A home to call our own

1 Oct

This month my boyfriend and I have finally decided to take the plunge and share our flat together, alone with no lodger. This will mean finding an extra £700 a month from somewhere to cover the excess rent and bills, and while I am under no illusions that a little scrimping here and there will add up to £700 you would be surprised at what counting the pennies can achieve.

Head of the House - Cleo

Head of the House – Cleo

Given that the whole concept of this blog is how to live in London on a Northern budget I will need to pool every technique that I have for money saving this year! So for all of those Londoners who want to say adios to their housemates, here are my top ideas:

Firstly get your figures in order, make a spreadsheet (or if you are a couple a google document so that you can make changes in real time) and see how much extra you have to pay monthly. Record any money savings that will help you to get there. It not only enables handy and accurate records for splitting bills but makes your goal seem easier to achieve as you chip away at the total.

Switch to a HALIFAX reward account
You get £100 for switching and £5 per month for each month that you remain in credit – seems like a no-brainer!

Call up our current utility providers, and ask for a better rate
This may seem futile, but believe me it has paid off three times for me now. British gas offered £75 credit if we stayed with them for another 6 months, and Virgin media allowed us to reduce our TV and increase our internet for a £5 per month saving.

Council Tax
Ask for this to be spread over 12 months and not the default 10 months. This means the first month they skip for you while the account is closed and reopened, and then your monthly payments are reduced. It only takes a five minute phone call.

Change utilities and get £100 cash back
After we receive our credit from British gas we can use a cash back website such as www.quidco.com to switch providers, getting up to £100 cash back. Do this every year or so, and you will always save.

Random cash back:
Many cash back websites such as www.quidco.com and www.topcashback.co.uk offer cash back for taking free trial’s of services. For an audio book service Audible £4 is offered, and for Lovefilm and Now TV I have seen between £10 and £15 offered. Just remember to cancel after you get the cashback! I recently got cashback on a free sim card which I then used to get 2-4-1 cinema tickets on a Wednesday.

Lifestyle changes
I already buy my clothes second hand on eBay, use cash back sites for every household purchase and stock buy reductions and sale items, so I do wonder how I will cope cutting back a bit more! One change we have agreed to is to not order wine while out with friends (tap water, or council pop as they call it back in Northumberland, is not only hydrating but is calorie and cost free!) We will also take packed lunches to work every day (no treat Fridays!) which makes a massive difference with London prices.

New customer bonuses
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose/Ocado all offer up to £15 off your online shop for new customers. With delivery as little as £2.99 you can save £12 on your monthly shop. I have used this to stock up on essentials for the kitchen and bathroom cupboards rather than perishables which I can pick up daily.

Hopefully, armed with my inherited (thanks dad!) money saving knowledge I will be able to lessen the blow of the extra costs that come with a housemate free home. And given the announcement of David Cameron’s early release of the Help to Buy Scheme (regardless of the potential damage schemes as such may cause to the property market in the long run) it may not be such a far stretch to think that young professionals such as ourselves could be a little closer to stepping onto the elusive London property ladder.

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