Advice hub. Stay financially fit during the Cost of Living Crisis
As the Cost of Living crisis mounts many people are wondering how they are going to make ends meet and make their money go further, additionally many also having to cope with reduced hours at work.
In these challenging times it’s important that people try to look after their financial wellbeing as much as they can. This, in turn, could help support mental wellbeing too. Getting back in control of money, means one less thing causing stress and anxiety.
Steps to look after your financial wellbeing:
1) Complete a monthly budget planner
A budget is a list of all the money you receive and all the things you spend money on each month. It should include your income, outgoings and any debts. PayPlan’s monthly budget planner is a good place for you to start to map out your income and outgoings. It can help you to identify areas that you may be able to cut back on and see how much you have left over for the essential bills.
Another useful website to take a look at is MoneyHelper provided by the Money & Pensions Service, with a range of tools and calculators to help you quickly work out the figures you may need for some of the most common money situations you may find yourself in.
2) Save on other bills and subscriptions
As well as monthly and quarterly household bills for housing, food and utilities,
many people have built up a number of further regular payments, for example, finance on cars or household items alongside subscriptions to services such as Sky, Netflix & Spotify; the gym or leisure centre and all sorts of other items and services from cosmetics to dishwasher tablets and even things like pet deworming tablets!
Now is the time to look at everything paid from an account and to see whether all of these services are still needed and indeed if they are all still used on a regular basis.
It is also important to 'Diagnose Your Debt' – managing finances is tough and many people don’t realise when they are struggling. Our partners, PayPlan have put together a quick online test, using 10 of the most common debt warning signs, to help people see how well they are managing their money and if further help is needed.
3) Check what you are entitled to
It’s really important that every household in the UK is aware of and claiming all the benefits and support they might be entitled to, as support available varies across the UK and from local authority to local authority we have put together some detailed information on what support you may currently be able to access to help your household during the Cost of Living Crisis.
4) Fixed Energy Tariffs and Energy Saving Tips
With the energy market in crisis, it can be hard to know whether to take up a fixed energy tariff or not with experts like Martin Lewis suggesting it might be time to consider a fixed tariff not because there are some great cheap deals out there (which there are not) but because there are likely worse price hikes to come. Whatever decisions individuals take about their energy bills, there are a number of things that can be done to help make smaller savings every month, which will help people save money over the longer term with the Energy Saving Trust recommending a range of measures that could save an average household £174 per annum.
- Turn the thermostat down by one degree (assuming lowest comfortable temperature is 18-21c
- Switch off standby
- Turn off lights when leaving a room
- Drop the temperature when washing clothes
- Fill your dishwasher
- One less wash a week in a washing machine or dishwasher
- Avoid the tumble dryer
- Spend less time in the shower - four-minute showers are recommended
- Swap your bath for a shower once a week
- Be savvy in the kitchen - put lids on saucepans
- Make your taps more efficient
More information at The Energy Saving Trust.
5) Work out which debts to pay off first
For those with multiple debts, it can be very helpful to seek free debt advice from an FCA-approved organisation. You can get in touch with our debt advice partner, PayPlan by visiting their website or contacting our 24/7 helpline on 0808 802 0282 or for members of our EAP its 0808 802 2111 or EAP members can email email@example.com.
It can be daunting to take this first step, so take a look at the video below to see how one of our EAP members who works in Front of House accessed help from PayPlan.
6) Only use payment holidays if you need to
Payment and mortgage holidays are great for those who were not struggling with multiple debts before the Cost of Living Crisis and now need to conserve their finances. It is essential to check with a provider how this break will affect future payments before automatically opting into this. If individuals genuinely had payment issues before the Cost of Living crisis and need debt advice, then delaying the problem may only make it worse.
7) Be Aware of Fraudsters and Scams
Unfortunately, fraudsters are finding ever more ways to try to part people from their money at this difficult time. This might be via scam websites and phishing scams or by phone call, text, email or even on your doorstep.
The DWP has warned that scammers are currently targeting people entitled to Cost of Living payments by phone, text and email in order to obtain their personal and security information such as bank account information. There is no need to apply for these payments they will be automatically awarded.
Energy scams include doorstep fraudsters offering pre-payment meter customers, for example, £50 of electricity credit for £25 by selling cloned keys or cards which won’t work when customers try to top them up at a PayPoint, Payzone or Post Office. This means customers end up paying twice first to the scammer and secondly to their energy supplier.
If something doesn’t look or sound right then it probably isn’t it. It’s important to take time when something feels off and in the case of online scams, look out for:
- Similar URLs to genuine companies
- Does the layout of your email look genuine?
- Incorrect spelling and grammar
To check out if something might be a scam click here
7) Be Aware of Illegal Money Lending
At this difficult time many vulnerable people may feel pushed towards borrowing money from Loan Shark. This form of lending is illegal and is dangerous not just due to the large sums of money lent and extortionate rates of interest charged but also the psychological toll it takes on victims and their families, leaving them feeling trapped and helpless. For more information about this and how to get help if you have borrowed money from a Loan Shark check out our advice page.