Kill ‘zombie bills’ and save £340 a year

42 per cent of people say they have payments they no-longer want or use

This Halloween, GoCompare Money is encouraging people to carve ‘zombie bills’ out of their bank accounts as new research shows that, on average, they waste £340 a year on old direct debits, standing orders, subscriptions, donations and unused memberships.

The research found that ‘zombie bills’ are more likely to infect men’s finances: 47 per cent of men waste money on useless outgoings, compared to 38 per cent of women.  On average, the men surveyed estimated that they could save £383 a year by axing ‘zombie bills’, while women said they typically drained £296 from their accounts. 

Top ‘zombie bills’

· Subscriptions for satellite TV with channels they hardly watch (16 per cent)

· Mobile phone contracts (13 per cent)

· Subscriptions to services such as Netflix (7 per cent)

· Unused gym memberships (6 per cent)

· Amazon Prime membership (5 per cent)

The research, commissioned by GoCompare Money, also revealed that many people fail to regularly review their bank account and credit card statements – potentially missing the opportunity to spot and deal with bogey payments lurking in their finances. 

More than two fifths (44 per cent) of people admitted to having not reviewed direct debits and standing orders paid from their accounts in the last 12 months.

On average, people are paying £28.30 a month for things they don’t use or want, but others are forking-out considerably more.  14 per cent estimate they are paying over £40 a month while one in ten spend over £50 each month on unnecessary items. 

Commenting on the research, Georgie Frost, head of consumer affairs at GoCompare, said:

“Automated payments including direct debits and standing orders can be a trick or a treat – depending on how you manage them. On the up-side they can save you money and make life easier, ensuring bills are paid on time without you having to think about it. But therein lies the problem. Unless you stay on top of your finances you could end up with a load of ‘zombie bills’ leeching away your cash without realising it.

“It’s a good idea to get mobile with your banking or to review your bank and credit card statements regularly to check for overpayments, changes to terms and conditions including fees, and for errors, fraudulent payments or omissions.

“Some companies offer one month free trials of their services and then roll you on to a paid subscription. Regularly reviewing your financial statements will help uncover any forgotten payments or areas of unnecessary expenditure. Ask yourself if you are making the most of your subscriptions and memberships, if not, get rid!” 

Tips from GoCompare Money on identifying and stopping ‘zombie bills’:

  • Make time to review your bank and credit card statements – twice a year at the very least.
  • Regular payments can be monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual, so look at your statements over the last 12 months. 
  • Direct debits are set up when you sign a mandate to let a company take a fixed or variable amount of money from your account.  You are entitled to ask your bank to cancel a DD instruction any time you like.
  • A standing order is an instruction from you to your bank to pay a fixed amount indefinitely or to end on a certain date.  You can change the payment amount or cancel a standing order whenever you want.
  • If you see a payment on your statement you don’t recognise contact your bank or credit card provider.  They should be able to clarify who the payment is being made to. 
  • Continuous payment authorities (CPAs) are often used by gyms, subscription websites and mobile phone contracts as the date and amount can be changed each month - making them tricky to spot.  You can cancel a CPA through the company taking the payment.
  • After you’ve cancelled a payment, keep checking your statements to ensure no further payments have been taken.

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