Millions of Britons have already felt a squeeze on their finances this year, but the cost of living crisis is set to deepen from 1 April, with significant increases in energy bills, VAT, national insurance and more.
The energy price cap will increase by a record 54 per cent from tomorrow, and VAT will return to 20 per cent, rising from 12.5 per cent. On top of that, households face a 1.25 per cent hike in national insurance to help pay for health and social care.
Experts have called on the government to do more to help people as the crisis spirals, with the Resolution Foundation think tank estimating that low-income households will see the biggest hit to their disposable income in the next year.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who unveiled some measures to mitigate the crisis in his Spring Statement last week, said he is “confident in what we’ve done” to support people.
But many people will still be looking for more areas in which they can save money to deal with the rising costs of everyday essentials.
Here are some of our top tips and tricks to save some extra cash:
Rotate your streaming subscriptions
If you’re paying for multiple streaming services, this is a good area to start looking to see if you can save some money.
With so many streaming services – such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, NowTV, among others– the cost of paying for all of them really adds up each month. However, you may find yourself only watching one or two shows on each platform per week, which means you aren’t really getting your money’s worth.
However, some clever consumers have jumped on the trend of rotating their subscriptions to avoid constantly paying for every single service, even if you haven’t really used it.
It involves “pausing” subscriptions after you’ve finished watching all the content you’re interested in. In most cases, this means having to sign up to a service, pay for a month or however long you want to watch a specific TV series or film, and then cancelling the subscription so that you’re not paying more than you need to.
It helps to stay on top of each service’s release schedule to figure out which ones you want to prioritise. You can usually find these on the service’s website towards the end of each month.
Some services try to stop users from doing this by releasing episodes on a weekly basis – for example, the first episode of Moon Knight on Disney+ dropped on Wednesday 30 March and will release an episode per week for the next six weeks.
You can choose to subscribe and pay for Disney+ for two months to catch each episode as it drops, which will cost £15.98, or you can wait until the entire series is out and just subscribe for one month (£7.99).
Sell unwanted clothes and items
There are a myriad of second-hand apps and websites that allow you to sell unwanted clothes, furniture, books and the odd lamp you don’t use anymore.
Apps like Vinted and Depop are popular for selling clothes. However, it is useful to keep in mind that Depop charges a 10 per cent selling fee, while Vinted does not.
Vinted also allows you to sell small household items, which is a great incentive to declutter. For larger items, like furniture, Facebook Marketplace is quick and easy to get started on. However, you will likely have to price things quite low in order to get them to sell, as there are always bargain hunters lurking on the platform.
Get free (or very cheap) food
Food banks have warned that the spiralling cost of living crisis has pushed more and more people to visit them, but supplies are running out at some food banks.
To ease pressure on food banks, there are food apps that can help you either get free food or give away surplus food that you can’t use up before it goes off.
OLIO allows you to connect with people in your neighbourhood who are giving away food from their kitchens, all for free.
Even better, there are also people who become Food Waste Heroes, which means that they volunteer to collect surplus food from businesses and stores, and then share it on the app. Tesco, Pret, Sainsbury’s, Costa and Planet Organic are just some of OLIO’s partners that give their surplus food away.
You can also pick up food for very cheap by joining apps like Too Good To Go, which connects you with restaurants, cafes and stores that sell surplus food at the end of the day for cheap.
The app scours your location for partnering businesses and lets you know what is available to collect. You can pick up “Magic Bags” from stores like Pret, Leon or Costa for as little as £3, whole loaves of bread and other baked goods for less than a fiver, and even bags of groceries starting at £3.
Get loyalty cards
Make sure you get a loyalty reward card for any shop or store you go to frequently to maximise any discounts or deals they might offer. For example, a Tesco Clubcard allows you to get member-only deals and you can also collect points to be exchanged for vouchers for groceries, entertainment, travel or eating out.
Other stores that offer loyalty schemes include Boots, Co-op, Lidl, Iceland, Sainsbury’s, Waterstones and Superdrug.
However, just because you take part in a loyalty scheme doesn’t mean you’re obligated to stick to that supermarket or store. Shop around and always compare prices on common items between supermarkets to ensure you’re getting the best price for what you need.