Do you know how much your bills tot up to?
Having enough money to pay your bills is at the forefront of many people’s minds, especially as the longest month in the year dawdles towards another payday. Unfortunately, new research from Santander suggests that many of us aren’t even working towards the right figure, with most of us underestimating how much we have to shell out every month.
And we aren’t even talking the odd £20 or £30 quid. When looking at main household bills, including council tax, energy and utility bills as as well as TV, broadband and phone, Santander's figures show that bill payers underestimated their main expenses by an average of £1,459 last year, estimating their typical bills to be £2,528, well below the actual annual total of £3,987. That’s underguessing by over £120 per month.
And while misleading adverts have been cited as a possible cause for people not knowing what they’re paying, it is perhaps more likely that people just don’t pay proper attention to their budgets and bank statements. Santander’s figures found that almost a third (30%) of bill payers admit that they don't read their statements thoroughly, while 5% don't even open them, so it's no wonder that they don’t have a clue what’s going on.
Looking at individual bills, TV, phone and broadband outgoings were found to be the most significantly underestimated, with people estimating their annual spend on these bills to be 53% lower than what they are actually paying. This is in no way related to the recent –Advertising Standards Authority finding that many broadband adverts are “highly misleading”.
And if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be paying out, it’s perhaps hardly surprising that many households admit to struggling to cover the cost of their household bills. And belts are quite tight- 34% say they can only just make ends meet, and 25% admit to borrowing money or using their savings to pay the bills. However, this may not be a perennial problem for everyone- we’ve all had tight months- as only 6% claim they often or never have enough money to cover their bills.
So what can you do about it? Well, if you haven’t checked your statements recently, it’s time you did and while some bills are immoveable (council tax springs to mind) you could look at whether you could get a better deal by changing supplier, or moving to a better package. Even water bills might be reducible- if you aren’t on a water meter you might find it cheaper to switch to metered water rather than average use, particularly if you prefer showers to baths for example. Or if you just don’t care to wash frequently.