Amazon has announced it is hiking the cost of its Prime streaming and one-day delivery services.

With the cost-of-living rising, it’s time to review your non-essential bills. It happens to even the most prudent of us, especially thanks to the pandemic.

Stuck at home, we signed up for a range of new services including streaming, food delivery and other non-essential products.

But as we leave the pandemic behind and life returns to a ‘new’ normal, the cost of living is soaring, with inflation currently 10.1% on the consumer prices index (CPI) measure.

Unfortunately, no household is immune, and even longstanding services such as Amazon Prime – which has not increased prices in eight years – are not saved from hikes.

Amazon Prime is increasing its cost from £7.99 to £8.99 per month, or if you pay annually, £75 to £95. While this is not a massive increase individually, replicated across a range of services  you could find your bills going up hundreds each year (not including energy, which is facing a major crisis and we handle separately in this blog

How do I save on my bills?

The first thing to do if you feel you’re spending too much on your bills is to do a full audit of how much you’re paying for each item – looking at the monthly and annual costs.

In many cases, for products such as insurance, or even Amazon Prime, paying annually will save you money, so if you’ve got the financial resources to do that, it can be a good idea.

Once you’ve got a sense of what is going out, look at when your contracts expire. For phone, broadband and mobile bills you should never be paying more than the best deal on the market, if you’re out of contract.

Providers should alert you these days when your contract is expiring but be vigilant and shop around for better deals using price comparison sites. Mobile phones in particular can leave a costly bill in place that is unnecessary. While some providers such as O2 will lower your bill once you’ve paid for your handset, others will let it run at the same rate, which you’re not compelled to pay.

Next it’s essential to ask yourself – do I really need this? A common problem where costs proliferate in this area is streaming services. With such a wide variety available it’s tempting to have them all, but this could set you back hundreds a year. Ask yourself if you really need them all, or maybe cut back to your favourite. There are even free options available such as All4, which provides hundreds of TV boxsets totally for free.

Likewise, this is an issue when it comes to services such as Sky TV. The contracts tend to be very expensive, with price increases baked into the contract. There are cheaper alternatives such as streaming via NOWTV – which is just the digital equivalent of the same service. Separating out your telecoms bundle into separate broadband and TV services could lead to significant savings.

When it comes to other fixed cost bills such as water, council tax and TV licence, unfortunately these might not be possible to avoid or minimise. But there are a few tweaks you can make.

If you don’t watch live TV, or use BBC catch up services such as iPlayer, you don’t have to pay a TV Licence, for instance. Anyone living alone is eligible for a 25% council tax discount, while ensuring your property is in the right band can also save considerable sums. Altering your council tax band can be risky however as your local council might decide you should be in a higher band.

It is however worth researching whether your property is in the right banding. In the early 90s councils conducted so-called ‘second gear valuations’ where they would drive through neighbourhoods making valuations on the fly, leading to some very distorted bandings. It is worth looking into, Money Saving Expert has a more detailed guide if you wish to learn more.