Six money mistakes that could cost you big
Reckon your 'sensible' habits are helping to save you money? You may need to reconsider, says Vicky Shaw
When it comes to money matters, we all have certain habits, but some of the things we're doing - or not doing - could be making us significantly financially worse off.
The amount of cash being thrown down the drain can be particularly large if the same money mistakes keep being repeated week after week.
Some habits may actually seem like a good idea for saving money, but the reality may turn out to be quite different.
Read on to see if you could be making some of these common money mistakes ...
1. Bulk-buying to save money - only to find you don't use everything
Piling goods into your trolley in bulk can be a great way to save cash over the longer term, but there are also pitfalls to this money-saving tactic.
More than three-quarters (76%) of shoppers are regular bulk-buyers, with toilet paper, baked beans and soap among the popular items to stock up on, research from TopCashback.co.uk has found. But while 86% of bulk-buyers say they stock up in a bid to save cash, nearly one in five (19%) admit they don't end up using all the items they bought in bulk - perhaps because they went out of date, or didn't have enough room to store them.
One in 12 (8%) bulk-buyers, meanwhile, believes their habit actually makes them financially worse off.
As Natasha Rachel Smith, TopCashback's consumer affairs editor, says: "Consumers are finding themselves in a false economy, with a huge amount of goods going in the bin and cash down the drain."
2. Not checking the cupboards before you head to the shops
More than a quarter (26%) of people say they bulk-buy without checking their supply levels at home first, the TopCashback research also found. This can increase the chances of being wooed by 'special offers' you don't really need.
Nearly a third (31%) admit to buying items they only think they will need because they are on offer, and 3% buy items they do not need at all.
3. Opting for a higher excess when choosing car insurance
When choosing a car insurance deal, some people may decide to go for a higher excess - the amount you will pay towards any claims you make on your policy - in order to get a cheaper insurance deal, but is this worth it?
Comparison website uSwitch.com found the average car insurance quote for drivers opting for a £1,000 voluntary excess is £318 a year - just £12 cheaper than a policy with a £250 voluntary excess.
This means someone could end up taking on up to £750 of additional financial liability for a saving of just £1 a month.
Rod Jones, an insurance expert at uSwitch, says: "While many think opting for a policy with a higher level of excess will save them money, drivers should ask themselves if an additional risk of £750 is really worth an average saving of just £1 a month."
4. Using social media for shopping inspiration - only to regret it
It's great to get inspiration from others, but it can lead to costly shopping regrets.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of social media users have made a purchase as a result of something they spotted on somebody's feed, spending an average of £318 per year, Post Office Money found. Men spend an average of £438 a year, compared with £230 for women. But two-thirds (65%) admit they ended up regretting what they bought, with 37% wishing they'd put the money towards reaching a savings goal instead.
5. Being a loyal customer
Loyalty doesn't necessarily pay when it comes to essential services - in fact it could cost nearly £1,000 per year.
Research from Citizens Advice found charging loyal customers more than new ones for the same service can often happen with energy, mobile, broadband, home insurance, fixed-rate mortgages and savings accounts. Its analysis suggests customers who stay loyal to their essential service providers could be paying £987 more per year - equivalent to four months' worth of food for the average household.
6. Always sticking with what's familiar when it comes to cash in bank accounts
If you're looking for somewhere to put your savings cash, competition this year has been particularly strong so far among 'challenger' banks, according to website Moneyfacts.co.uk. While some of the newer banks may not be that familiar, you may find you can get a better savings rate. Rachel Springall, a finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, says brands such as ICICI Bank, Paragon Bank, Ford Money and Tesco Bank are among those offering competitive savings deals.