Money Wellness
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calendar icon01 Sep 2023

Take your household budget ‘back to school’ this September

September isn’t just about getting the kids back to school. It’s also a great time to get your household finances into shape by stripping out unnecessary expenses and making some easy money savings.

With household bills still at record highs and the cost-of-living crisis showing little sign of slowing, we’ve put together some top tips to make sure your budget is A* and top of the class this September.

 

Review your spending and set a budget

When it comes to budgeting, the more prepared you are, the better. Spend some time pulling together all your bills and bank statements so you’ve got a good idea of what you’re spending. Then create a spreadsheet of all your outgoings alongside your monthly income. You could make this easier by using free apps such as www.emma-app.com or www.moneydashboard.com.

From this you’ll get a sense of where you can make easy cutbacks or if you’re spending unnecessarily. Remember the more brutal you are the better – leave nothing out, not even the morning coffee on your commute. At around £3.40 five mornings a week, you’re spending £884 a year for that caffeine hit.

Are you getting all the grants and benefits available? 

One in three of the people we speak to aren’t claiming all the financial support they’re entitled to – we’ve helped people claim an extra £1,107 on average, which could be life saving for some households.

So, review what benefits you’re currently receiving and see if there’s anything else you should also be claiming.

And remember, if you’re claiming certain benefits, you’ll also receive a cost-of-living payment paid directly into your bank account. But be quick - the next instalment of £300 is due in Autumn - exactly when has yet to be revealed.

It’s also worth checking out how what help your local council can offer you through the Household Support Fund (HSF). Each council chooses how they distribute the funding with some offering cash payments and others vouchers to help towards the cost of heating and food bills and essential items. Visit your council website, which can be found at www.gov.uk, to find out what’s available to you locally.

Save on bills you’re already paying

If you’re on a low income, you could be entitled to social tariffs for your broadband, phone, gas, electricity, and water bills.

Social tariffs are cheaper – anywhere up to 50% less than average prices – and are available to people claiming benefits, such as universal credit or pension credit. Contact your supplier to see if they have a social tariff that you could switch to.

If you’re not eligible for social tariffs, you could still make savings of up to £500 a year by haggling and shopping around. Don’t be afraid to ask your supplier if they can offer you a better price or use a price comparison site to compare cheaper deals and ask them to price match.

If your circumstances have changed and you now live alone or are struggling on a low income, you might also qualify for up to a 50% discount on your council tax bill. You can check if you’re eligible at www.gov.uk.

Cut non-essential spending

It’s worth checking out how much you’re spending on unused or unwanted subscriptions. Are there apps that you don’t use or is it time to cancel the gym membership and get your steps up for free outdoors?

Make sure you avoid unintentional purchases from the App Store or Apple service by adding a password to stop purchases without authorisation. And if your children have their own devices on your account, add Ask to Buy so you can approve purchase requests.

You could look at downgrading or switching to cheaper streaming plans too e.g., Netflix has three different options ranging from £4.99 to £15.99 and Amazon Prime has a basic membership for £5.99. You don’t get free delivery but it’s worth it if you only want to stream shows.

Make extra cash

Declutter your house ahead of winter and sell anything you don’t want on sites such as www.ebay.co.uk, www.vinted.co.uk, and www.depop.com.  CDs DVDs and books and video games can be sold on trade-in sites such as www.webuybooks.co.uk or www.musicmagpie.co.uk. And Amazon Marketplace is also great if you want to sell books directly, you can sign up as an individual and pay just 75p to the platform each time you make a sale. For more details visit www.sell.amazon.co.uk.

Online surveys can be a quick way to make some cash in your spare time – you can earn up to £20 per survey. There’s loads to choose from including Brand Surveys, i-say, YouGov, Survey Spotter, ySense, Swagbucks, PaidViewpoint, SurveySavvy and Toluna.

Get a side hustle going – could you use your car or bike to deliver food or parcels? Amazon is always looking for flexible delivery drivers, as are food deliver businesses such as JustEat or Uber Eats. Alternatively, do you have a skill you could monetise such as blog writing, teaching a foreign language, offering ironing services, becoming a virtual assistant or TV extra?

Get free debt help 

If your outgoings still exceed you income after you’ve made savings and cut back on spending, then it’s time to seek free debt help.

Getting free help as soon as you realise you have a problem with making ends meet can help stop debt from spiralling.

There’s lots of different options available such as debt management plans (DMPs), individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), debt relief orders (DROs) and bankruptcy. Some are free and others attract a fee. The right one for you will depend on your individual circumstances.

Seeking advice won’t affect your credit score so get in touch if you’d like some free help with find the best solution for your problem debt.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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