If you’re worrying that you might have – ahem – accidentally overspent this Christmas, don’t panic.
There are a ton of tips and hints on things you can do if you need to save some cash or manage your finances in the New Year.
However, I thought I’d get a bit more creative with my money-saving tips. Here are four things you might not have thought of that can save you cash – and could mean you could claim back some money too.
This is a standard ‘sorting out your finances’ tip to go through your bank statements and cancel or question any payments you don’t recognise.
This will certainly help you spot any old insurance policies or magazine subscriptions you don’t need. In recent years, there’s been a growing number of ‘continuous payment transactions’ (also known as the Continuous Payment Authority (CPA)), where companies are given permission to regularly take money from your debit or credit card whenever they think they’re owed money.
These payments are harder to spot as they might come off your credit card as well as from your bank account. Often, it’s hard to tell where they’ve come from or what they’re for. The good news is a CPA must be cancelled as soon as you tell your bank or card provider to do so. They can also help you identify where it’s come from – and you can claim back the money if you’ve not authorised the payments. If your bank can’t help you, Resolver can tackle the firm.
Clouds and streams
Speaking of crafty payments, we pay loads of cash each month for virtual goods. You might not think you have any, but chances are if you’ve got a computer or smartphone, you’re saving your photos and music to a cloud service. In fact, probably more than one.
The same goes for music streaming services. Save some cash by listening to the adverts and going with the free versions. As for paid for music websites. £14.99 a month is £180 a year! Is it worth it? As always, if you’ve not authorised the ongoing debits, claim the cash back.
The price of loyalty
Just before Christmas, the Competitions and Markets Authority announced that a huge range of firms across sectors, from insurance to broadband, had been overcharging customers who stayed loyal and let policies or services automatically renew each year. I’ve seen people who have stayed with the same provider for years and been overcharged thousands of pounds.
Well now it’s official – this is unfair and will be clamped down on. But what if you’ve been overcharged?
If you’ve not moved provider for a few years, chances are you’ve been charged more than a new customer. So check online to see what you’d get if you were, then make a complaint.
The rules aren’t clear about whether the firm has to give you a refund, but, you have every right to ask for your money back if you have been overcharged. And don’t forget, there’s a free ombudsman for insurance, financial services, communications, broadband, mortgages and more – so you can take it further for free.
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Whenever I see goods or services advertised for free – or the dreaded ‘free trials’ – I ask myself “Why do you need my card details then?”
The fact of the matter is, if a firm has a way to debit cash from you, it probably has you poised to be signed up to a service that costs money. So watch out for auto-renewals.
Big companies like Dropbox and Amazon take a crafty approach to these services, billing you in one hit for the year ahead.
This larger sum might be spotted by some people, but most of us are more likely to spot one of the 12 monthly instalments of a regular payment rather than a yearly fee.
Remember, if you’re not using the service, you can prove you had no intention of ever wanting it – so ask for your money back plus interest – and get them to remove your card details.
If you’re disputing money that a business has debited from your account, ask them to prove that you’ve authorised it. This must be in writing or in the form of a telephone recording. If they can’t prove it, they can’t take it!