Five money-saving ideas for lockdown and beyond
So during the Covid19 pandemic, job security has sure been a worry, you may have had to take a pay cut, furlough may have left you out of pocket, contracts may have been cancelled or perhaps the payrise or bonus you were banking on has been retracted.
So what can you do to help soften the blow and find ways to save where you can free up cash wherever possible.
1. Comparison sites
Most of us use comparison sites for the obvious such as car insurance, right. Well how about using them to compare prices for more than just insurance. Why not compare TV packages, mobile phone contracts, or energy bills. You can use various websites that can track and compare prices from the high street some even providing reviews from genuine customers. Shopping around online is so easy and can save you hundreds of pounds with just a click of a button Checkout Be Clever With Your Cash blog for more ideas on how to save, or Uswitch to switch providers quickly, simply and safely. GoCompare is also a very good site to compare prices.
These apps take the legwork out of the process, leaving you with only the “hard work” of deciding how much of your hard-earned money you are willing to part with to take advantage of deals.
2. Chase refunds for services you can’t use
Even as many places have re-opened some establishments are still closed, and localised lockdowns are being enforced. In such cases gym memberships are idle, as will some subscriptions to restaurant clubs and many other leisure services. It’s good to remember that consumers who can’t use products or services due to lockdown are fully entitled to a refund. The regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, will take complaints if you are unsuccessful. It may be also useful to talk to your bank, insurers, utility companies, mobile network and landlord if you are struggling, do not simply cancel payments without consultation as this will do more harm than good. get to know your rights and don’t back down. But rest assured that there’s a last resort that’s got your back, the Competition and Markets Authority.
3. Claim the benefits you are entitled to
You may well be entitled to support from the government, but you will need to put a claim in to get support you need. There are a whole host of benefits available for different eventualities/needs, such as
Statutory sick pay
If you work (and aren’t self-employed), you’re legally entitled to get Statutory Sick Pay(SSP) as long as you:
- Have started work with your employer.
- Are sick for 4 full days or more in a row (including non-working days)
- Earn on average at least £120 per week (before tax)
- Are not in one of the ineligible categories.
Employment and support allowance
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) money if you cannot work because of illness or disability - rates, eligibility, apply, assessment.
Jobseekers' allowance and Personal independence payments.
There are also others that top up your income, such as universal credit, where the amount you receive depends on what you have already. Applying for universal credit can stop other benefits such as tax credits, so it is worth checking before you claim. Council tax support maybe available for you. If you’re struggling to stay afloat look into any available grants. Talk to your energy and water supplier to see what help they can provide, there is no harm in asking. There are also schemes to help parents of children that normally receive free school meals. Students should contact their college or university to see what help is available to them also.
Where to go for help
- Turn2Us - a national charity offering benefits information, grants and support
- Citizens Advice - help with benefits, consumer issues and other work and financial matters
- Credit unions - locally based, regulated loan and savings membership organisations
- Search for grants from a range of organisations
4. Clear the credit card quicker
Many people have been given payment breaks for rent, mortgages, or other debts - but they will come to an end fairly soon. If you are struggling, talk to a debt adviser, but good budgeting will help millions of people to cope. A good approach is a money detox to reduce spending and simplify your finances - including tracking down unwanted direct debits, cutting utility bills and building a small emergency fund. If your main aim is to clear a credit card or catalogue debt but you can’t afford large payments, one tip is to set up a standing order for the current minimum payment (or round it up). This clears the card many years sooner and saves a lot of interest.
5. Return items/refunds
You are entitled to return an item that you bought from a store if it is faulty, if it’s not as described when sold, or has not lasted a reasonable length of time. But what if the store has gone out of business.
If a store you’ve bought something from goes bust, here’s what you can do to get your money back for a faulty or unwanted item:
If you spent more than £100 on your credit card, you’re protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act and can contact your credit provider for a refund.
If you paid by debit card, you can make a chargeback claim with your bank.
You may be able to use a manufacturer’s or other third-party warranty if you have one that’s still valid.
You can also submit a claim in writing to the administrator explaining how much you’re owed and what it’s for.