Bank holidays can be costly. The average long weekend getaway costs £407, according to American Express research, while even staying at home means racking up an average bill of £116.
However, you could make your extra day off more than pay for itself (hat-tip to the nurses, firefighters, police, bar staff and everyone else who isn’t enjoying a work-free Monday). Spending even just an hour brushing up your finances could save you an average of £5,000.
Okay, it is not as interesting as Pimm’s in the park or football on the beach or even completing all those DIY tasks that have been lingering unfinished since August bank holiday.
But a bit of work on your personal finances could really pay off. Here are some of the ways you could make this weekend’s bank holiday pay.
Switch energy providers (do it now) – £315
This is probably the most common piece of advice given in money saving articles and it’s probably also the most ignored.
If you’re on an energy firm’s standard or default tariff then the chances are you can save some serious money by moving.
The price comparison website CompareTheMarket.com has found that the average household on a variable tariff could save £315 a year on their energy bills by switching to the cheapest variable tariff available.
Claim any PPI (yes really, check it) – £2,750
This is one of those tasks that really will take less time to sort than you expect and could really pay off. If you had a credit agreement before 2006 then there’s a very good chance you had PPI and, since misselling was so rife, there’s also a good chance you have a legitimate claim.
Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “Take half an hour to dig out any paperwork, and read the PPI page on the FCA website to see if you have grounds for a claim. If you do, you can submit a quick online claim in a matter of minutes.
“Even if you don’t have any paperwork, you can order a free credit record, which will show the organisations you have had credit agreements with over the past six years. You can then fill in a form on their websites to check if you had PPI. The average payout is £2,750, so it may be time well spent.”
Move your mortgage – £1,068
If you’re on a standard variable rate and free to switch then you might well be able to save a lot of money by moving mortgage providers.
Clearly you should research your options carefully and ideally take advice, but comparison website uSwitch says that homeowners could typically save almost £90 a month on their repayments by moving.
That’s a potential saving of £1,068 a year.
Click and cancel unwanted direct debits – £500
That unused subscription that keeps rolling over? The magazine you pay for monthly but don’t read? The educational app you pay for but your child has only used once?
Direct debits pile up and the strain on your bank account can add up. Just check you’re out of any minimum period first and then get cancelling.
Sarah Coles suggests that spending a few minutes culling any unused direct debits can really pay off: “A concerted cull can save you £500 a year.”
Compare your credit card – £186
If you’re paying through the nose for credit card debt then it’s worth looking into whether you could qualify for a 0% interest balance transfer credit card.
Here’s an example of what you could save from uSwitch. If you had a credit card debt of £1,200 on the average credit card interest rate of 17.95 per cent and you transferred to a 0 per cent balance transfer card, paying an average transfer fee of 1.95 per cent, you’d save up to £186 a year in interest.
Get a better bank account – £100
Banks are working harder than ever for your current account business, which means that you can find a better account and earn or save some money.
One current account provider offers a £100 switching bonus, others provide fee-free overdrafts, some come with perks and discounts. Switching takes just seven days and the actual application can take just a few moments, so spend some time looking for a better account for your circumstances and switch.
Get it done, get it done, GET IT DONE
The grand total you could have saved doing all these is £4,919, just short of £5,000. But even if you can’t do them all and can only save a few hundred pounds, that will be bank holiday time well spent.
Stephanie Varda, a life coach who specialises in stress and who is working with the pensions advice specialist Portafina, says you’ll feel better once you’ve cleared your desk of the admin that’s hanging over you.
“It’s human nature to put off those little life-admin jobs like renewing insurance or shopping around for the best energy provider. We know we’ve got to do them, but we will do a million other activities rather than get them done.
“In our head we build them up into these long, laborious activities that will take hours to complete when the reality is that they can be done and dusted really quickly.
“Set aside time each month, maybe an hour tops, that you are going to dedicate to sorting out your “life laundry”. Make a list, ticking off each one as you get it done.
“Taking control in this way helps you to free up that vital head space. You’ll feel less overwhelmed, less stressed and more confident in your ability to manage whatever life throws your way. Then when you’re done with the ‘life laundry’ reward yourself by doing something you love.”