Coping with the rising cost of living
Everyone in the UK is facing higher energy bills, and as the prices of fuel, food and daily essentials rise, many of us will be feeling the squeeze each month.
As a mutual organisation, we’re here to do everything we can to support you through it. From adjusting your loan to fit within your other outgoings, to offering educational resources about the latest changes and sources of help, to providing a free savings account if you’re able to put some money aside. We’re in this together and we’re dedicated to the financial health of all our members, as always.
If you have a little extra, keep saving
When things are particularly tight, saving may be the last thing on your mind. But if you are able to put some money aside each month or fortnight, even a small amount, you’ll soon build up a cushion for unplanned events or emergencies.
Tell us if your financial situation has changed
If your circumstances have changed and you’re worried about keeping up repayments on your loan, it’s important to let us know as soon as possible. That way we can work with you to find ways to help. Tackling the issue before you get to the point of being unable to pay means you’ll be less likely to go into arrears. As a small organisation, we have the flexibility to adapt your loan terms by reducing your regular payments over a longer timeframe, for example, changing the frequency of your payments for easier budgeting, or arranging a payment holiday to give you a break if things are particularly tight.
Everyone’s situation is unique, and our in-house member support team are here to listen and provide help and advice when you need it. You can reach the team through the member portal, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 top tips for managing your money
- Check any benefits or extra seasonal payments you might be able to claim using a government recommended online calculator like the ones at Entitledto or Turn2us.
- Make and stick to a regular budget to give yourself peace of mind about your spending throughout the month. There are plenty of free budgeting tools available, such as the popular MoneyHelper’s guide to budgeting and MoneySavingExpert’s budget planner.
- Be energy savvy - Money Saving Expert has a list along with a chart showing how much power a standard appliance uses.
Warm spaces have been set up by local councils, charities and community groups around the country to help those struggling to heat their homes this winter. The locations vary weekly so check the live maps to see where your closest warm bank is located with their opening times and the services they offer.
- Warm Welcomes in Dorset
- Welcoming Spaces in Bristol
- Warm Spaces in Gloucester
- Warm and Welcome Spaces in Swindon
Local agencies have partnered up with foodbanks to create access to staple necessities. The best way to get a referral for food banks is by contacting Citizen's Advice and speaking to an adviser about your situation.
You can also use End Furniture Poverty's Local Welfare Assistance Finder to search for local councils and community groups that provide referrals.
Food pantries often work on a membership/subscription basis to provide staple necessities. Paying a small weekly fee (often between £3-£5), pantries offer food items worth far more. You can use this map on Your Local Pantry's website to find something close to you.
Additional pantries are listed below.
- BS3 Community and Family Action in Bristol
- Oasis: Pantry and Weston Welcome Cafe and Food Club in Bath
- Springbank Community Group and West Cheltenham Community Pantry in Cheltenham
- Poet's Pantry in Gloucester
- Help and Kindness food projects in Dorset
Community fridges and food share
There are also free community fridges around the country open to everyone. Use the live map to find a fridge close to you.
The OLIO app is a food share app that allows you to connect with the local community that is giving away food items. The app allows you to browse for specific food items that can be picked up at mutually agreed locations.
Too Good To Go is another food sharing app that lets you buy unsold food from local stores at a reduced price and save it from going to waste.
Price comparison sites
To make sure you are getting the best deals this winter, there are online tools that allow you to compare prices on a variety of necessities such as groceries, broadband and insurance. Here is a list of money saving comparison sites:
- Trolley and My Supermarket Compare let you compare prices of products from different vendors and stores to help you find deals at some of the more major shops.
- If you have been considering making a switch in your broadband, mobile or energy providers, Uswitch compares providers and their packages.
- Go.Compare is a tool that allows you to compare different home and car insurance bundles.
More ways to save
Take a look at a few of our blog posts with tips to keeping costs down and saving where you can.
- Keeping costs down during the UK energy crisis
- Savings habits: the good, the bad and the ugly
- Spend less on your spring clean
- 4 ways to start saving your money
Whatever your financial situation, the best plan of action is to seek support as soon as you know you might need it. Our advisors offer a judgement-free service, and we’ll do what we can to get you through these uncertain times.
Free Support and Advice
You can get free independent advice from the organisations listed below.
- Citizen's Advice can give you advice on debt, benefits, housing, legal matters and employment.
- Step Change provides expert debt advice.
- Money Helper provides advice on debt, divorce/separation, setting up a new home, care and disability.
- National Energy Action (NEA) is the UK's leading fuel poverty charity, providing advice on energy bills and keeping warm and safe at home.
- Shelter can give you advice on rent arrears or evictions and can help you understand your rights.