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With the cost of everything going up, how can you get creative to ease that pressure on your monthly outgoings? 
 
We have exactly the person to tell us: Yvonne O’Grady is a locality manager in Staffordshire & Marches. She’s also a mum of two and a former employee at Citizens Advice where she supported people with housing and debt related issues for over a decade. 
 
Here are her nine ways to maximise your expenditure. Please give it as read, bookmark it for future reference, and share with your family, friends, or neighbours… 

1. Save up to 90% on your water bill

Is your water supplied by Severn Trent? If so, read on. Not many people know about the Big Difference Scheme which can offer a reduction of water bills to people with a household income below £16,480.

The initiative runs for 12 months but you can apply again each year. If eligible, you could save a whopping 90% of your total bill! If your water is supplied by Bristol Water, there may be other ways you can make savings.

Money and water

Don't let your money wash down the drain

2. Get paid the right wage and tax code

It sounds really simple, but you’d be amazed at how many people and families I’ve supported over the years who were either being paid the incorrect wage or were being charged the wrong tax code, and potentially losing out on hundreds of pounds.

So do keep on top of your weekly or monthly pay slips and the government has a handy tool to help you check you’re paying the right amount of tax.

3. Take in a lodger

Depending on your type of tenancy, you might have the right to take in a lodger someone who lives with you in your home and has their own room but shares living spaces such as the bathroom or kitchen.

There are a number of things you would need to consider such as the impact on any benefit payments but luckily my former employer has put together some advice and please always let your neighbourhood coach know.

4. Sell on online marketplaces

Most of us have unopened or unwanted presents lying around the house, or perhaps you have a nifty item which you used to use a lot but simply have no use for anymore?

You can sell items for free on many online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, or Facebook Marketplace, and only pay selling fees once your item has sold – it can free up cupboard space and make you some cash! Just always check the small print.

Woman taking photo of some jeans

Do you have unwanted items you could cash in on?

5. Seek out charity support

None of us should ever get to the position where we have to decide whether to eat or heat and there are some fantastic charities such as the Trussell Trust and Runnymede who are working to support those on limited incomes through an army of volunteers and a network of foodbanks right across the UK.

They have handy postcode calculators on their websites so you can always see where your nearest one is. Other charities offer furniture services where you can pick up white goods or furniture at a fraction of the price or for free.

6. Shop around and switch

With inflation at record levels, companies are passing these rising costs onto customers. Automatic renewals can easily catch you out and suddenly you are paying a higher price for the same level of service.

This applies to everything from broadband, to TV, to phone deals, to insurance. Why not keep a list of renewal dates on your smartphone and search for cheaper packages as they come up for renewal? Businesses are constantly searching for new customers, and you can save serious money just by being more proactive.

7. Cancel unused subscriptions

It can be really easy to lose track of your many subscriptions but are you actually still using all of them? For me, I recently realised I was no longer using a well-known music streaming service to the level I previously was, and so I cancelled back to their free version saving me over £10 a month.

Keeping a list or regularly reviewing the outgoings on your mobile banking can help you spot those subscriptions that you no longer want or need.

Father and son watching a film using VR headset

Music and movie streaming services are great, but do you need them all?

8. Switching to a water meter

If you don’t use much water in your day-to-day routine, changing from a water bill based on a fixed rate to a water meter where you are charged for the actual amount of water you use could be a clever option.

But you don’t need to jump into this decision blind, because most water companies have usage calculators on their websites where you can work out how much you would pay on a meter.

9. Get free debt advice

There are numerous ways to reduce the amount you are paying towards your debts and a trained adviser can help you to do this. Specialist debt charity Step Change is just one organisation offering people free help and advice and can support you to reduce your expenditure and take back control of your finances – they support over 25,000 people each year to become debt free.

Bonus tip: Start a budget tracker

Managing your money effectively starts with having a budget, and you’d be surprised at how many people still don’t have one. The prospect of starting one can be daunting, and often the biggest hurdle. But as Nadia Malik, our income management advisor explains, setting one up is really simple and can take a lot of stress away.

Often people can feel consumed and overwhelmed when it feels like there is insufficient income to meet your essential expenditure which often results in debt. This can result in a feeling of helplessness and that there are no solutions.  
 
This is so not the case.
 
The tips above can help you maximise your income and reduce expenditure. In addition, seeking independent, impartial, and confidential advice can reveal a number of options that can help you. The most repeated feedback I received from my clients as a money adviser was that they “wished they had taken action sooner and that there was light at the end of the tunnel”. 
 
For further advice on a range of areas relating to your finances, pop along to our Money Matters hub today and see what you can learn.

Yvonne - as well as being a mum-of-two - is an expert around housing and debt issues

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