A cost of living crisis has been creeping up on us for years, with unfairly low wages, cruel welfare cuts, and price rises from groceries to rent all in the mix. It’s about to get even worse with the huge increase in the energy price cap which is going to hit ordinary domestic customers very, very hard, and will have an obvious effect on the finances of the majority of households in the UK.
There’s no energy price cap at all for commercial premises at the moment either, which could have a variety of negative consequences, from further sharp increases in the price of goods and services to a huge swathe of employers going out of business. Without significant political intervention, the rising cost of living is quickly translating into a reduced standard of living – unless you’re very well off indeed.
Why talk about a reduced standard of living?
For many of us the situation directly translates into varying degrees of cutting back, giving things up and economising wherever possible, and for others it could mean starvation and destitution. You can be the most financially responsible, thrifty, hard-working person possible and it still might not be nearly enough to keep you out of trouble this winter and beyond.
My current 9-point money plan
Here’s what we’ve been doing in our home, in case it might be a useful reminder to anyone else:
- Re-drawing our budget, looking at all our earnings & outgoings.
- Can we earn more? This could be anything from taking on more paid jobs to selling unwanted items.
- Can we claim more? Checking grants have been paid, keeping up with Citizens Advice and trusted personal finance sites, checking with providers, offsetting legitimate business expenses and so on.
- Spending less in total. Large and small bills, subscriptions, entertainment, and any other types of spending are all up for scrutiny, and freebies and discount codes are potentially useful too.
- Using less of some things. For example we’re having shorter showers, using the oven more efficiently and less often, writing weekly menus and taking things out of the supermarket shopping basket if the total price goes over our weekly budget.
- Accepting that this is a real situation. It doesn’t mean we have to like it, approve of it, or find it in any way moral or okay. It’s happening though.
- Adjusting our expectations in the short term. Until there is a proper political solution, we’re hanging in there and doing what we can, although the general situation might get worse before it gets better.
- Taking action in the medium and longer term. May include writing to MPs, joining civil society initiatives, spreading awareness and useful information, and whatever else might make an impact.
- Keeping a regular eye on the news, including news from other countries to get perspective on the UK situation.
After doing the maths, we think that as long as we’re reasonably sensible here then we should be okay for the time being, but nobody knows what’s going to happen next year, or even next week. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and am fully aware that you may find yourself in a worse situation than me.
Where to next here?
So many generic money-saving tips are well-meaning, but they can come across as incredibly patronising to someone who already does all of those things yet through no fault of their own still can’t make ends meet. Does saying ‘put another jumper on’ really help anyone whose home is so cold they have mould growing on their bedroom walls? Well, no, of course it isn’t helpful, and it can be at best tone deaf and at worst maybe even downright demoralising and depressing. That’s why I’m going to be sticking to writing about personal experiences when covering ways to economise, and hoping that if it works for me then it might be useful to you.
Going forward this site will still be covering living well on a budget, value for money, bargains and discounts, food and drink, seasonal finds, new products, consumer trends, and reasonably priced treats and freebies. There will definitely be a lot more low-priced treats and freebies.
What are your experiences with the cost of living crisis so far? Is it already affecting your standard of living, or your peace of mind?