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The combination of rising inflation and wage stagnation mean that many families are feeling the squeeze on budgets right now.
But while this may make for gloomy reading, the good news is there are plenty of tools you can use to help you keep costs down.
You may be familiar with popular price-comparison sites, such as Gocompare.com, Comparethemarket.com, Moneysupermarket.com, uSwitch.com and Confused.com where you can compare car insurance, home insurance, mortgages, credit cards, broadband and energy tariffs and so on – but there are plenty of other useful apps and platforms out there.
Here are some of my top picks of the tools that help you reduce your household bills.
This dashboard gives you a single, clear overview of the accounts you have with electricity, gas, internet, TV, landline and mobile providers.
This free-to-use bill-monitoring service acts like a personal assistant, keeping your household bill information up-to-date within one account.
By offering a better record of what you’re paying – and automatic notifications whenever a better deal is available – it can save you both time and money.
This “energy comparison genie” tracks the market for the best gas and electricity deals, and then alerts you to switch with just a few taps on your mobile.
Going forward, Voltz will continue to alert you every three months to inform you whether you are still on the best deal, or whether you could switch and save again.
*Also try apps such as Flipper, as well as Moneysavingexpert.com’s Energy Club, as these will also tell you when it’s time to move to a new deal.
If the thought of looking at your bank statement at the end of the month fills you with dread, you might want to get some help from Cleo.
This handy financial assistance app, which links to your bank accounts, is driven by artificial intelligence (AI).
Acting like a kind of “Siri” of personal finance, Cleo can answer questions about your bank balance, or whether you are near your overdraft, using a conversational “chatbot” via Facebook messenger.
Cleo can also tell you how much you have spent on coffees, lunches or rail fares that week – or simply how much you spent last night. In addition, the tool can alert you when bills are due and if funds are running low.
You will need to give the chatbot access to your bank details, but Cleo reassures users that it has bank level encryption – and that it doesn’t store your banking credentials.
*Also try Spendee – a tool which connects to your online banking and downloads and categorises your transactions, so you can see where your money is going.
4. TV Player
TV packages can be pretty costly – and especially if you’ve opted for a “bells-and-whistles” deal – plus price hikes are common.
However, with TVPlayer you can watch almost all your favourite TV shows for a fraction of the price.
This video-streaming service is available on desktop, smartphones, and even gaming consoles, such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, meaning you can watch TV whenever you like, wherever you like.
With TVPlayer you get 60 free channels. Alternatively, if you upgrade to the TVPlayer Plus Service for £5.99 a month, this will give you 30-plus premium channels, such as Discovery and MTV.
This could be an option worth considering if a satellite or cable TV package is too costly – or if you just fancy some extra channels to build up your Netflix subscription.
This tool can analyse your mobile phone usage, based on your bill, and match you to a better new contract.
Recent findings from the firm reveal that 74% of people can save on their bills – saving an average of £172 a year.
Light users may even find that they are better suited to a pay-as-you-go deal, rather than a contract.
Also remember to make use of free services such as Skype to cut the cost of your bills – and try sending photos by Whatsapp so you can send them for free.
6. Bill Tracker
In our busy lives it’s all too easy to remember when to pay all the household bills.
But with Bill Tracker, you can set yourself a reminder for when your water bill, car payment or mobile subscription is due to come out.
This platform offers a straightforward calendar layout, notifying you when your bills are due – along with the amount owed – helping you to keep tabs on what needs to be paid next.
There is also a “quick-view” function enabling you to see a breakdown of all your upcoming bills, as well as the monthly total.
By making use of Bill Tracker, you can ensure you never have to open another “final warning” letter, and won’t get stung with late payment fees.
If you live in a shared house, you will know just how hard it is to manage the shared bills and finances.
In many cases, one person has to take charge and whip the other housemates into line.
With Splitwise, you can ensure you are splitting bills fairly, by assigning each housemate a portion of the bill that needs paying.
The app keeps a digital record, helping you to keep track of who has paid what.
Unihouse is another app which tells you who owes what in a shared home to ensure that everyone pays their way –and that things stay fair.