At Compass, we know that raising a child in the UK can be costly. Looking after a child or young person has financial implications, which is why we pay all our foster carers a generous allowance that exceeds national minimum rates.
However, it’s no secret that the UK is experiencing a cost-of-living crisis. Food prices and fuel prices are increasing, and energy bills are soaring. If you’re finding yourself asking: ‘Why can’t I save money at the moment?’ – you’re not alone.
In times like these, it’s natural to want to keep household expenses down. Many people are on the lookout for new ways to save money, particularly on their household bills.
Suggestions like fitting new insulation or installing solar panels may work well in the long run, making your home more energy efficient and climate-friendly, but these options are often more expensive and time consuming.
Fortunately, we’ve put together a helpful guide with some money saving tips for families. We’ll be looking at how to save money on heating electricity, water, and many other household expenses to help you cut your spending throughout the cost-of-living crisis.
There is no magic fix for the cost-of-living crisis. However, we hope that some of these cost-cutting strategies will contribute to reducing your overall expenditure, helping to lessen the strain on your wallet, and fill up that money saving box!
Stop Paying Interest on Your Credit Card Debt
There are a range of benefits to credit cards, such as building credit history, rewards programmes, purchase protection and much more.
However, if you’ve got a credit card, you might be aware of how difficult it can sometimes be to pay back credit debt – especially with interest rates rising to 21.49% in the last year alone.
If you’ve amassed some credit card debt, it’s important to put in place a strategy for tackling it. One of the best places to start is by transferring your debt to a 0% balance credit card. These cards enable you to avoid paying interest for a fixed time, allowing you to pay back your debt in fixed monthly instalments, without any interest.
If you still have some debt left by the time the 0% interest period ends, simply move your debt to another 0% interest plan. It’s important to note that some cards come with small balance transfer fees, so keep this in mind when looking for new deals.
Get Negotiating on Your Bills
Navigating broadband, television and mobile bills can be a difficult feat. With so many different providers and contracts, it can be difficult knowing which contract is right for you – and which contract is the most cost effective.
Fortunately for customers, the maturity of the market means that customer retention is a big priority for service providers. Haggling your bills could save you £100s a year, or improve the perks included in your contract, all while keeping costs low.
Being prepared to negotiate, or haggle, on your recurring bills is one of many ways for families to save money. If you’re wondering where to start, this guide from MoneySavingExpert walks you through how to save money on phone bills step by step, with some of their users claiming to have saved just under £400.
This article from Insider goes one step further, providing a script for customers to use when talking to customer service representatives. This script helps users understand how to save money on phone bills, car insurance and television bills – saving money for family activities!
Find Out If You’re Eligible for A Free Smart Meter
According to Ofgem, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets for the UK, smart meters are the new generation of energy meters. But do smart meters save money?
On their own, smart meters do not save you any more money than normal. Unfortunately, they won’t directly combat the recent eye-watering rise in energy prices. So, how exactly does a smart meter save you money?
Smart meters record information on your consumption of energy around the home, displaying it in real-time on a screen for you to see. This means they provide homeowners with up-to-date bill prices, encouraging users to pay more attention to how they are using their energy.
Having a smart meter fitted for your water and electricity will help you and your family better manage your energy usage and costs. By tracking your daily usage, smart meters help to save money, save water and save electricity!
Unplug Your Electronic Devices
As simple as it may sound, this simple trick really does save you money.
Even when they’re not in use, electric appliances can cost you money. Devices like phone chargers, microwaves, TVs, and cable boxes continue to draw energy even while they’re not in use. You may think that by hitting the ‘off’ button on your TV remote, you’re turning off your television – but this isn’t the case. Rather, they’re just idling – waiting to be ‘turned back on’, all while continuing to sap electricity.
This report from the New York Times found that a cable box that drew 28 watts of energy when in use and recording a show, continued to draw 26 watts of energy while off and not recording anything. Similarly, a computer that is left plugged in but not in use can draw up to 4.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity a week!
Unplugging appliances at the socket will stop them from continuing to draw energy. We suggest grouping your appliances onto a power strip extension cable. This saves you some time and some money in the process – just be careful not to overload your power strip.
Draught-proof Your House
This money-saving tip is low-cost and is great for those wondering ‘how do you save money on heating bills?’.
Draught proofing is one of the most effective (and cheapest) ways to save you money on your electricity bills and generally works well for all homes across the UK. Draught-proofing means preventing cold air from outside entering your home, while also helping to retain warm air (that you’ve paid to heat up) from escaping.
Draught proofing windows, fireplaces and chimneys, doors and floorboards will help to reduce how much energy it takes to heat your home. It will also keep you a lot warmer, especially in the winter months.
This guide from Energy Saving Trust takes a step-by-step look at draught proofing your home, including what to look for, and how you can DIY it yourself.
Audit Your Direct Debit’s
There’s no doubt that direct debit payments are incredibly convenient. Recurring payments are hassle-free, ideal for those with ongoing commitments or subscriptions who may not remember to make a payment each month.
However, direct debits can also be dangerous, costing you money each month in the background. Most people in the UK are subscribed to a service of some kind. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Gym memberships, magazines, insurance, utilities – all these services come with some kind of monthly fee. Many waste £1,000s paying for products and services they no longer use or need, simply because, most of the time, they had no idea they were still paying for them!
As money gets tight, it might be a good idea to conduct an audit of all your direct debits across your accounts. You may find subscriptions you had no idea you were still paying for, like an old gym membership or insurance on a past property.
Similarly, in times like these, it’s also worth asking yourself which subscriptions are essential, and whether or not you really need them. Taking the time to re-evaluate your subscriptions may go a long way in helping to lessen the steady drip of money leaving your account monthly.
Seek Help When You Need It
There’s no denying that the cost-of-living crisis is placing a great pressure on families across the UK. These saving tips are aimed at reducing your monthly bills but are not meant to be a magic fix.
If you’re struggling to pay for your household bills, and think you may get into financial difficulty, it’s important you contact your supplier as soon as possible. This is an important first step in creating a plan for managing your bills, and your supplier must help you come to some kind of solution. If you don’t contact your supplier to negotiate, they may threaten to disconnect your services.
The UK government has also introduced a package of support to help households with the rising energy bills – you can find out more about this package here.
Citizens Advice also has a great guide on the grants and benefits you can claim to help you pay your energy bills, available here.
At Compass, we want to make sure all our foster carers feel supported throughout their fostering journey. We hope that these simple money-saving tips will go even a little way in lessening the financial strain placed on our community in these times.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in becoming a foster carer with us, you can get in touch with us here.