find that you can pick up additional discounts by shopping online as retailers sometimes offer lower prices for internet shoppers.

And, more often than not, you don't even have to print the vouchers off as the codes can be sent straight to your smartphone, very handy if you're looking for a deal while you're out and about.

One word of caution though: only use vouchers for things you really need and not just because you can make a saving with a voucher you have found.

Compare deals on everything

If you're reading this article there's a good chance that you're already familiar with using MoneySupermarket to save money on things such as car insurance, current accounts, loans and utilities, all of which are also worth considering if you're looking to cut costs.

But did you know that use can use the shopping channel to find the best price on things such as electronics, books, clothing and leisure and fitness equipment?

MoneySupermarket's shopping channel acts as a search engine to compare the prices of products from hundreds of online retailers to save you the trouble of trawling through website after website to find the best deal.

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Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct. We're free, independent and compare all UK loans and credit cards, as well as offering exclusive deals you can't get anywhere else. Contact MoneySupermarket.com at Moneysupermarket House, St David's Park, Ewloe, Flintshire, CH5 3UZ. © Moneysupermarket.com Ltd 2012.

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Les Roberts

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Senior writer

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