Ten Ways to Manage Your Money in the Cost Crisis

Our recent survey found that 91% of you were impacted by the cost of living crisis, if you're looking for tips on how to manage your money you're not alone. We've put together some information and tips on where to get started, what support you might be able to access and organisations who might be able to support you.

1. Create a budget 

This can seem like a scary task, but it's an important first step to help you understand what money you have coming in and what's going out. Young Scot has lots of information on budgeting and there are tools online that can help you write your budget, like the Budget Planner from Money Helper.

If it feels too overwhelming, break it down into a smaller task, like just looking at your expenses (or outgoings) over a day rather than looking at a whole week or month. 

You might want to build managing your money into your weekly or daily routine to help you stay on top of things, setting tasks for you to do each time. Planning a relaxing or rewarding activity to do afterwards can help support your mental health, whether it's watching your favourite TV show, doing some meditation or playing a game. 

2. Is there extra support you can get?

There is support available, both for help with your finances through things like benefits and grants, but also practical help on websites and through helplines and services like those offered by Money Helper and Citizen's Advice Scotland. 

You might find the following articles helpful:

If you're at university, your university might have a hardship fund. Universities have money set aside to help students who are in need of emergency money and you might qualify for support. There will also likely be a range of scholarships, grants and bursaries that you could apply to as well. Take a look at your university website or the Student Information Scotland website for more information.

If you're able to get additional financial support, you can then take this into account when you're making your budget. 

3. Can you increase the money you have coming in?

Taking a look at what financial support is available to you is one way of increasing the amount of money you have coming in. You might also want to consider other options. There are maybe more obvious options like working more hours or getting a part-time job, but that might not be possible for you. There are other ways that you might be able to boost your income too, for example:

  • selling things you no longer need on sites or apps such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, DePop or Vinted
  • if you have old mobile phones around the house, you could sell them for money
  • consider using cashback sites so you can earn money when you spend online 
  • think about whether you could start a side hustle, such as online tutoring, babysitting or dog walking. You can find out more about the tax implications of side hustles in our video with Iona Bain.

Stepchange, the national debt charity, have lots of information on ways to increase your income as well. 

4. Can you reduce any of your bills?

One way to help your budget is to see if there is anything you can do to reduce your bills. 

You may have various different bills that you can take a look at to see if there are savings you can make, for example:

  • Council tax - often your council tax bill is paid over ten months, but you can ask to pay it over 12 months. While this doesn't reduce your overall bill, it helps to spread the cost. This year, the government is also giving everyone in council tax bands A-D a £150 rebate. You might also get discounts on your council tax if:
    • you're the only adult in your home (you can save 25%)
    • you or someone you live with is disabled
    • you're a student and live alone or share the rent with other students (if you live in halls of residence you don't pay council tax)

You can use the Council Tax Reduction tool by Citizen's Advice Scotland to find out if you can save any money. 

  • Energy bills - take a look at our energy article for more information and ideas on how you can save money on your energy bills and the different grants and support available. 
  • In Scotland you don't pay for water bills, instead, it's included in your council tax. So you can't save money on the bill because it's a fixed cost, but you can save money on heating water and saving water is also good for the environment. This includes things like filling the kettle with only the water you need, taking shorter showers and only using your washing machine when you have a full load. Visit the Scottish Water website for more information on saving water.
  • Mobile phone bills - if you're coming to the end of your contract or are out of contract, see if there are savings that you can make. When you're looking for new deals check your current usage and make sure your new contract takes into account this usage, a lot of people pay for more data than they need. Remember to take a look at Pay as You Go options too and use tools such as Money Saving Experts Cheap Mobile Finder.
  • Broadband and internet bills - shopping around for broadband and phone deals can help you save money. According to Which, broadband customers who switched saved an average of £48 a year. Make use of comparison websites to compare deals, take a look at customer satisfaction scores and be aware of comparison websites that nudge you towards certain deals, they may receive money if you go with that provider and it might not be the best deal for you. Find out more about saving money on these bills on the Money Helper website.

There are also ways to reduce other costs, such as food bills, socialising as well as travel and transport. Remember that your Young Scot National Entitlement Card gives you access to hundreds of discounts including 10% off at the Co-op and free bus travel if you're under 22. Take a look at our article for more information about discounts you might find helpful during the cost crisis. Other things you might want to consider to help you manage costs are:

  • Planning your meals - this can help you plan what ingredients you need for what meals and use things before they go off too. The Cooking on a Bootstrap website has lots of meal ideas that are costed to help you budget and plan.
  • Cooking in batches - if you have a freezer, cooking in batches (cooking enough for more than one meal) can be a way to save time, reduce stress and save money. Good recipes for batch cooking include things like soups, stews, pasta sauces and chillis. 
  • Comparing prices at supermarkets and seeing where offers the best deals can also help you save money. Remember before you head to the supermarket to write a list to help to stick to what you need, it's also recommended to not go food shopping when you're hungry.

5. Is there support in your local community?

There might be things that are happening in your local community that can help you during the cost crisis. Some things that might be happening or you might want to keep an eye out for:

  • local cafes offering leftover food to community fridges and food banks. Find your nearest food bank on the Trussell Trust website
  • clothes, goods or services swaps for other clothes, goods or services
  • sharing commutes to work or school. You could see if friends or family would like to share commutes to help cut the cost. 

Take a look at things like local Facebook Groups, on Gumtree and at your local library (find your local library) for events and activities that might be happening in your local area. You can also take a look at your local Young Scot page, to see if local information has been added. 

There also might be apps like Too Good To Go, Olio and Approved Food that are available in your neighbourhood, where you can get cheap or discounted food.

6. Pay off debt, if you can 

If you have debt, it's important to stay on top of it and not let it get out of control. If you're not sure where to start or need help, contact the National Debt Line which gives free and impartial advice and is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday 9.30am to 1pm.

Organisations like StepChange have a range of tools and services to help you manage any debt. They have a debt management plan tool which can help you manage your debts and pay them off at a more affordable rate by making reduced monthly payments.

7. Know your spending triggers

You might spend money when you feel a certain way, and knowing what makes you want to spend your hard-earned cash is an important step in helping you stop spending money unnecessarily.

It could be a social media advert, feeling bored or lonely or it could be a specific place like walking past your favourite restaurant. Spending triggers are different for everyone. Understanding what yours are means you can take action to remove those triggers or distract yourself when you feel a certain way. 

Find out more about the links between money and mental health.

8. Remove temptation 

If you know that certain brands or accounts on social media encourage you to spend your money, it might be time to take some action to remove the temptation. This could include:

  • unsubscribing from e-mail updates 
  • unfollowing accounts on social media 
  • deleting apps (or turning off notifications). 

9. Upskill

Learning how to make things and/or repair them when they are broken can save you money. Whether it's getting crafty and creating homemade presents for pals, or looking on YouTube for how to fix something. There are lots of ways to save money by thinking outside of the box and learning new skills. 

Also, remember to read those instructions! Things like overloading the washing machine or putting something on a wash that is too hot can mean you end up spending money you didn't need to. 

If you don't have the skills to fix something, there are ways to repair items so you don't need to buy something brand new. For example, take a look and see if there's a Repair Cafe near you. If you can't repair something, remember you don't need to buy something brand new, take a look at sites such as FreeCycle, Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Gumtree for second-hand items.

10. Get support

Remember that whatever you're going through, there is support available and you're not alone. Take a look at our page with information on cost crisis helplines and support. Whether it's helping you manage your debt, knowing what you're entitled to or general support, there are a range of support services available for free over the phone, online or over e-mail.

For more information about the cost crisis, and further support visit our 'Coping with the Cost Crisis' page.