With rising prices from food and petrol to domestic electricity and gas bills, what can we do to help ourselves and budget in a way that ensures we can live within our means without racking up overdrafts and other debts?
The golden rule is to make sure that if you are finding difficulty paying for a service, don’t hide away. Call the people to whom you owe money to see if you can come to a temporary agreement.
Whilst we can’t control the events surrounding the economic bumps in the road, we can take positive action to cut our household costs by looking at the services and goods we can afford to do without.
The question to ask yourself when you look at your bills is ‘Do I really need this?’ and ‘Is this value for money, for me?’
Subscriptions – Netflix, Amazon, Now TV and Sky are a few of the TV subscription channels that require regular monthly payments, with Sky packages starting at anything between £26 and £46 depending on what services are required. Have a think, do you really value this?
Credit card/store card balances – If you are just making minimum monthly payments on outstanding balances, consider reducing your balance, if possible, to reduce monthly outgoings. Consider talking to your financial adviser about any debt consolidation options that could be suitable for your circumstances.
Home phone, broadband and mobile phone –
- Call your suppliers and ask for a better price – you’ve got nothing to lose
- Look at price comparison websites to see if you can find cheaper deals – though be careful to check you aren’t eligible for any financial penalties if you do make a change.
Water bills –
- Monitor your consumption with a water meter
- Take steps to reduce usage, such as switching to showers instead of baths
- Check your shower is fitted with an efficient shower head to help save water
Gas & Electricity –
- Low income families can benefit from a £140 discount in the Warm Home Discount https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme.
- In February 2022 the government announced extra help towards rising bills, including a £150 Council Tax rebate for eligible households and £200 towards energy bills in England, Scotland and Wales.1
- Thinking of changing suppliers? Unfortunately there are no savings to be had here at the moment – each energy supplier charging to the limit of the energy price cap, and if you are on a fixed tariff coming to an end then you will be placed on your supplier’s standard variable tariff.
Council Tax – are you paying too much? Up to 400,000 homes are in the wrong Council Tax band according to MoneySavingExpert2, so it is worth checking.
Go to the Money Helper guide at https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/homes/buying-a-home/how-to-save-money-on-your-council-tax-bill
MoneyHelper is provided by the Money & Pensions Service – set up by HM Government.
1 – Gov.uk (2022) Households urged to get ready for £150 council tax rebate. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/households-urged-to-get-ready-for-150-council-tax-rebate (Accessed 29th March 2022)
2 – Lewis, M (2022) Council Tax Bands. Lower your band and save £1,000s. Available at: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/council-tax-bands-change/ (Accessed 29th March 2022)