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Rising household costs – what can you do?

calendar21 March 2017

Marianne Clough's avatar Marianne Clough

Rising household costs – what can you do?

You’re likely to have noticed that you might be spending more than usual on the basics. You’re right!

With the changes brought about by Brexit, there are bound to be some shifts in the costs of imports, fuel and more until things settle down (we hope!) With big changes going on way above most of our heads, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. We may well ask, ‘Is there anything we can really do?’

Someone once said to me, ‘Do what you can do – not what you can’t,’ and I can recommend this as a strategy when panic hits.

Yes, there are things we’d like to change – and maybe you’re up for going into politics to make that happen or you’re a big campaigner. All power to your elbow, if that’s the case! But, even if you make a big noise, you’ll still have to trust those in positions of authority to crack on and make the big decisions.

Some of it does land at our door, though, so which bits can we change?

Car travel costs

Petrol and diesel prices have soared up again since 2016, with a medium-sized petrol car now costing an average of £65.48 to fill.

What are your options?

  1. Empty your car of all the stuff you carry round then ensure your tyres are pumped to the correct levels. Leave more time for your journey so you’re not whipping round the neighbourhood like Lewis Hamilton – you will use less. Next, seek out the best fuel prices, and the best points deals. There's a handy website here, and they've got an app too.
  2. See if you can share your commute – loads of us do this at CAP HQ and it works very well. One last thought, you don’t have to wear fancy stuff to ride a bike.

Food costs

Rising food prices are one of the things that have pushed up inflation at the start of 2017. Staples like butter, tea, lamb and fish have all risen by more than 5% in the previous twelve weeks.

What can we do?

  1. It’s a good chance to look again at the way you do things. Supermarkets generally make their discounts with those fabulous yellow stickers after 5pm. So, if you like to live dangerously, this might be your chance to sweep by for a cheap meal.
  2. At CAP, we’re big fans of cooking from scratch. It will take planning (not my favourite) but oh, how smug you will feel to see the week’s meals ready planned and stuck to the fridge. Use the internet for budget meal suggestions and try it.
  3. You can learn more about meal planning and budgeting on a free CAP Life Skills course – enormous fun and seriously life-changing tips to boost your finances. Click here to find your nearest course.

Energy price rises

Five of the 'big six' energy companies have confirmed price rises. EDF Energy, Npower, Scottish Power and E.ON are all going up and now SSE are increasing electricity prices by a massive 14.9% from 28 April (gas will stay the same).

What can you do?

  1. Much has been written about switching but half an hour spent really could save you hundreds across the year. Dig out your last bill or two. Get yourself on uSwitch here or a similar site and see what can be done. Martin Lewis gives us the low down on why now is the time to seek out a better deal here.

Council tax

By now you should have received your council tax bill and it’s very likely to have gone up. Most councils have put up the cost by around 5%, costing the average Band D household another £50 a year and this is largely to pay for social care.

What are your options?

  1. Well, this is one you have to pay as a priority or life will get pretty awkward, pretty quickly. You’re probably already paying per month, which helps to split up the cost.
  2. If you’re unable to pay on a particular month, the key here is don’t wait for the council to contact you – speak to them straight away. See here for more info.
  3. In the longer term, you could do with making sure you’re budgeting as well as you can to make sure the important stuff gets paid on time. Try CAP Money - click here for details.

So, pour yourself a cuppa (because that is the answer to everything, right?) and start making the moves you can make.

Remember, if you’re in hot water with unpaid bills and out-of-control debts, you’ll need more than this. Don’t be alone with your worries. Call our helpline on 0800 328 0006 and chat to us about what’s happening.

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