With the New Year upon us, many will have made resolutions as they aim to make changes in the months ahead. Whether it is losing a little unwanted weight, quitting smoking, or taking up a new hobby the New Year brings with it the chance to start afresh and make a concerted change to your life.
For those who have resolved to cut their bills in the New Year it's worth remembering that one of the quickest ways to do so is by comparing and switching energy supplier.
Price rises across the board
All of the major energy suppliers announced price rises at the end of 2012, with E.ON's price rise being the last to go live on the 18th of January. Millions of homes across the country will already be paying more for their energy than at the same time last year.
It is estimated that as much as 45% of the country have never switched their energy provider, meaning that almost half of the population are paying well over the odds for their energy. This group of consumers could still see significant savings post-price rise. Likewise those who have switched before, but haven't chosen a fixed deal in the past 12 months could still benefit from switching supplier as they will be hit by the prices as well.
The best way to combat the price rises is to take a few minutes and run a comparison of suppliers and deals available in your area. With many regional fluctuations in cost from one supplier to the next it is the most effective way to ensure that you are getting the best possible deal on your utilities.
For those worried about prices rising in 2013 there are still some very competitive fixed deals available which protect you from potential rises. Similarly for those who don't want to be tied into a fixed deal there are still competitive online discounted tariffs available that could see you shave hundreds from your annual gas and electricity bills.
Why not take a few minutes to see if you could save money for the year ahead and compare energy suppliers now?
Prices fixed until 30 June 2014. No cancellation fees.
* based on average dual fuel tariff costing £1,410 (Source: Energyhelpline January 8, 2013). All costs are for a yearly average usage dual fuel household paying by monthly direct debit. Average usage defined by Ofgem as 16,500 kWh p.a. of gas and 3,300 kWh p.a. of electricity
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Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.
To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.
At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.
It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.
With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.
No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.
Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.
Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.
While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.
Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.
However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.
However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.
Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.
Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.