Do you have the feeling that there should be more money left at the end of the month than there is?   It can be painful to reduce your spending, so it’s always good to discover something that can save you money without cut backs. This guest post by Sara Williams, who writes about debt and budgeting at her Debt Camel website, looks at how making sure all your recurring payments really are wanted can save a lot of money.

 

There are three type of recurring payments: direct debits, standing orders or continuous payment authorities. If you have ones that you don’t want, you are literally throwing away money.

 

You can get a list of direct debits and standing orders from your bank. Many of them will be paying important bills – the direct debits paying your council tax and utilities, the regular monthly payment to your credit card, the standing order making sure your rent is paid etc! And you may have useful standing orders set up to put money aside in savings accounts.

 

Continuous payment authorities can be harder to spot as they are used for subscriptions such as gym membership and magazines. They are often paid from a credit card. Have a look through your recent statements for them.

 

You will probably find some ones you don’t need any more. For example:

  • A subscription to a magazine you don’t want any more. Perhaps you wanted the magazine but the price has now risen a lot!
  • Have you forgotten to cancel one of Experian or Equifax’s expensive subscriptions after the free trial offers?
  • Are donations to charity adding up to more than you realise?
  • There may be old insurances – eg for a washing machine that you have replaced.

And get your partner to check too. If you compare your lists, you may find that you are both paying for Spotify or Amazon Prime – think about switching to a family subscription. Or you may be donating to the same charity. Or have duplicated insurances.

 

When you see one that you want to cancel, make sure you tell the firm as well as your bank. Otherwise they may carry on sending you magazines, or insuring that non-existent washing machine, and send you a bill to pay.

 

A new free website, Bean, that makes this much easier. You tell Bean about your bank accounts and credit cards and it then looks through your old payment history spotting the recurring payments.

 

It then gives you a list for each account so you can choose what to cancel. Bean will tell your bank or credit card to cancel those payments and it also informs the relevant firm that you are cancelling your subscription. That can save you a lot of time and hassle. For those you don’t cancel, you can tell Bean to ignore those payments in future.

 

Bean will also highlight where it thinks you could save money by switching. Click on their “see if you can save” button or banner, and Bean will takes you to a comparison website, making it easier to check if you can cut costs elsewhere.

 

This is where Bean makes money, it gets a small fee whenever you use one of its switches. That’s how it can afford to provide Bean to you without charging. But you can ignore these suggestions to compare and switch if you don’t want to.

 

If you are already a demon switcher, then you will know you can often get cashback if you go through websites such as Quidco or Topcashback. If you switch through Bean, you lose out on this. But you could still save a lot of money, so if not getting round to switching is one of your money weaknesses, Bean can really help.

 

You are giving Bean access to your bank account and credit card. This is “read only” access to your old statements – Bean can’t make a payment from your account or move your money. But it is still important that you are comfortable with Bean’s security.

 

Bean shows you a list of banks, building societies and credit cards it works with. You click on the ones you use and you are then asked to enter the relevant customer number, user name, password and memorable data. It’s a very quick process. You don’t have to do this with all your accounts at the start – just try one and see how well it works.

 

Bean uses bank-level encryption and security measures. Bean doesn’t store your login details itself, it uses Yodlee, the world’s largest transaction data aggregation platform, used by big banks in America and the UK for more than 10 years. There is a lot more about security on Bean’s website.

 

“Open Banking” comes in to Britain in January 2018. That will only be for bank accounts at the start, but later credit card accounts will be added. Bean will be changing the way it accesses your old statements when this happens – Bean is planning to take advantage of the new methods which should give both simpler access and better security.

 

Checking for recurring payments that can be cancelled is a simple way to stop wasting money. You don’t have to use Bean – just looking at the list of standing orders and direct debits on your bank accounts is a good start.

 

Getting rid of unwanted payments will leave you more money in 2018 for the things you really do want.

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