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How to beat the squeeze

Written by Ipswich Building Society

3 Dec 2018


Personal finance, Resolution Foundation, Savings

5 min read

A report last year by the Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank, revealed that the UK is experiencing the longest fall in living standards since record began. Indeed, in real-terms wages have not yet exceeded their 2008 pre-crisis levels. So while the last recession in the UK technically ended in back in 2013, the effects of the Great Recession and 2008 financial crisis are still being felt right across the UK. And now, with Brexit looming large on the horizon, the future looks even less certain.

Eat smarter – and better

On average, a UK family spends £53.20 per week, or more than £2,700 per year on food shopping. Among the biggest individual spends are bread and rice, fresh meat, fresh fruit and veg and alcohol. While everyone’s gotta eat, there are some quick wins to keep costs down. Try supermarket own-brand alternatives, as these are often cheaper than the big brands. And perhaps most importantly – don’t go shopping on an empty stomach, as shopping when you’re hungry can make you buy unnecessarily.

The average British family spends £1,000 per year on takeaways – around £19.20 per week. Now, nobody’s telling you to ditch takeaways entirely (after all, can you beat a Saturday night curry?) but even cutting down to fortnightly or even monthly takeaways could save a family hundreds of pounds each year, as well as keeping them healthy!

Keep an eye on monthly payments

Monthly payments make the world go round. Or at least, that’s how it feels – and whether we’re talking about utilities, broadband and TV or even your own bank account, switching is the key to keeping costs down. You should always shop around for the best deal – for example, when your car insurance is due, don’t simply accept the renewal offer – check out a comparison website and see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. If you let your current provider know you can find it elsewhere they will sometimes match their offer to keep you on the books. Plus, with the rising cost of energy making headlines, it’s worth keeping an eye on your gas and electricity bills too – keeping those appliances on standby overnight might be costing you dearly!

It’s also important to keep an eye on your mortgage – if your current product has come to an end, consider switching to a follow-on or alternative product to keep costs down – you may be able to reduce your monthly repayments by selecting a different mortgage.

Avoid credit if you can help it

Credit cards are ubiquitous in everyday life and are often seen as a quick fix. Indeed, there are situations where they can be helpful – especially where they are interest free and you won’t be paying anything extra for your borrowing. But all too often, credit cards and loans can be the devil in disguise – and the trends are worrying. More than 6 million Brits fear they will never be debt-free and 25% of adults in the UK are using a credit card just to help make ends meet. Borrowing money beyond your capacity to repay it can land you in trouble quickly so be smart – don’t borrow more than you can afford.

Saving for the future

Saving is nowhere near as exciting as spending – but it’s important, and how (and where) you save your money can make all the difference. Whether you’re working towards a savings goal or simply putting money away for a rainy day, having that buffer sitting there provides stability and financial security, knowing that if anything were to happen there’s a pot of money available to help.

In 2016 the homelessness charity Shelter found that on average one in three families are one pay packet away from homelessness – i.e, not having enough savings to be able to cover a single month’s worth of outgoings. Indeed, it’s recommended that a family should have enough savings to cover three to six months’ worth of payments. But with only a small proportion of the population actually attaining that level of savings and a quarter of UK adults having no savings at all, the situation remains precarious for many.

A great way to save money is by using a dedicated savings account. If possible, try to put some money away each month, no matter how small the amount – even just £50 each month is still £600 after a year of saving, plus any interest paid on that amount. If you’re considering a savings account, we have a range of products on offer including ISAs, bonds and regular savings accounts. Click here for more details.

This article was published under our previous name of Ipswich Building Society. We changed our name in 2021 – find out more.

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