Don’t get blue this Monday, get away from it all…

Don’t get blue this Monday, get away from it all…

Holiday companies use Blue Monday for marketing – here’s how to turn the tables and make it sunny for you and for your wallet!

couple on beach sunset

Blue Monday is the third Monday in the first month of the year, falling this year on 15 January… It is claimed by some to be the most depressing day of the year. The term was coined by Cardiff University lecturer, Dr Cliff Arnall, in 2005, when he “scientifically calculated” a formula for a press release for Sky Travel. (See this Guardian article for more information)

Why depressing? Well, it’s cold, we’ve had a nice few days off over Christmas but we haven’t been paid yet and the credit card bills are starting to come in now. Our New Year resolutions are already failing… What can we do? How about getting away from it all or at least thinking about a future holiday?

Holiday companies will clamour to use this “special” day once again to boost their “deals”. So, for the 15th January, some expert money bloggers and I have joined forces to give you 15 tips on saving money when booking that holiday! We look at turning the tables and playing the travel companies at their own game, so you can save money when you book your trip away. Good huh?

sun setting over water consumer rights, ways to shop around, discounts, alternatives, thinking beyond and searching

Rights

1) I’ll kick off, as you would expect, with your consumer rights. “You have numerous consumer rights to cover you when booking your holiday and for when you are on holiday.  Be aware of them when booking. For example, if you feel that you have made a purchasing decision that you wouldn’t have made had you been given accurate information (such as a misleading price) you may be able to claim a refund under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008”.  There is also the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992 of which you should be aware. These give you lots of rights regarding any changes that the company may make, amongst other things!” From the 1st July 2018 use Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements.

Dates and shopping around

2) The Money Whisperer, Emma Maslin says “If you are looking for popular times e.g. school holidays for package holidays, it maybe best to book ahead but if you can be more flexible, wait until closer to the date for the best last-minute deals. We’re going to the same island we went to last year but booked ahead this time. We booked just 7 days before last year and it was over £200 cheaper per person. This year, it might not be a last minute option – that’s the risk you take. But if you are flexible and can go elsewhere or fly a different day to save money, then it pays to look around.”

3) Fiona Hawkes from Savvy in Somerset has found that booking accommodation and flights separately has always been cheaper than a package. She also advises looking round at all the various websites that do this for you, as some will also offer free cancellation or low cost cancellation cover for accommodation.

4) “Haggle!” implores blogger Emma Drew.  “We have haggled between Disney and Virgin Holidays for a cruise. Virgin Holidays were selling it for more than Disney, so we went armed with the info and got them to match Disney and throw some on board credit in! Add that to shopping around for flights with sites like SkySkanner where you can find flights cheaper than going direct.”

Discounts 

5) “Try it on!” Catherine Morgan Financial Money Coach cheekily encourages. “Say you are on your honeymoon or it’s a wedding anniversary, sometimes it works!  Be a bit savvy too. We saved a mint last year when we booked a TUI week away to Kos. We contacted the hotel directly and paid them £100 and got an upgrade with a swim up room. Thomson wanted to charge us £700 extra for the same!”

6) Mrs Mummy Penny, Lynn James, suggests thinking of your friends and family who work for a travel company or hotel. Maybe they have a friends and family offer code they can give you? One of her friends is a concierge at Aria in Las Vegas and can always find her a deal. Often it makes it cheaper than package deals.

7) “Use cashback!” exclaims Emma Bradley of Mums Savvy Savings “Look for discount codes and then use sites like Topcashback* which will give you money straight back into your account too. I saved about £150 from doing this last year.” (I got about £70 from Thomson last Summer too. You can also use Zeek* to see if there are any discounted gift cards which you will be able to use with discounts to reduce the cost still further. (*Refer a friend links. So if you sign up you’ll get a bonus and so will I 🙂 ))

Thinking ahead

8) Faith Archer from Much More with Less cuts food costs while away by booking somewhere to stay with self-catering facilities. “Even the odd breakfast in your room or packed lunch can save cash compared to eating out for every meal!”, she says.

9) Andy Webb from Be Clever With Your Cash advises booking car hire far in advance for the lowest prices “AND make sure the car is big enough! It will only cost a few quid more to get a bigger car when booking, but can be hundreds if you have to upgrade at the check-in desk! Shop around for the car hire, looking direct as well various comparison sites. Plus, if the excess waiver isn’t included don’t buy it from the car rental company. You can get policies for a few quid elsewhere that’ll cover you for damage to the car. Make sure you are comparing like for like inclusive totals.”

10) Buy your travel insurance the day you buy your holiday in case you need it before you go! “But also think about how you are going to buy it. Shop around as it will nearly always be cheaper than the one you get offered with a package. And look at all the group (e.g. group, couple, family) options however your group is made up” says William Pointing from Great Deals Made Easy.

Alternatives to the usual booking routes

11) Hollie Gregersen from ThriftyMum recommends house sitting or pet sitting! “There are a number of websites that provide details of homes you can stay at providing affordable options for holidays in the UK and abroad, including house swaps”.

Getting there

12) Pete Chatfield from Household Money Saving suggests taking a coach if travelling in Europe and saving a fortune.

13) A Thrifty Fox blogger Emily Rowley considers stopover flights; if flying long haul you could save hundreds by planning a break in your journey (tie in with meals if it makes it more bearable!)

14) Joseph Seager of A Thrifty Chap tries to be flexible when booking. Midweek is nearly always cheaper than a weekend. So are less sociable hour flight times. You can save by flying from other airports too, but make sure to factor in different travel to airport/parking/stay costs for your final comparison.

Everytime you search!

15) Above all, if you go back to a website, clear your cookies first. The travel website will put that price up if it knows you’ve looked at that holiday before!

For everything you need to know about your rights when booking, during and after, your holiday see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights for lots of different rights and what you should do when and how.

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

For even more information, advice, tips, your consumer rights and template letters for most sectors GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

 

 

How to save money on your car insurance

Update to this post. 10 May 2018

In April new rules came into force for insurers. These rules mean that insurers must provide the cost of the previous year as well as the renewal. This way it is clearer for consumers to see just how big the hike is.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) have published new Guiding Principles and Action Points for members to ensure customers who don’t switch every year are offered a fairer deal. However, does this go far enough?

Vulnerable customers in particular are still likely to be hit. Those who don’t have Internet access, those who don’t know they can switch etc. Will they continue to accept the hike? More needs to be done to educate consumers that they can switch. And more needs to be done to make insurers reward loyalty. As I’ve said many times about other sectors, telecoms in particular, it needs a company to take a risk for a couple of years. Say it will invest in customer service, training and take a hit by not hiking prices and gain the loyalty and spread the message through word of mouth (and social media etc!)

The ABI and BIBA has said it wants members to provide all the information about switching in their correspondence but will it happen? They need to do more to encourage companies to do right by their customers.

 

Most people still aren’t aware that they should not just let their car insurance renew. Just like house and buildings every year, it is rare that your renewal will be cheaper than starting afresh. I have just taken out my car insurance, and, (after recovering from the jaw drop of seeing how much my car has gone down in value!) thought I’d give you some figures just to show you the importance of shopping around and not just using comparison websites. These are all quotes from today 11th October 2017.

1st Central renewal quote £505.00
1st Central renewal online chat £490.00 (when stopping auto renewal online chat)
1st Central direct on website £473.95
Moneysupermarket.com (1st Central cheapest) £503.31
Confused.com (AA cheapest) £393.91
Comparethemeerkat (MoreThan cheapest) £385.12
MoreThan direct on website £382.28
AA direct on website £348.31
AA through Topcashback £348.31 (minus £40 paid to Topcashback account)

A saving of £196.69 (39%) of the renewal price. It is such a boring way to spend half an hour of your life, it really is! But! How can you not do it when it saves this sort of money?

Topcashback* is a great cashback site. Go there before buying anything. Sign up and whenever you shop check Topcashback first. If the store is listed click on the link and get cashback. Don’t rely on this though as there may be terms and conditions that you miss (such as using vouchers) negating the cashback. Other big cashback sites include Kidstart* (where the cashback goes to your nominated child’s bank account), Quidco* and Free fivers*. Others that I’ve not used are  Imutual, Give or take and there are others. It is worth signing up to a few as they all have different traders,  % cashback and offers on at various times. Time consuming but worth it more often than not! £40 for taking an extra five minutes is quite a nice hourly rate (if only I could do it all hours!)

A dozen top tips for saving money on motor insurance

  • Last year, using a cashback site wasn’t cheaper, somehow in the system it knew! So don’t think that after getting your cheapest quote you always get the cashback from the same price. Clear your cookies which may help!
  • Don’t completely disregard your renewal quote as most companies are nearly always open to haggling, I’ve yet to hear of anyone failing when they do this.
  • I only went direct to the cheapest offer on each of the comparison websites
  • Some providers are only able to produce a certain number of quotations per customer, and after the limit has been reached, they will no longer be able to produce quotations online on some sites so don’t make hundreds of tweaks!
  • You can always try changing your job title. I’ve heard of people getting cheaper quotes when changing “builder” to “construction” etc., but to be perfectly honest I’ve never seen a difference and of course it does still have to describe the job! But it may work with some insurers so do try it.
  • Save your details on the comparison websites so if you keep the car you don’t have to waste your time filling it all out again.
  • Look at deals that may work out cheaper if you switch your contents and building insurance  same provider and visa versa.
  • Check the additional add ons. Do you already have breakdown cover, is something already covered by your bank, travel or house insurance?
  • Pay up front rather than in instalments if you can as this is always cheaper.
  • Adding a more experienced driver to your policy can reduce the premium.
  • Check the excess, think about how much you could afford to pay and go with that, the difference between £50 and £100 excess can reduce the amount significantly.
  • Don’t leave until the last minute, compare prices about 3 weeks before the renewal date and make sure you cancel any auto renewal!

Bonus tips!
After doing the quote and post I asked some fellow money bloggers for tips that I hadn’t thought of and now I wonder if I could have got it reduced even further!

Katy from KatyKicker  wrote about saving money on insurance and provides lots of tips, one being a really really good point! Check the policy! When you go through comparison websites check like for like, windscreen cover, legal cover, replacement car etc. And consider asking your current provider for a loyalty discount rather than just quoting competitors’ prices.

I never go for all the legal cover. But Emma from TheMoneyWhisperer has written about how to get free legal protection from Freemotorlegal and I’ve just signed up! Then Lee from Freemotorlegal wrote a guest post Why Motor Legal Protection is a rip off and the free alternative

Emily from A Thrify Fox says she had an automated email thingy from confused.com telling her that Admiral was the cheapest for her.

Now this is a little known secret and is brilliant! Emma from Mumssavvysavings wrote a post about Reducing the cost of learning to drive. In it she says that she got insurance from a company  that they pay for 28 days of insurance and it is only used on any days they choose within three months. Superb!

Do Morethan just comparison websites for insurance quotes! A couple of years ago I picked up on the differences in prices between a standard quote and a quote going through a cashback site…. I complained, obviously. No laws broken but still got the refund of the difference 🙂 Also just double check the quotes. Sometimes the cheapest quote is for 10 months!

 

 

If you need help with a complaint re insurance or anything else see Top 20 Tips How to Complain! For much more advice, guidance, templates, consumer laws and information GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

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