Anyone who regularly checks current contracts can save money in the long run, 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 pose more and more people facing economic challenges. The number of households that can barely cope with the daily expenses has increased in recent months. What to do when operating costs eat up all income? As a first step, existing contracts can be scrutinized, advises NRW Consumer Advice Center. It is often possible to switch to cheaper rates, for example for insurance or mobile phone contracts. In certain circumstances, contracts may even prove redundant and may be terminated within the contractually agreed time limit. The NRW Consumer Center provides tips on how to effectively reduce operating costs.
Insurance – usually unnecessary for minor damages
When it comes to insurance, the following applies: as much as necessary, as little as possible. Policies that only cover minor damages are often redundant. No luggage insurance is required for a regular holiday and the loss of a suitcase can usually be easily replaced. Mobile phone insurance usually has many holes and pitfalls, you can usually save yourself this hole protection in the true sense of the word. Additional device insurance for bicycles, laptops or glasses can only pay off for very expensive purchases. Glass and death insurance is often not required. There are significant price differences on important insurances such as personal liability or contents, so it is worth comparing prices. Modern policies often provide better protection. Switching to annual payment can also save you money.
Telephone contracts – indispensable, but needs-based
A contract on phone, smartphone and internet is crucial. 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 that retailers need 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, eg due to a change in tariff or a new smartphone, can be terminated with one month’s notice. The change is therefore possible as soon as possible. Porting your phone number is free regardless of provider.
Subscriptions and memberships – unsubscribe well in advance
Many consumers have signed up for subscriptions or memberships, for example for magazines, streaming services or a gym. 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. In particular, a long minimum contract period of up to two years can become a cost trap in difficult economic times. Some contracts are also automatically renewed for another year if they are not terminated in good time. Consumers can check their existing contracts, prioritize them and note the notice periods to terminate unnecessary memberships and subscriptions in good time.
Bank fees and loans – be careful when choosing an account
Financial institutions have different pricing models and fees for a current account or the use of a credit card. Some banks charge fixed rates for account management, others charge a base price plus costs for individual booking processes. Free account management is also offered. Some banks also offer special conditions for students, interns, retirees or union members. A comparison of different banks can therefore be useful in reducing operating 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 the extra costs burden the budget. You also do not have to use up the overdraft, because here double-digit interest must be paid. In case of acute financial problems, debt counseling should be sought in good time.
Price increases in current contracts – read in small print and clauses
Rising costs are currently causing many providers to raise prices in current contracts. However, this is not easily possible. Because once a contract has been entered into at a certain, current payable price, it cannot be changed unilaterally. It would be different if a price regulation clause had been agreed in the contract on which the provider could base its price increase. Such clauses are usually found in small print and are subject to strict requirements. In many cases, they are ineffective so providers cannot refer to them.
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