It might be time for you to spend a few minutes looking through your bank accounts as new research by GoCompare has found people are spending an average of £30 on goods and services they don't want or need.
The research found 57% of people haven’t reviewed their direct debits or standing orders in the last 12 months, but 14% said they knew they could save money if they went through their statements and 7% know there are subscriptions, donations and memberships they should cancel.
GoCompare estimates we could save an average of £360 in a year by freeing ourselves of these ‘zombie payments’ that are left unchecked.
How to detox your bank accounts
Here are some of the steps you can take to give your current account a detox – and potentially save hundreds.
Set aside time
The first step is to set aside some time to go through your bank and credit card statement to spot subscriptions, memberships or donations that you could cut or things you are paying too much for.
Ideally you should check your statements over the last year to be sure you are taking a look at monthly payments as well as one-off annual charges.
Identify payments for the chop
A quick way to spot things to shed is by identifying which payments are Direct Debits (often shown as DD on statements) and Standing Orders (SO).
A Direct Debit requires you to sign a mandate to be set up and allows a company to take a fixed or variable amount of money from your account. You are entitled to contact your bank to cancel a DD instruction.
A Standing Order is an instruction you can set up that tells your bank to pay a fixed amount at regular intervals to another account.
You can use a SO to keep on paying indefinitely or to end on a certain date or after a set number of payments have been made. You can also change the payment amount or cancel an order whenever you want.
Weed out sneaky payments
You’ll need to look harder to spot a Continuous Payment Authority (CPA). This type of payment allows companies to take a regular or one-off payment from your debit or credit card.
Insurers, gyms and subscriptions are often set up using ths type of payment.
The problem is CPAs allow them to take money from an account whenever they want and they can change the payment amount. This is a major problem if fees go up and you don’t realise.
You will need to cancel a CPA through the company that is taking the payment.
Flag up payments you don’t recognise
If you spot a payment you don’t recognise then you should contact your bank immediately.
They might be able to provide more information and expand on the abbreviation or acronym iused on your bank statement.
If the payment is still a complete mystery to you it may be a sign of fraud.
Check terms and conditions
Before cancelling payments for goods and services make sure to check the terms and conditions for any exit penalties or notice periods and whether you may be entitled to a refund.
'I've done it too': loveMONEY.com's Reena Sewraz confesses
I never thought it would happen to me, but I’ve been paying for a subscription I forgot I signed up for and don't use.
When I first spotted the payment for an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription I thought it was fraud, but tracing back my steps through some old emails I realised I had signed up for a 30-day free trial of the service in September last year, which I forgot to cancel.
Failing to spot my error sooner means I’ve been paying £7.99 since October 2016 for a service I never use.
In my defence it was easy to miss. Moving to a new house, along with the Christmas shopping rush, meant it wasn’t unusual for Amazon payments to come up on my statements during the last few months of the year.
The other problem was the payment was only labelled ‘AMZ UK Digital Download’ which looks more like a one-off purchase for an e-book or music rather than a subscription to a service.
It’s only now in January with the move and festive season over that I realise I’ve been paying for something I had forgotten I even signed up for and have wasted £31.96 in the process.
My silly mistake has been a wakeup call to detox my bank accounts and you should too.