Purse Strings: Families are forking out nearly £4,000 more a year on household expenses than we were just over a year ago, but there are ways to save on the basics, says Kara Gammell in Telegraph Wonder Women's weekly money advice column.
Do you feel like your salary just doesn’t go as far as it used to? If you feel like your cash is leaving your account the minute you get paid, your instincts are right.
Figures out this week show that families are forking out nearly £4,000 more a year on household expenses than we were just over a year ago. This is not from splashing out on holidays in the sunshine or being a bit too quick to click ‘Buy’ on Net-a-porter. Oh no, this is the money we are spending on putting food on the table, keeping our homes warm and getting ourselves to work. This extra cash is not going on luxury items, it’s just paying for the basic staples of life.
= Paying more and more for the same things =
According to the latest Aviva Family Finances Report, our household expenses have gone up by £3,972 a year compared to what we were spending in November 2011. The research has shown that typical family’s monthly outgoings are now £1,819 and while each one of your bills, whether it is transport, food or energy may only be rising by about £20-£30 each month, it quickly adds up. And after several years of price increases, I don’t know about you, but it's starting to get annoying.
I am sure that I'm like most women across the country and I'm the one who takes care of the household bills . So I doubt I'm the only one fed up with paying more and more for the very same things I bought last year.
So, why not take steps to try to reduce your bills? You still need work for a living and eat three meals a day, so why not try to spend less on the things you can’t really do without?
If you spend a fortune on your train travel to the office, it makes financial sense to try to earn cash back.
= Use crafty technology to earn cash back on your travel costs =
With Santander’s 123 credit card , you can earn 3pc cash back on National Rail and Transport for London tickets on spends up to £300 a month - and the savings can soon add up. For instance if you commute from Brighton to London Victoria with a monthly ticket, you will spend around £339 each month. But buy it with Santander’s card and you could earn £10 a month in cash back. Over the year, this could mean an extra £120 in your pocket. It might not save you a fortune, but can definitely soften the blow of rising fares.
Travel on the underground? You can claim for delayed tube journeys.
If you are travel on the tube, you could save even more if you sign up for website claimmyrefund.co.uk . This site identifies and submits refund applications for delayed tube journeys for Oyster cardholders within the two-week claim limit set by Transport for London (TfL).
The crafty technology will check all your journeys and identify those that qualify for a refund, process the information required, finally submitting each one on your behalf. You will receive an email each time a claim is made and the money is sent to you in the form of a TfL voucher. However, bear in mind that it costs £2 to join and DLR, rail and bus journeys are excluded.
= Supermarket sweep =
Another area where we keep shelling out more for less is with our food shopping. According to Aviva, the monthly cost of groceries has increased from £254 in November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) 2011 up to £273 today. While that might not seem a lot at first glance, this price increase could mean you are £230 out of pocket this year.
An easy way to save is to choose your supermarket wisely - and it can pay to switch it up. Website mysupermarket.com claims it can help you save one-fifth from the cost of your weekly food shop. This site allows you to size up prices at different supermarkets, including Waitrose, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDY - news) and Asda. Not only will it compare the cost of your trolley in all five supermarkets, it allows you to buy the items from their cheapest source at the click of a mouse.
Add to your savings and opt for supermarket own-label brands and shave as much as 20pc off your normal spend. But, I know what you are thinking, and no, buying cheaper supermarket own-brands need not mean scrimping on taste. Visit website supermarketownbrandguide.co.uk, which reviews more than 10,000 products at stores such as Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer.
It might not seem like a lot of cash at first, but by shaving a few pounds off each of your household bills, you can easily take the sting out of rising prices.
Telegraph Wonder Women wants to hear what's on your mind when it comes to money. Are you perplexed by pensions, enraged by energy bills or confused by child care costs? Email your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Purse Strings' in the subject line and we'll consider including them in future columns.