One of the worst aspects of the current economic downturn is the way the value of money is being trashed.
As the annual inflation rate rises inexorably towards five per cent, household budgets are being squeezed like never before.
Food, energy, clothing and travel bills are soaring, leaving most of us reeling from a constant round of price rises which are all moving in the up direction, while wages are stuck in the doldrums.
Streetwise suggests a few quick ways to help save money and beat the inflation bubble.
· Become a fuel-savvy motorist
You may not have noticed it, but following the beginning of the end of the Libyan crisis, petrol prices are on the slide.
This has not yet translated into wholesale forecourt price reductions, but the supermarkets are currently in an all-out price war, using cut-price petrol to attract customers.
The big four of ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsbury and Tesco have all slashed their petrol prices recently, so before doing the weekly grocery run check out their pump prices at petrolprices.com which will guide you to the cheapest fuel in the area.
Dump the junk from the car boot and remove roof racks. Check tyre pressures at least once a month, switch off the air conditioning and turn your car into a lean fuel machine.
· Get your energy costs sorted
I know we’ve said it many times before, but now’s the time to take the plunge and sort out the best gas and electricity price deals.
Wholesale energy costs may be falling, but that’s not deterred the big six energy providers from putting up their charges.
E-on have teamed up with Age Concern to freeze their prices for the next year. In addition they’re offering gas customers of 60 and over a cold weather rebate in addition to the government scheme, no standing charges, free carbon monoxide and hypothermia detectors, low energy light bulbs, choices of ways to pay, and simple clear bills.
Energyhelpline, and Moneysupermarket.com are two companies that can help you switch to the cheapest deal.
· Cash in on switching banks
How do you fancy up to £150 just for moving your bank account? Switch to a First Direct, or Santander reward account and you’ll get a free handout just for making the move.
If it’s high interest you’re after, Santander’s preferred current account is offering five per cent AER with a £1 minimum balance.
· Cut food costs
With the major supermarkets conscious that their recent price hikes have scared off shoppers, a new food price war is breaking out.
Supermarket.co.uk compares prices and top money saving deals. Cheapest overall by a mile is ASDA, followed by Tesco and then Sainsburys. Check before you shop. Most mobile phones now include a shopping price application.
Look for all the in-store deal promotions, try out own brand products, don’t just select products displayed at eye level, and make a bee line for the daily discounted near outdated display.
Be smart with your smartphone
· Download Vouchercloud and never miss a local voucher deal. Search the site for offers and make your selection. The retailer can scan your phone and give you the appropriate code immediately.
For online shoppers, download Voucher mole at www.vouchermole.co.uk. Paste the voucher code into the retailer’s code box and get terrific savings.
· Trade in on travel discounts
With the half term and Christmas holidays looming, and train fares shooting up by an average of 8 per cent in the New Year, get used to buying train and airline tickets in advance. Try bestvaluefares.co.uk and budget airline websites for supersaver deals.