How to save yourself money as we head into 2017
- Credit: Archant
James Walker, founder of consumer advice firm Resolver gives his top tips to save money for 2017.
As 2016 draws to a close and we start making resolutions for the New Year, there's little doubt that the last 12 months have been full of surprises. From the impact of Brexit to bank closures on the high street, many of the people I speak to around the UK are taking stock of the previous year and planning ahead when it comes to their finances.
Whatever 2017 has in store, the good news is there are lots of rules, regulations and legislation that can help you if you need to make a complaint. From parking fees to pet insurance.
Here are my top tips from the last 12 months to keep handy, just in case...
Write it down. It might seem like a bit of a faff, but keeping notes or details of a complaint or a problem is really important. Firstly, it doesn't need to be a chore. Put the kettle on, grab a seat and spend five minutes jotting down all you can remember about the situation you're unhappy with. Many of us get angry and frustrated on the phone when we can't get across what we're unhappy with. Putting your thoughts in order will help you get your points across more effectively. Keep copies of everything you send or receive, and when you made phone calls and who you spoke to.
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Switch your energy provider in the Summer. When the heating goes off, there's a period when your energy bills start to stabilise and you're more likely to be in credit. This means it's easier to switch providers and you can cash in your credits too. Research by uSwitch in 2016 showed 11 million British households were in credit to their energy suppliers, with 1 in 10 having more than £200 ready to be refunded. You can ask for this to be refunded – it's your cash. But make sure you give regular meter readings – you don't want your bills to rocket due to miscalculations by the energy company.
Delays can pay. It's been a year of frustration for many commuters. But don't let that anger at delays and cancellations go unchanneled – you're likely to be entitled to a refund and it's really not complicated. The rules are a little different for trains, planes and tubes but the fact is you may be missing out on cash you're entitled to claim back when delays darken your day.
Know your broadband speed. There are lots of online apps and checkers that allow you to test your broadband speed to see if it comes close to what was promised when you signed up. The law isn't great on this – the broadband provider only has to deliver 10 per cent of the advertised speed – but if the provider has signed up to Ofcom's Code of Practice then it must give you an estimated speed of what you will actually receive. Keep screenshots and you can negotiate your bill with your provider or use it to get out of your contract if you're not getting what you were promised.
Payday loan payback. Complaints about payday lenders tripled in 2016, as publicity about the unacceptable practices of some lenders became more widely known. If you've had to turn to a payday lender and got in to difficulties, it can be hard to admit it or ask for help. Anyone can find themselves in financial difficulties rapidly when money gets tight, so don't blame yourself. If you were forced to 'roll over' loans or borrow from other lenders to pay off existing loans you've got the right to make a complaint and you may be entitled to compensation for the way you've been treated.
Strip back your insurance. Your insurance may cover you for every eventuality, but do you really need to be paying out for optional extras you'll likely never use? Do you really need your car keys or satnav covered? Is it worth paying to protect £100,000 of home contents, when your actual goods are worth much less?
Keep calm and carry on. My final, and most important piece of advice is when complaining is to keep calm and carry on. State your case politely, clearly and simply – and don't take no for an answer.
James Walker is the founder of consumer rights firm Resolver.