Cost of living hacks

But at a time when everyone is likely to feel the pinch on day-to-day bills, it’s worth a quick think to see if you can offset some of the increases with some simple tricks.

We’ve collated some hints and tips from a few sources and there’s plenty here for the whole family. Some might be obvious – you’re probably already doing some of them – but it might just spark an idea…


Be paid to shop

Cashback credit cards went out of fashion for a time but they’re starting to reappear now and if people do tighten their belts, you can expect competition for customers to increase again. It’s worth revisiting the cards you have now to see if the benefits are worth it.

There are also online schemes, like TopCashback, which if you can get your head around doing your online shopping through its site, can generate money back. TopCashback pays £30 into your account when a friend you have signed up earns their first £10 cashback. Quidco gives you £25 cashback for each friend who earns their first £5 cashback.

Stretch your points

Clubcard and other loyalty points can be exchanged directly for money off your shopping, but there are other ways to spend them – such as meals out, RAC membership and airmiles.

Go incognito

We really like this one. If you’re shopping around for flights or train travel the price can change depending on whether the company you book with has logged the internet cookies from the last time you visited the site. This is called dynamic pricing and can dramatically increase the cost of a deal if the company thinks you’re about to buy it. If you use an incognito web browser you may get better prices, as if you were a new customer. Most browsers have an easy way to open an incognito window from the top of your screen.

Perks at work

It’s worth checking if your employer has a scheme that give you money off goods or two-for-one cinema tickets. Some give big discounts and others have cashback cards that give you £11 spending for every £10 you top up. Many employees are also eligible for things such as free eye tests or bike-to-work schemes.

If you’re employer doesn’t have this set up, Wren Sterling can arrange this, as we have access to discount shopping providers – speak to your adviser for a referral to our Corporate team.


Get a petrol deal

Any saving you can make on fuel will be welcome and if you’re regularly using stations that provide loyalty schemes, it is worth looking into. BP, Texaco and Esso are some of the stations with schemes.

Shop around for a car

It pays to look around and if you’re buying through a loan or PCP, remember you don’t have to take the deal offered by the car dealer, which can be more expensive.

Borrow a car

If you live in a city and don’t always use your car, or you’ve got a second car that sits on the drive most of the time, you might want to consider apps like Getaround, which allows you to hire someone else’s car by the day when you need it, so monthly insurance, tax and vehicle repayments can be saved.


Do your best on energy

Energy prices are soaring. If you are lucky enough to still be on a fixed rate lower than the price cap, which will be 28p per kWh for electricity and 7p per kWh for gas from April 1, then stay put. No new deals are cheaper than the price cap, which applies to customers on their supplier’s standard variable rate. So, if your fixed deal ends, your best option is to take the variable rate, limited by the cap.

Turn down your heating

Most of us set our heating to 22 degrees — that’s like being on a Spanish beach. Turning it down one degree could save you £80 a year, according to Uswitch, the comparison site. Turn it down more or even off and… you get the point. Insulating your house will also save you a lot of money in Winter.

Change lightbulbs

LED bulbs use 90 per cent less energy than standard bulbs and can last 10,000 hours longer. This could save £40 a year on the average household’s bill.

Check fridges

Keeping your fridge too warm could mean food goes off more quickly. Make sure it is set between 0 and 5 degrees. Most fridges have dials inside. The colder the better, and upper shelves are warmer than lower ones. Keep things such as hard cheeses and bagged salad on warmer shelves and don’t overfill the fridge.

Avoid expensive calls

Telephone numbers that begin with 084, 087, 09 or 118 have high charges. Free numbers start with 0800 or 0808. The site will help to find cheaper alternative numbers for many firms. Or you can use internet calling through apps such as WhatsApp.

Selling stuff

Get selling

There is every chance that you have sellable items, from CDs and DVDs to comic books, video games and gadgets. You can sell new or used products on Amazon Marketplace or Ebay or try the websites Music Magpie or webuybooks.

Flog old Lego too

Chances are that if you have children, you have buckets of Lego kicking around at home. Those bricks hold their value and can sell for £10 to £20 a kilogram. Some special bricks can go for £3 each and specific parts (such as bodies) go for more too. has constant updates on the changing value of different bits of Lego, helping thousands of buyers and sellers to make a profit.

And clothes

Apps such as Depop and Vinted let you sell old or unwanted clothes and accessories — the apps take 10 per cent of the sale price. All in-app payments are made through PayPal, which means there is also a PayPal transaction fee of 2.9 per cent plus 30p.

… or rent them out

You can make money from clothes that are sitting in your wardrobe by renting them out on apps such as ByRotation, Rotaro and Hurr Collective. Set a minimum rental period and price for rental by day and week. When someone is interested in your item you can approve or reject their request and arrange a delivery or collection and how your item should be returned.

Your finances

Switch banks

Natwest, Lloyds and First Direct offer £150 bonuses to new customers who use the current account switch service. HSBC offers the same bonus if you switch to its Advance or Premier current accounts, but you need to meet certain income or savings criteria.

Get bank cashback

This market has shown signs of coming back to life after a few years of very little rewards for customers. The Natwest Reward current account gives you £1 just for logging into the app once a month. The Santander 123 Lite current account gives up to 3 per cent cashback on selected household bills, capped at £15 a month.


Binge watch

That last series on Netflix was great, but there’s now nothing else you want to watch, so stop paying for it while you’re not watching. And do the same for all those other entertainment services such as Amazon Prime and Now TV. There is no penalty for signing off and back on again. Become a binge watcher: wait until you have lots of shows that you want to see before you sign up again.

Borrow subscriptions

Most TV subscriptions expect multiple people to use each account, so share the cost with family and friends. With Netflix’s standard subscription, at £10.99 a month, two people can watch at the same time, and you can set up five accounts so your watching history is not affected by others’.

Now TV, which costs £9.99 a month for the entertainment package, allows you to sign in on six devices and watch on two at the same time — three if you pay an extra £5 a month for Boost. Amazon Prime Video has a similar set-up and costs £5.99 a month, and Disney Plus is £7.99.

If you only want to watch your football team occasionally or there’s a cricket or rugby series on Sky that you want to watch, Now TV also gives you the option to buy day or monthly passes for live sports, so you don’t need a full-time subscription.

Keep it in the family

Instead of paying for lots of Spotify subscriptions you can get a family membership for £16.99 a month for up to six accounts, while an individual premium account (with all the same benefits) costs £9.99 a month.

Savvy spending

Subscribe to save

If you are a regular Amazon and Deliveroo user, you can link your accounts to get the best of both worlds. This gives you a year of Deliveroo Plus (worth £3.49 a month), which has unlimited free delivery when you spend £25.

Even for coffee…

If you can’t live without takeaway coffee… Pret A Manger’s subscription costs £25 a month and gives you up to five drinks a day, including all hot and iced coffees, teas, hot chocolate, smoothies and frappés. It can be used only in store.

Go Premium

Do the maths to see if becoming a member of a shop will leave you better off in the long run. If you are under the age of 30 and take more than two train journeys a year, spending £30 on a railcard that gets you a third off rail fares for a year is likely to save you money.

Likewise the Two Together railcard if you make lots of off-peak journeys with the same person (like your spouse). You can buy railcards at and download the digital version to your phone.

Cheaper childcare

The government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme adds £2 to every £8 you spend on childcare up to £2,000 a year for each child up to 11. To qualify, parents need to be working and have an income of less than £100,000. Set up an account on and you can use it to pay any childcare provider on the government’s approved list.

Get help with care costs

If you or a relative needs adult social care either at your own property or at a care home you will need to pay the cost yourself, or at least some of it, if you have assets, including property, worth more than £23,250. You may, however, be entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare funding. Medical professionals will assess whether you qualify. Always challenge the assessment if you feel that your care needs are a health need. This can be difficult to do but the benefit to your savings can be huge.

Pay insurance upfront

Paying for a year’s worth of cover such as pet insurance in one lump sum is much cheaper than monthly instalments, which includes a credit cost.

Check warranties

If you’re paying for guarantees for items such as electrical goods, check that the cost is still worth it. Can the shop definitely still repair it? Has the cost of it fallen so far that it is no longer worth it? Would it be better to just save the money in case you need a new one?

Claw back cash

Claim WFH allowance

We’ve all had to work from home a lot more, so you could be due £280 for the past two years. Claim from

Reclaim for rail delays

Train companies should give you a refund if your journey is delayed more than 15 minutes. It may only be a few quid, but if you commute it can soon add up. Most rail companies use the Delay Repay website. You can do the same for Oyster card or tap-in bank card journeys made in London. This list was inspired by an article that first appeared in The Times on 18th March 2022. The points are merely suggestions and should not be construed as endorsements of any particular company, or advice. Please note: The articles within Money Matters are for general information only and are not intended as investment, tax, legal, or other forms of advice. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate taxation and trust advice, legal and accountancy services. Please remember that investments can fall as well as rise, and the return from them may go down as well as up, is not guaranteed, and you may not get back the amount you invested. You should always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.