Think your 'sensible' habits are helping to save you money? You may need to reconsider, says Vicky Shaw.

When it comes to money matters, we all have certain habits. But some of the things we're doing - or not doing - could be making us significantly financially worse off.

The amount of cash being thrown down the drain can be particularly large if the same money mistakes keep being repeated, week after week.

Some habits may actually seem like a good idea for saving money - but the reality may turn out to be quite different.

Read on to see if you could be making some of these common money mistakes...

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1. Bulk buying to save money - only to find you don't use everything

Piling goods into your trolley in bulk can be a great way to save cash over the longer term - but there are also pitfalls to this money-saving tactic. More than three-quarters (76%) of shoppers are regular bulk-buyers, with toilet paper, baked beans and soap among the popular items to stock up on, research from has found. But while 86% of bulk-buyers say they stock up in a bid to save cash, nearly one in five (19%) admit they don't end up using all the items they bought in bulk - perhaps because they went out of date, or didn't have enough room to store them. One in 12 (8%) bulk-buyers believe their habit actually makes them financially worse off. As Natasha Rachel Smith, TopCashback's consumer affairs editor, says: "Consumers are finding themselves in a false economy with a huge amount of goods going in the bin and cash down the drain."

2. Not checking the cupboards before you head to the shops

More than a quarter (26%) of people say they bulk-buy without checking their supply levels at home first, the TopCashback research also found. This can increase the chances of being wooed by 'special offers' you don't really need.

Nearly a third (31%) admit to buying items they only think they will need because they are on offer, and 3% buy items they do not need at all.

3. Opting for a higher excess when choosing car insurance

When choosing a car insurance deal, some people may decide to go for a higher excess - the amount you will pay towards any claims you make on your policy - in order to get a cheaper insurance deal, but is this worth it? Comparison website found the average car insurance quote for drivers opting for a £1,000 voluntary excess is £318 a year - just £12 cheaper than a policy with a £250 voluntary excess. This means someone could end up taking on up to £750 of additional financial liability for a saving of just £1 a month. Rod Jones, an insurance expert at uSwitch, says: "While many think opting for a policy with a higher level of excess will save them money, drivers should ask themselves if an additional risk of £750 is really worth an average saving of just £1 a month."

4. Using social media for shopping inspiration - only to regret it

It's great to get inspiration from others, but it can lead to costly shopping regrets for some. Nearly a quarter (24%) of social media users have made a purchase as a direct result of something they spotted on somebody's feed, spending an average of £318 per year, Post Office Money found. Men spend an average of £438 a year, compared with £230 for women. But two-thirds (65%) admit they ended up regretting what they bought, with 37% wishing they'd put the money towards reaching a savings goal instead.

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5. Being a loyal customer

Loyalty doesn't necessarily pay when it comes to essential services - in fact it could cost nearly £1,000 per year. Research from Citizens Advice found charging loyal customers more than new ones for the same service can often happen with energy, mobile, broadband, home insurance, fixed-rate mortgages and savings accounts. Its analysis suggests customers who stay loyal to their essential service providers could be paying £987 more per year - equivalent to four months' worth of food for the average household.

6. Always sticking with what's familiar when it comes to cash in bank accounts

If you're looking for somewhere to put your savings cash, competition this year has been particularly strong so far among 'challenger' banks, according to website While some of the newer banks may not be that familiar, you may find you can get a better savings rate. Rachel Springall, a finance expert at, says brands such as ICICI Bank, Paragon Bank, Ford Money and Tesco Bank are among those offering competitive savings deals.


Market turbulence has recently been hitting the headlines, but what should investors make of it? While it can be easy to make rushed decisions, Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, cautions against knee-jerk reactions: "Don't throw out your long-term investment strategy on the basis of a few disappointing days on the stock market. If your strategy was sound a week ago, it's sound today."

If you're concerned about market falls, Khalaf suggests an option could be to drip-feed money into the market via a regular savings plan, thereby investing at different market levels, and buying cheaper shares if prices tumble. "If you're looking to take advantage of this year's Isa allowance before the end of the tax year, you can put money into the 2017/18 tax shelter before April 5 and simply hold it as cash," he says. "You can then drip-feed money into the market over a period of time, without worrying about the end of tax year deadline." While you can't control the stock market, he says you can improve the share of profits you get by keeping investments tax-efficient, such as through Isas.

Meanwhile, Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, says: "One possible technique could be to look at which stock market sectors have done well and which have done badly, to see which areas could now be expensive or overstretched and which are downtrodden and potentially already pricing in a lot of bad news." If market gyrations are making you feel uncomfortable, then it may be possible you have taken more risk in your portfolio than you really feel comfortable with, he notes: "It may be worth sitting down and assess where you do feel comfortable and where you do not, to ensure your portfolio is properly set so that it fits with your overall strategy, target returns, time horizon and appetite for risk."


Financial fact: More than one million employers have now placed staff into workplace pensions as part of automatic enrolment - the UK-wide retirement savings drive - figures from the Pensions Regulator show.


Major retailers are being urged to share details of an iTunes scam with staff so they can help prevent customers from being conned. HM Revenue and Customs has written to major UK retailers as part of efforts to raise awareness of the scam, which involves fraudsters cold calling people pretending to be HMRC staff. They tell them they owe large amounts of tax which they can only pay off through Apple's iTunes vouchers. Victims are told to buy these vouchers from shops and read out the redemption code to the scammer. The fraudsters then sell on the codes or buy high-value products.


The number of people taking their first step on the property ladder reached its highest levels in a decade last year, a trade association representing mortgage lenders has reported. There were 30,800 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in December 2017, 5.2% fewer than in the same month a year earlier, UK Finance said. But across 2017 as a whole, 365,000 first-time buyers were recorded - the highest number since 2006.


House prices ended last year £12,000 higher on average than they had been 12 months earlier, according to official figures. The average UK house price was £227,000 in December 2017, which was £12,000 higher than in December 2016, an index released jointly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Land Registry and other bodies said. Annual house price growth accelerated to 5.2% in December, from 5% in November.