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Family life lesson: Comparison is the key to money saving!

pigComparing prices of different services/utilities can save families money

All of us are keen to get the most from the money we earn, to see it go as far as possible. This is particularly true for families – whose cost of living is inevitably higher. It’s easy enough to save money by cutting things out of our lives, but most of us are reluctant to take such drastic action. By far the bigger and more rewarding challenge is finding a way to save money without compromising our quality of life.

By securing a better deal on existing products and services, it’s possible to save money without making any sacrifices. Here, we take a look at a few ways in which comparison can help your family put a few extra coins in the piggy bank at the end of the month.

Image credit: Ken Teegardin via Flickr

Comparing energy deals

One of the biggest single expenses for most households in the UK is energy. While there is money to be saved in making your home a more efficient space, additional savings can come from selecting the right tariff for your utilities. Comparing providers is the first step to securing cheaper bills but you must take your comparisons further than this and weigh up different tariffs from the same provider.

Tariff rates and charges vary by a number of factors – including your geographic location. All energy providers will display Tariff Comparison Rates (TCR) for each of their products and this is what you use to determine which energy plans are the cheapest for your area.

To compare rates, most energy suppliers will offer an online tool where you can input your postcode to display TCR for all products and thus compare tariff rates and charges. This example from npower shows you what you can expect and even allows you to filter your search by product (gas, electricity, economy 7 or all), tariff name and payment method (monthly fixed direct debit, quarterly variable direct debit, pre payment or quarterly receipt of bill).

Grocery shopping

It’s no secret that some supermarkets are cheaper than others when buying specific products. The places you choose to shop for food can see their prices vary based on a huge number of factors – geography, time of year, the size of the premises, etc.

Needless to say, if you are careful in the selection of your supermarket, you could easily save yourself a good deal of money on each and every weekly shop.

The trick here is simply to compare by trying each of your local shops. Although it may be difficult to compare the prices of individual products, as they may vary wildly from shop to shop, you can compare average costs for your usual weekly shop.

Most supermarkets including Tesco, ASDA and Sainsbury’s even compare the cost of groceries for you so that you can see how much you saved by shopping with them. If you’re shopping actually works out more expensive, then they’ll give you a voucher to receive this figure as a discount off your next shop.

As well as being a great marketing ploy, this tactic can also help you to keep your food bills under control – although it’s worth remembering supermarkets only compare the costs of your ‘comparable groceries’ and some own-brand or specialist products may not be included in their evaluation.

One-off purchases

Cutting the price of your common expenditures can be a big help, but that’s not to say you can’t also save a great deal of money on your one-off purchases. No matter how big or small the item you’re buying, comparison is always worthwhile.

Thanks to the internet it’s never been easier to compare prices on an item across a huge number of retailers. If you’re willing to put in a little bit of work when it comes to the research, you’ll be saving your household masses over the course of a year – and that’s something we could all do with!

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August 23, 2014