There’s something about coming back from holiday, full of chips, ice cream and time for contemplation, which makes you want to finally get to grips with your bank balance.
Here are some of our top picks for money things to sort in September that can be switched or opened easily:
- Your spending
- Your mobile deal
- Your energy supplier
- Your savings
- Your investments
- Your current account
And some ideas for how to do each:
Spent too much on holiday? Join the club. September is a fantastic time to rein in the spending and set some new good habits. Cut out anything you don’t need for a bit – unnecessary subscriptions to music or TV services, for example.
Overhaul your regular shopping by buying long-dated items that you use a lot in bulk (FYI. you can get 10 per cent off Eat Big as a Good With Money reader by entering code GOODWITHMONEY at the checkout).
Also, go veggie. Bean and lentil pie is delicious and way cheaper than the meat alternative. Cutting down on the booze after a summer of Whispering Angel at sunset is also a major cost cutter – and easier in September than in other months.
2. Your mobile phone contract
It is generally cheaper to be on a SIM-only deal than a contract. Giffgaff is king of the no contract market and its pay monthly for your handset options (with finance provided by peer-to-peer lender Ratesetter, FYI) are really competitive too.
HOWEVER, we recently came across a relatively new provider called The People’s Operator and it has literally blown our minds – because of its commitment to good value AND values, which makes it unique in the mobile market.
Here’s the blurb: The People’s Operator* was founded in the UK in 2012 on the idea that mobiles could be used to change lives for the better. Its customers get the best Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go deals, high-quality mobile service and great customer service – you can also direct 10% of your bill to a cause of your choice at no cost.
TPO runs on Three. When deciding where to donate, customers can choose from big national partners like the WWF, Save The Children, NSPCC, The Big Issue Foundation, or even their local school or community centre.
It also offers 30-day rolling contracts, so you’re not locked into a long- term contract, good customer support 6 days a week and pay-as-you-go bundles. Convinced yet? I know where I am going when my current contract is up – its 4GB, 500 mins & Unlimited Texts for £15 a month deal is right up my street.
3. Your energy supplier
OK, this won’t be high up your list until you turn the heating on. But when those higher heating bills start rolling in, we promise, you’ll be reaching for the comparison sites.
There’s been big growth in the number of suppliers offering 100% renewable energy at reasonable prices. Ecotricity, Good Energy, Octopus Energy, M&S Energy (yep, really), and our personal favourite: Bulb Energy*: very reasonable, very honest, great customer service and all the energy comes from three hydro power plants in Wales. Brighter World Energy, another new one we like the look of, isn’t 100% renewable, but it’s got one heck of a mission. As has the People’s Energy.
If you’ve got some savings in the bank, get them out. There are far more interesting places to put your smaller pots of dosh for the short term than Big Bank X.
Interest rates on short-term cash are abysmal. There’s no getting around it. So you may as well put your low rate cash that you are saving for holidays/ Christmas/ a boiler breakdown into something good.
There’s Triodos, for example, a sustainable bank, or Charity Bank. There are credit unions (find your nearest using the Engage website’s search tool), which are a way of putting your money to use in your local community. And building societies, which are a good “do no harm” option. Nationwide, Coventry, Ipswich and Yorkshire are among the biggest and most competitive on the savings front.
Then there are peer-to-peer lenders, like Zopa, Ratesetter, FundingCircle and Lending Works*, which prides itself on making finance fairer.
Start some if you have none. Consider increasing your contribution if you have some. Stocks and shares ISAs, into which you can invest £20,000 a year without having to worry about paying tax on the gains or returns, are the first stop. More people are choosing them over cash ISAs, thanks to poor interest rates, according to the latest government figures. If you fancy joining the investment converts, read our guide. But remember investing involves risk and should be considered for the long-term – not for something you need to pay for in six months’ time.
- Abundance Investment, which offers an Innovative Finance ISA option for green energy-related investments.
- EQ Investors, which offers Positive Impact Portfolios, into which you can invest your ISA or SIPP if you have at least £1,000 to put in.
- Ethex, because it champions share offers in community energy and has recently offered shares in African solar projects.
- Assetz Capital’s Green Income Account*, where you get your return from green energy at 7 per cent.
- Crowd2fund*’s IFISA, because you can see clearly what businesses you are investing in.
- As for funds, you can see 3D Investing’s top impact picks here.
NB. There are lots of new robo investment platforms around, that promise to do it for you. As yet, none of them offer an impact option or anyway to personalise your investment picks or do anything other than track indexes, which is why we haven’t listed them here.
6. Your current account
If you feel like your bank is fleecing you every time you go a bit into the red for a second, consider one of these more ethical offerings. They might charge you a monthly fee, but they won’t kick you when you are down either.
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