Anyone who regularly checks current contracts can save money in the long term, advises Brigitte Dörhöfer from the consumer advice center in Detmold. These tips can effectively reduce costs in times of inflation:
Rising energy and food prices are presenting more and more people with financial challenges. The number of households that can barely cope with daily expenses has increased in recent months. What to do when running costs eat up all income? As a first step, existing contracts can be scrutinized, advises the NRW consumer advice center. It is often possible to switch to cheaper tariffs, for example for insurance or mobile phone contracts. Under certain circumstances, contracts may even prove to be superfluous and can be terminated subject to the contractually agreed deadline. The consumer center NRW gives tips on how running costs can be reduced effectively.
Insurance – usually unnecessary for minor damage
When it comes to insurance, the following applies: as much as necessary, as little as possible. Policies that only cover minor damage are often superfluous. No luggage insurance is necessary for a standard holiday, and the loss of a suitcase can usually be easily replaced. Mobile phone insurance usually has many gaps and pitfalls, you can usually save yourself this holey protection in the truest sense of the word. Extra device insurance for bicycles, laptops or glasses is only worthwhile for very expensive purchases. Glass and death benefit insurance are often not required. There are significant price differences for important insurance policies such as personal liability or household contents, so it is worth comparing prices. Modern policies often offer better protection. Switching to annual payment can also save you money.
Telephone contracts – indispensable, but needs-based
A contract for telephone, smartphone and internet is essential. But here, too, money can sometimes be saved by consumers first determining their actual needs. How many minutes do I call? How much data volume do I use per month? If you know your needs, you can also compare the prices of different providers better. Product information sheets, which dealers have to hand out to their customers, help with this. After the minimum contract period has expired, any telecommunications contract that has not been actively extended, for example due to a change of tariff or a new smartphone, can be terminated with one month’s notice. The change is therefore possible quickly. Porting your phone number is free regardless of the provider.
Subscriptions and memberships – cancel in good time
Many consumers have taken out subscriptions or memberships, for example for magazines, streaming services or a fitness studio. These are often particularly cheap or even free in the first few months, but over time multiple subscriptions or memberships can result in high costs. Especially a long minimum contract period of up to two years can become a cost trap in difficult financial times. Some contracts are also automatically extended by a further year if they are not terminated in good time. Consumers can check their existing contracts, prioritize them and note the notice periods in order to end unnecessary memberships and subscriptions in good time.
Bank fees and loans – be careful when choosing an account
Financial institutions have different price models and fees for a current account or the use of a credit card. Some banks charge flat rates for account management, others charge a basic price plus costs for individual booking processes. Free account management is also offered. Some banks also offer special conditions for students, trainees, pensioners or union members. A comparison of different banks can therefore be useful in order to reduce running costs. Current accounts can usually be terminated at any time and without notice. No fees may be charged for closing the account. Caution is advised with loans: the installments and additional costs put a strain on the budget. You should not exhaust the overdraft facility either, because double-digit interest rates are due here. In the event of acute financial problems, debt counseling should be sought in good time.
Price increases in current contracts – read the small print and clauses
Rising costs are currently causing many providers to increase prices in current contracts. However, this is not easily possible. Because once a contract has been concluded for a specific, regularly payable price, it cannot be changed unilaterally. It is different if a price adjustment clause was agreed in the contract, on which the provider can base his price increase. Such clauses are usually found in the small print and are subject to strict requirements. In many cases they are ineffective, so that the providers cannot refer to them.
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