Reduce your living costs
Last updated: 09/08/2022
If you want to make the most of your income as fast as possible, one of the best things you can do is reduce your cost of living. Everyone, at some point, will struggle with money. Sometimes there are small changes you can make to save more while managing your daily living costs.
Your frequently asked questions about the Cost of Living
Our advice and information team receive questions from single parents around Scotland every day.
Take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about the rising cost-of-living.
We have some tips and links to websites to help you reduce your cost of living:
Reduce your food bill
Help to access food
Food banks can provide you with food and other essentials. Most food banks will require a referral, you can find out more about how to be referred and to find your local Trussell Trust foodbank on their website.
Independent food banks – interactive map of some independent food banks. Some food banks are small and do not have a website, check with local churches, community groups and listings on local Facebook pages for other services in your area.
Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) – Can give you information about support available and other food initiatives local to you.
Food initiatives and food pantries
There are many services to give people access to healthy food on a budget. You can find these online, advertised in local churches, Facebook community groups etc. You can also contact your local council and housing association to help find and access services in your area. Some food banks have been replaced by food pantries, which you have to pay a small amount and you will receive groceries including fresh produce. Glasgow food pantries.
Too Good To Go – App that lets you buy food from local supermarkets and restaurants that would otherwise be binned as expiry date is that day. Food available varies depending on where you live. Good opportunity for you to do your bit for the environment as well as saving money, you could even freeze some of the food to eat another day.
Love food, hate waste – Tips on how to make food last longer, reduce your waste, tackle climate change, and save your pennies.
Community gardens – Community garden projects have appeared in many areas across Scotland. If there’s one in your area you could find out about volunteering some time helping out in return for free vegetables.
Reduced food – many supermarkets reduce items that are due to expire near the close of business. Look out for some bargains, you can find out routine at your local shops to learn the best time to visit for reductions.
Jack Monroe the food writer and anti-poverty campaigner specialises in budget recipes.
34 budget meals that can be made for £1 per person, blog by Vicky Smith.
Full Time meals with Marcus Rashford. ‘Try out these pocket-friendly, easy-peasy recipes for mega-tasty, super-filling, hearty home cooked grub.’
Meal plans – Involve your children to make a plan for meals everyone would like to eat, what would they like to help cook? Is there certain nights that your children have clubs or activities that mean you need a quick meal? Write a list of ingredients you will need for meal plans.
Write a shopping list – Writing a list and sticking to it will help reduce costs and food wastage. Avoid food shopping when you or your children are hungry. If shopping after school try to prepare a snack in advance to avoid impulse purchases.
Reduce fuel costs – Bulk cooking so that you use less fuel the following night to reheat a meal. Experiment with recipes that can be cooked in one pot, or slow cooker.
Reduce travel costs – shop online, cycle, share a lift or taxi with a friend, plan ahead to fit shopping into your day for less travel costs.
Using what you food you have – if you have a few key ingredients in your house especially if it is food that is about to go out of date, can you find a way to make that into a meal by adding to pasta or an omelette? You could also have some fun with typing in two or three ingredients you have into google followed by ‘recipe’ and you might find something new to try.
Shop around for best buys – Check deals online especially for expensive products and make use of discounts and vouchers that you can get from having loyalty cards.
Reduce your fuel bills
Energy advice at home and more
- Energy & money savings tips – One Parent Families Scotland.
- Cold weather payment – One Parent Families Scotland.
- Help with energy costs – Money Advice Scotland.
- Warm Home Discount – applications closed on 28 February 2022 – look out for this reopening for winter 2022-23.
- Home Energy Scotland – have tips about keeping your home cosy, fund finder tool for grants and loans available in your area, and you can also contact their helpline for advice.
- Check with council for help to insulate your home. Find your local council’s website.
- Ofgem have created a useful video explaining your energy bills.
- Money Matters – have template letters you can use if you need to complain to your supplied about overcharging, inaccurate meter readings, or slow switch over of suppliers.
Deal with Debt
Useful debt advice services
- National Debtline – factsheet about dealing with gas & electricity bills, they also have free helpline and webchat for impartial advice.
- Step Change – Charity that provides impartial, free advice. Input your information and they will send you a personalised action plan and solution tailored to your debt and personal situation.
- Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) – advice about debt or contact your local centre.
Overhaul your spending on non-essentials
Look at ways to reduce non-essential spending, gym memberships you don’t use, tv packages you don’t watch, subscriptions to services you can do without etc. You can check your subscriptions in Apple’s App store and Google Play, and also regular payments in your online banking.
Many packages come with incentives for new customers. Set reminders when trial periods and offers expire to avoid paying increased price. If you are organised with cancelling subscriptions on time, you could rotate between different services to keep payments reduced.
Broadband deals for low income families. If you receive Universal Credit or some other benefits you could take advantage of basic broadband deals with some suppliers. Jobseekers can also apply for 6 months free broadband deal via the Jobcentre with O2.
Save money, save the planet – Tips from Parents Club on ways you can save money while also considering the environment, split into sections depending on the age of your children.
Teach your kids about budgeting – Reduce the pressure on yourself, instead of feeling you have to say no all the time when your children are asking for something if you are able to give them small amount of pocket money they will have to learn to make choices about how they choose to spend their allowance.
Recycle, buy second hand, sell on ebay and Facebook Marketplace.
Useful websites and tools
Money Map will help you find sources of online support to: increase your income, reduce your bills and ease the costs of daily living.
Martin Lewis Family Cost of Living Survival Kit
Use comparison websites to find the best deals on broadband, insurance, phone contracts etc.
Remember not all suppliers are on comparison websites so you might want to check rates with some suppliers directly. Speak to friends and family about deals they have as many suppliers have deals for recommending a friend.
Launched during the pandemic, Lightning Reach aim to help people facing financial hardship to receive support, recover from shocks and build financial resilience. Their secure portal enables charities and the public sector get financial support to the people who need it most, quickly and securely.
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