Christmas is coming, and there are plenty of ways in which to ensure that it’s just the goose and not your overdraft that gets fat.
When was the last time you reviewed your mortgage? Chances are, you’ve come off your competitive fixed rate deal and gone onto your lender’s less attractive standard variable rate (SVR), which is why now’s the perfect time to reassess your current financial situation and needs.
Use online mortgage calculators to compare your monthly mortgage repayments on your current deal compared with what could they be with a new lender.
Of course, calculating future repayments, based on your down payments to date, can be tricky. But fear not: your local estate agent can refer you to their mortgage adviser to help with the number crunching to let you crack on with all that present buying.
A review of your insurance policies could also save you money. Your local estate agent should also be able to refer you to one of their approved, qualified insurance intermediary partners to help assess, for example, your household and buildings insurance policy needs.
At the same time, review your car and health insurance to ensure you’re on the most competitive rates. There is a wide range of online comparison sites to help you consider your options.
A review of your utility bills is essential, given recent utility rate hikes. Are you receiving the most competitive service and price in your area?
Of course, you can
tackle utility costs with some common sense approaches. In terms of
heating, check your home to ensure that your expensive heat is not
escaping through ill-fitting windows and doors, and consider your use of
appliances to minimise electrical costs.
Similarly, water bills can easily be minimised by ensuring that every washing cycle you do is full of clothes and not just your favourite top you want for Friday night on the town. Also consider your water usage in the garden and for washing windows and the car.
Meanwhile, there are a number of tax breaks available if you’re a home-based worker, so either contact your accountant to ensure that you are getting them or HM Revenue & Customs to find out exactly what you’re entitled to.
Homeowners who’ve been forced to move out of London for more space and who now commute to work each day should ensure that they are travelling in the most cost effective way. An assessment of their journey and the travel options should balance the costs associated with driving, such as road tax, insurance and fuel costs, with, for example, train travel.
It is also worth considering how you shop for groceries. Is driving five miles to the nearest supermarket giant really that cost effective when you can receive a home delivery for as low as £1.99? And in terms of supermarket choice, the major players are competing furiously on price in the run up to Christmas, so be sure to shop around.
But irrespective of its running costs, as you’re sitting among family and friends enjoying your well-deserved banquet, consider the extent to which your current home really meets your needs, or whether 2013 is the year in which you make your next move, wherever that may be.