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It can be frustrating to see prices increase while your income stays the same, and household costs are rising fast. The Aviva Family Finances report published in January 2013 shows that net income for the average UK family has increased by only 3% since November 2011, but monthly expenditure has increased by 22% over the same period, and that's not even taking into account inflation, which stood at 2.7% in Oct 2012.
But don't let the facts get you down. All you need is some good money management skills, and the following tips will help you on your way.
Get your finances in order
An average UK family owes £11,101 in unsecured loans; don't allow debts to get out of control. Make a list of everything you currently owe, and pay off the loan or debt with the highest interest rate first. Use home finance software to see how much monthly income you have after expenses, and make a plan to pay off as much as you can afford each month until you are debt free.
Switch to the best supplier
Gas and electricity bills are one of the highest rising costs. 89% of the total rise in household costs over the last year came from this hike in utility bills according to a study released in April 2013 by the Press Association. Bills have risen 145% in the last ten years, to overtake council tax as the biggest household expense after mortgage payments.
If you've been on the same gas or electricity tariff for a year, it's time to see if there's a better option. You can compare deals on Moneysupermarket.com, comparethemarket.com, uSwitch.com, confused.com, or any similar website that you might see an advert for on TV.
Don't ask, don't get
Call up your providers for gas, electricity, phone and broadband, satellite or cable TV, and tell them you are unhappy with your bill, and ask if they can offer you a better deal. This will work especially well if your contract is due for renewal, but is worth a try at any time. Don't panic if they put you through to the cancellation department, as this department are probably authorised to give you the best deal of all.
Where is the catch?
Some utility tariffs will appear high on comparison site's results because they charge you more in the short term and send you a rebate at the end of the year. The price could increase over the course of the year, and if you switch before the year is up, you don't get the rebate. Take this into account when deciding which tariff is the best deal for you, and make sure you know what you are agreeing to, especially if the offer looks too good to be true.