10 Savvy Ways To…Boost Your Bank Balance

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When was the last time you were in the black? And, no, we don’t mean that LBD you wore on Saturday. Times are tough: the average debt of an adult in the UK is $45 and 318 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt every day. But, you don’t have to give up the good life to be cash-savvy. Follow our top tips to ensure the red zone doesn’t become your permanent residence.

1.    Open An Isa

If you do one thing, make it this. ‘The first savings product that any tax payer should have is a cash ISA ,’ says HSBC’s Melissa Jobson. An ISA (individual savings account) provides favourable tax benefits and is a great way to boost your savings. ‘They’re simple and accessible,’ says Melissa. Talk to your bank to find the best one for you.

Description: Boost your bank balance

Boost your bank balance

2.    Learn To Negotiate

While some prices are set in stone (loo paper, for example), others – like a phone contract – have some wiggle room. And if an item is damaged (think a jammed zip or make-up stains), you can often get money off to compensate – just ask. ‘Speak to a manager as they have more authority to negotiate,’ tips money-saving expert Andrea Woroch

3.    Shop Around

Money-comparison websites like www.gocompare.com are a real godsend – use them! ‘Nothing can save you as much as shopping around,’ says Des Toups, senior managing editor at www.carinsurance.com. And don’t just use this approach for ‘serious’ purchases like insurance. Countless sites, such as www.kelkoo.co.uk and www.pricerunner.co.uk, will compare prices from different retailers of anything from TVs to clothes and sofas to DVDs, so it pays to do your research. ‘These sites make it easy to compare prices for any product you’re shopping for, ’

Description: ‘Nothing can save you as much as shopping around,’ says Des Toups

‘Nothing can save you as much as shopping around,’ says Des Toups

4.    Master Your Kitchen

‘People blow a lot of money on dining out and pre-prepared foods,’ says Andrea. If you want to save some cash forth at Mulberry bag, hot new dress or fancy gym membership, it’s time to pull out the pots and pans. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes to your bottom line. ‘If time is an issue,’ Andrea says, ‘spend one night a week preparing a large meal so you can eat the left overs for lunch during the week or for a quick dinner after work.’

5.    Get Automated

Keep coming up short at the end of each month? Luke Landes, founder and editor-in-chief of www.consumerismcommentary. com, recommends setting up an automatic transfer from your everyday funds into a savings account.

‘Arrange for money to come out ever y pay day,’ he tips.

‘This is the easiest way to ensure you boost your bank balance without even thin king about it.’

6.    Take The Sting Out Of Your Bills

Reduce the groan factor when you open those dreaded bills. ‘Take shorter showers and wash your clothes in cold water,’ suggests Andrea. Dry your clothes on a rack or line, and if you must use your tumble dryer, ‘Do one load right after another to maximise the built-up heat,’ advises personal finance expert Laura Adams (www.lauradadams.com). She also suggests cooking with a microwave as they use up to 50 per cent less energy than a conventional oven. To lower your electricity bill by as much as five per cent, try this simple tip from Andrea: ‘Plug your appliances into a multi-socket extension lead and, when it’s not in use, switch it off. ’ Done!

Description: Take the sting out of your bills

Take the sting out of your bills

7.    Make Your Plastic Fantastic

‘Approach shopping for a credit card like you would any other important purchase,’ says Curtis Arnold, editor-in-chief of www.cardratings.com. Do your research, compare terms and conditions and figure out how you’re going to use your card. ‘If you plan to carry a balance and not pay it off in full every month, look for a low-rate card,’ advises Curtis. If you’re more interested in perks (American Express offers air miles, for example) then search out a card with a reward system that really suits your lifestyle.

8.    Hunt For Coupons

There’s no shame in a good coupon these days! ‘Coupons aren’t just for the supermarket,’ says Andrea. ‘You can find them for travel, electronics, clothing, health and beauty items, entertainment, restaurants and much more.’ Sign up to websites like www.wahanda.com, www.wowcher.co.uk and www.livingsocial.com to be emailed coupons and deals daily. Before you buy anything – both online and in-store – do a quick Google search of the shop or website’s name plus ‘coupon’ to see what pops up.

9.    Avoid Impulse Buying

Yes, it’s fun to imagine you’re on Supermarket Sweep but your bank balance will suffer if you don’t take stock of what you’re, er, stocking up on. ‘Shop with a list,’ suggests Andrea, and ditch the big trolley. ‘A basket fits less and gets heavy quickly , so you’re more aware of what you’re putting into it,’ she says. Luke also suggests asking yourself, ‘Is this something I really need?’ Getting into the habit of pausing before you pay will give you a new perspective that will bolster your piggy bank in the long term.

10. Get Smart With Insurance

The higher your deductible s, the lower your monthly insurance payments will be. ‘Review all your policies at least once a year,’ advises Laura. ‘Sit down with an insurance broker to see where you can afford to cut back, but still have adequate coverage.’

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