James Walker of Resolver: This 15-minute workout could save you hundreds of pounds
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Now that the sun has finally come out and it feels like spring has actually started, I usually come up with some new tips on spring-cleaning your finances.
First though, we need to tackle the one job many of us dread: going through the bank statements.
If you're worried you've overspent or are in denial about your overstretched budget, I totally understand.
The vast majority of us hate 'doing the banking'. But ignoring the problem makes it worse.
So grit your teeth, grab a drink and set aside 15 minutes. You might even end up with more cash. Here's how:
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• Take a look at your direct debits and standing orders.
You can get a list from your bank or find them through your online banking.
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Recognise everything? Huge numbers of people are paying for old insurance policies, charity donations, magazine subscriptions and more. Cancel anything you don't need.
• Don't recognise a debit?
Make a complaint. Some old insurance policies might still be lurking in your regular payments and it's not always obvious what they are.
Look at the name of the recipient firm and even if it isn't clear who it is, type it in to a search engine and see what comes up.
If you're still not finding the firm name, check that all your other regular payments are being made and cancel it with your bank.
• Beware free trials
Lots of Resolver users have been caught out by free trial scams. One of the most common is for moisturiser or other beauty products (usually from the US).
The scams work by sending your small samples as part of the 'trial' then sending you the products themselves when the free period ends. They then hit you with (often huge) charges.
Dispute this through your bank and ask them to recall the money and block further payments. You'll need to email the firm and ask them for an address and postal method to return the goods.
• Watch out for digital subscriptions
Many people are forking out for duplicate 'cloud' internet storage services, music or film streaming sites and 'premium' delivery services from retailers.
You don't need more than one cloud storage for your music and photos – and a hard drive is always a good back up if something goes wrong. Ask yourself how often you use the streaming services and if they're value for money.
• Bank accounts
Over 200,000 people have used Resolver to reclaim charges for packaged bank accounts they never wanted or agreed to.
Packaged bank accounts are standard accounts 'packaged' with extras, like travel or mobile phone insurance.
Some are really good, but lots of people were signed up despite not wanting them. It's not too late to make a complaint if you're still being charged.
• Check the detail
Take a detailed look at your transactions for the last few months. But then skim back a year.
Some businesses use a form of debit called a 'continuous payment authority' to take money off your debit or credit card.
If you haven't agreed to this, make a complaint. Banks have to cancel these payments as soon as you tell them to – you don't need to go to the other company (unless you do have a contract with them).
• Check your travel costs
You can claim refunds for delays on plane and train journeys. It's dead easy to do this – and you can go back up to six years for airline delays over three hours.
Check out Resolver's free claim app – and don't pay a claims manager to do it for you!
Resolver can help you make a complaint about anything from bank refunds to dodgy retailers – and it only takes a few minutes.
• James Walker is the founder of Resolver.co.uk