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Doing nothing is costing you hundreds of pounds

People from Skegness, Great Yarmouth, Birmingham and Manchester are apparently among the worst at wasting money – although they don’t necessarily realise they’re doing it.

These are the towns where households are least likely to switch – a simple thing to do that can save hundreds of pounds each year. But by avoiding moving energy company or not getting around to cancelling unwanted services, they are paying far more than they need to.

But of course it’s not only the case in these four places – nationwide, close to seven in ten people are losing out by not switching their financial products and utility bills for a better deal, according to a new report by credit reference agency Experian.

Londoners most likely to switch, Northerners least likely

The biggest switchers – and therefore those most likely to avoid overpaying – are from the South East, with 57% of Londoners topping the table. The North as a region had the lowest rates. Just 30% of households have switched.

A lack of savings

The report also found almost six million households have no savings, and 423,000 people are using unauthorised overdrafts or short-term, high-cost loans to get by. One million households have also had a loan or gift from their family.

Five easy actions to take that’ll save you money

Each of these actions will help you better manage your money and reduce the amount of cash you waste – and they’ll all take you between five and 30 minutes each.

Make a budget

If you don’t know what you spend each week, there’s a good chance there are things costing you more than they should. A quick way to identify places to cut back is by putting together a budget.

Get some bank statements and open up the Money Advice Service Budget planner. Tap in all the things you spend and see if any of the numbers jump out as a surprise. Focus on these as ones to reduce, whether from cutting back or finding the same thing for less money.

Get a banking app

If you’re prone to overspending and accidentally hitting your overdraft, the fees can be largely avoided by regularly checking your bank balance. An app from your bank is a great way to do this each day.

Switch your energy

A big one, and very easy to do. Using a comparison site to switch your energy supplier takes under 20 minutes and you could save on average £300. With lots of energy companies increasing prices you can lock in the rate you pay by ‘fixing’ at the same time you move company.

If you’ve time, take a look at your phone, broadband and TV bills too – though make sure you’re out of contract to avoid early exit fees.

Make a note in your diary of when contracts end

Ideally you’d do this as you go along, but if you’re starting from scratch get all your bills together and write in your diary when each is due to end.

This way you won’t get caught out by auto-renewing car insurance, the end of discounted TV packages or drops in fixed interest rates on savings.

It’s also worth putting another note in four weeks ahead so you can start looking for better deals.

Start a savings buffer

Though you hopefully won’t need to access these emergency savings very often, having the money available to you can reduce the cost of unexpected repairs or bills.

Without a buffer you might have to borrow the money; the interest added on top will make these outgoings far more expensive.

An easy way to start is to set up a standing order to move a set amount of cash into your savings account each payday. Once you’ve done this, it’ll happen automatically every month.

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