Five million homes face bill shock

Five million homes face bill shock

A whopping five million households are paying more than they expected on their household bills.

This average 'bill shock' of £84.50 per household works out at an incredible £435 million in total, according to the latest Billshock Barometer from

Our most shocking bills

The survey picked out what proportion of households are shocked by the size of each respective bill, and how much more they are having to pay out than expected. Here's how it breaks down.
BillShock level (%)Amount more than expected
Car insurance22%£91.40
Home insurance18%£68.70
Credit card16%£124.34

As you can see, we are most likely to be shocked by the size of our energy bill, but it's credit cards where the shocks are most sizeable.

The importance of shopping around

If your bills are starting to hurt, then it's a good idea to shop around to see if you can get a better deal. For example, energy bills may be the most likely to shock, but they are also one area which has seen a succession of price cuts in recent months thanks to the falls in wholesale prices. Make sure you take advantage by grabbing a cheap fixed rate deal.

Similarly, when it comes to insurance don't just renew your policy with your existing insurer when the offer comes through. Take a little time to shop around and see if you can find a cheaper deal on your car and home insurance.

As for credit cards, if you have credit card debt that's racking up interest, it's time to take advantage of a 0% deal. There has never been so many lengthy 0% deals on offer – the top handful offer almost three years of 0% interest in which to clear your balance!

How to banish bill shock

Bills will occasionally be bigger than expected. But you can reduce the shock of those bigger bills by keeping on top of your household's comings and goings. One way to do that is with's Track service.

You can bring all of your various accounts together in a single place, from your bank account and savings account to your credit card. You can then categorise the different spending you can do, so you can see exactly where every penny you spend is going. And from there you can work out where you can make savings. A little change here or there can make a real difference to your monthly budget.

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Money-saving websites
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Five million homes face bill shock

This website brings travellers together with people offering a huge variety of places to stay in 190 countries. The spaces range from an air bed in someone's lounge, to a luxury holiday home, so you can search for something to suit your needs and price range.

Before you travel, you need to sign up, search the site for accommodation, contact the host, and if they approve you can book their space. It means, for example, you can book a two bedroom flat in London for £80 a night - which is cheaper per person than a hostel - and much more pleasant.

This service connects people looking for a lift with drivers offering them. In the UK it is only operating in London at the moment - but it is expanding.

The service works through a smartphone app. When you're out and about you can use the app to find a driver in your area, hail them at the push of a button, and track their progress in reaching you.

The rates start at £3 plus 32p per minute for travel under 11mph and £1.75 per mile if you're driving faster. The flat fares include Heathrow to West London for £30 - which is significantly cheaper than a traditional taxi. The service was seen as such a dangerous competitor to London's black cabs that they staged a protest in June.

This is a free shopping app, which lets you scan barcodes when you're shopping, and the app will do a price comparison for the same products in local shops and on websites. You can even buy it online through the app.

It will also let you scan products you have at home and find the cheapest local (or online) stockist.

This started life as a flight search website, and has expanded to include car hire and hotels too. It draws together the advertised flight prices from over 1,000 airlines and travel agents and displays them in one place to save you the legwork.

It isn't perfect, because it relies on the information provided by the agents, so if the agent is tweaking the headline rate and then reverts to a higher price when you enquire, you'll waste a bit of time with the agents. It's therefore worth checking reviews on the cheapest agents that come up before you go any further. The prices drawn direct from the airlines, meanwhile, tend to be accurate.

This is a clever site which is designed to help you get a cheap deal on It has a few features, which you can use together to make sure you always get a good deal from the site.

The first is the price history charts, which show how the price has changed over time, and how the current price compares. If the price is comparatively low you can just buy at that price. Alternatively, if it has risen recently, you can set a price alert, where you input a price you would be happy to pay, and you will receive an alert when the price drops to this level.

If you use a lot of data on your smartphone, onavo extend will help you dramatically cut the data you get through.

It is a compression app, which works in the background on services like sending and receiving emails, checking maps and browsing the web, and ensures it all uses less data (although it doesn't work on things like Skype or streaming video). It works by ensuring that before any data is sent to your device, it goes through the company's servers and is compressed.

It can cut the amount of data you use by up to 50%, which can help you keep within data limits and save you a fortune. It will also monitor how much data you actually use which will help you pick the most cost-effective plan.

When you call 0800 numbers from your mobile it's not free, and it's usually not counted as part of your monthly inclusive minutes, so you'll be charged extra for the call.

If you install the free 0800 Wizard app, you type in the 0800 number, and it will automatically re-route your call to an 01, 02 or 03 number instead. These cost the same as a standard local call, so will be part of your monthly package. If you don't have any minutes left it will be charged as a standard geographic number.

This website is designed to let you shop around without leaving your home. You can use it in whatever way suits you best. For the dedicated bargain-hunter, you can input everything you want to buy, find the supermarket where each item is cheapest, and spend the absolute minimum.

For those who need a bit more convenience, you can fill your trolley as normal through the site (and use the swap and save button to see if you can save by buying a different size or brand). A basket icon on the right hand side of the screen will show you the cost of the same shop at alternative supermarkets, so you can switch the whole lot over at the click of a button. And there's even a vouchers button you can use before you checkout to see if you can save more. The site claims that you'll save an average of £17 every time you shop using the site.

There are lots of voucher apps and websites out there, but one which is worth a look is vouchercloud. Whether you're shopping, eating out, going to the cinema or going for a drink with friends, you can use the location function of this app to find the best deals on offer near to where you are. 
This site has been around for a while, but remains a vital tool. You can search for the cheapest petrol in your area - or the area you are visiting - so you can pay less for your fuel without going out of your way. It's free to sign up and you get 20 free searches a week. There's also a PetrolPrices Pro app, so you can check prices when you're on the road.

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