The cost of living heroes sharing money-saving tips on social media

Mitch Lane, Gemma Bird, and Jo Rourke are using their platforms to help people save money during the cost-of-living crisis. Credit: ITV News Central / Focus Point Photography / TikTok @thismumcooks

By ITV News Digital Content Producer Elaine McCallig

With the cost of living crisis gripping the UK, most of us have been looking at ways we can make the money in our wallets go further.

Against the backdrop of soaring inflation, money-saving content appears to be more and more popular on social media.

ITV News spoke to three content creators who are helping their audiences cut costs and save money with their clever tips.

'Every single penny at the moment counts and it's resulted in people turning to social media'

TikTok chef Mitch Lane from Wolverhampton has been using his culinary expertise to help his one million TikTok followers save money on their weekly grocery shop by sharing budget-friendly recipes.

"Times are tough at the moment for a lot of people, especially if you're working class," he told ITV News.

"We're feeling the burn more than ever on our bank balance, so the feedback has been really good with the budget meals. I've had a lot of positive comments of how much money people have saved on their shopping bills since watching my videos.

"It's great to show people that you can still eat tasty and comforting food even on a very minimal budget."

Mitch, who uses the social media handle @mealsbymitch, joined TikTok after his eldest daughter convinced him to download the app during the first lockdown, and decided to start sharing simple cooking videos such as one-pan meals. He then started sharing "fakeaway" recipes as some takeaways were closed during the pandemic.

"One day someone came to me and said 'Mitch can you feed four people for a fiver?' and I said 'yeah absolutely'. So I did a sausage casserole for under a fiver," he said.

"I wanted my budget meals to be different from the usual stuff out there. I wanted everything to be included within that fiver budget. No cupboard staples necessary."

Mitch's favourite recipe is his spaghetti meatballs dish, which costs exactly £5 and feeds four.

He said: "In the current cost of living crisis the budget meals are becoming so important to help people through financial hardship. You've got people torn between putting a tenners worth of electric on or a tenners worth of petrol in the car. Every single penny at the moment counts and it's resulted in people turning to social media to help with saving money."

So what is Mitch's top money-saving tip? It's simple - don't go to the supermarket hungry.

"I know it sounds crazy, but before you do your food shop for the week make sure you go into the supermarket with a full stomach and are not feeling hungry. I'm guilty of it myself where I've been in the supermarket feeling hungry and I've chucked a load of junk food into the trolley because I'm starving and not thinking straight!"

After reaching one million followers on Twitter earlier this year, Mitch shared his five money and energy saving tips with ITV Central

'Everyone is trying to make savings where they can'

Since January 2020, mum-of-two Gemma Bird has been sharing money-saving tips with her 320,000 Instagram followers.

Gemma has been frugal from an early age, and said: "I have never earned a high wage so got savvy to make what I had last. I thought I would share my tips on Instagram, and it grew from there."

Since the cost-of-living crisis has worsened, Gemma said she received more direct messages from people seeking advice and her follower count has steadily risen.

"Everyone is trying to make savings where they can," she told ITV News.

"Every day I get DMs. I got one from a cancer patient worried about electrical costs as they had to plug their machine in at home and they were not able to work and worried about costs," she said.

"It really upset me that they had those concerns on top of their health worries."

Gemma said that her best money-saving tip is to round up your savings.

To do this, put the last digit of your bank balance into a separate savings account. For example, if you have £104 in your account, round the balance to £100 by putting £4 into savings. This could lead to saving over £1,500 each year, Gemma estimates.

Some banks also offer a similar "round up" method that allows you to put money aside with little thought. Banks such as Natwest, Starling, and Monzo offer you the option to round up your spending to the nearest pound.

For example, if you buy a cup of coffee worth £2.30 and have the "round up" featured enabled, it will automatically round up the transaction to £3 and put 70p aside in a separate savings pot.

'You never know what your circumstances are going to be from one week to the next'

Jo Rourke, from Manchester, joined TikTok a little over a year ago.

Although she initially planned to join the platform to keep an eye on her daughter’s social media activity, she has garnered a following by sharing affordable recipe ideas on her account, thismumcooks. “What I share is what I normally do,” she said. “I try to make fun, easy recipes.”

“It was never a planned journey, but it’s grown over the last 12 months. I was just in the right place at the right - or wrong - time!”

Jo has seen an uptick in the number of people seeking out content such as hers, and added: “The difficulty is it’s affecting everybody now, previously people wouldn’t really think about what they bought in the supermarket.

“The prices are just ridiculous, the way they’ve increased when they first mentioned the prices going up - but in the last couple of months it’s gotten so expensive just to buy basics.

“It’s affecting everybody and most people are trying to find ways to reduce the cost. There is definitely a lot of interest, and a lot more people are doing what I’m doing on social media. I didn’t feel there was a lot of this going on 12 months ago, but now there’s an awful lot more of it.”

Among the most popular of Jo’s recipes is her two-ingredient flatbreads - but the same base can also be used to make scones.

“Those recipes where you use fewer ingredients and use less electricity or gas are the very popular ones,” she said.

Earlier this year a viewer reached out to Jo to say they had just £15 to feed themselves and their daughter for a week, and asked for Jo’s help in creating a meal plan and a shopping list.

“It wasn’t the most exciting of meal plans, but I was able to get a very basic meal plan through," she said.

“Off the back of that, people came to me and said they were currently spending £60 on their weekly food shop and wanted to reduce it to £40 and asked me to do a meal plan for them. That was very popular for a while.”

But with prices increasing throughout the year, Jo now encourages those who have limited cash to spend on groceries to access local services, such as foodbanks.

“You never know what your circumstances are going to be from one week to the next,” she said.

“What you think your life is going to look like doesn’t always work out that way, and it’s not to say you’ll be in that situation forever.

“You have to accept the help that’s there - it’s there for a reason”.

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