15 ways to make YOUR money stretch further as living costs surge

Hand with money

Beat the cost of living crisis: how to cut household bills and more with tips on ways to save money - Credit: Getty Images

The cost of living squeeze is being felt by households facing soaring energy bills on top of rising prices, record fuel prices and a national insurance hike to help pay for health and social care.

Here are some ways households could try to ease some of the squeeze on their finances:

Use free budgeting tools

Get on top of your outgoings so you can cut back on any non-essentials. Norfolk Citizens Advice has a free budgeting tool to help you understand what you’re earning and spending and where you might be able to cut costs. 

Sitting down and having an honest look at monthly finances and making a simple income and expenditure breakdown could reveal some areas where it might be possible to reduce outgoings. 

Norfolk Citizens Advice chief executive Mark Hitchcock.

Norfolk Citizens Advice chief executive Mark Hitchcock. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Go through bank statements

Make sure you're not shelling out for services you no longer need or use.

If you don't regularly read your bank statement, it can be easy to miss direct debits you have not cancelled.

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Look to see if there are any subscriptions you could do without. You may need to go back a year to find any annual charges.

Cut the cost of debts

If you're making large interest payments on credit card debt, moving debts to a 0pc interest balance-transfer card could help some people.

It will give the opportunity to repay money owed, but make a note of when the interest-free promotional period ends and pay off the balance in full before this happens.

Consolidating existing debts could make it easier for consumers who may be struggling with various outstanding commitments.

mature woman doing her finances with calculator and paper statement

A rise in base rate could affect your monthly mortgage repayments - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Could you switch to a cheaper mortgage?

Mortgage payments are often a household's biggest monthly outgoing and some may find they can save hundreds of pounds a month by moving off their standard variable rate (SVR).

While mortgage rates have been rising, those who are sitting on the current average SVR of 4.61pc will find that the average two-year fixed rate of 2.65pc is still almost two percentage points lower.

Get cash to switch current account

Banks often have offers for new customers, which can include cash payments. Try moving to a bank that charges lower or no overdraft fees.

Nationwide is offering switchers up to £125 and First Direct is offering £150 to switch or £20 just for opening an account and logging into online banking.

You may be better off by picking an account with a package of benefits instead of choosing an account for its up-front perk.

Check if you can pay less council tax

Council tax bills are going up across Norfolk. The government has announced households in bands A to D will be given £150 to help with the cost of living, with those eligible for council tax reductions living in all other bands, also due to get the payment.

But if you’re on a low income or claim benefits, you might be able to get council tax reduction. Each Norfolk council runs its own scheme. Check at gov.uk/apply-council-tax-reduction

If you think your property band is incorrect, you could try to challenge it, but be aware it can mean your valuation is raised instead of lowered - along with your bill, so do a bit of homework before you try it.

Slash your shopping bills

Stick to a set shopping list to reduce the risk of impulse buying. 

Bulk-buying is a good way of saving money on items that won't go out of date, such as tinned food and toiletries.

Buy supermarket own-brand items, which are normally cheaper and check the reduced aisle.

Cook meals in batches and freeze them to eat later. By cooking lots of meals at once, you might use less energy.

Embargoed to 0001 Monday March 7 File photo dated 19/12/14 of a member of staff stocking shelves, as

Embargoed to 0001 Monday March 7 File photo dated 19/12/14 of a member of staff stocking shelves, as research has shown a "stark" disparity between the salaries of supermarket chief executives and workers, according to a new report. - Credit: PA

Sign up for loyalty cards

It is also worth taking advantage of supermarket loyalty schemes, such as Tesco Clubcard and Nectar card, which can give you access to unlock big discounts and other exclusive rewards.

Many cards also offer one-off deals or discounts to tempt you into signing up in the first place.

Look for a better broadband deal

If you've been with a broadband provider for a while, it is likely that any introductory offers will have expired, and you might be paying more than you need to.

Shop around to see if you can get a better deal.

Could you go Sim-only with your mobile?

If you are happy with your current phone, then stick with it and move onto a Sim-only deal. If you're wedded to getting a new phone, be sure to shop around for the best deal. 

It might be cheaper to buy the handset and get a Sim-only deal separately than to opt for a package deal. Also, when it comes to usage, only pay for what you need. There is no point paying a premium for data you won't use.

The icons of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, are displayed o

The icons of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, are displayed on a mobile phone screen, in London. - Credit: PA

Club together with other parents

Families can save a small fortune by chatting to people with children of a similar age and working out a hand-me-down circuit.

You'll get free clothes when a friend's child outgrows them, then you can pass them on down the chain when your child gets too big for them.

Not only will you save money, but you'll keep clothes out of the landfill too.

Stop wasting energy

If you have the heating on but are in a T-shirt you're burning cash. A simple but effective way to cut energy costs is to take control of your central heating thermostat. 

Adjusting your timer to switch off at night and during the day if the house is empty will also minimise fuel consumption.

Turning off your appliances and lights when you're not using them can reduce your energy bills.

Some energy providers offer a discount to people who live on their own. Ask your provider if they can offer this.

Wash clothes at the right settings

You’d be surprised how washing clothes at a lower temperature saves. Washing at 20C instead of 40C could save you 62pc on running costs. 

Check labels carefully to find out if you could turn down the dial and save money without any effort at all.

The Smart meter can help you reduce your energy bills.

The Smart meter can help you reduce your energy bills. - Credit: Archant

Finally, get help if you are struggling

If you cannot afford to keep up repayments on a mortgage or loan, speak to your lender as soon as possible. They may be able to offer alternatives and the earlier you try to sort the problem out the wider the choice of options there could be.

Breathing space schemes are available for people in problem debt and it is also worth checking all the benefits and rebates on bills that you may be entitled to.

If you are sinking into problem debt, or worried about doing so, consider getting help from charities and support organisations.

Where to get help

Norfolk Citizens Advice
Offers free, confidential and impartial advice on debt, benefits and money issues.
0800 1448 848

Money Support Service
Norfolk County Council service for those needing help with budgeting.
01603 223392 (option 4)

Community Action Norfolk
Charity offering help including warm homes and collective oil buying scheme.
01362 698216

Norfolk Community Foundation
Charity that runs schemes including nourishing Norfolk and community shops.
01603 623958

An unrecognizable woman kneeling on the living room floor, adjusting the thermostat on the radiator.

Adjusting the thermostat on the radiator. - Credit: Getty Images

Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS)
Helps people who are in financial hardship and cannot pay their living costs.
0344 8008020

A national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially.

The Trussell Trust
Free 'Help through Hardship' helpline and food bank search tool.
0808 208 2138

Money Saving Expert
Martin Lewis needs no introduction but the website offers specialised advice for people on low incomes.

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