The easy guide to saving money

According to a survey by Ofgem half of us complain about our household bills, but can’t be bothered to switch supplier. Now it emerges that not only don’t we have the energy to switch suppliers, but we haven’t got the wit to do it either. According to the BBC this week, most of us would struggle to pass the GCSE finance exam that is about to be introduced into our secondary schools in September. Most people were fine until it came to the bit about working out our electricity usage.

Well, as someone who has dithered for months over switching my household insurance it’s good to know that it’s not just because I’m lazy – it’s also because my maths probably isn’t up to it.

I tried some of the questions on the GCSE Finance Exam and I did brilliantly until it came to the question about electricity tariffs. So for anyone else struggling to work out which provider to switch to here is my trusted Last Minute Lucy slacker’s guide to saving money on your household bills: bluff it.

I tried this yesterday and managed to save £300, just like that.

I didn’t even attempt to shop around because – and I know this may shock you – I’d left it till the last day to renew my household insurance and, given my luck, if I left it until I got back to work to renew it I’d be too late. Despite living here for 14 years without a sniff of a burglar (apart from the one I inadvertently invited in for tea) I didn’t fancy tempting fate in case that would be the day I came home to an empty, uninsured house.

So, yesterday – the day the policy was due for renewal – I had precisely 15 minutes to get the house insurance sorted out before I left for work. I rang our current insurer on the dot of 8am, explained that I thought the premium was a bit steep and seemed several hundred pounds higher than last year but said that although I was shopping around I would prefer to do a deal with them. The charming man at the end of the phone wasn’t fazed for a second – he put me on hold while he had a chat with his manager, asked me a few questions and bingo, suddenly I was looking at a bill in three figures instead of four. He shaved £300 off it without batting an eye. One of the things that helped was bringing the information he had about the house up to date – for example the fact that two of the children were now over 18 and that one of our bedrooms was deemed a “box room” saved us money, as did the fact that we hadn’t made any claims since “one of the children” broke our satnav. “Because you’ve got fewer children in the house makes you a safer risk,” he explained, adding that it was almost ten years since the unfortunate incident of the lost satnav, but it still left a trail on our premium. (He had it all filed away like some kind of Victorian father summoning his brood into his study to explain their latest misdemeanours.)

So here’s my advice – before you renew any insurance policy make sure the information they have about you is up to date, particularly the number and ages of people in your household and the number of bedrooms. Secondly, before you go through the arduous business of finding a new insurance company take a quick look at a comparison site like the one at or and see what kind of savings are possible with just a ballpark figure. Then ring up your current insurer and suggest that you are being overcharged by that amount and imply that you are more than ready to switch insurers. Then sit back and wait for the bill to shrink.

Good luck. I’m off home now – I hope I remembered to close that bedroom window, and turn my straighteners off, and lock the shed…

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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