Improving Your Budget

Overview

This fact sheet and checklist highlights a number of ways you can consider to increase your income and possibly reduce your expenditure. Not all of them will be suitable for you but please have a look through to see if you can improve your financial situation.

*You should seek expert advice from an independent financial adviser before making any contractual commitment involving a regulated financial product.

**You should look into the legal aspects of any contractual arrangements first before committing to them.

***You should speak with an independent tax adviser or accountant.

Increasing Your Income

The checklist below itemises some options to consider to maximise your income.

  • Are you claiming all the benefits you are entitled to and can any of them be backdated?
  • Do you or any member of your household have ill-health or a disability that might be eligible for a disability benefit?
  • Are you entitled to a disability blue badge?
  • Are you a carer entitled to a carerโ€™s allowance or are you in receipt of a disability benefit that qualifies someone looking after you?
  • Are you entitled to a charitable grant or benevolent fund?
  • Can you get any help with health costs, such as prescriptions, dental and eyesight?
  • Are you entitled to help with school costs, such as travel, uniform and books?
  • Can anyone living with you contribute to the household?
  • Could you raise any cash by selling unwanted goods online (Ebay, CEX, Freeads) or at a car boot sale?
  • If you are over 55, can you release any money from a pension pot or look into equity release from a property?*
  • Do you have a spare room that you could rent out via the rent a room scheme?**
  • Can you claim any tax allowances or a tax refund?***
  • If you are self-employed, can you reduce your tax bill with help?***
  • Are you being paid at least the minimum or living wage?
  • Can you find paid work, increase your hours or fit a 2nd job in?
  • Can you sell an asset of value to raise money and downgrade to a cheaper one, such as a car?
  • Are you on a low income and eligible for government help savings schemes?
  • Can you make any compensation claims for personal injury, negligence or mis-selling?
  • Have you thought about being as Mystery Shopper?

Remember to check how any changes made to your income affect any income related benefits you receive.

Reducing Your Spending

Housing Costs

  • Are you able to apply for government help with mortgage costs?
  • Could you change the due date of your payment, extend the term of your mortgage or fix to a better interest rate?*
  • Is a re-mortgage possible?*
  • Can you change from a repayment mortgage to an interest only one?*
  • Can you apply for help with your rental housing costs?
  • Are you entitled to council tax discounts or reductions?
  • Could you extend your council tax payments over 12 months or change the due date of your regular payment?

Utilities - Gas, electricity and water

  • Have you checked comparison sites, are you on the best energy deal?
  • Could you claim any grants or discounts, such as warm home discount?
  • Would you save any money switching to a smart meter?
  • Is your home energy efficient, could you get help with energy efficiency equipment and/or tips?
  • Are you entitled to receive extra support from your energy supplier?
  • Are you able to save money by installing a water meter?
  • Do you qualify for a reduced/light water tariff?
  • Does your provider give temporary credit for a prepayment meter?
  • Do you check your bills and meter readings regularly to make sure they are not over-estimated?
  • When you replace white goods, do you check their energy efficiency rating before buying to save money on future bills?

Insurance

  • Do you shop around to get the best insurance quotes?
  • Do you adjust the excess (deductible) amount and check any premiums added to the quotes given to you to compare quotes?
  • Are you over-insuring, do you need all the policies you have? Duplication can sometimes invalidate insurance policies.
  • Are you using your no claims discount to get a discounted quote?
  • Have you thought about protecting your no claims bonus?

Home Phone, TV, internet and mobiles

  • Could you check a comparison site to switch your telephone, TV, internet or mobile provider for a better deal?
  • Can you reduce your media package to reduce costs?
  • Have you checked your mobile data and call usage recently to make sure you are on the cheapest contract deal and not overpaying?
  • Are you able to switch from a contract mobile to a pay as you go cheaper deal?
  • Does your provider allow you to share data with family members?
  • Have any of your contracts ended, could you contact your provider to see if they can offer you a cheaper Sim only customer retention deal?
  • Could you check a comparison site to switch your telephone, TV, internet or mobile provider for a better deal?
  • Can you reduce your media package to reduce costs?
  • Have you checked your mobile data and call usage recently to make sure you are on the cheapest contract deal and not overpaying?
  • Are you able to switch from a contract mobile to a pay as you go cheaper deal?
  • Does your provider allow you to share data with family members?
  • Have any of your contracts ended, could you contact your provider to see if they can offer you a cheaper Sim only customer retention deal?
  • Rather than upgrade at the end of a contract, could you stick with the mobile device you now own and switch to a Sim deal?
  • Could you raise any cash for an old handset?

Travel and Parking

  • Are you eligible for a concessionary bus pass, i.e. older persons, Jobcentre Plus discount?
  • Can you split your train ticket to save money?
  • Could you benefit from getting a railcard or a refund for a cancelled or late train?
  • Are you eligible for discounted travel due to a disability?
  • Is there a car share scheme in your area or could you share with a colleague?
  • Could you use a cheaper type of transport, e.g. walk, bicycle?
  • Do you have the correct change on you for a car park machine?
  • Are you making use of free parking zones? You could try the free appyparking website.
  • Do you search for the cheapest car parks? You could try Parkopedia.
  • Could you rent someoneโ€™s drive space? You could try www.justpark.com.
  • Is there a park and ride in the area?

Banking

  • Could you change the date for any of your regular payments to give you extra time to pay?
  • Do any of your regular bills offer discounts to switch to a direct debit plan?
  • Are you paying for a bank account fee, could you change to a free basic bank account?
  • Does your bank account provide any inclusive financial products that you might be duplicating, such as travel insurance and/or mobile phone insurance?
  • Could you switch to online banking to save on travel costs to your local bank?
  • Are you running an unmanageable overdraft, could you switch to a safe, basic bank account?

Food and Household Shopping

  • Could you plan for a cheaper food spending week to reduce pressure on your budget just before you get paid?
  • Is it possible to start shopping at cheaper supermarkets, such as Aldi or Lidl?
  • Are you able to save on expensive cleaning products by using bicarbonate of soda and/or white vinegar?
  • Are you able to buy essential products that you need in bulk to save money?
  • Have you tried working out when your local supermarket slashes the process of near their sell by date products?
  • Do you look out for voucher savings and use reward and loyalty cards?
  • Perhaps you could try non-branded products to see if you like them to reduce what you spend?
  • Do you make a list before going shopping, this can prevent you from getting distracted and getting tempted to buy more than you need?
  • Can you reduce the amount of takeaways that you buy?
  • Are you shopping on an empty stomach? Try not to as this can influence what you buy.
  • If you are experiencing food poverty, could you obtain a food voucher?

Budgeting Tips and Habits

  • Do you check your bank statements and/or online transactions regularly?
  • Can you save a little bit each month for emergencies and/or future costs like birthdays and Christmas?
  • Are you able to set a reminder notification to shop around before a renewal date, such as car insurance or switching energy provider?
  • Would keeping a spending diary in your pocket or bag help you keep track of your spending?
  • Could a free budgeting app help you organise your finances?
  • Have you thought about signing up for open banking to have single access to all of your bank accounts?
  • Do you speak with friends and family about ways to save money? This can help you find out about local deals and savings to be made.
  • If you are a student, are you using your student discounts?
  • Can you make do and mend? Not everything has to be new or replaced.
  • Can you trade your unwanted goods for something second-hand? Car boot sales can be great to meet new people and buy bargains with your own profits.
  • When you are skint, can you suggest a present freeze or limit to family and friends? Surprisingly, this can be welcomed by many, it saves hassle and money.
  • Have you tried discount sites like Groupon and Hot Deals UK?
  • Could you use cash back sites for shopping, such as TopCashBack?

Useful Links

Money Advice Hub Debtipediaยฎ : https://www.moneyadvicehub.org.uk/debtipedia

Citizens Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Money Advice Service: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/

Budget Planner: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/budget-planner

Money Saving Expert: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/

Gov.UK: https://www.gov.uk/

Tax Allowances: https://www.gov.uk/income-tax-rates

Tax Refunds: https://www.gov.uk/claim-tax-refund

Self-employed Help: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-and-support-if-youre-self-employed

Mystery Shopper Jobs: https://www.mystery-shoppers.co.uk/become-a-mystery-shopper

Turn2Us Benefit Entitlement: https://benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk/AboutYou

Turn2Us Charitable Grant Search: https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/

Energy Efficiency Ratings: https://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/blog/energy-ratings-everything-you-need-know

Compare the Market Comparison Site: https://www.comparethemarket.com/

MSE Energy Club: https://help.cheapenergyclub.com/hc/en-us

Money Supermarket Comparison Site: https://www.moneysupermarket.com/

Uswitch Comparison Site: https://www.uswitch.com/

Smart Meters Guide: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/smart-meters-how-they-work

Sell on Ebay: https://www.ebay.co.uk/sl/sell

Buy or sell through CEX: https://uk.webuy.com/

Buy or sell through Freeads: https://www.freeads.co.uk/

Find Free Parking: https://app.appyparking.com/src/app.html

Rent a Driveway Parking Space: https://www.justpark.com/

Cheaper Car Parks: https://www.parkopedia.com/

Foodbanks: https://www.trusselltrust.org/

'How to videos' YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/

Wikihow: https://www.wikihow.com/Main-Page

Hot Deals - Groceries: https://www.hotukdeals.com/tag/groceries

TopCashBack: https://www.topcashback.co.uk/

Aldi Supermarket: https://www.aldi.co.uk/store-finder

Lidl Supermarket: https://www.lidl.co.uk/en/Store-Finder-4186.htm

Cleaning: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/

Gov Help to Save Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/get-help-savings-low-income

Student Beans Student Discounts: https://www.studentbeans.com/uk

UCAS Discounts: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/student-life/student-discounts

UNIDAYS Student Discounts: https://www.myunidays.com/GB/en-GB

Groupon Vouchers and Discounts: https://www.groupon.co.uk/