Finance Expert Joins Forces With Community Money Advice to Offer You Help This Winter
Finance Expert and founder of MoneyMagpie.com, Jasmine Birtles, who is also patron of debt charity Community Money Advice (CMA), has teamed up with the charity to offer ten tips to streamline your finances and build financial resilience.
With a staggering 91 per cent of people reporting they are feeling the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis and millions of people turning to a second job to help with bills. Jasmine and Martin Bethell of the CMA are looking for as many ways as possible to help people.
“Many of the money troubles people are facing right now are not their fault,” says Jasmine, ”But there are some things we can all do to make a tough situation a little more bearable. There are also definitely ways we can make extra cash on the side to help pay bills and make sure we have at least a few little luxuries that make life better.”
Martin Bethell agrees: “More and more people are really struggling right now to make ends meet and and we think that is really helpful for people to have access to hints and tips that others have found useful. These really can make a difference”
Jasmine and CMA’s top tips
Streamline your utility bills
Make sure you are getting the best deals across the board. Jasmine says, “Often, mobile phones can really rack up our outgoings, so look into getting second accounts on one contract or just out the contract entirely if you already have a phone and get a SIM-only deal. There are loads of really cheap offers there.”
Also, try avoid monthly bank bills. CMA’s Martin Bethell adds that, “There are plenty of none-packaged accounts that have similar deals. Don’t fall for the sales pitch and spend money you don’t need to spend.”
Stop using your credit cards
Credit card repayments can spiral and when the cost-of-living increases, these can seem unmanageable. First thing to do is speak to your credit card provider and try and negotiate a repayment plan. If, however you are using your card towards your cost of living, then urgently speak to somebody from a debt charity – places such as CMA, StepChange and Turn2Us will be able to help.
“More and more people are using cash as a good way to budget now,” says Jasmine. “With cash you know where you are and once it’s out of your wallet that’s it – you can’t overspend.”
Check Your Eligibility for Income Support and Benefits
A huge amount of people don’t realise that they are eligible for some sort of benefit. Whether it’s a carer’s allowance, a PIP payment or even Universal Credit (UC), you could be entitled to more than you’re getting. Always check to see if you are eligible for help as often UC can help cover some all important bills and living costs which could save you money in ways you hadn’t considered.
Some people don’t realise that these payments can be there for people in employment or for the self-employed too. They are not just for when you are out of work. Try Turn2Us.org.uk or Entitledto.co.uk to use their calculators and see what you might be entitled to.
Have you got the right tax code?
Check online or call HMRC to be sure you’re not paying too much tax. It has been suggested this year that millions of people are in the wrong tax bracket, if this is so then you could free up hundreds of pounds that you didn’t know you were owed.
Try the tax code checker here https://taxscouts.com/calculator/tax-code-checker/.
Save on Travel
A lot of us have to travel, but many are getting a lot more savvy about it switching to walking and cycling more, car shares and setting up fuel syndicates. Join a car-sharing company like Blablacar or get into renting your car out when you’re not using it on a platform like Hiyacar.com.
There are literally hundreds of ways to make a bit of cash on the side to supplement your income and many are really fun. Whether it’s de-cluttering and selling the stuff online, baking to sell, ironing for others, dog walking or even using cashback sites, people are finding new ways to make some money. We have lots more on MoneyMagpie.com.
The last thing we all feel like doing when the world is scary is cut back on those feelgood things. However, it is sadly a necessity here and there.
Jasmine reminds us, “Millions of us have subscription services we don’t even use. Therefore, just go through your bills and really fine tune your outgoings. But at the same time look for ways to get things for free: what can you share with neighbours and friends? Join some mystery shopping agencies to get free food and entertainment. Search the internet for free days out, free events and free entertainment because it is out there.”
Time When You Shop for Groceries and Make the Most of offers and discounts
Find out when your local supermarkets get their yellow stickers out and this can make a huge difference to your bill. Also, check out the food waste apps such as Olio, UK Harvest and Too Good to Go – as these can save an absolute fortune and really help combat food waste in the process.
If you have a smart meter you can check which of your appliances are using the most energy and make sure you use them less. Even if you don’t have a smart meter, there are now apps that can help you monitor your energy use like Nous.co and Hugo. Using the microwave and air fryer more and the oven less, for example, will make a significant difference to your bills.
Share, share and share
Jasmine says, “The more we can share with our neighbours, friends and families the more we will all have at a lower cost. Share your food, share your tools, share your time (helping to look after each other’s children) and even share your space if you can. That way we all have more but we spend less.”
Both Jasmine and Martin want to impress that however hard the economy crisis is hitting you that help is out there.