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The cost of living has now increased to an almost six-year high. , prompting the government to reportedly admit that families were “feeling a squeeze”.
With everyday essentials, such as food and transport, costing more, it can be difficult to make ends meet.
Here at , we have come up with some tips and tricks to help you cope with the increased cost of living.
Draw up a budget
If you do not already have one, now is a good time to draw up a weekly or monthly .
Start with what you earn, then take away essential expenditure, such as food or heating costs. Anything you are left with is your disposable income. This is what you can use for treats, such as trips to the cinema or meals out.
If your expenditure adds up to more than your earnings, you could quickly find that you go into debt.
With some careful planning and know-how, it is possible to cut your bills.
Reduce your cost of living by shopping smarter
There are some things you can do to try and cut your food shopping bill.
Firstly, you could reduce the amount of meat you eat. Not only is meat expensive, it is not very environmentally friendly. Plus, many people believe that by increasing the number of vegetables, beans, nuts and grains that you eat and cutting down on meat, you could be much healthier.
Mushrooms, for example, are a great meal replacement, as they can make your meal taste really rich and meaty.
If you are stuck for what to cook, there are many recipes available, for free, online. Check out of the BBC Good Food website, for example.
When you do eat meat, go and speak to your butcher about budget-friendly cuts. When cooked right (your butcher should be able to advise you on this), these are some of the tastiest pieces of meat!
Secondly, cook from scratch whenever possible. Buy simple ingredients and with a bit of care and attention, you can turn them into something delicious.
Thirdly, cook in bulk and freeze extra portions for another day.
This way, you will be less tempted to get a takeaway on days when you do not have the time or are too tired, to cook.
Reduce your electric and gas bills
The most simple and effective way to reduce your gas and electric bills is to check that you are on the cheapest tariff. Go to a comparison site, such as , to see what other options are available to you. You could potentially knock hundreds of pounds a year off your bills.
If you do not want to switch provider, ring up your supplier and ask to be put on their cheapest tariff.
Once you know you are getting the best deal for your energy, make sure you do not waste it. Switch off any appliance that you are not using.
Do not leave the TV on standby. Switch off lights in empty rooms. Work out how much you could save by switching to LED bulbs (you need to take the cost of the bulbs into account).
Also, check the temperature of your central heating. According to Ovo Energy, reducing your thermostat by just 1℃ can cut heating bills by around 10%.
While you are at it, take a look at your monthly bills for your TV and broadband. Do you really need all those TV channels? Consider switching to FreeSat or Freeview, so that you are only paying for broadband.
Walk when you can
Finally, if it is close enough and you are able to, walk.
Not only will you reduce your fuel costs, you will also be getting healthier at the same time.
Taking out loans to cope with the increased cost of living
Short-term loans are designed to be used to cover emergency expenses, not a general increase in your cost of living.
Taking out loans regularly is not recommended, as you could end up getting deeper and deeper into debt.
If you are struggling to manage, take another look at your budget to see if there are any other ways that you can save. You could also get in touch with , who may be able to help you find out if you could be eligible for any grants or benefits.