Cost of living increase

Many people across the UK are struggling to cover their essential household costs. Cost of living increase means we’re all paying more for energy, food, rent, fuel and other things.

Sadly, the situation isn’t going to get any easier, but there are some temporary measures that you can take to help your situation:  

Managing one-off payments

Think ahead to future months and any big bills that may be coming in such as heating oil, car costs such as MOT, service or tax. Consider monthly direct debits to tackle your heating oil bill or putting money aside each month to cover the bigger bills when they come in.

Budgeting

Use budgeting apps provided by your bank, or others such as Emma-Money Management Dashboard to help you track your finances. You can also find out tips and tricks to accurately budget your incomings and outgoings over a year at Money Saving Expert (https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/budget-planning/).

Top tip: arrange all direct debits to go out on the same day that your money comes in, so you know exactly how much you have left.

Saving on utility bills

Reduce electricity usage;  turn off TVs, lights etc when they are not being used. Change to energy saving lightbulbs.

Insurance / utilities – don’t just go with the renewal quote, use websites such as GoCompare or CompareTheMarket to find best deal.

Phone contracts – shop around, phone up and bargain with the company, renew on a SIM only contract which is often a fraction of the price. Be wary of being talked into buying costly extras such as insurance. If you are getting the latest handset as part of your phone contract, remember you are buying that handset on finance.  It costs you around £25 per month more compared with a similar sim-only deal. Over a 36-month contract that’s £900!

Reduce how much the heating is used by wearing extra layers or a dressing gown. Put draft excluders or old clothes / rolled up newspapers under the doors to exclude drafts. Use a hot water bottle, blanket or electric blanket and drink hot drinks throughout the day.

Cancel any unnecessary subscriptions or memberships. 

Ideas for saving money

Clothes / furniture / technology

Go to charity shops or use apps and websites for second-hand items and swaps such as:

These are also great to use for children’s things, as well as specific apps and websites such as:

Remember, babies and children grow up fast and often, second-hand items can seem almost like new.

For children and babies, you could also consider:

  • swapping toys and books with friends
  • see if you have a toy library local to you
  • visit the library to use books and access free baby groups such as Bounce and Rhyme
  • look for other local free activities such as a local church or village hall running a free or low-cost play session
  • join the South Norfolk Family & Community Connections page on Facebook for updates
  • look on second-hand sites for reusable nappies – once you have invested initially you won’t have to buy nappies again
  • consider reusable wipes – either invest in some official ones, or cut up an old t-shirt or other piece of soft clothing into squares which can be dipped into water with a drop of essential oil in

Food

  • look out for 2 for 1, Buy One Get One Free and other deals, and try and stock up when things are on offer if you can
  • use loyalty cards and points schemes
  • take time to plan meals for the week. You can then write a list of exactly what you need, which will help to keep your food shop on track
  • do an online shop so you aren’t distracted by things you don’t need
  • try and only buy the amount you need so that you don’t end up wasting any extras
  • store leftovers in Tupperware for later in the week, or to put in the freezer for another time
  • look online for recipes to use up leftovers. Try LoveFoodHateWaste
  • go to discount shops or wholesale shops
  • remember Best Before is different to Use By. Items with a Best Before date can still be consumed after this date if they still look and smell okay

Animal feed / bedding

  • look out for deals, and try and stock up when things are on offer if you can
  • for rabbits, guinea-pigs, tortoises etc. ask at a local fruit and veg market stall or green grocers for left over scraps
  • bulk buy in 15kg / 20kg sacks – initial outlay is more but much cheaper in the long run
  • buy hay / straw by the bail if possible – often a bail will only cist around £8 and will last for months longer than a small bag which may not be a dissimilar price

Going out

  • Take children on free or cheap activities such as a nature walk, going to the woods, a park, building a den, growing plants, salads and vegetables in pots, or cooking together
  • Save up coupons or look for schemes, holiday offers, and tokens to collect such as in some newspapers and magazines
  • Use social sites such as Facebook to look for free / cheap local events
  • Bring snacks and drinks from home so that you don’t have to buy food when you’re out

Christmas – prepare now

  • buy Christmas and birthday presents during the year to spread the cost. If you don’t have storage, wrap them when you get them. Note down what you have bought people and how much you have spent. Stick to a strict budget per person
  • ask family and friends if they would like to do Secret Santa so you don’t have to buy presents for everyone

Government support

  • Apply for a Prescription Pre Payment Certificate – this is not means tested and anyone who receives more than one prescription per month is eligible https://www.gov.uk/get-a-ppc
  • If you work from home, see if you are eligible to claim working from home expenses of £6 a week, including if you have had to work from home due to COVID-19 restrictions https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home
  • Check if you are eligible to claim tax relief for other work-related expenses https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees:
    • uniforms, work clothing, tools, PPE
    • driving for work, taking other employees as passengers
    • professional fees and subscriptions required for your job
    • overnight expenses for food, accommodation and use of public transport

Don’t allow yourself to spiral into debt by taking out loans, continuing to increase an overdraft, or increasing your credit card limit. ASK FOR HELP