Barely a day goes by at the moment without the news or somebody we know mentioning the squeeze caused by the current cost of living crisis. It’s been especially troubling as it’s followed the financial hardships many families have already faced during the pandemic.
We suggested money-saving tips to help get through that difficult period, and many of those suggestions are still applicable now, but we thought families might need more.
That’s why we spoke to our experts at our Bradford Advice Service to provide you with a few more suggestions for how to get through the crisis and make your money go further.
Set your budget and stick to it
For many of us, the mere mention of budgets and managing money makes us want to stick our heads in the sand. Nowadays, however, you can simplify the process using a variety of apps and online resources such as the excellent government-backed site moneyhelper that create a budget based on your income and expenditure and help you see how you can allocate your cash. Try your best to be honest about your expenditure, as this will allow you to most accurately see where changes can be made.
Warm home schemes
Warm homes schemes intend to help people keep houses warm through the winter months. The government runs one which ensures energy suppliers have to provide discounts to families on low incomes, but if you do an internet search for “warm home” and the area you live you might find something run by your local authority too with different criteria. For example, in Bradford we have the Warm Home Healthy People scheme.
Packed lunches can be good for your waistline and your pocket
Although many children will receive free school meals this is not true of all families, who might not meet the criteria despite struggling to make ends meet, and many of us will spend money on costly shop-bought sandwiches and food at work when we’re short on time. Whether it’s for our children or ourselves making packed lunches in advance is a valuable way to save a few pounds by buying in bulk at the supermarket and shopping for bargains. Bulk buying doesn’t have to mean bland, and items such as couscous and egg mayonnaise will last around three days once prepared, so consider setting aside some time twice a week to ensure you’re looking forward to something special.
Be smart about heating your house
Remember those sandwiches we made above? How about putting the clingfilm you’ve wrapped them in on your windows to keep the heat in? Although it might sound crazy it works – according to the Energy Saving Trust. This is just one of the household heating tips given in this excellent guide on the Money Saving Expert website… and most of them are a bit less strange!
If you can’t heat your house heat yourself
Although most of us would feel uncomfortable turning the heating off when our children are in the house it can feel wasteful to have the heating on when just one family member is working at home. In this case consider putting on a thermal vest, thick jumper or outdoor coat and grabbing a hot water bottle. Just remember to take them off for that important work video conference!
Make the most of our new freedoms
It’s felt like a long time since we could share the close confines of a car or house with a friend, but now we can why not kill two birds with one stone by inviting friends’ round to work at your house or drive to shared activities like sport or gym sessions? This isn’t only fun – it could also end up saving you money on heating and petrol. You could even experiment with alternating who takes children to clubs and activities so that you get a night off once every two weeks. Whatever you do though just be clear what you’re comfortable with – whether that’s wearing masks in the car or not sharing a workspace on days featuring confidential calls. It’s better to be clear up front so you can both plan accordingly.
Try some cost-conscious recipes
Despite how difficult recent years have been the modern world does have some positives – such as online access to a wealth of ideas and writing on every topic, including cost-conscious recipes which can be made from staples. Food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has been among the loudest voices speaking out for the poor during the crisis and their website “cooking on a bootstrap” features hundreds of recipes, listed along with their price (usually in pence). It’s a valuable resource for those wanting to make their shopping go further.
The better type of borrowing
Most discussions regarding financial management will discourage borrowing to help ease difficult times where possible, but there’s one place where borrowing can save you a fortune – your local library. Although most people associate libraries with books most nowadays will also loan films and music and often have a digital loans programme allowing you to download them.
No matter how hard you try sometimes we can all feel a little overwhelmed. If you feel like you’d like to chat with someone about any aspect of family life you can contact our free FamilyLine service for support and guidance.