Tips on how to survive through this cost-of-living crisis and what you can do as an individual to help yourself.
Over the recent years, the UK economy has been hit hard, repeatedly by pandemics and external conflicts. Combined, these have resulted in a new crisis we must now endure as the cost of living has increased to such an exuberant level that many of us are now struggling to cope and afford even basic necessities and essentials. Inflation is high, confidence is low, and many industries are suffering from the numerous strikes being enacted across the country.
The rail workers’ strike actions have been ongoing for months, leaving many unable to get to work and significantly affecting businesses across the nation.
As a student myself, this has been worrying me greatly, not only because of the possible loss of learning from teachers striking, but the possible financial issues it could cause. So, today I will try to provide information and advice to help you understand this new crisis and to hopefully assist you get through it.
Tip #1 - Learn how to budget efficiently
To survive through any financial crisis, budgeting will always be the best and most effective skill you can have. A fool-proof budget will allow you to organise your spending and help you recognise any areas in which you may be overspending or there are opportunities to cut back on unneeded expenditure. However, learning how to budget correctly can be difficult, which is why there are hundreds of different apps and tools that can either do it for you or help you to get started. Some examples are Plum, Goodbudget and Emma. All 3 of these apps can be downloaded onto your phone and are free to use, though you can upgrade for additional features. Plum can sync with your bank account in order to provide more detailed advice whilst Goodbudget can be synced across multiple devices and help keep track of any debt you may have and how you can pay it off.
Tip #2 - Sell any unwanted items for some extra cash
Once you've created your budget, you may realise that some key areas may need to be cut back on more excessively than you are willing to do at this moment in time. Remember that change cannot be done instantaneously, it takes time and a good deal of determination to complete. Hence, you may need some extra cash to help you adjust to your new budget's high demands. You can do this is by selling old or unwanted items online using various websites and apps. The main websites, which many of you likely already use, are eBay or Amazon and if you want a more niche market, then there is Vinted, Shpock and MusicMagpie. All of these apps and websites are free to use, though Vinted is mainly aimed at selling clothes and MusicMagpie at selling tech whilst anything can be sold on the others.
Tip #3 - be more energy efficient
The UK has been suffering from a global energy crisis since 2021, as the aftermath of the pandemic coupled with the more recent Russian-Ukraine conflict has led to various shortages and an increase in the price of oil, gas, and electricity. Currently, many household's energy bills are being kept artificially low by the energy price guarantee (EPG), introduced in the late 2022 and expected to last 2 years, the cap for this scheme is due to be increased by 20% in April 2023. So, while we can rely on this to partially avoid the rising energy prices, it is still important that we do our best to reduce our energy consumption as much as we can either by:
switching off any electrical devices
turning off lights when we are not in the room
avoiding using a dryer and instead air dry
opening windows instead of air conditioning
All of these may seem like small adjustments, not having much of an impact, but if you keep at it, they will build up and hopefully save you some money in the long-run.
Tip #4 - See if you are entitled to any government financial aid
Like the EPG I previously spoke about, there may also be other government support you could be entitled to claim, so it is always important to do your own research and check the government website periodically to ensure you are getting as much financial help as you can. Here's a link to the Government website - Help for Households.
Tip #5 - Remember that this is not forever
You must understand that crisis' like the one we are experiencing now will not last forever. Like the various financial crises and recessions, we have experienced in the past, so will this one also pass. The Bank of England and many others have forecasted that the inflation rate (one of the main causes of this cost-of-living crisis) will stabilise and eventually fall during 2023 as they strive to hit the government target of 2% in 2024.
The annual rate of inflation reached 11.1% in October 2022, a 41-year high, before easing to 10.7% in November and 10.5% in December 2022.
The government and many energy providers are continuing to extend and renew grants and money saving schemes to help lessen the burden of energy prices on households and if the Russian-Ukraine conflict comes to an end, then hopefully inflation will lessen even more, and the many goods shortages be fixed.
Although times may be hard now, and they may stay this way for a few more months or even years, we must all maintain hope and do what we can to help ourselves and each other. If any of the things I have said today have helped you or if you have your own little tips and advice that you want to share, feel free to do so by leaving any comments below this post.
Life is a cycle, always in motion, if good times have moved on, so will times of trouble.