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3rd August, 2021 |

8 minute read

Ways to save money when your income changes

Zara Kelly, financial inclusion manager

With the end of both the £20 Universal Credit top-up and the furlough scheme both coming in September, there’s never been a better time to look at your finances and make some savings.

If you’re affected by either of these changes, there are some simple things you can do to get in good financial shape.

Yes, it will take some of your time.

No, it’s not exciting.

But, put some time aside and keep focused on what you could do with the money you save. And here’s the surprise, it’s possible to save more than the £1040 a year reduction in Universal Credit. Here’s how….

1. Check your benefits

It takes only 10 minutes to check you’re getting the benefits you’re entitled to. And, if you are pensionable age or working, you could still be entitled to benefits to top up your income. So do check: 

  • Go online and use our benefit calculator 
  • Or call us and ask to speak with our Financial Inclusion Team who can take you through it 

Even the minimum increase in benefits payments could give you an additional £488.80 a year.

2. Create a budget plan

There are lots of budget planning tools available, check out ours, they’re free:

Or good, old-fashioned, pen and paper will also do the trick.

Write down where your money goes; use your bank statements and receipts to see what you’re spending. You might be surprised when you see it all written down.

3. Check your energy bill

I don’t know what a Kilowatt-hour is, but it’s never stopped me from switching my energy supplier every year.

I check for cashback or discount offers online, then use the website with the best offer to switch.

Uswitch and Compare the Market are worth checking; I’ve had £30 cashback and free cinema tickets from them before.

There are lots of other websites out there; just make sure you use a reputable one that looks at all the suppliers.

I then check the three cheapest suppliers:

  • Do they have good customer service reviews?
  • Am I getting everything I need?

For example, if I was entitled to the Warm Home Discount, I’d make sure the provider offered it.

Pay by Direct Debit

Direct Debit rather than prepay or regular billing can also save you money. Ask your supplier to arrange for it to come out on a certain day to help you manage your money.

My last switch saved me £50 per month and I got £30 cashback.

That’s £630 a year.

Can’t switch?

If you don’t want to switch, or can’t because of arrears, you may still be able to save. Contact your supplier and ask them what tariffs you can move to.

4. Find out about the warm home discount

The Warm Home Discount is £140 a year towards your electricity/energy, and it goes straight on your energy account. For those on Guaranteed Pension Credit this should be automatically applied but check you’re getting it and contact your supplier if you’re not.

Other groups are entitled to the Warm Home Discount, so check with your provider to see if you qualify.

You need to apply for it: your energy company opens applications at different times. Often it’s between October and January, on a first-come basis. But keep your eyes open because I found two suppliers that opened in July or August, and only for short period.

5. Reduce your water bill

All water suppliers offer a Social Tariff, which can give as much as 50% off your water bill. Ask your supplier if you qualify.

This could save around £23.50 per month. That’s £282 per year.

Talk to our financial inclusion team

Our advisors are trained to give free, one to one support, if you're worried about money. If you're struggling to pay your rent, looking for benefits advice or help with budgeting then give us a call. They can even help you find free clothing and interview coaching.

6. Check your council tax

Councils band the properties in their area, and this determines how much council tax you pay. This means that band A pay the least and band B pay more and so on.   

Check your Council Tax band and others in your postcode.

If you’re paying more than another property of the same size in your postcode you can ask your council to re-band your property. Contact your local Council for help with this. 

It’s worth doing – based on a band C to B in Durham, you’d save £239 a year. 

If you are the only adult in the property, you can get a 25% discount. Based on a band B property in Cornwall, this could save you £397.05 a year. 

There are a range of benefits to support you with Council Tax depending on your circumstances. Our Financial Inclusion Team can work out if you qualify. 

7. Deal with your debts

The average UK adult owes £3690 in unsecured debt (May 2021, The Money Charity).

It’s not easy to talk about money, but if you’re struggling with debt there’s lots of free help available:

You’re not alone. These organisations help people every day and are there to support you; never to judge you.

Make sure:

8. Switch your car, home, contents and life insurance

As with energy companies, your loyalty does not pay off.

Check your policies

Every year companies can add to your premium. Over the years this means you’re paying more than you should for your cover.

Check your cover and make sure you get the cover you need for current or new policies.

Haggle

Even if you don’t want to switch, doing a comparison will help you haggle with your current insurer.

You could save an average of £80 a year on home insurance.

9. Switch your supermarket

Switching to lower cost supermarkets, or buying own-brand, can save you money. Check out Money Saving Expert for tips on how a family can save up to £1500 a year

And don’t forget:

  • Plan what you want to eat before shopping
  • Make a list and stick to it

Bargains are only bargains if they’re on your list.

10. Start to save

If you’ve followed all these steps so far, then that’s a huge potential saving of £2756.85 per year. 

Which leads nicely to my final piece of advice… 

Put a little money away every month.

Saving money is a great financial habit. It helps reduce your financial stress and makes you better prepared for the unexpected. With all those savings you’ve made, now is the perfect time to start! 

Tweet us and let us know how much you've saved.

Free money saving advice

Free energy and money saving advice and energy assessments. Call 0800 029 4548.

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