If you’ve been feeling the pinch recently, you’re not the only one.
Just as Britons begin to overcome the effects of Covid-19, we’ve been hit with the highest living costs seen in 40 years.
In simple terms, things are costing more than they used to.
The price of everyday essentials such as food, petrol and energy are more expensive, meaning that your money simply won’t go as far as it used to.
With costs already significantly higher than six months ago, there are growing concerns that prices are set to increase even further come Autumn.
With people already having to choose between heating and eating, the future is looking rather bleak for millions of people across the UK.
Here at Equity Release Warehouse, we have created a list of our top tips on how to survive the cost of living, to help get you through the coming months.
See if you qualify for state pension top-up
State pension top-up may be something you are entitled to but not currently receiving. This benefit is entirely tax-free. However, it is means tested, as it’s intended for those on a low income.
In fact, it can be worth several thousand pounds per year, so it’s definitely worth applying for. It can also mean you begin to benefit from things like a free-TV licence and a council-tax discount. You can see if you are entitled to this here.
Save by applying for a water metre
If you live alone or just with your significant other, and don’t use a lot of water, then it’s likely you will save a lot of money by installing a water metre on your property. As a rule of thumb, if there are more bedrooms than there are people living in your home, then it’s likely you will save by having a water metre.
Check out this handy water metre calculator to see if you could be saving by having a water metre.
If you are on a metre and use a lot of water, you may be able to reduce your water bill further via the WaterSure scheme.
Claim a rebate on your council tax
This rebate is available to those in band A-to-D. If this applies to you, you can claim £150 rebate on council tax. The intention is to help you pay for your energy bills. If you pay your tax via a direct debit, the money should have been paid into your account automatically.
If you don’t pay via direct debit, this amount will appear as a rebate on your bill.
Click here to check your council tax band.
Grab a free-water-saving gadget
Water companies are funding many water-saving gadgets for your home. The scheme is run by Save Water Save Money.
Although a variety of gadgets exist, you can only claim one per household, and what’s available will differ depending on where you live.
Examples of these gadgets include
- Tap inserts (worth £5)
- Shower heads (worth £20)
- Garden hose nozzles (worth £2.50)
- Buffaloo cistern bags (worth £2)
All these gadgets are designed to better regulate water usage. You can grab your free gadget here.
This is definitely worth looking into. For instance, replacing an inefficient shower head could save you more than £75 on your gas bill over the course of a year.
Check if you are out of contract with your broadband
It is estimated that around 15 million people are out of contract with their broadband, meaning they are needlessly paying over the odds for this service. Go on a price-comparison website and see what you can save. There are many such comparison engines, and we won’t recommend any particular one, other than to say try them all until you find the cheapest deal.
It may also be worth asking if your current supplier will match the best deal you find, if they refuse to do so, then make that switch.
Some providers also off ‘social tariffs’ for those on a low income. Find out more here.
Get the Olio app to access free food
Olio is a drink and food sharing app. You can access food that would otherwise go to waste. Anyone can sign up to the app and offer free food and drink. This could be other households, supermarkets, restaurants, and shops. You can download Olio here.
See if you qualify for the Household Support Fund
This is available via your local council. It’s for vulnerable households and it is to provide support to help you afford essentials. You don’t even need to be on benefits in order to qualify. Each council may apply different eligibility criteria. Please contact your local council to find out more.
Check Your Phone Contract
With the cost of living spiralling out of control, it’s a good idea to start with the basics. You should always start by questioning whether or not you are getting the very best deals with basic things like your phone subscription.
In fact, a recent study has found that people can save themselves hundreds of pounds a year by simply switching to a better phone tariff.
Most monthly phone bills cover the cost of the phone itself, minutes, texts and data.
However, some people simply do not use or need their data, text or minutes allowance and are therefore paying for a product that they don’t actually need.
If your phone contract is coming to an end, then it is always worth checking with your provider to see if they can offer you a better deal going forward, or shopping around to see if any other provider can offer you a better deal.
Cancel Any Unused Direct Debits
With the world as connected and digitised as ever, it takes just seconds to sign up to a new online streaming service, gym membership or food delivery service.
However, whilst it takes seconds to sign up to these services it can take months or even sometimes years before people remember to cancel them when they’re no longer needed.
The reality of Covid-19 lockdowns was that a lot of people signed up to online services in order to feel more connected to the outside world.
However, once their busy lives resumed, they simply forgot to cancel them now that normal life has resumed.
Some of these services include:
- Amazon Prime
- Disney Plus
- Apple TV
- Unused gym memberships
- Food delivery subscriptions
- Old insurance policies
Fix Before You Throw
In this day and age, everyone is guilty of throwing things out as soon as they break or get damaged.
However, the reality is that a lot of the things we throw away aren’t ruined for good, and could be salvaged with a bit of mending.
Have you ever thrown out a handbag because the straps broke? Why not learn how to sew on YouTube or take it to a local seamstress to get fixed.
Have you ever thrown away a perfectly good shirt, coat or blouse because it’s got a stain on it? Instead, try to get the stain out by googling useful stain removal tips online.
Our throw-away culture is not only destroying our planet, but our bank balances too. So, the next time something breaks, gets stained or old, try your best to fix it, instead of throwing it away.
Share Subscriptions with Family or Friends
Take a second to think about how many of the same subscriptions you and your family or friends sign up to.
Often, people within the same household or friendship groups have their own subscriptions, instead of sharing them.
Netflix is the ultimate example of this, with multiple people within the same households paying for separate Netflix subscription.
Why not share the costs by signing up for a family account?
Create a List of Free Days Out
If you’re feeling the pinch now more than ever, then days out might seem like a thing of the past, especially if you have children.
However, this need not be the case. There are numerous things to do in the UK for free, providing couples or families with fun filled, action packed, free days out.
Some of these things include:
- The National Railway Museum
- Wollaton Hall and Park
- Sheffield Botanical Gardens
- Chester Cathedral
- Bournemouth Beach
- Clifton Suspension Bridge
- The British Museum
- Cornish Coastal Path
- Fistral Beach in Newquay
- Roundhay Park
Search for the Cheapest Petrol Pumps
We all live busy lives, and we all know how easy it is to rush to the nearest and easiest petrol pump.
However, petrol prices are higher than ever.
In fact, the RAC Fuel Watch have estimated that the average UK pump price has increased by 16.59p per litre over the past month alone (June 2022 – July 2022).
Try to avoid filling up on the motorway, as this can often be the most expensive place to fill up.
If you’re looking for the cheapest petrol stations in your area, then use Confused.com’s petrol price comparison tool here. Simply enter in your postcode and search for the best deals for fuel in your area.
Master the Fakeaway
Whilst takeaways are a quick and easy solution to a Friday night in, they’re not always the cheapest or healthiest option.
It might be that you treat the family to one takeaway a month, or one a week. With takeaway delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat doing better than ever during the Covid-19 lockdowns, Britons are spending hundreds of pounds a year on their favourite takeaways.
Instead, why not try cooking yourself and the family a ‘fakeaway.’ These are quick and easy recipes that taste just as good as a takeaway does, just without hurting your bank balance.
Tesco have a fantastic range of 30 minute fakeaway recipes for you to enjoy and put to use.
Most of us have signed up to a whole host of loyalty cards that we barely even use.
However, with the price of weekly food shops higher than ever, using and cashing in on loyalty and club cards could save you more money than ever.
In fact, grocery and food inflation is the highest it’s been in thirteen years, with the average food shop rising by nearly £400 per year.
Below is a list of popular and money-saving Clubcard’s for you to use during your next big food shop.
1. Tesco Clubcard
The Tesco Clubcard is a fantastic way of saving money. Each Clubcard helps to knock down the prices of literally hundreds of items, from avocados to toothpaste.
2. Sainsbury’s Nectar Card
Sainsbury’s Nectar Card is also a fantastic option. Shoppers are able to benefit from cheaper prices when they self-scan in store. 500 nectar points gets you £2.50 off of your shop which easily adds up.
3. Asda Rewards
If you prefer to shop at Asda, why not check the Asda website to see if you can get your hands on the brand-new Asda Rewards.
This is still a relatively new scheme, and whilst it is only available in trial stores for now, it’s a fantastic way to save a few pounds each time you shop.
4. Co-Op Membership
Whilst the Co-Op membership card takes just one pound to sign up to, you will no doubt save tens of pounds throughout the month.
A Co-Op Membership card grants you access to co-up member prices whilst shopping in-store. On top of this, Co-op also donates money to charity each time you shop using the Co-Op Membership card.
Heat Yourself Before Heating the Home
We’ve all been there. It’s freezing cold outside and you, or members of the family are itching to turn the heating up.
However, with energy prices soaring, turning the heating up a notch or two will come as a cost that many of us simply cannot afford right now. Whilst it might be tempting, there are cheaper ways to avoid feeling cold.
That’s why you should aim to heat yourself first, before heating the home. For example, if you start to feel cold at night try to layer up more often, change your duvet for a thicker one, buy a few more blankets around the house and invest in a few good hot water bottles.
Create Financially Savvy Habits
Finally, it is worth acknowledging counting the pennies each month is often a draining and unproductive way to keep on top of your finances.
Sometimes it is far better to create healthier financial habits than it is to try to scrimp and save each month.
For example, you should aim to live within your means each month, by habitually bringing your own lunch to work, making your own coffee at home and potentially walking places instead of driving.
You should also make a habit of investing and saving the money that you can to grow your earning and savings potential as much as possible.