Mum of four shares tips on cutting costs as we head into winter

The soaring cost of living is on everyone’s minds - especially as we head into winter. EIMEAR HUTCHINSON shares some advice on how to save money
Mum of four shares tips on cutting costs as we head into winter

There are ways to make small changes to save money here and there, says Eimear Hutchinson. Picture: Stock

I STARTED writing this column a week before lockdown and, honestly, ever since it feels like the world has lurched from one catastrophic event to another.

We have had respite from time to time, but really that was only if you buried your head in the sand and didn’t think about what was coming down the line.

Despite my best efforts to ignore the news, there is no getting away from the fact that we appear to be facing a tough winter in terms of energy costs and food costs.

Whether consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously, you are making small changes to save money. Here are some simple ways to feel like you are doing something to counteract the feeling of helplessness that can sometimes seep in when we are constantly bombarded with talk of price hikes that we can’t really do much about.

SHOP AROUND

Shop around for the best price when it comes to the bills you are paying, we can often switch providers with a little research and a few phone calls. We changed energy providers recently and it did save us money on what we used to pay monthly.

Interest rates for mortgages are going up again, we fixed our mortgage for five years a few months back. It might be worth looking at your loan-to-value ratio – if you had your house revalued, would it bring your loan to value ratio down a band and give you a better interest rate?

Or you could shop around and change mortgage providers if you can secure a better rate elsewhere.

ENERGY USE

I think we have all probably become savvier about how we use energy around the house. I know in our house we are actively turning off plugs and lights, unplugging charging cables when we are done, and charging devices only when they need to be and not plugging them in for a top up charge when the battery is only at 50%.

Be sure to turn off your laptop if (like me!) you have a habit of just putting down the lid and walking off, and remember to unplug the charger if the battery is fully charged, you don’t need to leave it charging constantly.

Look at the temperature that your water and heating is set at, could you reduce it a degree or two, because that can make a difference.

Consider a slow cooker, not only are they hugely useful if you have a busy household in the evenings, they use a lot less energy than an oven. You can also use cheaper cuts of meat in a slow cooker and they are delicious. Be cleverer about when you do a wash, aim for a windy dry day so that you can still do the bulk of drying outside, and avoid using the tumble dryer.

We hope to move away from oil at some stage in the future but at the moment we can’t, so we have a direct debit set up so that we pay monthly towards our oil. This is a really good way of balancing out a huge bill that usually comes between September and December, which is not a cheap time of the year between back to school and Christmas.

FOOD BILLS

Food is another huge area that we can all be savvy about. I’ve written about it before so I will just write it succinctly here, but meal planning is very important if you want to do an efficient shop. Check what is in the presses and the fridge before you go shopping.

To cut down on food waste, think about making things like soup for veg that is near the end of its days, pickle vegetables like cucumber, courgette, cabbage, beetroot, carrots and onions, or make a relish, chutney or jam with fruit and vegetables that you can forage, like blackberries that may be about to go off.

Google the ingredients you have for a meal to see what you can make, rather than going to the shop to buy more.

CUT SUBSCRIPTIONS

Cutting down on subscriptions is an easy way to save money every month– do you need a subscription to Sky, Disney Plus and Netflix? Check your phone too in case you signed up for a subscription on an app you no longer use.

START SAVING FOR CHRISTMAS

My last tip is to start putting a little money away now for Christmas. It is always a huge expense; we know it’s coming so put the money aside now if you can.

Alternatively, think about the people you know you will need to buy for and start keeping an eye out for gifts so you can spread the spend across a longer amount of time.

Keep an eye on friends and family who may be struggling, especially those who don’t have the capacity to earn more money to facilitate the rise in the cost of living.

Everyone has endured a tough few years and it may well be a tough winter, so we can’t lose sight of the value in minding others.

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