This page is packed full of ideas on how to make your money go further. It covers everything from switching energy suppliers and prioritising your bills to ways to save money on food and appliances.
Cheaper phone and broadband
You may be eligible to move onto a social tariff if you are struggling to afford your broadband or phone services. The Ofcom website shows the tariffs available (external link) and who is eligible to switch to a social tariff.
Should I switch energy supplier?
Consumers are being advised that, because many energy companies are struggling, you will not find as many tariffs as normal, and if you do not find a better tariff than the one you are on it is probably better to wait until deals are available again.
However, if things change and you wish to look into changing suppliers (external link), it is important to do research into the best option for you. Ofgem can provide more information (external link) about whether to switch, and how to do so.
The Big Community Switch offers a service to Cambridgeshire residents who are considering switching their energy provider. Residents can use this free, simple, no obligation service to find the best tariff with their own personalised offer. Visit the Big Community Switch Collection Energy Switch website (external link) for more information.
Many water companies run hardship schemes or fund independent charitable trusts which can help you pay your bills. CCW is the independent voice for water consumers in England and Wales and they can help you to get support with paying your water bill (external link).
Anglian Water’s tips to help you save water (external link) offer useful ideas for inside and outside the home. If you haven’t got a water meter for your home, you may find asking your water company to fit one can save you money.
WaterSure and reduced tariffs are available to those who are eligible, such as someone who may use more water for medical reasons, a household who has more than three children living there, or customers who would struggle to pay. It is always worthwhile having a chat with your supplier to see what options may be available to you.
The Save Water Save Money website (external link) collates water saving devices available from the water companies across the UK, such as aerated shower heads, subsidised water butts, cistern bags and toilet leak detection tablets. Or contact your supplier to see what free water saving devices they can offer.
Keep track of energy costs
Knowing what you are using and spending will help you to feel more in control, ways to do this include reading your meter regularly or having a smart meter installed.
Read your meter: always check your actual usage and let your supplier know, to help avoid high estimated bills. If you are not sure how to do this, look on your supplier’s website or call them for advice.
Smart meter: these are available from your supplier and are free. They show you how much you are using and how much money this is costing you so you can see how much different items cost to run. Ask your supplier to make sure they are fitting the most up-to-date version. Never be tempted to switch off your fridge/freezer, it is important to keep this on to avoid food going bad.
It is important to contact your supplier if anything on a bill looks wrong.
Bill prioritiser tool
The government’s bill prioritiser (external link) can help you sort your bills and payments in the right order and advise you what you need to do if you are struggling to pay, to help avoid missing payments.
Check your wage and deductions are correct
Check the National Minimum Wage calculator (external link) to see if you are being paid the right amount. You can also check when your employer can make deductions from your pay (external link) (such as for income tax, national insurance and student loan repayments).
Help with travel costs
You could save up to a third on train journeys with a railcard (external link)
If you are on Universal Credit you may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card (external link) for up to 50% off.
Check your eligibility for free help from the NHS (external link) for things like prescriptions, dental care or glasses.
The Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS) (external link) may be able to refund reasonable travel costs if you are referred to hospital or other NHS premises for specialist NHS treatment or diagnostic tests by a doctor, dentist or another primary care health professional.
Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign is partnering with Laptops 4 Learning - a company that refurbishes tech devices obtained from companies and educational establishments and recycles them, cleansed and ready for use by people in need who are facing situations in their lives which will be helped by having access to working tech. Contact Laptops 4 Learning (external link) for more information.
To access free Wi-Fi visit your local library (external link) at Ely, Soham, Littleport, Burwell, Little Downham, Haddenham or Bottisham. There is no fee and you can also access low cost printing options. The buildings will be warm and welcoming, with other people for company. Your local library is one of the few places you can go without any expectation of having to spend any money.
Money saving ideas
Making small changes can start to add up to make a big difference. Some of the top tips below might help.
Heating: turning your thermostat down by one degree can save on average £116 a year.
Water: set the temperature to 60 degrees centigrade and close the bathroom door when bathing or showering.
Kitchen: only boil the amount of water you need in a kettle and put lids on pans when cooking.
Appliances: turn off appliances when not in use, rather than leave them on standby.
Repairs: if your home has draughts from windows, doors or fans repair them if you can. If you rent then report these to your landlord.
Food: this is one of the biggest expenses for many families, there are ways to help make your money work harder. Less food waste is better for the planet and better for your pocket:
- Set a budget, make sure it is realistic and try to stick to it
- Plan your meals, check the cupboards for what you already have and then buy only the ingredients you need, also try batch cooking for two or three meals and freeze the extra
- Shop online, this can help to avoid the impulse buys and also lets you remove items from the basket if you have gone over budget
- Store it well, keep an eye on use by dates and see what is the best way to store it. If something is about to go out of date before you can use it, check to see if you can freeze it instead
Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Handy-person Service
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Handy-person Service (external link) is usually a charged-for service with the costs varying dependent on the work being undertaken. Exact handy-person services differ from place to place, but the kind of work they can help with include small repairs, fitting safety measures and home security and also installing energy efficiency items, such as draught excluders, radiator heat reflectors and energy efficient lightbulbs.
Community Support Organisations
There are many community support organisations in East Cambridgeshire , which are there to support residents with a variety of services including baby banks, emotional support, financial advice, health support and advice, drug and alcohol support, food parcels and time-banks.