Is it really as bad as it seems?
Now it may be that have done the maths it’s not nearly as bad as you first thought and actually things are going to be ok. It might be that things are going to be tight or it may be that things are actually looking pretty bad. Either way, there are things you can do to make small changes to make a difference this month and maybe next while things are really difficult.
Do you really need everything that you pay for?
What’s going down anyway?
This one is specific to right now, but might be relevant for other situations too. If you’re off work and you can’t get out and about as much, your fuel bills are likely to go down, so factor in a much smaller amount for now. If schools close and you have teenagers who pay for public transport and food at school you’re likely to save a few quid a day by making sandwiches at home. Clubs, groups, activities, tuition are likely to be closed for a while too, so you can remove them from your outgoings too. As with everything here, it’s likely to be small amounts, but over a week or a month or a couple of months it will make a difference.
Where can you cut costs?
Do you have budgets set aside that you can reduce? When your setting your food budget it definitely worth branding down if you don’t already, if you by branded products, switch to own brand, if you choose own brand, switch to ‘smart price’ Cut down some of the meat you buy if you can, switch prepared veg for the raw materials, try adding lentils to bulk up dishes, batch cooking and choosing a couple of veggie meals a week will all help. Even if you can only save £5 or £10 a week it really does all add up.
It’s also worth looking at whether you can step down a level in things like your tv subscriptions and mobile phone contracts. It may be disappointing for now, but you can step it back up again if you really miss it.
Do you have a takeaway or two a month? Coffee out? If you do, it’s likely that most of the places that offer these services are going to be shut soon if the aren’t already, so these will naturally be removed from your budget. If you’re reading this in the future, these may be things you make a conscious choice to go without for now.
If you set aside money for things like clothing, think about whether you really need to buy anything this month and whether that money might be better spent elsewhere. If you’re desperate for new pants maybe not, if you were planning on getting a new pair of trousers maybe you could wait till next month or buy pre-loved? Or perhaps have a go at repairing or up-cycling something you already have, if its something you already own, but isn’t wearable, have a go at sewing them up or patching the knee!
Talk to energy providers
Another idea with energy providers and other regular bills like phone and broadband etc is to ask to move your direct debit date. If you can shift it back a few days it means till after Pay Day or after a benefits payment goes in, you’re still paying within the month that the payment is due, but actually sending the money once there’s funds in your account.
Can you get any help?
If you are needing to apply for Universal Credits at the moment and/or need to apply for an advanced payment you can do this over the phone or via email. This is very helpful if you can’t get out to attend the Job Centre due to illness or self isolation.
The information on the help and support available is changing daily, so its definitely worth checking the Gov.uk website for the most up to date advice and how to apply.
How can you make some money?
If you have DVDs, CDs and books, music magpie pay anything from a few pence to a few pounds an item and places like CEX love Pre-loved tech. It’s not going to make you loads of money, but every little helps, right?
Even if you can only do one or two of those, I hope its given you some ideas to help ease the pressure a little. Stay safe, look after each other and don’t forget to buy loo roll!