1. Combat credit card debt

Wondering how you’ve descended into the depths of a cash deficit?  If your credit card has taken control it’s time to ditch those dastardly debts with these tips.

• Lock up/ cut up your cards,
• Try to pay off more than the minimum payment each month.
• Transfer your debt to a low-rate or a 0% interest card, remembering to make your payments on time and check when the rate expires.
• Take out a loan: a credit card debt (APR 15%) of £2200 over 2 years will cost you £545 in interest; a loan at 6% will cost £209, saving you £336
• Ask your credit card company about repaying your debt in Equated Monthly Installments.

2. Telecoms

Muddled by your mobile?  Baffled by your broadband?  With so many packages on offer it’s a veritable minefield.  If you’re looking for a new broadband deal, you could save yourself money by checking a price comparison site and switching providers. You’ll be locked in for at least a year, so make sure you choose the right package to suit your needs:

• Run an online broadband speed test to check how your current provider performs.   Advertised broadband speeds have risen significantly over the last year, with most offering speeds of up to 20Mb and some with a lavish 50Mb.
• Consider your usage and choose an appropriate download allowance.
• Make technical support a priority if you’re a technophobe.
• Bag yourself a phone and broadband bundle to conserve cash in the long run.

3. Food

 Food prices are getting feisty so it’s time to get careful with your comestibles:
• March to the market and stay seasonal.
• Plan weekly menus buying what you need to reduce waste.
• Snap up vouchers, deals and discounts.
• Buy in bulk and freeze meals.
• Grow your own, make your own.
• Break from the brand – often the only difference is the packaging.
• Check before you chuck: you CAN eat food past its best-before date.

4. Fuel

The nation is paying through the nose for gas and electricity, with price hikes bumping bills up by 20% in a year. 
• Check your tariff – a typical household pays £1,320 a year on a standard tariff, but on the cheapest tariff they would pay £1,030 for the same usage.  Switch supplier and cut costs by £300+ and even qualify for cashback or a crate of wine
• Pay by direct debit to save between 5 and 10%
• Invest in an energy monitoring kit and cut down on unnecessary use.

5. Travel

The cost of running a car soared by 14% in 2011, with the average driver paying £7,000 a year in motoring expenses. And with public transport costs rising, are there any cheap travel options left?  Of course…
• Join a car-sharing scheme or club and save thousands
• Train and coach yourself: buy a Railcard and sign up to ticket alert systems to snap up those cheap seats. The Cheap Train and Coach Deals index lists promotions, vouchers and codes.  It’s cheaper on the sleeper – Caledonian Sleeper single fares from London to Scotland start at a nifty £19.