Feeling the squeeze? Here’s how to stretch your budget and save

Calculate how much of a bonus a Help to Buy ISA could provide at www.helptobuy.gov.uk/help-to-buy-isa/how-does-it-work. Photograph: PA

Calculate how much of a bonus a Help to Buy ISA could provide at www.helptobuy.gov.uk/help-to-buy-isa/how-does-it-work. Photograph: PA

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Rising living costs have been putting more of a squeeze on household finances – but there are simple ways to snip away at your outgoings. Here are some suggestions to stretch your budget and save:

Could a Lifetime ISA help?

These accounts are available to the under-40s from April 2017 onwards.

They’ll help you save for your first home, or for your retirement, in the same pot, with a government bonus thrown in.

Bear in mind that, generally, if you withdraw money before you turn 60 for reasons other than buying your first home, you could face withdrawal charges.

How about NS&I’s bond?

It was confirmed in the Budget that a new three-year bond from NS&I (National Savings and Investments) will launch in April, with a rate of 2.2 per cent. The deal will be available for 12 months from April and it will be open to savers aged 16 and over who want to save between £100 and £3,000 over the next three years.

Claim for mis-sold PPI

A deadline for claiming back PPI has just been set by the Financial Conduct Authority – and consumers have until 29 August 2019 to get their complaints in.

PPI policies were often sold alongside products like loans, credit and store cards and mortgages.

So while you’re spring cleaning, why not go through some paperwork and check whether you had a policy you didn’t want or need?

There’s plenty of free help available to make a PPI claim, rather than using a claims management firm which may take a chunk of any payout.

MoneySavingExpert.com has a free reclaiming tool at www.mse.me/PPI, and Which? has a free guide at www.which.co.uk/ppi.

Consider switching your mortgage

Ultra-low interest rates have sparked a series of mortgage price wars, and home owners are taking advantage of the cheap deals available to lower their monthly outgoings.

Is improving better than moving?

Home owners can expect to fork out nearly £11,000 on moving costs, according to research from Lloyds Bank.

But instead of paying to move, could you turn your current property into your dream home?

A survey from Nationwide Credit Cards found an open-plan kitchen diner is the most common fantasy home improvement on people’s wish-lists, followed by a loft conversion and a separate garden room or studio.

Swap current accounts

Many current account providers are offering cash or other perks to switch – and the typical saving to be had from switching to a more suitable deal has been put at £92 a year.

It might be easier than you think as a seven-day switching service has been introduced to take the hassle out of moving banks. Details about the switching service are at www.currentaccountswitch.co.uk

Consider a Help to Buy ISA

If you’re saving for your first home, a Help to Buy ISA could help you build a deposit faster, with a maximum government bonus of £3,000 available on £12,000 of savings. Calculate the potential bonus you could receive at www.helptobuy.gov.uk/help-to-buy-isa/how-does-it-work

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