Do you have ‘zombie bills’ lurking in your bank account?
Over 40% of people say they have direct debits, standing orders, subscriptions, donations and memberships they no-longer want or use
Men are more prone to have ‘zombie bills’, with 47% wasting money on useless outgoings compared to 38% of women. 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.
The top zombie bills include subscriptions for satellite TV with channels they hardly watch (16%), old mobile phone contracts (13%), subscriptions to services such as Netflix (7%) and unused gym memberships (6%).
The research also showed that many people don’t review their bank accounts and credit card statements regularly – more than two fifths (44%) of people admitted to having not reviewed direct debits and standing orders paid from their accounts in the last 12 months.
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…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 is receiving the payment.
- 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.