Someone take me by the hand & guide me through changing utilities/trimming finances

(18 Posts)
overthehillandroundthemountain Thu 14-Apr-16 07:10:40

Our bills are abnormally high shock Even the bank noticed! I've been too lazy/busy/worried to change supplier. Now is the time to bite the bullet smile

We have British Gas and a service care contract with them. The contract has come in very handy, but I don't know if it is still worth it.

PLEASE take me by the hand and help me look up the utilities. I see MSE being mentioned on here with various comparisons discussed but my head goes in a sort of blur fgrin (That's me wearing a dunce's hat, btw!)

Also telephone: we've tried changing from BT to something else...wish I remember what it was...but they were rubbish. Our jobs depend on phone and internet access and we need hugely reliable providers for both. Is there anyone as reliable as BT but cheaper for the phone line? Can we keep BT for the internet without having their phoneline?

Sorry for stupid questions. I haven't looked into this stuff since about 198-something, I'm sure they were selling shares to Sid back then...

The dog and insurance are next! House contents = cheapish anyway.

easterlywinds Thu 14-Apr-16 07:30:54

I would get yourself registered with Quidco, then use their browser to get quotes for various things. For many things you will get a good introductory price and cashbackon top. I do this every year for all utilities.
Once you have quotes you can always phone up your supplier and barter. I managed to get a good quote for sky earlier this year, cancelled my virgin package. Virgin then phoned me Back and reinstated my package for £25 a month instead of the previous £60.
I don't mess with pet insurance. I use petplan because they are good whereas I know people who have had policies cancelled, or policies just aren't comparable.

Savagebeauty Thu 14-Apr-16 07:39:13

Go to Uswitch. They will do all the changing over for you. I went with First Utility a year ago and gave saved £1600 on gas/ electricity. I still have B Gas home care..I pay £19 a month and to me it's money well spent.
The boiler needed a new circuit board a couple of months ago a d that would have cost about £700.
It's peace of mind for the cost of a lunch out.
Virgin broadband is excellent... I need it for working from home and I've not had a problem.
Just saved £300 on contents insurance and £130 on car insurance.

overthehillandroundthemountain Thu 14-Apr-16 07:39:28

Thank you, Easterlywinds Why did I not think of Quidco before?! I used them for car insurance and halved it!

Do you do each utility separately? Presumably some of them have a dual fuel type thing. I hadn't thought about the bartering thing.

Great, huge thanks.

That is my concern about the pet insurance. I know PetPlan come up tops when a payout has been needed and our vet spoke highly of them. We've been fortunate so far but I'd rather keep paying for peace of mind. It does look on the high side, though...

overthehillandroundthemountain Thu 14-Apr-16 07:43:06

Savagebeauty Will also try Uswitch.

Are you tied in to accepting whoever they recommend? Wow, that is an amazing saving. Fantastic that you can keep the BGas home care thingy, I think it is brilliant and we've had similar stuff - agree, very worth it for a few quid a month.

Will look at Virgin broadband, too. May I ask how much you pay? Will compare with ours. I have a feeling that BT hiked up the price of our phone calls as I'm always getting emails saying "You've spent £1 on your phone calls" for about 5 mins' chat.

Did you use Uswitch for the contents and car insurance, too?

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 14-Apr-16 20:40:55

Mse energy club is good for furel, it's whole of market. I got cheaper deals that the comparison websites didn't show me.

It was cheaper for me not to be dual fuel.

Plusnet was reliable for us, it's owned by BT. I had cashback and it worked out at £60 for Bb and line rental for a year.

overthehillandroundthemountain Thu 14-Apr-16 23:20:36

Sorry to be dense, but is MSE Energy Club a comparison site? So you go on it, type in what you currently pay, and it comes up with alternatives?

Will look out for Plusnet, thanks for the recommendation. Sounds good!

YesThisIsMe Thu 14-Apr-16 23:24:07

Go to Money Saving Expert. Honestly they'll talk you through the lot in words of one syllable.

The MSE Utility club is here and is very simple to sign up to - I've used it and it was seamless.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 15-Apr-16 06:59:38

Yes it's a comparison site.

It's more accurate if you ring your provider and ask how much you've used in the last 12 months.

TheDrsDocMartens Fri 15-Apr-16 07:02:40

Fill in the MSE Budget brain. It gives every expense you can think of and how to save at each stage. Well worth it.

madmother1 Fri 15-Apr-16 08:32:07

Every year when I get my renewal of any bill I shop around. I find the AA, British Gas contract etc all will negotiate a lower price if you say you are thinking of leaving. Plusnet have just taken £5 off per month and British Gas the same. The AA quote for breakdown is usually extortionate, but I usually get this down by quite a bit. Never ever except a renewal price. Good luck. Martin Lewis is my hero 😊

specialsubject Fri 15-Apr-16 20:05:37

1) you said house contents, so presumably you rent. If you don't, you need buildings and contents from the same provider.

2) you must have broadband and phone line from the same provider, insanely expensive any other way. The market is saturated so you need to switch every year for new customer deals. Unlimited broadband, unlimited anytime calls and line rental should be £25 a month max.

3) if you use a landline, pay for the inclusive calls package. It is only about £8 a month for anytime calls to landlines - with Sky you can also call UK mobiles. All calls are an hour max, if chatting for longer hang up and redial. Never call 0844, 0871 or any number starting 09.

4) for utilities, get you actual usage, unit costs and standing charges. Knock up a quick spreadsheet to find out your real costs. Then do a comparison and put in the proposed figures to see what you really save. If you are on the 'standard' variable tariff you are overpaying. Don't use economy 7 unless you actually fit into the hours.

All the broadband/phone suppliers except Virgin use the same wires. It is all run by Openreach, part of BT, whom you can't contact directly. Allegedly Openreach are impartial although I'm not convinced, but BT use an Indian call centre apparently incentivised NOT to fix things and it is really difficult to get past them. The UK call centres of the other providers will at least understand you.

finally - customer loyalty is for fools.

overthehillandroundthemountain Fri 15-Apr-16 20:47:36

Wow, great to have more replies, thank you everyone! Will have a good look at Money Saving Expert and I think I now 'get' the MSE Utility club. Will ring provider, fill in budget brain thingy, too.

My DH has been paying the bills and has never attempted to change apart from when his bank manager noticed how high our utility bills are shock Actually, tell a lie, we tried to change the telephone but whichever company took over were DIRE and we were left with no phone and internet. Very, very bad when work depends on it. So a bit scared to change those.

madmother1 Great to review these things yearly. I think I will try to do this now, just as we do for cars. Very encouraging to hear your success stories!

specialsubject I mean contents insurance, didn't know they needed to be from the same provider. Also didn't know that broadband and phone line should be from the same provider - we didn't have this before? Ah, I see, you think it is expensive any other way. Thanks for the tip. Yes, will keep an eye on it yearly. Would rather not keep changing if poss as no time to make phone calls, etc. The cost in time would probably cost me more than the saving I would make. But that is a very useful rule of thumb; £25 a month max for unlimited broadband, anytime calls and line rental. Thank you.

We have to have landline, so will look into the inclusive calls package. It's not so much outgoing calls but the incoming ones. However, the odd time we do call, it is for conference calls, etc. Sky thingy sounds a bit tricky to remember. Will look into this.

I've asked DH to provide a spreadsheet with usage, unit costs and standing charges, as he has been paying these bills over the years. Will be interesting to see what we save!

Thank you for clarification re. broadband/phone suppliers. I see what you mean, and was not keen on the BT call centre stuff - on the other hand, the broadband and phone barely go wrong with BT. With the other provider we had a multitude of problems which was a nightmare (we have poor reception etc.). I am prepared to pay a bit more for the reliability, so would like to stay with them if we can, but the landline tariff is clearly not the cheapest as our calls seem very costly, even if they are rare.

finally - customer loyalty is for fools. Agree! DH has been most disengaged. In his defence, though, it has been out of laziness and not loyalty.

Thanks for help!

specialsubject Fri 15-Apr-16 21:18:56

it's worth a call to BT Sales (they are British) to see if they can do anything with your bill.

all the comms companies charge roughly the same for line rental. The new customer offer is on broadband only. Last time I looked BT were charging existing customers £18 a month for broadband. Current new customer offer £7.50. How valuable is your time? Broadbandchoices is a good comparison site as you can really tweak your requirements.

regarding inclusive calls; approx 5 10 minute calls a month and you've spent more than the inclusive package.

8FencingWire Sat 16-Apr-16 08:19:37

Changing supplier is a bit of a headache, but well worth it.
Grab a notebook.

Have a look at your bank statement and write down exactly how much you pay to whom.

Stsrt with gas and electrics. Go on uswitch, compare prices and call the company you chose. Get a quote. Call back your original company and say: this is what I have been offered, can you do better or I'm switching. I switch through MsE, but that is done once a year, in february, you register your interest, you get an inviting email and then browse their recommendations and choose which one. I went from £1600 to 870 with £30 cashback. (British gas). Consider a smart meter smile

I am with BT now, I pay a year in advance rental line (£198), unlimited broadband and calls evenings and weekends £9.99 a month.

Water: check they are not using estimates.

Insurance: never ever agree to pay the renewal they send you. I took one for the car last year for £300. The renewal came this march to £370. I went on MSE and found one for £190. Use cashback sites.

Also, use an account only for bills. Do a bank switch, natwest and santander give you % cashback on bills.

Every december and august, sit down and do a review of the bills account. It is actually in my diary, so I don't forget.
HTH.

gingerdad Sat 16-Apr-16 10:14:56

It's easy and sensible to change regularly. Just come off a deal with BT they offered a crap deal to stay. So have moved to SSE saved £20 per month and £100 quid cash back.

Same with gas/elec. down to £65 per month.

Why give away hard earned cash when it's so simple to switch.

overthehillandroundthemountain Sat 16-Apr-16 14:04:36

specialsubject Will give BT sales a call. I don't actually mind the Indian call centres that much - but am forrin myself so maybe that helps! Good to know what the average cost is.

8FencingWire Thank you for the step by step! Very helpful indeed. Exactly my thoughts - it's going to be a bit of a headache but will get DH to:

1. sit down and calculate how much he pays per mth
2. also jot price per unit of the utilities
3. go on uswitch, to compare
4. phone company chosen for quote.
5. go back to original company for bartering

Will also sign up with the MSE thing. WOW that is a very impressive saving!

Your BT deal sounds fantastic.

I have a feeling my DH is just agreeing to insurance renewals. He says 'oh it's only about £300' but I bet he hasn't checked it. Again, that is very impressive. I use Quidco so that is pretty good. Also, not directly relevant but related, I found out you can link the Servicecare contract thing for BG to Nectar points.

I hadn't considered just opening a current account for bills only. MIght be a good way to arrange our incoming money. My DH does all those bills and I do everything else. I don't know that he wants to arrange it like this, although the % cashback has always looked appealing, must say. He is already with Natwest so maybe he already gets this. I'll check.

That helps hugely, THANK YOU!!

gingerdad I agree, why give away cash - better in my pocket than theirs! Sadly my husb is quite lazy about switching. Hopefully he won't be, after this!

8FencingWire Sat 16-Apr-16 15:13:02

smile you're very welcome.
I have saved an absolute fortune with MSE, I hope you do, too.

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