With the current cost of living crisis, a huge number of people are having to look at ways they can cut back on their monthly spending. According to Zoopla, in the year to October 2022, average rents for new lets went up 12.1%, while existing tenants’ rents increased by an average of 3.8%, stretching affordability for ‘single earner’ tenants to 35% of average earnings – making this the least affordable rental market in more than a decade.
So, to help you through this time when every penny really does count, we’ve put together 10 ideas of things you can do as a tenant to reduce your existing monthly outgoings. Although some of the savings might just be small, when you add them all together, they could go quite a way to helping you continue to afford your home, while still enjoying life!
Energy bills are one of the costs everyone has seen spiral over the last year or so, and the first step to keeping these under control is knowing how much energy you’re using and when. If you pay your gas and electricity bills, you can request a smart meter which comes with a portable display unit that you can put somewhere convenient, which shows your usage in near-real time so you can work out where you might be able to cut back.
Readings are then sent automatically to your energy provider, so your bills are always accurate. You can also install an app that allows you to control the heating remotely – e.g. so you don’t have the heating on unnecessarily if you’re going to be away from home for longer than planned - and you can easily top up prepay accounts via your smartphone. If you don’t already have a smart meter or you want to know more about the benefits it can offer, visit the Smart Energy GB website for full information.
We always recommend speaking to the agent or your landlord prior to fitting a new smart meter.
If your home has an EPC rating of D or E, it’s worth speaking to your landlord to see if there’s anything they could do to improve that and help make it easier and cheaper for you to heat. Insulation in the roof/loft, walls and floor can be cost-effective and they may be able to access financial support for making energy efficiency improvements.
If you have a smartphone and are paying for the handset each month, could you downgrade to a less expensive one? For instance, phones that aren’t 5G ready tend to cost significantly less while retaining a lot of functionality. And check your current package – is there a better deal you could switch to, without losing the data and other allowances you need? Check the Which? website for some more tips.
Lots of us are members of a gym and subscribe to TV and internet entertainment packages, perhaps magazines as well, and it’s very easy to overlook several small monthly payments going out of your account each month. But all these small payments can really add up. So take a look at your monthly subscriptions and think about whether you really use and need them, or could you go without – just for a year or so?
Going on a night out – especially if you’re taking a taxi or Uber – can often end up being more expensive than you planned, and a meal in a restaurant can easily cost you many times more than it would to buy and cook the ingredients at home. So, talk to your friends and come up with fun ideas for socialising at each other’s houses – maybe plan a ‘Come Dine With Me’ style competition, where you take it in turns to cook and rate each other’s efforts! Or have movie nights or themed evenings, where everyone contributes a few refreshments.
Of course, you want to treat your family and friends for birthdays and Christmas, and you still can. But, rather than buying individual presents for everyone, a few of you could get together and contribute a smaller amount each, in order to buy one bigger gift instead of several little ones.
If you have more than one loan or credit arrangement that you’re paying back each month, look into consolidating them into one cheaper payment. If you have a high interest rate, could you transfer the debt to a provider with a lower rate? It may not always be possible but it’s worth looking into. And if you’re really struggling to repay debt, contact somewhere like Money Helper for free advice and you may be able to reduce your monthly payments.
If you’re not used to collecting and using discount vouchers and coupons, you might be surprised how many there are out there, so make a conscious effort to keep every flyer, receipt, paper or magazine you pick up and go through them at the end of each day. And if you buy anything online, check if there are automatic deals that can be applied from the likes of Pouch (https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/joinpouch.com).
Most supermarkets will have a time of day when they check the dates on their fresh items and reduce them, so find out when that is and aim to shop then. And try to base your meals around items that are on special offer, rather than sticking to a specific shopping list.
If you’ve got a smart meter, test the oven, hob, microwave and any other cooking appliances you have, to see which uses the most electricity. Could you change the way you cook to make mealtimes cheaper? Air fryers have become very popular recently and a slow cooker could reduce the cost of cooking a joint of meat. And maybe have more cold meals – salads and raw vegetables are also a healthy option.
If you’d like to chat about keeping your costs down, or would like advice on how your landlord might be able to help, just get in touch with your local branch and one of the team will be happy to help.
Looking for advice?
If you're looking to let or sell your property, we can help. Get in touch with your local branch or book in for a property valuation.