35m overpay for utilities – don’t be one of them! | moneyfacts.co.uk

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Published: 17/02/2017
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What was the last time you checked your utility bills? If you just automatically pay what you owe each month without making sure you're on the best deal, you could be paying far too much without even realising. The same applies with things like savings and pensions – inertia could cost you, so it's time to take action!

Rising apathy

Research from Experian found that over 35 million people in Britain could be paying more than they should for utilities and "inappropriate financial products", with many failing to switch to the best deals, while others don't put enough aside for their pension or fail to act soon enough.

Indeed, an average of 37.36% of respondents have never switched financial products – this rises to 57.21% in London, while in the North, just 30.04% of people have switched. Experian calls all this an invisible tax on inertia, so the message is to get engaged with your finances!

Be a savvy switcher

The research went on to reveal that those who embrace digital possibilities are more likely to switch (and save money in the process), with things like online comparisons tools being a great way to really highlight how much could be saved.

But problems remain when people are already struggling to make ends meet. For example, an estimated 6 million households in Britain have no savings whatsoever, while others look elsewhere for financial input, with 1 million households having received a loan or financial gift from a family member. Another 423,000 rely on unauthorised overdrafts or payday loans, which can have worrying long-term consequences.

So what can you do? The key is to start taking control of your finances and look for ways to improve things, be it through taking stock of your budget and looking for ways to make savings, or by comparing utility providers and adding to your pension pot.

After all, "as technology has advanced, switching products is now relatively fuss-free," said Charlotte Nelson, finance expert at Moneyfacts. "When it comes to financial products loyalty does not pay, so those who stick around are often on the worst deals." So don't put up with it! Charlotte has outlined a few top tips to help you get back on track and find better deals, which could hopefully save you plenty of cash in the process.

Top tips to seek better financial products

  • Assess your situation. To get the whole picture, sit down and work out what financial products you have, what you are paying for and whether you owe any money. Go through your bank statement carefully – you might be surprised at what you're paying for without even realising! This is a great opportunity to set a budget and see if you can save some cash, such as by cancelling that gym membership or TV subscription you no longer take advantage of.

  • Shop around. Look at the best utility deals on the market to see if what you currently have is the same, better or worse than what else is out there. You may have signed up to your current contract a while ago, so it makes sense to check.

  • Contact your provider. If you've found better prices elsewhere, let your current provider know that you're considering a move and they may be able to offer you something better. After all, providers don't want to lose your business, and they may lower their own prices in order to keep you. Haggling could well pay off, and if you don't ask, you'll never know!

  • Don't be frightened to switch. Haven't been offered a better deal by your current provider? Loyalty rarely pays, and with switching a relatively pain-free process, you should vote with your feet and move.

  • Review deals regularly. Set time aside once a year to review all your current bills and financial products to ensure you're still getting the best deal. This should include things like savings accounts, particularly if you're on a variable rate deal or had a bonus added for a set period, because your rate could have dropped in the meantime.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you are struggling financially, organisations such as the Citizen's Advice Bureau are there to help.

Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time. Links to third parties on this page are paid for by the third party. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting their site. Moneyfacts.co.uk will receive a small payment if you use their services after you click through to their site. All information is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions. This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

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