As the cost of living crisis really starts to bite, the average amount people spent on utilities increased by more than a third last month, according to new figures from Barclaycard.
As a result, many people are looking to cut their spending quickly, so they can at least afford the basics. But, what are the best ways to reduce your spending fast?
Barclaycard found spending on digital content and subscriptions dropped 5.7% in May, and a fifth of people say they’re reviewing their subscriptions. Other cost-cutting measures included a drop in spending at restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs.
“Our discretionary spend is reducing month on month, so we need to think even harder about how we spend our money,” says Jasmine Birtles of MoneyMagpie (moneymagpie.com). “If we can look at all the aspects of our day-to-day lives and try to cut back a little on lots of different areas, that will help us have more money going forward.
“It’s going to take quite a while before things bounce back, and I think inflation will go into double figures before it subsides, so this year is going to be a tough one,” Birtles adds. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
Here are six money-saving tips Birtles says can make a difference straight away…
1. Use up freezer and store cupboard contents
“One thing I like to do every now and then is use up what I’ve got in the kitchen,” says Birtles. “You might have tins and packets sitting in your cupboards for years. So have a look what you’ve got in there – use up al your tinned tomatoes, tinned fruit, etc.
“The same goes for your freezer – a lot of people stick stuff in there and it sits for a few years, and ends up inedible. So set a time when you use up what’s in the freezer and store cupboard, and only buy food that goes with what you’ve got in. Not only will that save money, but you’ll actually use things instead of wasting them.”
2. Check you’re not being scammed
It’s important to keep checking your bank account to make sure all the transactions are genuine, warns Birtles. Scams are very common, and may only be for small amounts that you might not notice are taken from your account every month – but it all mounts up!
“I recommend people look at their bank account at least once a month and see if there’s anything you don’t recognise, because it’s quite possible a scammer is taking money out of your account without you realising it,” says Birtles. “This happens all the time – they get into your account and set up a standing order for something for themselves.”
3. Cancel unnecessary and unused subscriptions
Have a good review of all the subscriptions you’re paying for – there might even be some you’ve forgotten about!
“Are you using the gym you pay for, are you reading the magazines you subscribe to? And subscriptions to things like Netflix and Sky – are you really using them enough to justify what you pay, and could you cut down to just one of them, or get rid of them completely and just use Freeview?” asks Birtles.
“If you’ve got a family and they’re all using it, then keep it. But ask yourself if you’re really using it enough, and if you are using it, should you be? Most of us spend too much time in front of the box anyway.”
Using voucher and cashback sites could help reduce your outgoings, says Birtles, who mentions cashback sites like quidco.com and topcashback.co.uk, where each time you buy any of the brands on the sites, you’re rewarded with cashback (although don’t let this tempt you into make unnecessary purchases!).
There are also discount voucher sites like vouchercodes.co.uk, topvouchercodes.co.uk, hotukdeals.com, vouchercloud.com and myvouchercodes.co.uk, where shoppers can get discount vouchers from a wide variety of well-known brands.
5. Is it worth cancelling home services insurance?
Birtles says some home services insurance schemes can be worthwhile, but suggests: “It’s worth having a look again and asking yourself if you ever use it and could you get something cheaper?”
She says it may be useful to visit a comparison site like uswitch.com or gocompare.com as there are many different providers of these services. “It’s quite possible you could get a better value version of it, if you do want to keep the service.”
6. Think about how much you use your car
With fuel prices so high right now, it may be worth thinking about how often you use your car, and whether some journeys at least could be made on foot, by bike or on public transport.
“Think about whether you really need to use the car. The ideal, really, is for us to give up our gym memberships and walk more,” says Birtles, who also suggests talking to neighbours and friends who don’t have a car about renting your car out to them occasionally.
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