Save Money, Save Energy
Before I can start my Summer planning I like to sort out our household bills and accounts to see if any savings can be made – this is something I encourage people to do annually and if you have your copy of our free e-book you may have already started. Utilities is always a good place to start as the market is very open, but most of us are too lazy or busy to regularly change our accounts to new suppliers. This often results in being automatically moved on to a Standard Variable Tariff at the end of your contract – which can be costly. This post has been sponsored by ENGIE, and written by Mrs F x
I was surprised (and pleased) to learn that ENGIE have made a promise to always move customers onto their cheapest comparable tariff available when their contract ends. They have called this their Rate Rollover Promise. We worked with ENGIE on Clean Air Day and were impressed by their attitude towards customers and the environment.
The Rate Rollover Promise rewards their loyal customers by always making sure they are on the cheapest comparable tariff that ENGIE offer – rather than keeping low rates only for new customers. I found this a refreshing attitude as so many companies do not reward loyalty, and I usually encourage people to change their suppliers often. This promise could mean you no longer need to keep changing; but can stick with a company that value your custom.
Did you know when your fixed term contract ends most suppliers just automatically move you onto their Standard Variable Tariff (SVT)?
This is not likely to be the cheapest option – and you will be paying that rate until you actively move your account or request to change onto a better rate. It’s up to you to be on top of all these dates and agreements… which isn’t easy if you are also trying to keep other plates spinning!
When you sign up to a supplier it’s normal to go with a fixed term price for 12 or 18 months, this is great as both you and the company can plan what is going in and out – however if you don’t keep an eye on when that fixed amount is coming to an end you can suddenly find your bills have changed.
The SVT is a variable amount, so it can go up and down making it hard to estimate your bills. This is an industry standard figure, and many people are paying more than they need to for the same supply as they haven’t checked if there is a cheaper rate available.
As accounts are usually charged by the unit of electricity or gas, avoiding an SVT could make a huge difference to your bill. A recent study commissioned by ENGIE has found that millions of British families could save an average of £121 a year off their energy bills if their provider switched them to the cheapest available tariff rather than the Standard Variable Tariff. That could be a considerable saving for a family, and is why policies such as ENGIE’s Rate Rollover Promise can be so beneficial.
Checking and potentially changing your utility companies is a really important way to keep on top of your finances; and could save you a significant amount of money. Once you are in the habit of looking at the largest bills like gas and electricity you can start to review other regular outgoings like:
• phone packages
• internet charges
• tv costs
• clubs and activities
It’s important to feel in control of your outgoings, to know how much and when the money leaves your account so you don’t have any nasty surprises, and most importantly you can start to plan ahead.
One way to make this sometimes boring or frustrating process more fun is to have a sliding scale of what you will do with any savings you make…
If we save £50 we will…
If we save £100 we will…
If we save £150 we will…
When did you last check your monthly outgoings?
We are so excited about this year here at Frugal HQ – we have been making lots of plans, some of which are too far fetched… but some are going to be actually real!! There is much more work to be done before we can share them, but to get us going for the year, if you are just starting out on your ethically frugal life, or want to up your game quickly – here are five really easy things you can do RIGHT NOW to get you into your frugal groove:
1. Check Your Utilities –
You should really make this part of your monthly or annual plan. More details are in our FREE e-book, but you should be shopping around to get the best deal on your gas and electricity (longer term you should be checking/changing all your regular household bills). We use Switchcraft as they do all the work for us! You just sign up, and then they email you before your current deal ends and give you the best choices to move to – no more forms after that initial sign up. You can specify if you only want to deal with the big energy suppliers, or just green or whatever you feel comfortable with. If you use this link we get a bit of a commission, and £5 of that we give to Charity: Water x.
2. List What You Need –
Grab a bit of paper or your phone, and start a list of what physical items you actually need in an average week or month. Then add in special or unusual things like birthday gifts. Then check in with the rest of the family and add their items. You can now have fun finding as many of these items as you can from:
- what you already have – make do and mend, repurpose, upcycle etc.
- what you can make for yourself – cards, gifts, washing powder?
- what you can get on free cycle sites, from friends, skips, schwooping etc.
- what you can actually do without when you think about it, or do less often
- what you can ask someone else to get for you – e.g. as a treat, favour, in exchange for babysitting…
- what you can find in a deal, coupon, voucher, special offer
You will then be left with the items you need to buy, at full price and can make that part of your budget (you have a budget right?). If you know what you are looking for to cover the year, you can make better use of deals and discounts.
3. Sell Unwanted Stuff –
After you have listed what you need, and had a good rummage in the cupboards and shed to find things, you are likely to have also come across lots of things you don’t need/want/like/fit and now is the time to get rid of them. You can sell them, give them away, or swap them but clutter isn’t good for ethically frugal living and it’s not good for your mental health either so start working through it gently. If you can re-gift things to cover some of the items from no. 2 above then do so – just remember to keep a list of who gave it to you before you give it to someone else, this can also be useful if you need to donate to school raffles and other events during the year.
4. Assess the Leftovers –
You can have a cheap food shop in much of January by being more aware of what you already have in the cupboards and freezer and odd tins around the house that you got in the mad dash for Christmas. By using up those leftovers carefully and only buying the additional things you need you should be back on track very quickly. You need to be willing to have a few ‘odd’ meals and we call them UFO’s (Unidentified Frozen Objects), but it’s all for a good cause – YOU!
5. Start Meal Planning –
If you don’t do this already, or stopped bothering for a bit get back in the habit of planning what you and the family are doing for the week and only buy what you need to cover those meals. Remember with back to school you may need to add in lunch box items or after school snacks. We find in the Winter we do eat differently, so get in lots of cheap veg and make up soups! Think about where and when you shop, and also moving ‘down’ towards the value brands on some items. January is a good month to start new habits and start as you mean to go on.
Our theme for this month is to Start Something – January is a great time to gather energy and ideas for the year ahead. Keep in touch using the form below to get inspiration delivered to your inbox throughout 2018 xx