Around 80 percent of parents in Britain are struggling to cope with the soaring costs of raising children as household bills drastically increase amid the cost-of-living crisis.
With gas prices rising steadily and till totals creeping up, millions of people are being forced to choose between giving up a meal or heating their home – as inflation hits a 40-year high.
Recent figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), have revealed that around nine in 10 adults in Britain reported their cost-of-living increased in March alone, with energy prices fuelling the surge.
With unprecedented strain on British households, many are searching for tips to help stretch their monthly budget – especially with the energy price cap set to go up again in October.
In response to the struggle, Laura Howard, a finance expert at Forbes Advisor, has provided her seven top-tips to help families cope with the cost-of-living crisis.
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Stop paying credit card interest
Paying interest on credit card balances at a typical 20 percent APR variable can be cripplingly expensive.
“It’s possible to move balances from several card providers up to, say 90 percent or 95 percent, of your allocated credit limit, to a zero percent balance transfer card,” Laura says.
“While you’ll need a top credit score to be accepted, applying through an eligibility checker means you can view your chances before making an official application. This protects your credit report from visible searches which could put off subsequent lenders.
“If you find you are leaning on your credit card to pay for essentials, swap it for one that offers an interest-free period on purchases.
“Some of these deals offer up to two years at zero percent to the most credit-worthy applicants,” the finance expert explains “so if you are forced to borrow, at least you can do it without paying interest.”
Look for cheaper insurance deals
Laura recommends shopping around for the best insurance deals.
She said: “Certain costs such as mortgage or rent, council tax, and are simply immovable. But when it comes to annual insurance policies, such as for your home and car, make sure that you have compared costs from the wider market before auto-renewing with the same provider. Switching is quick and easy and could save hundreds of pounds over the year.”
Spring clean your current account
Cancelling subscriptions and services that you no longer use can be cost-effective.
Laura said: “It’s worth going through your direct debits and standing orders to uncover any costs that you are forking out for unnecessarily.”
Auto-renewing subscriptions are the bane of many people’s lives, so it’s worth catching them before the next direct debit date.
Check to see if you are entitled to any benefits
You may be entitled to income-related benefits or grants that you could be missing out on.
Laura said it is easy to check with the government-approved benefits and grants calculator – you only need a few key details from you and your partner.
“If you are working and have a child aged between three and four, make sure you are collecting the Government’s 30 hours free childcare if you are eligible,” says the finance expert.
“If the sums simply aren’t adding up, check to see if you qualify for The Household Support Fund. Available through local councils, it’s designed to offer financial support to help pay for essentials such as food, clothes and utilities.”
“Acceptance criteria varies between councils so check the relevant website for more details.”
Make the most of free finance apps
Using your bank’s free app, you can manage your finances a lot easier and keep track of your spending on the move.
You can also download budgeting apps such as Snoop, Yolt or Money Dashboard to keep track of your outgoings.
Laura explained: “Using an open banking agreement, these apps allow you to view all of your accounts in one place which can provide greater transparency around the reality of your spending. If you opt for the basic version, many are also free.”
Take advantage of supermarket discounts and rewards
You can bag bargains on your supermarket’s free loyalty app.
“As you’re very likely to have your phone with you, this makes it easy to scan and collect any points you’re entitled to. These can then be redeemed for a pounds-and-pence discount off the cost of your grocery shop,” says Laura.
Make positive lifestyle changes
Making small changes to your day-to-day life can benefit your budget and save you money.
Laura said: “Small changes to ingrained daily behaviours can also pay dividends over time. For example, making a commitment to use less energy. This could simply mean hanging out washing as the weather improves rather than using the tumble drier, turning the heating down by a degree or two, or switching off lights or radiators in rooms that you don’t use.”
However, it is also worth noting that this cannot apply to everyone, as some households are already operating at their money-saving maximum.
“A good starting point when it comes to energy-saving is to understand which home appliances use the most energy compared to others. A simple and energy monitor is a clever and inexpensive tool that can help with this.”
“Outside of the home, changes such as seeking out free parking, and swapping a bought lunch and coffee for one you’ve pre-packed can mean that a day that might have otherwise cost £25, costs nothing,” says Laura.