We keep on being told that the UK is in the grip of an austerity drive. The Government is making cuts wherever it can, companies are making sure they have no more staff than they absolutely need, and even the banks appear to be discouraging their customers from borrowing money to keep them in the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed.
So how can we join in with this new mission of spending as little as possible? Well, the first step may be to turn on the computer, and start searching. The online world has given customers huge amounts of opportunities to reduce their spending. Here are just a few options:
Music: Often, buying music digitally is cheaper than purchasing physical CDs, but there’s an even better option. Spotify allows users to listen to its library of millions of tracks for free by streaming them live over your internet connection. There are a number of different account options, and the free service limits you to a few hours a month, but at the very least you will have the chance to try before you buy, and limit your chances of purchasing a dud album. And if you’re the sort of person who buys a lot of music, then the company’s monthly subscription will probably be better for your wallet anyway.
Television and films: If you’re the sort of person who likes to buy box sets of the television series they can’t manage to watch when they are on, the likes of iPlayer – and the other services offered by other channels – could be a real money saver. While the BBC’s system only keeps most programmes online for a week, others – such as 4OD - has many series online for life. And if you only watch these programmes and not anything live, you can also cancel the license fee – you don’t need one unless you are watching live feeds. It’s worth making sure you have a fast broadband speed for this, as slower connections could lead to frustrating viewing.
Personal finance: Don’t take the first offer from your bank or insurance company, spend a few minutes online to see what other products – be it loans, savings, insurance or mortgages – are available and if they offer a better deal. Sites such as Moneysupermarket allow you to compare the market and see which provider comes up with the best deal. You can also check your electricity and gas bills are as low as they should be, through uSwitch.
Second hand: If you want a new pushchair or computer game, does it really need to be brand new? Would a second-hand version, that’s just as good but a fraction of the price, be equally suitable? Auction website eBay sells millions of items, and there’s always a bargain somewhere. And if you have some bits and pieces lying around that you no longer use, why not put them on the site and make yourself a few quid?
- associate article