There’s nothing quite as depressing as January – it’s cold, usually wet and there’s nothing to look forward to. All signs of fun have been stripped from the house and the half bald Christmas tree has finally been consigned to the compost heap. And then there’s the realisation that you can’t get into your work clothes after all that turkey. Plus, to top it all off – if you travel to work by train, then you’ll have to pay even more for the privilege in 2017 – so much for a happy new year.
Rail fares have increased by an average of 2.3% this January. This means that some ticket prices have risen by as much as 40% in the last 10 years, with commuters spending more than a tenth of their net salary just trying to get to work. And with strikes (on New Year’s Eve and 9 January) some commuters are left questioning whether it’s all worth it and have even quit their jobs in order to work closer to home.
Of course, for many people, finding work nearer home just isn’t an option and the daily train journey is simply an uncomfortable and costly necessity. Some commuters such as those travelling between Tame Bridge Parkway and Nuneaton (about a 30-mile journey in the car) will see their season tickets rise by 43% from £1,948 to £2,788 – that’s £28 per mile. But spare a thought for anyone travelling between Enfield Town and Liverpool Street because their season tickets have gone up to £1,636 – just to travel 10 or so miles one way by the most direct route. And the reasons for price rises? Well, it’s all to do with maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure. According to the Rail Delivery Group, around 97p (on average) from every £1 spent on rail fares go back into the railways, with only 3p going towards train company profits.
So, what’s the alternative – taking the car? Well, that would seem the simplest option but even car travel is becoming expensive. With Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) set to increase by 2% in June, the average premium is set to exceed £600. Plus, with a backdrop of unpredictability over the value of the pound, all this adds up to a big squeeze of our wallets. In fact, experts reckon that we can expect to see the cost of living increase by around 2% in early 2017 and 3% by the summer.
There’s no question about it, it seems that forking out for everyday stuff is going to get more expensive and we just have to get used to it. The IPT increase won’t just affect our car insurance premiums, but it’ll affect things like home, medical and pet insurance too; more than 50 million policies will be affected in total. So even if you don’t have a car, or use the train to commute, then you’re still likely to have to watch those pennies.
Which means it is in all of our interest to look for a better deal, regardless of what that’s for – savings rates, broadband and even your mobile phone package. So, start 2017 as you mean to go on – l and stay money savvy by making sure you comparethemarket.com; because if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves.