Over the last few months, financial worries have moved a little bit higher on everyone’s worry list. Whether it be the cost of childcare, fuel prices, the ongoing interest rate hikes or general cost of living crisis woes, money (or lack thereof) is something that is increasingly on all of our minds and agendas. Money and mental health are intrinsically linked, and for those who are not only grappling with financial concerns, but also navigating another life event – whether it be a divorce, a bereavement or the serious illness of themselves or a loved one -- this can be intensified tenfold.
If you are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and trying to plan for the coming months, it can be hard to know where to start. Whilst the current financial constraints are part of a wider issue, there are small steps that all of us can take to try and improve our current situation and reduce the burden by a small amount. As the saying goes “look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves” – it may not be a panacea to all financial concerns, but little and seemingly insignificant adjustments can pay dividends when taken as a whole.
Here are some things you can think about that might take the edge off.
1. Look at your bank account and App store for unused subscriptions and forgotten standing orders or direct debits. RocketMoney is an app that scans and finds unwanted, forgotten about, and costly subscriptions and cancels them for you.
2. Think about using up waste food – there are a multitude of websites and books dedicated to using up leftovers and to batch cooking to take advantage of deals and offers.
3. Share with friends and neighbours. Whether it be some apples from the garden, the cookies you baked but won’t eat all of or milk delivery you forgot to cancel when you were going away, these small steps banish waste and are often reciprocated.
4. Unplug energy vampire devices on standby. Turn appliances off at the socket and consider installing smart meters to keep an eye on energy usage.
5. Don’t make purchases you don’t need. Unfollow and unsubscribe from marketing emails that make you want things or tempt you to return to their website with “money off” deals. Always ask yourself whether you would have paid full price for an item on sale and, if not, question whether you really need it.
6. Refrain from “free trials” for subscriptions or services you would not ordinarily purchase, as the intention of a free trial, and an extremely common occurrence, is forgetting to cancel the free trial and getting charged the full fee.
Share don’t shop
7. Share goods (lawn mowers, drills etc) with your neighbours, friends and family. Consider passing round used magazines you have on subscription or sharing other subscriptions with friends.
8. Use share libraries for items like tools, decorating equipment or appliances you will only use once or infrequently, instead of buying them. If there is nota share library in your local area, then consider setting one up or look for “BuyNothing” groups on social media to join.
9. Borrow books, DVDs etc and use your local library.
10. Buy second hand – in charity shops, online used goods marketplaces, or yard sales – and don’t be shy of having your own sale.
11. Ride share. Either connect with colleagues or friends to set up a carpool to school or work or consider using the ride share option for taxi accounts and similar.
12. Buy in bulk and share with friends or neighbours – it often works out far cheaper.
13. Sell your own used items when you no longer need them, including clothes no longer worn, outgrown children’s items, and excess purchases. There are many websites and apps used to sell pre-owned items and make significant money, including Poshmark(clothes), Kaiyo(furniture – USA only), Ebay (clothes, cars, goods, furniture), AptDeco(furniture – USA only), among others.
Look after the pennies
14. Utilise reward points and loyalty cards – it is estimated that there are billions of pounds or dollars of loyalty points which remain unused.
15. Buy when most effective. Know when to shop for a better deal and when to stay loyal. AirHint, for example, scans airline pricing and predicts when the cheapest time to book flights might be.
16. Unfollow and unsubscribe from marketing emails. It is human nature to have a sense of fear of missing out when bombarded with emails showing you all the things you might need or want. Remember that discount sales still cost money and avoid the pull by cleansing your inbox. Out of sight, out of mind.
17. Look for cash back on everything. This might be by way of cash back on a bank account, or online sites such as TopCashBack, Quidco or Rakuten.
18. Don’t be afraid to spend on credit if it helps to collate useful points and you can afford to pay off the balance straight away.
19. Think about what you do well (craft, cake making etc) or just what you enjoy doing already (dog walking or babysitting) and how you might be able to make money from it.
20. Switch banks or utility providers and insurances. Many offer cash back or incentives to switch even on top of a potentially better deal for you. Don’t let services auto renew without checking that they remain the best deal.
Finally, take active, not passive steps. We don’t receive formal financial education or training in our lives (sadly) but instead learn by experience. Being financially literate requires you to seek out education and advice so don’t be afraid to read around and listen to the excellent advice that is available.
This is not a comprehensive list, and the suggestions may not solve all of your cost-of-living worries, but they are some small actions that might soften the impact of the coming months. Pick and choose and adopt into your toolkit as you wish, or simply use them as a reminder to do something that you are doing already.
If you are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and trying to plan for the coming months, it can be hard to know where to start. Whilst the current financial constraints are part of a wider issue, there are small steps that all of us can take to try and improve our current situation and reduce the burden by a small amount.
Wednesday, 8 March celebrates International Women’s Day, an annual celebration and recognition of the women's rights movement. It is also, however, a time to acknowledge and reflect on how far behind women (including trans women) remain when compared to their male counterparts, and this especially so when it comes to finances.
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