BY ANDREW MCDONALD
LIVING costs are rising fast and predictions are they will worsen over coming months. This is, at least for the individual, uncontrollable. You can choose to worry about it but sadly any fretting is likely to be futile. That doesn’t mean just getting on with things is the best course to follow. Instead, direct efforts towards positive action which are within your influence.
The first thing you can do is look at your outgoings. Is there anything you can cut back on or remove entirely? Sometimes performing such a simple exercise can reveal we are paying for something which isn’t really needed. Do you watch the movie or sports channels enough to get value from them? Are you a heavy internet user or could you get away with a more basic plan?
Once you’ve exhausted that avenue, investigate whether you can change utility provider for any or all of your household necessities. It’s not unusual to find cheaper electricity, gas, oil, television, phone or internet suppliers which can knock hundreds off spending.
Once the term of a utility contract has expired, there are usually no penalties for switching to another company. Even if you are still apparently tied to a contractual period, very often there are clauses whereby you can end these terms immediately when prices rise substantially.
Do your own research when trying to find the better options. Sometimes companies try to entice you to remain with them, or switch to a favoured alternative, when better deals can be found elsewhere. In these days of fast internet, a quick online search will provide you with sites where you can compare all the offers available in your area at the click of a button.
The same is true with retail. Shop around. Prices of the same, or similar, products in one shop can be very different to those of another. Here too big savings can be made!
Be a smart consumer. Many of us love a nice coffee in the morning or glass of wine in the evening. Although espresso machines seem a big expense when you buy them, once you have one, you can make your own coffee for a tiny amount of the cost you would spend in a cafe. The same is true of other luxury products like alcohol. Buying from a shop is much cheaper, and there’s usually a much bigger range, than from a pub or restaurant. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself from time-to-time but when needs must, the clever shopper looks for alternatives. Making your own lunch saves a lot of money too compared to eating out every day.
Instead of spending time worrying about the uncontrollable, put your efforts into changing what you can. Concerning yourself with things outside your sphere of influence will end up costing you something far more valuable than money; your health. No amount of finance compensates for that so make protecting it your primary goal!