You’re certainly not alone if you’ve been worrying about your finances more and more recently. The cost of living crisis is causing the price of everyday necessities like energy, food and petrol to rise at levels not seen for 40 years. Money simply doesn’t go as far as it used to, and there have been countless worries that, come winter, more people will have to choose between eating and energy, if they’re not having to make the difficult decision already.
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, money-saving expert Martin Lewis said: ‘There will be some families who will have to choose between freezing or starving, and may face both. It’s hitting the middle classes too.’
But the helpful news is that there are ways to make small changes to the way you live, so that you can spend less. When it comes to saving money, we tend to focus on cutting back high costs, but Martin explains: ‘The big picture is just too scary. So if you look at the small picture, go to every single thing that you spend money on and, first, ask yourself, “Can I do it cheaper and the same way?”
‘And, then, even if you can, ask yourself, “Do I need everything I’ve got? What do I need? What can I reduce?” The more income you have, the more stuff you do, the more you can save,’ he explained.
The Money Saving Expert website lists over 90 tips for how to cut back on spending and manage the cost of living, so we’ve picked out some of the easiest and quickest changes you can make right now.
Martin Lewis’s tips to tackle the cost of living crisis
1. Check your phone contract
According to Money Saving Expert (MSE), 16 million people are out of contract on their broadband and mobile – and could easily halve their bills. MSE has price comparison tools for mobile phone contracts to find the best deal for you, which could see you save £200.
2. Control your direct debits
Direct debits and recurring payments are an easy to way to make sure bills are always paid, but the money often leaves your account without needing approval. Your bank should be able to provide you with a list of direct debits and standing orders so you can keep track. ‘Recurring payments are little known, and hidden,’ it reads on MSE. ‘This is where you give firms permission to take a “payment” each month from your debit or credit card.’
3. Sell what you don’t need
MSE recommends selling something if you haven’t used it for a year. Anything from old smartphones and devices, to clothes, books and furniture can be sold online these days. Try websites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Vinted, Gumtree and Shpock.
4. Get a NHS prescription certificate
‘Last year, more than a million people in England would have been better off using an NHS prescription prepayment certificate,’ MSE reads. It’s basically a one-off fee that covers all prescriptions for a period of three months or one year. It’s worth investing if you use more than one a month.
5. Use the weather to your advantage
Washing laundry at 30 degrees and drying it outside rather than in a tumble dryer saves about £28 a year on your energy bill, according to the Energy Saving Trust. It’s well worth making the most of a sunny day.
6. Squeeze all you can out of what you have
Cut dishwasher tablets in half, cut open toothpaste packaging to get the last bit out, reuse wrapping paper and gift bags… these small acts can add up to save money in the long run.
7. Get paid to recycle
Many high street stores offer money-off vouchers or free products for recycling old clothes or items. You may notice clothing recycling stations in H&M stores, or you can get a free MAC lipstick for taking back the empty packaging. John Lewis also has a recycling scheme for beauty products, but these are just a few examples, so it’s worth checking if your favourite shops and brands do something similar.
8. Keep an eye out for price reductions
Is there anything more enticing than a bright yellow price reduction sticker? Supermarkets reduce the price of products that are near their best-before or use by dates. Get to know your usual supermarket and when they’re most likely to put the yellow stickers on items, then go shopping at that time and sweep up the bargains. A lot of the time, you can freeze the items so they don’t have to be consumed ASAP.
9. Pay less for your period
The tampon tax has finally been scrapped, but those who menstruate are still spending a fortune on period products. There are plenty of reusable period products available to buy, so you’re saving money in the long run and reducing your waste each month.
10. Check your council tax band
If you live in England and are in council tax bands A to D, you are due a £150 rebate on your council tax. This initiative started in April and is part of Government measures to support people through the cost of living crisis. If you pay your council tax by direct debit, £150 should be paid into your bank account. If not, you’ll be notified about how to claim it. See how to ensure you get the £150 council tax help.
11. Get food, drink and more for free
Olio is a food waste-fighting app that allows you to share and pick up food, drinks or household items for free. Instead of throwing food away when there’s nothing wrong with it, users can share it out to their local community. Big retailers like Tesco, Pret and Planet Organic have teamed up with the app to give away their surplus food too.
12. Be a canny cook
Cooking a nutritious meal doesn’t have to cost a lot. Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe’s Cooking on a Bootstrap website has a host of affordable recipes, as well as YOU’s very own Canny Cook column in the magazine each week. You can see our budget recipes here.
See the full list on the Money Saving Expert website.