Quick ways for families to save money.
1. Married? A tax break means you could be due up to £1,220
You could save hundreds each year if you’re a married couple or in a civil partnership – and one of you doesn’t earn enough to pay tax while the other is a basic-rate taxpayer.
So how does it work? Say you’re the lower earner, earning less than £12,570 a year. If your other half earns between £12,571 and £50,270 (£43,662 in Scotland), then the marriage tax allowance lets you transfer £1,260 of your annual personal tax allowance to them. Not having to pay 20% tax on that extra £1,260 means they’ll save £252 a year (in the 2021/22 tax year).
Even better, the claim will be automatically backdated to 5 April 2017, assuming both of you meet all the criteria. All in all, your partner could be looking at getting back £1,220.
Think you’re eligible? You can find full details when you apply on gov.uk. The lower earner needs to fill out the application.
2. Do a DIY audit on your bank account
In the hurly-burly of family and work life, it’s easy to lose track of every payment going in and out of your bank account.
Take some time to run a fine-toothed comb over your most recent statements and it’s possible you’ll discover at least one regular Direct Debit or standing order you no longer need.
It could be anything from a forgotten insurance renewal or roll-over sports club fee to an online magazine subscription or charity donation.
You can usually end a Direct Debit or standing order online or over the phone but always check if your subscription is in a contract, to avoid any cancellation fee or penalty.
3. Pay £30 to cut a third off your train fares
If you have a family, a £30 railcard can reduce train fares by a third for a year (for you as an adult) and 60% for your kids. If you’re disabled, you can qualify for a disabled person’s rail card for the cost of £20.
Travel in rush hour may be limited and rules for each rail operator vary, so do check which routes and ticket types will work best for you.
The Family & Friends Railcard can be used on most types of fare when an adult and at least one child aged 5 to 15 travel together. The maximum is four adults and four children. Find full details and more from National Rail.
4. Costly kids’ care? See what the government can offer you
Launched in 2017, the government tax-free childcare scheme lets you open a special account to save for the cost of looking after your kids. Check to see whether you qualify.
Put in 80p and the state adds 20p – it’ll contribute up to £2,000 per child a year (or up to £4,000 if your child has a disability). The most you can save in the account is £8,000, which means you can pay for up to £10,000 of childcare per child each year using the scheme. Sign up for an account.
5. Shop around – vow to abandon your broadband and mobile provider and save £100s
Whatever your online hobbies – browsing, movies, music or gaming – there are deals galore offering ever more data and faster internet speeds at lower prices.
Call your provider with details of a recent offer you’ve seen as you approach the end of a contract, and ask them to match it – if they can’t, say you’ll leave. In many cases, the company won’t want to lose your business, and will switch you to a cheaper tariff offering better value.