Top Tips to keep the Household Bills Down

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A Brief History

On July 15, 1998, Statistics Canada said: “A household is generally defined as being composed of a person or group of persons who co-reside in, or occupy, a dwelling.”  Household bills can escalate quickly if they are not monitored correctly and it is an easy way to see your hard-earned pay cheque disappear faster than you would like it to. Household bills can include utilities like gas and electricity, food, TV, and your phone contracts to name but a few. A lot of these bills will just come off the bank account on a monthly basis and as a result, it is almost taken for granted and remains unchallenged; however, if you have a look at these bills in detail, there potentially could be some great opportunity to make a reduction in these that can be spent on other things. Below we have come up with some suggestions around this in order to save some pennies on your household bills.

Digging Deeper

Home Improvements

One of the biggest expenditures in the household bills is for heating. Specifically, in the colder winter periods, the monthly outgoings can really peak at an extraordinary rate. It is also sometimes hard to predict your current expenditure on this until the bill comes in therefore making it harder to control; however, there are two major changes to your home which you could make which might have a long-term effect of keeping your bills down.

The first is improving your home’s insulation. If you have wasted heat energy then you need to create more heat in order to compensate. This costs more money and could be the main source of the high bills. Keeping the heating contained in your home is not an easy task, especially if it is an old structure.

There are some companies that specialise in draught protection and can offer some really good, modern double-glazed windows and doors. Double-glazed doors and windows also have the added extra of keeping any sounds you hear from outdoors to a minimum and adding a bit of money to the value of your home overall (as this is something that potential buyers are keen on). You can find more information here.

Another thing you could try is solar panels. For some newer houses, you may find that these come as standard. The initial installation of solar panels could even be cheaper than you might think as the local states try to encourage homes to move forward with these as it has a massive impact in the energy use but also the environment. Even if you do not live in the sunniest of states, you can still get a benefit from these as they still work on cloudy days, just not as efficiently. If these are installed in your home, then you will not need to rely as much on external energy. There are many different installation companies specialising in this field in all US states that offer not only the initial installation but will run simulations for you to show potentially how much you will save in your regular energy bills.

Loyalty

Companies love to have customers loyal to them and for the privilege, they will sometimes acknowledge this loyalty by giving them some extra perks or gifts.  A lot of the time, this can include discounts on a bill. A perfect example of this is around your telephone bills. There are many suppliers that provide telephone lines and internet on separate deals; however, if you bulk this together and use the same company for both services then you may find that you save some money through a special bundle. If it is not immediately obvious, the potential savings that you could receive then the internet is an extremely powerful source of information – take a good browse at the different options. If you are struggling, you could always reach out directly to providers can offer directly.

If some companies do not immediately offer discounts to you, you can always ask. You do not have to stay with one company forever and if you have been with them for many years then they should recognise your loyalty and give you some sort of perk or freebie if you ask. This will not work all the time but there are different limits that agents can go to in order to make sure that the customers are respected and feel appreciated. Threatening to go elsewhere might not always have the right effect but you might be able to get a little extra offered to make you stay.

Shop Around

Think about going elsewhere. Although people expect loyalty to be appreciated, there are a few companies that will see you are loyal with them and discretely continue to raise your bill in the hope that you will not move. Moving to another energy company may seem like a hassle and as a result, many people do not want to go through this process but making the move is not as difficult as you would imagine.

There are many energy comparison websites that will offer you support on this.  When you insert your rough annual use of energy and the area that you live in, these sites will then give you options as to tariffs and companies in your area and the monthly rates. If you choose one of these companies then what will normally happen is that they will give your current energy provider, the appropriate notice period for you and will transfer your account to them within a set period (normally 30 days). If you have any outstanding bills with your current provider, then the transfer cannot happen, and this will require to be settled first.

Food Bills

It is extremely easy for homeowners to get stuck into a big spender mode when they are in supermarkets.  Whether it is BOGOF offers or weekly promotions, supermarkets do their utmost to make sure that they get customers to part with as much cash as possible on their visits.  The weekly bill for some people when they are shopping is therefore unpredictable as they manage to get sucked in by the supermarkets and purchase a lot of additional items that may not even be needed!  There are a few tips here that can help you get the weekly shopping bills down

Firstly, you could try online shopping. As it is now 2019 – we use the internet for everything! Why not use it to get your weekly shop?  This is a great disciplined way to keep the spending down although there will still be promotions advertised by the supermarket that you will need to avoid. Doing the shopping online will also allow you to make online comparisons for any product that you are considering purchasing to ensure that you are getting good value for money. Once you have created a purchase online, you can also save this to your favourites so that the next time you go online to that specific supermarket, you do not have to go round the full store again.

If you must go to the store in person then master the art of shopping lists. Not many people do this anymore but if you create a shopping list in advance of you heading out to the stores, you are then far more likely to just purchase what you need rather than go in with a blank head and place everything in the trolley.

Buying supermarket bottom shelf own-brand items can sometimes be controversial. People like to think that if they are purchasing the more expensive item on the shelf then they are paying for good quality. In some instances, this may be the case however not in all cases. There are many products that are of the similar quality for own-brand in comparison to the more expensive brands. There has been a lot of research on this though and you should always read the labelling. Some studies have shown that a lot of the own brand items are created using cheaper ingredients and can also have far more calories or fats contained in the end product.

Finally, check out the store’s loyalty card scheme. You should not use your loyalty card for any supermarket as a reason to shop there as these promotions are usually limited. Nonetheless, if a store is offering you a loyalty card for shopping there, you should snap this up and ensure that every time you go there, you present this. This could lead to a reduction in your bill or an accumulation of points that could go towards some other extras or perks.

Start Analysing Today

Looking at your energy bills can be a little depressing but there is always something you can do to shave the costs down. Whether you need to look into improvements to your home or just ways to spend your money a bit better, there is always something which you can do. Sit down with your personal accounts today and try to identify some places where you can make some savings. It might seem like hard work at the beginning, but it will be worth it when you have more of a disposable income to spend.

Question for students (and subscribers): How much are your monthly household bills?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Gibson, Joel.  KILL BILLS!: The 9 Insider Tricks You’ll Need to Win the War on Household Bills.  Simon & Schuster Australia, 2019.

The featured image in this article, a graph by Jasendorf of the Median US Household Income encompassing all the years for which data is available from the US Census, has been released into the public domain worldwide by the copyright holder of this work.

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“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland