Saving money and budgeting

Saving money might not seem like the most exciting thing to do, but it’s important to have a financial cushion in case you’re hit with a large, unexpected, bill.

Here are a few suggestions to save some cash without it having a huge impact on your life:

Create a budget: This should clearly outline what money you have coming in each month and what you plan to spend it on. The key is to make sure there’s more money coming in than is going out. Lots of our customers are using budgeting tool Entitledto to help – this free online service will help you to create a budget planner and also offers a benefits calculator so you can check what you should be receiving.

Shop around: Utility providers for gas, electric, telephone and broadband may grab your attention with appealing introductory offers, but you could end up paying more in the long run once the offer expires – so remember to compare all the different deals available. It’s also a good idea to look around before your contract is due for renewal. Companies like Sky or BT will often have good deals to get you to move over to them (if you let your current supplier know, they may well offer you a better deal to stop you from moving over to a competitor).

Bank accounts: If you don’t have one you’re missing out! Most companies offer discounts when you pay bills regularly via direct debit, which can help lower your monthly outgoings. If you’ve struggled to get a bank account in the past, this guide on basic bank accounts might help.

Get a lodger for your spare room: Renting out your spare room could help you pay the bills and reduce the burden of bedroom tax. If this is something you’re interested in, call us on 0345 141 4663 so we can check this is an option avaliable for your tenancy, and then visit a site like SpareRoom or RoomBuddies to find out more.

Pay for prescriptions in advance: If you need more than three prescriptions in three months then you can save money. This can be done by buying a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC). If you buy prescriptions separately they will cost £8.80 each, but a three month PPC costs £29.10. That would save you over £20 in three months if you buy two prescriptions per month.

Sell items you no longer use: We all have stuff that we no longer use or have a need for. To you it may be worthless, but to others it is treasure waiting to be found. Why not turn your ‘worthless stuff’ into cash and sell it to others. There are lots of websites and places to do this for free including eBay and Gumtree, or even a local car boot sale.

Clear credit card debt: Like all loans you pay interest on the amount you borrow. Credit cards are no exception and they often carry the highest interest rates. If you only pay back the minimum monthly amount you might only be paying back the interest. By paying a bit more back each month you could lower the amount you owe. If you are struggling with debt there are a number of debt advice services which you can find out about here

Reduce your food bill: There are lots of ways to do this, but simple things like creating a meal plan and making a list so you know exactly what you need, are good ways to reduce what you spend.

Take a packed lunch to work: If you buy your lunch each day at work you could be wasting more money than you might think. A typical meal deal costs about £3 - that’s £15 a week or more than £700 a year!

Avoid unnecessary travel costs: Travelling to work can be expensive, but many journeys, especially in cities and towns, are under a mile. Why not take the healthy option and walk to work when you can and save a little money in the process.