James Walker: Time on your hands for a budget lockdown

As we get used to being in lockdown, managing the kids and/or partner and getting on with day-to-day life, you might have started thinking about tackling some of the things on your “to do” list that you haven’t got around to.

First and foremost, is budgeting. Now many people will be facing difficult financial times, so Resolver is putting together a guide for you if you’re experiencing financial difficulties during the lockdown. Budgeting is no fun at the best of times, but taking just 20 minutes to take stock of your cash is worth doing – even if it means just knowing what help you’re going to need. Here are a few tips.

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Save your cash

Chances are you’re paying out way more cash than you think on numerous services that basically do the same thing. For example, are you saving your online data to “the cloud”? If so, you might be using a paid-for service that you took out with your computer or laptop. And maybe another through your phone provider. And another through your anti-virus software. OK, so you don’t want to lose all your photos in a tech failure, but you only really need one cloud storage service. Same goes for music streaming services, which are also often duplicated. If you’re paying £10-£15 a month each for two duplicate services in these two sectors that’s £360 you could save.

Not your payments?

Online accounts mean we’ve become less vigilant about checking our spending. Yet there are countless errors that can occur on bank and credit card statements, from duplicated transactions, services that you cancelled that are still being billed and honest-to-goodness errors. If you spot anything you don’t recognise, ask your bank or card provider to “charge back” the money. You might have to sign a statement saying you didn’t authorise the payment but usually there’s no delay.

Phone home

The same goes for mobile phone services. Chances are you might not need the full package you’re on and could instantly save by reducing it. Phone bills also hide a range of charges you might not have been aware of. These can include data roaming charges that you might not have realised you were paying when on holiday, premium rate text services (up to £5 each) after you agreed to let a firm send you notifications and other disputed charges. The Phone Paid Services Authority can help if you aren’t happy with the response from the firm.

Double insurance

You may be surprised to spot a mobile phone insurance policy for a phone you’ve upgraded years ago that you’re still being charged for. Or you might find an expensive gadget insurance policy is much cheaper if you update your home insurance – ditch it! You could be able to claim back hundreds if you’ve been overcharged after asking for an insurance policy to be cancelled. And if you have a packaged bank account and you’re over 70 then your insurance is unlikely to cover you and you might get some cash back.

Making a few savings can really help you make your cash go further, but remember that businesses are super busy these days, so for non-urgent enquiries take your time and try to avoid tying up phone lines where possible. And be friendly even if you’re frustrated.