Cost of Living Hacks

17th June 2022

We've teamed up with our independent financial advice provider Wren Sterling to provide you with hints and tips to help with the cost of living crisis.

 

Shopping

Be paid to shop

Cashback credit cards went out of fashion for a time but they’re starting to reappear now and if people do tighten their belts, you can expect competition for customers to increase again. It's worth revisiting the cards you have now to see if the benefits are worth it.

There are also online schemes, like TopCashback, which if you can get your head around doing your online shopping through its site, can generate money back. TopCashback pays £30 into your account when a friend you have signed up earns their first £10 cashback. Quidco gives you £25 cash back for each friend who earns their first £5 cashback.

Clubcard and other loyalty points, like those found in Tesco, can be exchanged directly for money off your shopping, but there are other ways to spend them – such as meals out, RAC membership and air miles.

Go incognito

If you’re shopping around for flights or train travel the price can change depending on whether the company you book with has logged the internet cookies from the last time you visited the site. This is called dynamic pricing and can dramatically increase the cost of a deal if the company thinks you’re about to buy it. If you use an incognito web browser you may get better prices, as if you were a new customer. Most browsers have an easy way to open an incognito window from the top of your screen.

 

Driving

Get a petrol deal

Any saving you can make on fuel will be welcome and if you’re regularly using stations that provide loyalty schemes, it is worth looking into. BP, Texaco and Esso are some of the stations with schemes.

Car share

If you live in a city and don’t always use your car, or you’ve got a second car that sits on the drive most of the time, you might want to consider apps like Getaround, which allows you to hire someone else’s car by the day when you need it, so monthly insurance, tax and vehicle repayments can be saved.

 

Energy

Do your best on energy

Energy prices are soaring. If you are lucky enough to still be on a fixed rate lower than the price cap, which will be 28p per kWh for electricity and 7p per kWh for gas from April 1, then stay put. No new deals are cheaper than the price cap, which applies to customers on their supplier's standard variable rate. So, if your fixed deal ends, your best option is to take the variable rate, limited by the cap.

Change lightbulbs

LED bulbs use 90 per cent less energy than standard bulbs and can last 10,000 hours longer. This could save £40 a year on the average household’s bill.

Check fridges

Keeping your fridge too warm could mean food goes off more quickly. Make sure it is set between 0 and 5 degrees. Most fridges have dials inside. The colder the better, and upper shelves are warmer than lower ones. Keep things such as hard cheeses and bagged salad on warmer shelves and don’t overfill the fridge.

 

Get selling

Sell the stuff you don't use

There is every chance that you have sellable items, from CDs and DVDs to comic books, videogames and gadgets. You can sell new or used products on Amazon Marketplace or eBay or try the websites Music Magpie or webuybooks.

Apps such as Depop and Vinted let you sell old or unwanted clothes and accessories — the apps take 10 per cent of the sale price. All in-app payments are made through PayPal, which means there is also a PayPal transaction fee of 2.9% plus 30p.

Flog old Lego

Chances are that if you have children, you have buckets of Lego kicking around at home. Those bricks hold their value and can sell for £10 to £20 a kilogram. Some special bricks can go for £3 each and specific parts (such as bodies) go for more too.

BrickPicker.com has constant updates on the changing value of different bits of Lego, helping thousands of buyers and sellers to make a profit.

 

Savvy spending

Subscribe to save

If you are a regular Amazon and Deliveroo user, you can link your accounts to get the best of both worlds. This gives you a year of Deliveroo Plus (worth £3.49 a month), which has unlimited free delivery when you spend £25.

Even for coffee...

If you can’t live without takeaway coffee, Pret A Manger’s subscription costs £25 a month and gives you up to five drinks a day, including all hot and iced coffees, teas, hot chocolate, smoothies and frappés. It can be used only in-store.

Go Premium

Do the maths to see if becoming a member of a shop will leave you better off in the long run. If you are under the age of 30 and take more than two train journeys a year, spending £30 on a railcard that gets you a third off rail fares for a year is likely to save you money.

Likewise, the Two Together railcard is if you make lots of off-peak journeys with the same person (like your spouse).

You can buy railcards at railcard.co.uk and download the digital version to your phone.

Cheaper childcare

The government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme adds £2 to every £8 you spend on childcare up to £2,000 a year for each child up to 11. To qualify, parents need to be working and have an income of less than £100,000. Set up an account on gov.uk and you can use it to pay any child care provider on the government’s approved list.

Get help with care costs

If you or a relative needs adult social care either at your own property or at a care home you will need to pay the cost yourself, or at least some of it, if you have assets, including property, worth more than £23,250. You may, however, be entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. Medical professionals will assess whether you qualify. Always challenge the assessment if you feel that your care needs are a health need. This can be difficult to do but the benefit to your savings can be huge.

Pay insurance upfront

Paying for a year’s worth of cover such as pet insurance in one lump sum is much cheaper than monthly instalments, which includes a credit cost.

Check warranties

If you’re paying for guarantees for items such as electrical goods, check that the cost is still worth it. Can the shop definitely still repair it? Has the cost of it fallen so far that it is no longer worth it? Would it be better to just save the money in case you need a new one?

 

Conclusion

This list was inspired by an article that first appeared in The Times on 18th March 2022. The points are merely suggestions and should not be construed as endorsements of any particular company, or advice.

Thanks to Wren Serling for providing these useful tips, if you're interested in more, you can find the full article here.

 
Please note: The articles within Money Matters are for general information only and are not intended as investment, tax, legal, or other forms of advice. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate taxation and trust advice, legal and accountancy services. Please remember that investments can fall as well as rise, and the return from them may go down as well as up, is not guaranteed, and you may not get back the amount you invested. You should always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.