• Emma Merry Styling

Free money for your home renovations?

Updated: Nov 22

Yeah, I’m listening!


When I first met Kara Gammell the award-winning finance journalist this was her opening line and I was hooked, “what do you mean by free money” I said, "money that you have already earmarked to pay bills, she replied. By taking just one of the 6 steps below you can save £££££ towards your new bathroom or kitchen…. uh where do I sign, no signing involved just a few hours of your time.

Kara and I kept in touch and chat regularly about how to help our clients save the pennies when approaching big projects, Kara says “don’t know about you, but spending the last four months in my house has left me desperate to redecorate and I have a pot of savings to help me do it. Every year I challenge myself to see how much I can cut the annual cost of my household bills - and keep a tally so that I can ring-fence that cash for something more fun than waste and water charges.

Last year, I managed to cut my annual household bills by £440 - and didn’t make a single cutback lifestyle-wise plus, that amount could help towards the costs of your interiors project.

Here are Karas top 6 ways to save


1 START BY SIGNING UP FOR A CASHBACK WEBSITE


Sign up for a cashback and get paid when you sign up for new bill providers. Websites, such as Quidco.com and Topcashback.co.uk, list retailers that pay a commission when shoppers click through to them. In turn, the website rebates some commission to the consumer.

And the cashback can soon add up with some providers paying as much as £140 to new customers.

Since I signed up to Quidco back in 2008, I’ve made more than £1,600, so trust me, it’s definitely worth doing - especially if you do a lot of shopping for clients (designers, I’m looking at you here!)

If you think free money is too good to be true, I explain how these sites work in this post over on my blog.

It’s free money, seriously. Sign up – and thank me later.

2 THE ONLY TIME COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS IS A GOOD THING

My motto is normally: “Comparison is the thief of joy”, but when it comes to my household bills, I make an exception.

Research shows that the psychological effect of knowing that others are paying less than you can spur you on to change your own spending habits.

And knowing what your neighbours are spending on insurance, energy and broadband bills could save you more than £500 a year according to Moneysupermarket.com.

Simply enter your postcode on the comparison website’s home bill checker to find typical prices local to you.

Then once you have a ballpark figure of what you should be paying, you will better understand what you’re aiming for.



3 STREAMING IS THE WAY FORWARD

If you are fed up with paying a small fortune for Sky each month, why not opt to stream my favourite channels with Now TV for as little as £7.99 a month?

With this on-demand service, you can watch the latest movies, TV, live sports and kids entertainment on your television or tablet – and the best part is, unlike satellite companies, which require you to lock yourself into a 12-month contract and impose penalties if you pull out before it expires, you can cancel at the end of any month.

Now TV can be streamed on your computer, tablet, Apple TV, PS4s, Chromecast or via special NOW TV box. If you’ve already got a Now TV box, or another device that can stream the service then all you need is a Now TV pass to get subscribed to the package you want.

There are currently four passes available for Now TV; Entertainment, Sky Cinema, Kids and Sky Sports. These are available for subscription periods as short as one day (for Sky Sports), or as long as a month. You can get a 14 day free trial of Entertainment, Movies and Kids - but don’t forget to make a note in your diary and cancel in a fortnight if it's not for you.

4 SHARING IS CARING - ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO STREAMING

Further add to your savings by sharing streaming subscriptions – and their charges – with friends.

I do this and it works a treat - plus it saves me a fortune.

In my group of friends, I pay the monthly fee for Netflix, another foots the bills for NowTV while someone else forks out for Disney+ – and guess what? It’s all above board.

If you are worried that this ’sharing’ is ‘stealing’, put your mind a rest and check out the story I wrote for The Guardian on this very subject.




5 MANAGE YOUR MOBILE BILL

Figures from Billmonitor.com show that more than three-quarters of mobile phone customers are on the wrong tariff, with just a quarter of us using our free minutes and texts. As a result, we’re shelling out more money than we ought too.

But the sheer number of tariffs, deals and one-off offers can make it difficult to find the cheapest plan, but you can use an internet service that compares prices from providers to simplify the process.

Billmonitor.com, for instance, will compare more than 2.5 million UK mobile phone deals, and show you the best contract for your mobile phone usage.

The site will run through every call, text and byte of data on your bill, working out the cost on each tariff. By considering details such as free minutes, off-peak calling and charge limits, it can identify the 12 tariffs that could save you the most money.

6 SAY NO TO INSURANCE AUTO-RENEWALS

While it may seem obvious, shopping around for insurance can save you a fortune.

Never just accept the renewal quote you are offered as it is always worth getting quotes from rival insurers.

But keep in mind that the cheapest policy may not be the most appropriate, as the level of cover will vary.

Another easy way to reduce costs is to pay your premium upfront - paying monthly may be more manageable, but it is not cheaper as you will be charged interest, which can be as high as 24% a year. Ouch.



So with this fabulous advice under my belt, I went away and undertook 4 of the above. I’ve saved £796 which I’m amazed by, this pays for all the tiling in our new cloakroom. If you would like to follow Kara for more money wizardry then she can be found at http://www.yourbestfriendsguidetocash.co.uk/ and on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/yourbestfriendsguidetocash.


Now you have your route to market aka savings pot in place, how will you ensure you spend it in the right place. This is why we are so proud to launch our new service the pre-build consultancy, we aim to highlight the potential pitfalls when undertaking a house extension before you break ground. Within this 2 hour session, we examine the architect's plans, with a view to futureproofing your home. Focusing on how you will live in the space on a daily basis.

Our key objective is to ensure each room scheme works together with design continuity. Once the session concludes we send you over a full video link to watch back at your leisure as the information comes thick and fast and we don't want you to miss a beat. Head over to our services page and hit the contact us tab to book your session and get your project underway.


That’s all folks! I really hope you found the piece interesting, and as always I’m happy to answer any further questions you may have or head over to email – emma@EmmaMerryStyling.com. All images & mood board copyright are owned by Emma merry styling except where noted. Please make sure you credit and tag if you use them. Thank you. x

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