Finance expert and founder of MoneyMagpie.com, Jasmine Birtles, who is also a patron of debt charity Community Money Advice (CMA), offers ten tips to streamline your finances and build financial resilience.
Stop using your credit cards
Credit card repayments can spiral, and when the cost-of-living increases, these can seem unmanageable.
The first thing to do is speak to your credit card provider and try and negotiate a repayment plan.
If, however, you are using your card towards your cost of living, then urgently speak to somebody from a debt charity – places such as CMA, StepChange and Turn2Us will be able to help.
More and more people are using cash as a good way to budget now. With cash, you know where you are, and once it is out of your wallet, that is it – you cannot overspend.
Streamline your utility bills
Make sure you are getting the best deals across the board. Often mobile phones can really rack up our outgoings, so look into getting second accounts on one contract or just out of the contract entirely if you already have a phone and get a SIM-only deal.
There are loads of really cheap offers there. Also, avoid monthly bank bills.
There are plenty of non-packaged accounts that have similar deals. Do not fall for the sales pitch and spend money you do not need to spend.
Have you got the right tax code?
Check online or call HMRC to be sure you are not paying too much tax.
It has been suggested this year that millions of people are in the wrong tax bracket.
If this is so, then you could free up hundreds of pounds that you did not know you were owed.
Check your eligibility for income support and benefits
A huge amount of people do not realise that they are eligible for some sort of benefit.
Whether it is a carer’s allowance, a PIP payment or even Universal Credit (UC), you could be entitled to more than you are getting.
Always check to see if you are eligible for help, as often UC can help cover some all-important bills and living costs which could save you money in ways you had not considered.
Some people do not realise that these payments can be there for people in employment or for the self-employed too.
They are not just for when you are out of work. Try Turn2Us.org.uk or Entitledto.co.uk to use their calculators and see what you might be entitled to.
There are literally hundreds of ways to make a bit of cash on the side to supplement your income, and many are really fun.
Options may be de-cluttering and selling the stuff online, baking to sell, ironing for others or dog walking.
Save on travel
A lot of us have to travel, but many are getting a lot savvier about it, switching to walking and cycling more. Some are even considering car shares and setting up fuel syndicates.
The last thing we all feel like doing when the world is scary is cutting back on those feel-good things.
However, it is sadly a necessity here and there. Millions of us have subscription services we do not even use.
Therefore, just go through your bills and really fine-tune your outgoings.
But at the same time, look for ways to get things for free: what can you share with neighbours and friends?
Join some mystery shopping agencies to get free food and entertainment.
Search the internet for free days out, free events and free entertainment because it is out there.
If you have a smart meter, you can check which of your appliances are using the most energy and make sure you use them less.
Even if you do not have a smart meter, there are now apps that can help you monitor your energy use.
Using the microwave and air fryer more and the oven less, for example, will make a significant difference to your bills.
Time when you shop for groceries and make the most of offers and discounts
Find out when your local supermarkets get their yellow stickers out, and this can make a huge difference to your bill.
Also, check out some food waste apps, as these can save an absolute fortune and really help combat food waste in the process
Share, share and share
The more we can share with our neighbours, friends and families, the more we will all have at a lower cost.
Share your food, share your tools, share your time (helping to look after each other’s children) and even share your space if you can. That way, we all have more, but we spend less.
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