This week I spent a very frustrating two hours attempting to return two things I’d bought that didn’t work and get a refund for a parcel that never turned up.

I then tried to get some energy bill problems sorted out using the official complaints procedure of two energy companies for a TV show. The less said about that the better.

In other words, I’ve had yet another reminder that following my own advice and guidance only works if businesses play by the rules. Needless to say, I’ll be tackling flagrantly complaint blocking and ignoring laws and regulations in future columns.

Once I’d had a nice cup of tea and a calm down, I realised that sometimes we just need some easy wins out of life. So this week, let’s take a look at the simplest of all way to save some cash and cut out the life clutter. Cancelling things.

Good intentions

We often sign up to pricy health apps and subscriptions that we don’t use, but keep because we don’t want to admit defeat. Not using that gym membership? Drop it… but try working out at home using free online tutorials instead. Is that fresh box of expensive meal ingredients going off in the fridge? Cancel it… and get a mini food waste bin for the kitchen. The more you see you’re binning, the more likely you are to eat the fresh food you purchase in future. The point of this is to prove you can live healthily without spending extra money. You can always re-join as a reward for sticking to your new routines.

Go cold turkey

We got addicted to a lot of unhealthy things over the pandemic. Take the takeaway delivery apps. Delete them off your phone and temptation is removed instantly. The same goes for the big retailer’s apps, voucher sites or VIP memberships. Shopping online means we spend more than we should and regret our purchases more. If you have a weak moment and splurge then don’t forget that you have 14 days to change your mind with most online purchases and get a full refund. Why not go shopping on the high street instead? Use it or lose it – and you can make a day of it with friends too.

Drop the bad times

The UK is experiencing a mental health crisis at the moment. While there are no easy solutions to this, you can eliminate things that make you feel bad. Move your phone charger away from the sofa and your bed to avoid temptation and ‘death scrolling’. Tired of seeing perfect people on social media? Take the apps off your phone and exile them to your computer so they aren’t as accessible. I kicked Twitter/X off my phone and I can’t tell you how better I feel now it’s out of my life. The same goes for things like calorie counters, lifestyle apps that make you feel like a failure and even photo filters. Cut out the things that don’t improve your life and it will genuinely make a world of difference.

Delete and start over

There are loads of services that you’re paying for twice or you just don’t need, like; cloud storage, music and TV streaming services, anti-virus software and even duplicate insurance policies. Drop any subscription service you’ve not used in the last six months. Set yourself a bit of time to go back 13 months through bank and credit card accounts, e-payment services and even your mobile phone bill to find the secret subscriptions that have slipped your mind. You can save a packet too – or claim unauthorised debits back.

Finally, remember those businesses that treated you badly? That didn’t refund you for that wonky thing you bought? That ignored your complaint? Make a list… and drop them like a stone. Switch providers with the services you can’t do without and find alternatives to retailers that don’t care about your custom. Saying goodbye to things that make you unhappy is the most liberating feeling of all.

Martyn James is a leading consumer rights campaigner, TV and radio broadcaster and journalist.

Please share me around

Share useful info with your friends