10 ways to reduce your living costs | Ben support for life

Reduce your living costs

Each year, we support many people who are struggling to make ends meet for all different kinds of reasons. In fact, money worries are one of the biggest reasons why people ask us for help.

What is the cost of living?

The cost of living is the amount of money needed to cover basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes, and healthcare in a certain place and time period. In our recent health and wellbeing survey, we found that 1 in 5 people are struggling to meet the rising cost of living such as energy bills, petrol & food.  

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together some tips, advice and tools to help you cut costs at home and save your hard-earned cash. Even if you're feeling financially OK at the moment, it pays to start planning ahead in case money becomes an issue in the future.

10 tips to help you reduce your cost of living:

1. Firstly, track of your spending 

The very first step you should take when trying to reduce your cost of living, is to manage your money and set a budget. This will help you to understand your spending habits, monthly income and overall financial position.

Work out what money you have coming in and what money you have going out – be as detailed as possible to capture everything. You can use this tool to help you understand your money - or an online budget planner. Once you understand how much money you are spending, you can then work out how much you could save if you stop spending on non-essential items.

According to Barclaycard Payments, households spend around £500 a year on subscriptions. So, if there are streaming services or gym memberships that you are not getting good use out of, now's the time to ditch them – or to make a note to cancel them ahead of renewal. 

2. Haggle where you can

Lots of people are looking at ways they might be able to save money on the services they use every day. This includes phone, broadband and pay-TV services. If your bill's going up, or you're on a promo deal that's ending, switching isn't the only way to cut costs. You can try haggling to get the best deal - find more tips to help you get the best deal here. There are also some saving schemes to help families on a low income.

3. Turn down your thermostat

Almost half the money spent on energy bills is absorbed by heating and hot water costs. Turning your heating down by just one degree could save up to £80 a year. Aim to keep your thermostat at a lower temperature around 17 degrees can make all the difference. You could also try to add layers and blankets rather than turning the heating on straight away.

There are also many grants available to help you with rising energy prices. Households could get up £350 this year to help with rising energy prices. There is also the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which could help you get £140 off your electricity bill this Winter.

If you’re struggling with housing payments, local authorities can award a discretionary, limited and temporary housing payment to claimants if existing benefits do not cover housing costs.

4. Chop your food spend

Your food shopping is one of the biggest costs you have to budget for. By looking for ways to save money, you may find increased food costs easier to deal with. Save money by preparing and cooking your own meals as this is generally cheaper than buying takeaways or ready meals.

Draw up a weekly meal plan using up ingredients you already have and make a shopping list of any missing items - shopping online can also help you to reduce costs. Find more tips to eat well for less here.

5. Switch off standby 

You can save around £40 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode.

Almost all electrical appliances can be turned off at the plug without upsetting their programming. You may want to think about getting a standby saver or smart plug that allows you to turn all your appliances off standby in one go. Find out which appliances use the most energy in your home.

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6. Cut your fuel costs

Having a lighter vehicle load can help contribute to saving fuel. The lighter the vehicle, the more fuel-efficient it will be - so make sure to keep your boot space as empty as you can. Tyre pressure can also affect fuel efficiency - it’s important to check your tyre pressure regularly, you can find your car’s correct tyre pressure here.

Visit PetrolPrices to find the cheapest stations where you can fill up. It can save you £10 on the cost of a full tank of petrol. Supermarkets tend to offer the lowest prices while motorway service stations are the most expensive

Switching to alternative fuels or electric vehicles, where possible, is also a great way to lower fuel costs. Where possible, you can also opt to cycle, run or walk - making small changes will not only help you to save fuel it will also help to boost your physical health too.


7. Lights, camera, action!

Turn your lights off when you’re not using them or when you leave a room. By doing this you can save a good chunk of your monthly electricity costs.

Replacing all the lights in your home with LED bulbs could help you save even more. Modern LED bulbs use 90 per cent less electricity than traditional incandescent lights and last ten times longer. 

8. Energy-efficient appliances

When it’s time to swap or get a new appliance, going for one with a high energy-efficiency rating can be worth the investment.

Dryers and refrigerators are two of the most energy-intensive appliances in a home and replacing these with better efficient models can cut electricity usage by half. Avoid using a tumble dryer for your clothes, dry clothes on racks inside where possible or outside in warmer weather to save £40+ a year.

9. Take 4-minute showers

Keeping your shower time to just 4 minutes could save a typical household £45 a year on their energy bills. Some of us might enjoy a long soak in the bath, but swapping just one bath a week could make a difference. Find out how saving water at home can help your wallet and the environment.

10. Run cooler washes

You can save around £20 a year on your energy bill by using your washing machine more carefully, try a 30-degree cycle instead of higher temperatures and only wash your clothes when you have a full load.

By making some of these small changes, you will soon start to reap the benefits and your monthly savings will soon start adding up, as well as helping the environment too.

Remember if you’re struggling to make ends meet, we’re here for you. We can help you to maximise benefits, explore grants available and get you back on track with your finances.

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More about money

How to eat well on a budget
At risk or loss of employment
Online pension guide
Everything you need to know about pensions in under 7 minutes
Universal Credit
Planning ahead - you and your money
Mortgage & rent payments
Maximising benefits
Debt & borrowing

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