News of lockdown lifts is boosting optimism among Brits and could provide a shot in the arm to the UK economy, according to O2 research. 32% of those surveyed expect to see their spending increase once lockdown restrictions ease.
Yet there are signs that UK spending will get a spring clean ahead of non-essential retail opening, with increased caution and demand for better value expected long into the future. Concerns around spending money and planning ahead are lingering and have left almost half (49%) of Brits uncomfortable facing their current finances.
And research from O2, which polled 2,000 Brits, found that 7 in 10 are still wary about planning ahead and the majority (57%) aren’t looking further than a month in advance when it comes to planning things that could impact their finances.
A key part to this is looking at the amount spent on bills and regular payments. Worryingly, 35% say they’re not in the habit of regularly reviewing bills and outgoings to ensure they’re not paying over the odds or making unnecessary payments.
Yet the desire to save more is there considering that 45% say they want an extra hand saving money on bills and almost half (49%) say they’d change to a new mobile contract if it meant they could get a cheaper deal.
To help its customers get the best value, O2’s Custom Plans separate the handset and airtime costs, ensuring customers don’t end up paying for a phone they already own. As a result, customers are better off on O2 at the end of their device plan, receiving up to £50 a month back once their device is paid off, an offer unmatched by the rest of the industry. As the only network to stop charging for a device once it is paid off – O2 saved customers £168 million in 2020 alone.
To help the nation investigate their current spending habits and see where they can make savings, Consumer Finance Expert Jasmine Birtles has shared her top tips with O2:
1. Let an app budget for you. It’s never been easier to do a budget (the most important foundation for long-term wealth) with so many apps and online banks offering to do it for you for free. Banks like Starling and Monzo include automatic budgeting help as part of the package, and the budgeting app HyperJar also offers an impressive 4.8% on money you save in their retailers’ ‘jars’.
2. Get as much as you can for free. Why spend money when there’s so much you can get for free? The wonderful website Freecycle.org has new items posted all the time from beds to fridges, clothes to garden tools all just for the price of picking them up. Also check out Gumtree Free Stuff and Preloved Freeloved for yet more items for you and your home. Freebies sites like LatestFreeStuff and MagicFreebies regularly have free food, free books and free cosmetics on offer.
3. Turn your junk into cash. What’s lying around in drawers and cupboards that you could turn into immediate cash? If you have old mobile phones, convert them into cash with O2’s recycle service (http://www.o2recycle.co.uk/). Do you have foreign bank notes stuffed in a drawer? Turn those into pounds on Bidwedge.com. Even old DVDs, CDs and books can be turned into immediate cash at Ziffit.com. Spend a little time each day going through junk and posting it on relevant websites to bring in more and more money that can either help with your bills or go into important savings.
4. Share, share, share. By sharing with neighbours, family and friends we all get to have more for less cash. Get together with neighbours and share extra food – particularly if you go away and have food that could go off in the fridge. See if you could share a car with family members so that you don’t all have to pay for your own vehicle. Set up ‘swap shops’ with friends (once we are allowed in each other’s homes) to swap clothes and accessories that you don’t want anymore.
5. Save even when you don’t have any money. One thing that we’ve all realised over the last year is how important it is to have a savings safety net. Ideally, we should all have enough money set aside to cover at least three months-worth of basic expenses, but that’s a lot of money to save when you’re already struggling. So, start with a small amount each month. Set up a standing order from your main account into a savings account that will go out at the beginning of the month – or whenever you get paid – and increase that amount when your income increases. Also try one of the savings apps like Chip that sweeps extra bits of cash from your account here and there into their high-rate savings account so that you save without even realising it.
6. Get what you’re entitled to. It’s possible that there are benefits and tax credits available that you didn’t know you were entitled to. Go to Turn2Us.org.uk to use their benefits calculator to see what you could be getting. Also, while you’re there, see if there are any grants that you could access. There are hundreds of grants for people in all sorts of professions and situations (hairdressers, those in the drinks trade, people who work with caravans, vegetarians and many more) and it’s highly likely that there is a grant (i.e. free money) that applies to you.
7. Get free budgeting help. There are free debt advice charities that can help with budgeting advice as well as getting you out of debt. Community Money Advice works from churches around the country and their centres help with budgeting as well as debt advice, as do the people at StepChange, Citizen’s Advice, National Debtline and Christians Against Poverty. It could also be helpful to join your local Credit Union (not-for-profit banks) which also help their members with budgeting, together with offering savings, loans and a normal bank account. Find your local Credit Union at Findyourcreditunion.co.uk.
8. Go for flexibility. Go for flexible phone contracts and tariffs that you can adapt to suit your financial situation as it changes. O2’s range of Custom Plans allow you to choose how much to pay upfront, and how long you want to spread the cost of your monthly bill. Once you’ve had your new phone for 30 days, you’ll also be able to move between the other tariffs that were available on it when you bought it. Having the right, flexible phone contract can help you get more control over your spending each month.
A spokesperson for O2 added:
“We all want the best possible value, and last year alone, O2 saved customers £168million by making sure they never continue to pay for a phone they already own. Some networks continue to charge you for a phone you’ve already paid off. So check if you could save with us.”
To help its customers get the best value, O2’s Custom Plans separate the handset and airtime costs, ensuring customers don’t end up paying for a phone they already own. As a result customers are better off on O2 at the end of their device plan, receiving up to £50 a month back once their device is paid off, an offer unmatched by the rest of the industry.*
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Notes to Editors