How to save £1,000 in a weekend
Wouldn't it be great if you were given a £1,000 windfall out of the blue? Maybe you could pay off that credit card or book a holiday.
But short of the appearance of a fairy godmother, it's unlikely to happen - unless you take charge and give the money to yourself, that is.
This bank holiday weekend, you should have plenty of time: we look at some simple savings you can make that could net you £1,000.
Shop around for utilities
The average UK household is spending £1,066 a year on energy - but it could be a lot less. On average, switching to a fixed rate deal can save around £200 a year. Check out a price comparison site such as Gocompare.com to find the best deal for you.
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TV, broadband and phone
Do you need all the services you're paying for? Services like Sky can cost a bomb, and you may not be watching much that you couldn't get cheaper - though Netflix or Amazon Prime - or even free. You could easily save £40 a month. Keep track of when your current deals are up, and phone shortly beforehand to try and negotiate a better deal - threatening to leave can work wonders.
Claim for children
Now that individuals earning over £50,000 aren't entitled to child benefit, many people aren't bothering to register - but this is a mistake. Putting in a claim automatically triggers National Insurance credits. And if you're on a low income or a single parent, you may be entitled to childcare tax credits.
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Roughly speaking, if there are at least as many bedrooms in your house as people, the chances are you'd be better off with a water meter - possibly saving hundreds of pounds a year. You can check out whether this would be the case for you, here.
It's not as dramatic, but it's easy to save hundreds of pounds a year by shopping around for your groceries, both by switching to cheaper brands and by comparing prices between supermarkets to find the best deal. Try making a shopping list at MySupermarket so you can easily find out where the best buys for you are each week.
Deal with your credit cards
New figures show that the average household now owes about £2,500 on cards, with more than three million people paying only the interest on their cards each month, so that the total debt never falls. Try switching all your balances to one card on a 0% deal - and then pay off what you owe as fast as you can. You could save a fortune in interest payments.
Cancel direct debits
Are you forking out for gym memberships, kids' computer games or other services that you never use? Check through your bank statements and see. It's important to look back for at least three months, as many direct debits are taken quarterly.
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Cancel product insurance
Whenever you buy an electrical item, from a washing machine to a PC, you're offered insurance - and it's rarely worth the money. It's generally much cheaper in the long run to just replace an item when it goes wrong, so cancel any unwanted insurance policies now.
Switch bank accounts
Many current accounts now reward you for saving, with some offering more interest than so-called deposit accounts. You may be able to get as much as 5% - or, at the least, a sign-up bonus.
Claim for your uniform
It's not widely known, but if you wear a uniform for work, you may be eligible for a tax rebate. If it's compulsory, and if you wash, repair or replace it, you may be able to reclaim tax of up to £60 per year - and it's backdatable for the last six years. MoneySavingExpert has more information here.