Nine ways to save money when in debt

Reducing your outgoings can feel an overwhelming challenge, especially if you’ve already made compromises to your lifestyle to save money. However, with a little help you might be surprised at what you can save. 

The following content will help you understand what options you have to potentially reduce your regular monthly expenditure and improve your chances of saving.

Here are some money-saving ideas you might not have considered yet:

1. Organise your finances

Perhaps the very best way of organising your finances is to have a very clear idea of what income is coming into your household each month, as well as what expenditure is being paid out each month.

A document that highlights all the money coming in and going out each month is called an income and expenditure document. You might want to create one yourself or alternatively, the Money Advice Service has created a simple to use online budget planner.

Before you start, have as much information as you can on hand, such as bank statements and bills. The more up to date your details are, the more accurate your results will be.

2. Save electricity

How often do you find you’ve left a light on in a room that you’re not occupying anymore?

It’s probably more times than you realise, and every second a light is on costs money. So be vigilant and you can start saving money with just the flick of a switch. You may find that you can save even more money by having a smart meter installed, or possibly by switching your energy supplier.

3. Save on utility bills

Going energy shopping can help you to find better energy packages and pay lower bills. Price comparison sites evaluate major suppliers in the UK to identify the best deal for you. Take all the hassle out of switching by using their simple online forms.

4. Save on broadband bills

Many of us rely on our internet service these days but there are multiple suppliers offering a wide range of packages.

Although finding the cheapest deal can save you extra money, it can take time to find the right deal for your needs.

And, of course, a cheaper broadband deal means more money in your pocket to pay your bills each month.

5. Ways to save on fuel costs

Petrol and diesel prices can be a major expense in the monthly household budget, so it makes sense to try to minimise this as much as possible to free up money for other bills.

The good news is, with a little forethought, you can save significant amounts of money by planning your refuelling. Try not to run low on fuel while on a long journey, as you might be forced to fill up at motorway services which will generally be significantly more expensive for the same fuel at your local petrol station.

In addition, we suggest you research and compare petrol prices – spending five minutes online can help you find the cheapest places to refuel.

Petrol prices can change with surprising regularity, this website (which is updated daily) will help you source the cheapest prices that are near you. You have to register for the website, but this is free and will only take a minute or so of your time.

6. Save water

Water is, of course, a necessity and we use it every day.

Many people still pay for water on an unmetered basis. This is when you pay the water supplier a set amount on a regular basis regardless of how much you use. The amount is calculated by the water company based on various factors including among other things the ‘rateable value’ of your home. In theory, the bigger or more valuable your home, the more the water company will charge you.

Perhaps a fairer method of paying for your water is on a metered basis. Water suppliers will fit a meter to an unmetered property for free (with only a few exceptions). If you requested a water meter which was fitted and you subsequently feel you’re paying more now than you were before, you can ask to go back to unmetered billing within a year.

If your property is water metered, it makes sense to restrict the amount to save money. Remember that you don’t just pay for drinking water, you pay for the water you use when you wash and flush too, so you may be using much more water around the house than you realise.

Here’s a few water saving tips to get you started:

  • Use less water when you flush. Modern cisterns offer dual flush options, but if you want to generally reduce the amount of water used then your water supplier can usually offer you a water saving device for free. This can be anything from a weighted bag to animal shaped plastic toys that can save one, two or three litres per flush depending on the size.
  • Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. It may seem like you’re only saving a little water, but as each person in your household probably brushes their teeth twice a day the water saving will soon rack up!
  • Shower rather than bathe. For most people, a shower will use far less water than a deep bath.
  • Keep a full jug of water in the fridge so that you won’t have to run a tap before the really cold water comes out! Ever wondered how much water we must all waste doing this?
  • Fix dripping taps. It makes no sense to let a tap drip when you’re paying for water through a meter. Remember that you’re paying for that drip!
  • Check your water meter when you’re not using any water. If your meter is turning when you’re not using any water, you may have a leak somewhere. If so, contact your water supplier as soon as possible and ask them to check.

You may find more water saving tips at waterwise, uswitch, useitwisely, and on your local water supplier’s website.

7. Renew your car insurance

Car insurance suppliers want to attract different kinds of customers, so a quote from one insurer can be far more expensive than a quote from another.

With this in mind, it makes sense to begin shopping around for new car insurance about a month before your renewal date. Your existing car insurer will usually send you a letter quoting next year’s premium four to six weeks before your renewal date, so you can use this as your reminder to begin shopping around!

Among the biggest web comparison sites are Go Compare, Confused.com, and Compare the Market although Direct Line (among others) don’t appear in comparison sites.

8. Make your own lunch

Do you buy your lunch from a shop or a canteen? Even if you just buy pre-packed sandwiches, you can expect to pay a few pounds, and even more in London. At the time of writing, a typical meal deal costs around £3.29 (more in London) for a sandwich, a snack and a drink, and this might seem good value.

But if we look at this more closely, you’ll see that buying five of these meal deals a week would cost £16.45. In a month, this adds up to about £66. This meal deal would therefore cost you around £800 per year.

If you could make your own sandwiches on a morning before going to work, then you can save money. A loaf of bread costing around £1.50 would probably last you all week. You’re likely to be able to source fillings for around £5 to make the cost of your weekly lunches £6.50. Compare this with a typical weekly meal deal total of £16.45 and you’re saving nearly £10 a week.

So, using the same method of calculation, making your own lunches every day could cost just over £300.

In other words, making your own lunch each day could save you well over £400 a year! Please note that these figures are for guidance only.

TOP TIP: Even if you made your own sandwiches four times a week and treated yourself to a meal deal once a week, you could still make significant savings.

Other useful websites to reduce your outgoings

Martin Lewis is very well known for fighting the causes of the consumer. As you would expect, the Money Saving Expert site offers lots of tips and guidance.

What else you can do

If you get to the point where you genuinely feel you’ve tried to cut your spending, and you’re still having difficulties with paying your bills, you may wish to call PayPlan for free advice on 0800 280 2816.

Alternatively, you can request a call back by using the online debt help form.

Other resources which you may find helpful:

Looking after your financial wellness

Budgeting and organising your finances