Illustration of a price tag and arrows pointing to a fridge, house, petrol pump, light bulb, shopping trolley and car

Cost of living tips: Your personalised guide to saving money

The UK is being hit by rising costs. Food, energy, transport and housing are all going up rapidly in price. But everyone’s cost of living crisis is affecting them in different ways.

As you answer some optional questions below, we will personalise this article to you and explain why you're being affected, what help is available and offer tips on how to save money.

How are you coping?

Select an option that best describes your situation


Illustration of various foods

It will come as little surprise to you food prices are rising fast. According to research by Which? items including cereals and cheese cost a fifth (20%) more than they did last year. A trip to the supermarket now takes a lot of strategising beforehand, with the charity Love Food Hate Waste recommending planning meals ahead of time and setting a budget before you get to the shops.

What best describes your household?

In fact, walking straight past the convenience store onto a larger branch can pay dividends. Which? found that customers can end up spending almost a tenth (9.5%) more each year shopping at a Sainsbury’s Local rather than a regular Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Once they get there, many shoppers are turning to frozen, canned and dried products; switching from known brands to cheaper own-brand products; and cutting back on non-essentials such as alcohol and more indulgent foods.

The bad news is that it looks likely food will continue to become more expensive in the short term, with the war in Ukraine and rising energy costs pushing up prices. Industry experts expect costs to increase into next year, with the situation getting worse before it gets better.

Global food prices did fall, though, with the opening of Ukrainian ports and increased production - a glimmer of hope that the upward pressure on prices may ease in the longer term.

Do you have a pre-payment meter?


Illustration of a fridge and oven

What you pay for your gas and electricity has also been rising fast.

Global events including the pandemic and war in Ukraine have pushed up wholesale prices - what companies pay - and those greater costs have been passed onto you, the consumer.

Nevertheless, closer to home, there are simple steps you can take to save cash: washing clothes at 30 C, cutting your shower down to four minutes or less, and stopping draughts under your door with an excluder can all help, according to the Energy Savings Trust.

Yet despite their best efforts, people are finding it increasingly tricky to afford these bills. Over summer, almost a quarter of households already owed £206 to energy firms on average, according to a survey of 2,000 households.

The government has stepped in to limit the energy price cap - the top amount suppliers can charge customers for average use. Rather than increasing to £3,549, it will now rise to £2,500 a year for a typical household in the UK. However, if you use more than the average it will cost you more.

All households are being given a £400 discount. The money will be paid in six instalments, with a discount of £66 applied to energy bills in October and November, and £67 a month from December to March 2023. Direct debit and credit customers will have the money added to their account. Beware of scam text messages claiming to be from the government, asking you to apply: the money will be added automatically.

Do you receive disability benefits?

About 80% of households - those in council tax bands A-D - are already receiving a £150 energy rebate, often through their council tax bill. How it is paid depends whether you pay your council tax by direct debit and where you live in the UK. If you’re not sure you have received it, contact your council.

Experts say it’s probably not worth switching energy providers at the moment, as hardly any are offering cheaper fixed rates. However, taking regular meter readings, paying by direct debit and questioning any unexpected increases is a good way to keep on top of your bills, according to Which?

How do you usually travel?


Illustration of cars

Rising travel costs are also affecting us all, whether we drive or take public transport. The price of crude oil, used to make petrol and diesel, has gone up due to returning demand after Covid, and Russian supply issues. Also the British pound has weakened against the dollar, and oil is bought in dollars. Almost half of adults asked in a survey said they were cutting back on non-essential journeys in their vehicle because of fuel costs.

No matter how you get there, travelling has become a balancing act between time, convenience and cost. Simon Williams from the RAC recommends drivers shop around forecourts before filling up. There are a number of free apps and websites such as Petrol Prices that compare costs in your area. Meanwhile those on public transport should investigate alternate ticket types and routes. For electric car owners, when and where you plug in can make all the difference.

Although fuel prices have eased from the record levels in early summer they remain significantly higher than a year ago. They are expected to rise again, too, after some of the world's top oil-producing countries agreed to cut the amount they export to stabilise prices.

Rail fares are set to increase again in January, but ministers say they will keep the rise below the rate of inflation (the rate prices are rising) and not bring in the changes until March. However passengers could still face paying hundreds of pounds more for their train tickets next year.

Bus companies have also warned that prices are likely to rise into next year as a result of the high price of fuel.

Where do you live?


Illustration of a house and bills

Both homeowners with a mortgage and renters are seeing their housing costs increase, and the crisis could result in increased homelessness and reposessions, experts have warned.

The Bank of England has raised interest rates - one of the ways used to try to slow down how quickly prices are climbing - and they're likely to rise further. The increase has made mortgages more expensive for many, and pushed private rents to record highs.

Just under a third of households have a mortgage, according to the English Housing Survey, and are therefore directly affected by changes in interest rates.

Those on a variable rate will see their monthly repayments rise immediately. People on fixed-rate deals will be impacted when their current deal ends. Due to the current climate, mortgage lenders have withdrawn a number of deals. However, most lenders will honour mortgage offers made before the rates changed, says financial adviser Rebecca Robertson.

Meanwhile, many renters are now being forced to make the choice between putting food on the table and paying rent. Know your rights and check what you’re eligible for in terms of benefits and housing payments – choose an option above for more advice.

Most importantly, if you’re in trouble, talk immediately to your landlord or mortgage lender – staying quiet will only make things worse.

And remember, if you are struggling, you can find more help and tips below.