DAD-OF-THREE Joseph Seager managed to save nearly £3,400 a year by cutting his subscriptions, switching shops and selling unwanted stuff.
By making a number of small changes, he’s managed to lower his household bills by thousands and have enough money left over to save towards family holidays.
Joseph, 35, who started the money saving blog Thrifty Chap back in 2016, lives in Lancashire with his wife and three kids.
The Sun spoke to the savvy saver to get his tips on how to make your money go further, tackle debts and be thousands of pounds better off.
Cut subscriptions – save £1,200
Joseph said standing orders and direct debits ”quickly add up”, and if you don’t cancel them, you could be needlessly out of pocket.
He’s saved around £700 a year by cancelling Netflix, Spotify and other memberships like BritBox and Disney+ too.
Instead, he watches old DVDs if he fancies watching a film, or watches normal television.
But if you’re desperate to see a show that everyone is talking about and don’t want to fork out for a membership, you can bag discounts on streaming services – or get a free trial – if you sign up to company newsletters.
“I got two months for the price of one on Netflix last year, so I paid £10 to watch all the shows I missed out on, like Tiger King, and then cancelled my subscription,” Joseph said.
“Make sure to look out for free trials companies are offering – sign up and then immediately cancel so you don’t end up paying for it when the trial ends.”
Although he’s never joined a gym, Joseph said you could save an extra £480 by cancelling your membership and exercising for free instead.
“I’ve never been to a gym, but I used to go to my local running club a couple of times a week for free before Covid hit last year,” he said.
“I exercise instead by walking and hiking around the West Pennine Moors and Lake District, which are both near where I live – and it’s all free!”
In total, that means you could potentially save £1,200 a year by axing subscriptions and gym memberships – enough for a “pretty good holiday”, Joseph said.
Switch supermarkets – save £1,900
If you’re in a hurry or you’re not keen on travelling to a cheaper supermarket, you might be tempted to pop into a closer – but more expensive – shop for your groceries.
But shopping at more pricey stores can hit your bank balance.
Joseph said he’s saved up to a whopping £40 a week – roughly £1,900 a year – on his food bill by switching to cheaper shops like Aldi and Lidl.
“When it was lockdown last year, we were using Asda or Tesco’s click and collect service for our weekly food shop,” he said.
“I was shocked to see we were spending around £100 a week.
“By switching to cheaper shops, we knocked this down to around £60, saving us £40 a week.”
How to cut your bills
IF you’re struggling financially, you might be able to cut the cost of your bills to help you get out of the red.
Council tax: You can apply for a council tax reduction on the Gov.uk website but you'll need to meet certain criteria. Your bill could be cut by as much as 100 per cent if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Carers who look after someone in the household for at least 35 hours a week are also exempt from paying.
Water: Households might be able to save money by getting a water meter but it all depends on how much you're using. To check if it's finacially worthwhile, use the Consumer Council for Water's free ater meter calculator.
Rent: If you have the space available and your landlord or local authority says it's ok to do so, you might want to consider getting a flatmate. Not only will you split the cost of the rent, but also the other bills.
Hire purchase: If you're struggling to make your repayments on your hire purchase, you can usually end the contract by returning the goods. You will have to pay all the instalments due up to the time you end the agreement but this will limit the amount you owe. Contact Citizens Advice for free for more help with this.
Gas and electricty: MoneySavingExpert says families can save £330 on average by switching from Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs) to a better rate. Use a comparison site such as MoneySuperMarket or Energyhelpline to see what deals are available.
Mortgage: If you get into debt with your mortgage payments, don't wait for your lender to chase you. Work out what you can afford using the Citizens Advice budgeting tool so you can discuss your payment options moving forward with your mortgage provider.
Secured Loan: Your secured loan might be covered by the Consumer Credit Act and if it is, you may be able to apply for a Time Order. This is a special agreement by the courts allowing you more time to make payments. Secured loans not covered by the Consumer Credit Act include gas, electricity or water meters, payments that need to be written off in full, mortgages, credit union loans, loans from an employer and some short term trade agreements.
County Court Judgements: If you receive a County Court claim form talk to a free debt advice service straight away. This includes Citizens Advice (0808 800 9060), StepChange (0800 138 1111) and the National Debtline (0808 808 4000).
TV licence: Some households are eligible for a reduced fee or free TV Licence. Check here to see if you are entitled to a reduced or free rate.
He said ditching big brands for supermarket’s own ranges could help you save even more.
“Buying Kellogg's Cornflakes could cost you £2.89, but Asda’s own brand cornflakes cost a fraction of this at 80p,” he said.
“And while Warburtons Toastie bread is £1.10, Sainsbury’s version is 55p.
“The money saved could be directed to other areas of your life, including your savings account.”
Sell your clutter – £300
Flogging unwanted clothes, books, old Christmas gifts or even furniture you don’t need could make you hundreds of pounds better off.
Joseph said he pockets around £300 a year by doing a clear out and selling items online.
He uses Facebook Marketplace and Vinted to flog his bits for free and only uses eBay to sell more niche items as the online auction site takes a cut of any items you sell.
“Selling a few little bits can add up,” he said. “I've previously sold a broken TV for £25 and a broken vacuum cleaner for £30.”
He said he usually does a clearout around four times a year, especially in the run up to Christmas.
This is because he finds people will often buy second hand stuff online and give them to others as Christmas presents.
He said quality kids toys can “make a mint”, especially if the item is no longer available to buy in shops.
“You can clear space in your home and de-clutter the chaos – while giving you more money to pop away for a rainy day,” he said.
Transfer Your Debt
Unfortunately, if you’re strapped for cash, it can be easier to slip into debt.
Although Joseph hasn’t been in debt himself, he’s picked up tips to help him keep his finances on track and avoid owing money.
He said that you can avoid racking up expensive interest fees on money you owe by switching your debt to a 0% balance transfer card.
These types of money transfer credit cards allow you to move over debts you already owe onto a new card, and you won't pay interest on this amount for a set period.
After this, lenders will typically charge you between 15% and 20% interest – so you’ll need to make sure you pay your debt off in time otherwise you'll be whacked with high rates.
How to cut the cost of your debt
IF you’re in large amounts of debt it can be really worrying. Here are some tips from Citizens Advice on how you can take action.
Check your bank balance on a regular basis – knowing your spending patterns is the first step to managing your money
Work out your budget – by writing down your income and taking away your essential bills such as food and transport
If you have money left over, plan in advance what else you’ll spend or save. If you don’t, look at ways to cut your costs
Pay off more than the minimum – If you’ve got credit card debts aim to pay off more than the minimum amount on your credit card each month to bring down your bill quicker
Pay your most expensive credit card sooner – If you have more than one credit card and can’t pay them off in full each month, prioritise the most expensive card (the one with the highest interest rate)
Prioritise your debts – If you’ve got several debts and you can’t afford to pay them all it’s important to prioritise them
Your rent, mortgage, council tax and energy bills should be paid first because the consequences can be more serious if you don't pay
Get advice – If you’re struggling to pay your debts month after month it’s important you get advice as soon as possible, before they build up even further
Groups like Citizens Advice and National Debtline can help you prioritise and negotiate with your creditors to offer you more affordable repayment plans
It’s also important to note that banks will charge you a fee – usually up to 4% – for transferring your debt, so make sure you factor this cost in as you might find you’re not saving as much as you think.
You can compare which 0% balance transfer card works out as the best deal for you by using comparison sites like Uswitch or Compare the Market.
“You can transfer your debt with a 0% balance transfer card and shift it somewhere with 0% interest for a certain amount of time,” he said.
“This means that instead of simply paying the interest, you have 12, 18 or maybe 24 months of 0% interest.
“So every pound you pay goes towards clearing the debt, not just clearing the interest.”
However, he said to check the conditions of setting up an account like this, and to make a note of when the 0% window runs out to avoid receiving a surprise bill.
“You'll save yourself paying loads of interest and actually start clearing your debt,” he added.
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