Be like the Money Calm Bull

Get your bills under control this winter and be like the Money Calm Bull

Money Calm Bull in space

You’d think the Money Calm Bull would be going berserk, but he’s calmer than a banana. Why? Because his bills are under control with MoneySuperMarket.

We’ve put together a collection of quick and easy steps you can take to make the most of your money, and be just like the Money Calm Bull.

Take the wheel on your motoring costs

Owning a car can be a life-saving convenience, but it doesn’t come without its issues – deciding on the right make and model, taking out a solid insurance policy, sorting out MOTs and road tax, and maintaining the car itself.

But it doesn’t have to be so stressful all the time – here are some small steps you can take to help ease the pressure of keeping your car running.

1.       Switch your car insurance before your renewal date

You’re more likely to save money by switching when your policy is up for renewal. Even better, we’re investing our own money with a range of car insurers to get you cheaper prices* – wherever you see a price cut symbol on a policy, we’ve brought the cost down. Plus, you can usually carry any no claims you’ve built up to a different insurer.

Rules set down by the industry regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) mean up until 31 October you can ask your car insurer for help if you’re struggling to pay because of coronavirus. This can include a temporary reduction in cover or possibly a payment deferral of up to three months.

However you won’t be able to extend an existing payment holiday beyond three months – your insurer should instead offer support in other ways, for example by agreeing to lower monthly payments.

You may also want to consider switching to monthly direct debit payments if you currently pay annually – while it can work out more expensive, it may help ease short term cash flow problems.

Find out about coronavirus and car insurance

*At least 51% of customers will see a price cut policy in the top 5 results based on enquiries Jun 19 - Feb 20.

2.       Adjust your car insurance policy

If you’ve found you’ve been driving much less over the last few months, or indeed not at all, there may be an opportunity for you to save on your car insurance. If you can lower your estimated annual mileage your insurer may well reduce your premiums, as the less time you spend on the road the less likely you are to be involved in a claim.

You might even benefit from putting your car insurance on hold altogether – if you only use your car for the occasional shop, or not at all, declaring it ‘off road’ with a SORN means you won’t need to worry about insuring it or paying road tax.

However you won’t be able to drive the car either, unless you consider taking out a temporary policy for when you need to drive – these can last anywhere from a day to a week to a month. Depending on how often you use the car, this could be a way for you to reduce your monthly outgoings.

3.       Prepare your car for a long stay

Even if you don’t plan on using your car, you should still carry on maintaining it so it’s ready to go when you need it. Carrying out regular oil and tyre pressure checks, giving the car a quick spin around the block or even just letting the engine run for a while can all help it stay in shape.

This is especially true in the winter months, where low temperatures and regular rainfall can cause damage to the interior and exterior of your vehicle.

Control your bills at home

Many of us are spending more time at home these days, so it might be considering ways we can save money on our household bills. You can change how you manage your bills from the comfort of your sofa – making it easier for you to save some money, so you can feel calmer than a banana about your finances.

1.       Find a cheaper energy deal

The cost of gas and electricity is at a three-year low, so it’s a great time to find a better deal and switch your energy tariff – especially if, like more than half of UK households, you’re currently on an expensive standard variable rate tariff.

The process is carried out remotely and your energy supply will not be disrupted, thanks to the energy switch guarantee. Enter your postcode and tell us about your energy habits to get started.

2.       Switch broadband tariffs

With lots of us working and living under the same roof, it’s more important than ever to have the right broadband package. If you want faster fibre optic, check it’s available in your area.

3.       Find a new home insurance policy

Not all home insurance policies offer the same levels of cover, but it’s usually simple to get extra features like accidental damage or legal protection added to your policy for a one-off payment – just contact your insurer.

If your policy is due to expire, see if you can get a better deal by switching. Bear in mind that you’ll probably get a better deal if you can find the cover you want at least 21 days before you need it to start.

Manage your money

Whether it’s tidying up your bank account, finding a loan or sorting your savings, there are a number of ways you can stay on top of your finances.

1.       Check your credit score

Staying in the dark about your credit score could mean missing out on the best deals – from mobile contracts right through to mortgages. Find out your score now with our hassle-free Credit Monitor. If something doesn’t seem right, submit a Notice of Correction with TransUnion, the credit reference agency that powers Credit Monitor, and get they’ll look into it.

2.       Check your eligibility before applying for a loan or credit card

With a pre-approved loan or credit card at MoneySuperMarket, the deal you see is the deal you get. When you look for a loan or credit card it might not always be clear what deal you’ll be offered or whether you’ll be accepted, but when you’re pre-approved you’ll know where you stand, with information that will help you make the right choice.

3.       Clean up direct debits

You might have spent less during lockdown but have you thought about your automatic outgoings? Review your direct debits to make sure you only pay for what you need.

4.       Hang on to your life insurance

If you’re struggling to make payments due to the impact of coronavirus, the FCA says you can ask your insurer for help. This might be a temporary reduction in cover in exchange for lower premiums or even a payment deferral.

It’s also worth having a look around to see if you can find a better deal.

5.       Take coronavirus help

If you’re struggling to make your usual monthly payment as a result of coronavirus, you may be eligible for one of the many payment breaks available, from mortgages to car finance. Find out more at our family finances coronavirus guide. Payment holidays will need to be agreed in advance with your lender, so never just cancel direct debits.

6.       Use your ISA allowance

With interest rates down to 0.1%, returns on savings are also low. But, there are still simple ways to make the most of your cash, such as using your full tax-free ISA allowance.

7.       Cash in on low mortgage rates

Interest rates are down at a miniscule 0.1% - great news for mortgages. If you’re coming to the end of your deal – or you’re on your lender’s pricey standard variable rate – it’s likely you could save by switching. We work with independent brokers who can give you advice or you can start your own research at our mortgage tables.

Find out about coronavirus and mortgages

8.       Look at Help to Buy

Don’t be put off by reports of dwindling mortgages for purchases – there are still banks willing to lend to buyers with smaller deposits. And, if you only have 5% to put down, check out the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which runs in its current form until April 2021.

9.       Take advantage of interest free overdrafts

The FCA has told banks to offer the first £500 in overdrafts interest-free to ease financial pressure during coronavirus. But, under separate rules the regulator introduced in April, banks must also swap their spectrum of overdraft charges for one single rate of around 40% (APR).

If you are permanently in your overdraft and have the means, draw up a simple plan to get out of it while coronavirus forbearance still applies – it’s due to end on 31 October.

10.   Try online banking

Keeping track of your current account is a lot easier from your smartphone. So, if you haven’t already, download your provider’s app and give it a go.

You could also think about switching to a digital-only bank. Their apps offer additional features such as spending categories and tools that automatically round up your spending and save the surplus. Switching is hassle-free and shouldn’t take longer than seven working days.

Review your travel plans

Whether you’re busy dreaming about your first trip after coronavirus or you’re looking to resolve a disrupted holiday, you might be able to save a few quid and a few worries with these helpful tips.

1.       Travel insurance for a staycation

Travelling abroad might not be an easy task at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a holiday. There’s plenty to see and do in the UK for budgets of all sizes, from stunning natural scenery and wildlife to iconic museums and galleries, and everything in between.

Travel insurance when you book should be a must – giving you a safety net for the cost of transport and accommodation should you need to cancel or change your trip, as well as cover for your belongings.

2.       Section 75 on your airline and hotel

If you’ve had to cancel a holiday due to coronavirus, and your airline or hotel is refusing to refund you, there may be another option. If you paid using a credit card all purchases above £100 and up to £30,000 are covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act – so your credit card provider will be equally liable for the amount you paid. Section 75 protection applies even if you just paid for the deposit on your card.

3.       Travel credit cards

If you do travel abroad, consider taking out a travel credit card for your trip – you’ll avoid fees for using it abroad and they usually offer better exchange rates than you’d get with cash.

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