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Help with your bills

Managing a budget can be tricky at the best of times. The recent increases in the cost of living have made an impact on the prices of the food we put on our table, and the energy we use to heat our homes. If you’re finding balancing the books difficult, the following information may help.

This content is intended as guidance only. You should always seek professional support if necessary. If you’re worried about money or living costs, please talk to your support worker or tutor.

We also have lots of advice and resources on our Support Hub. Just search for under ‘Finance’.

Help with energy bills

In 2022 the Government issued payments to help with the cost of living crisis. These were for people who were entitled to certain benefits or tax credits. If you were eligible, you should have received your payment by now (February 2023). Find out more about the cost of living payment.

In January 2023, the Government announced there would be further help for eligible people from spring 2023. Find out more about the new cost of living payments.

The Government has also put together information on how to get help with your energy bills, as well as general cost of living advice. Alternatively, you can find out more at Citizen’s Advice help with energy bills.

Heating your home

There are some small steps you can take to reduce the cost of heating your home. These little things cost nothing to do but can help you to save money.

Try the following:

  • Turn down radiators in rooms you aren’t using.
  • Turn off appliances at the socket – even on standby mode they’ll be using energy.
  • Wash clothes at a lower temperature.
  • Close curtains or blinds at night to keep warmer air in.
  • Find and fix draughts. If you’re in a Nacro property, speak to your support worker for help with this.
  • Switch to energy saving lightbulbs.
  • Have a shower instead of a bath.

The UK Government has suggestions for other no cost actions that could help you save money.

The Energy Saving Trust has quick tips to save energy, and Money Saving Expert also has energy saving tips and guides.

If you have any concerns, remember to speak to your support worker.

Reducing cooking costs

Try to be as energy efficient as possible when cooking. This can help you to save money on your bills.

Find out more about saving energy in the kitchen.

Food and supermarket bills

Supermarkets are designed to tempt you with ‘special offers’ and lots of exciting new products you can’t live without. It’s easy to get carried away and spend far more than you wanted to. With prices rising on lots of basic products, it’s even more important to shop wisely.

Try the following tips so you don’t get caught out at the checkout.

Write down exactly what you need to buy. That way you’re far more likely to avoid expensive distractions. This can also help you to create healthier more fulfilling meals.

Shopping on an empty stomach can make it much harder to avoid unhealthy and often expensive snacks. Try to shop after a meal.

There are a number of online services that allow you to compare prices across supermarkets. Try the Trolley website, that also gives details of daily deals. You can download the Trolley app, to use on your phone.

You don’t need to go for the luxury or big brand names. Sometimes a supermarket’s own brand, or their value/budget ranges, can be just as tasty and much cheaper.

Check out toiletries and cleaning products too. They are usually just as effective and could save you a lot of money over time.

Planning your meals ahead can help you to budget successfully. You’re more likely to use ingredients wisely, and may even end up eating healthier.

If you’re stuck for recipe ideas, most supermarkets have budget meal ideas sections on their websites,

Check out:

There are also lots of recipe finder tools and meal planners online. Here are a few to try:

Some foods have short sell by dates but are still perfectly fine to eat. For example, you can tell whether some fruit or vegetables are still good to eat by their look, feel, and smell.

Be very careful with meat, fish, or dairy products.

The Food Standards Agency has more information about best before and use-by dates, and what you should and shouldn’t eat.