Tips from Money Saving Expert on how to cope with the rising cost of living

The cost of living crisis is hitting the South West, with energy prices due to rise even higher in the coming months.

Today it was announced inflation has hit a 30-year high with food basics like bread costing 4% more than a year ago. Milk is up 6% on last years prices, fresh fruit costs 7% more and plain pasta is 15% more.

Rising prices and bills mean many are left struggling to navigate the cost of living.

As part of ITV News West Country's special coverage on the cost of living crisis, we asked the Money Saving Expert team how people can look to mitigate rising costs.

They say many people can save thousands of pounds over the year by being savvy and systematically working through their finances.

Here's Money Saving Expert's list of useful tips to help ensure you have the best deal on everything

1) Go through household bills and do a comparison

Around 15 million households will see their gas and electricity bills drop this winter. Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA

Check what you’re paying for your utilities, including broadband, line rental and mobile, and then use a range of price comparison websites to compare what’s on offer on the market.

If there is a better deal out there then switch, or if you want to stay with your provider use MSE’s haggling tips - MoneySavers have had over 80% success haggling with big name companies.

2) Consider a water meter

If there are more bedrooms in your home than people, or the same number, look into getting a meter installed for free, as you will then only pay for what you use.

To get one fitted you need to contact your water provider – many could also get free water saving gadgets locally.

For more details on water meters and other water saving tips see MSE’s cut your water bills guide.

3) Save on your mortgages

Mortgage savings can be massive, and MSE says they are much easier to achieve than you might think. Read MSE’s remortgage guide and cheap mortgage finder guide for some top tips. 

4) Save on car insurance

Savings are possible by comparing and switching.

Use as many comparison sites as you can to find the top offer and diarise 23 days pre-renewal – according to MSE’s research this is roughly the cheapest time to get a quote. See MSE’s cheap car insurance guide for more tips.

5) Downshift your groceries

Basics like bread cost 4% more now than they did a year ago

'Downshifting' is not about lowering quality, but about dropping a brand level on everything then seeing if you can tell the difference.

If not, stick with the cheaper one. See MSE’s supermarket shopping tips for more ways to save on your weekly shop.

6) Look for vouchers and discount codes

Using coupons can save £100s on your shopping.

Some of the easiest ways to nab these discounts are through loyalty schemes and looking out for discount codes online and in magazines/newspapers. You can also keep an eye on MSE’s coupon guide for the current top deals.

7) Grab cashback where you can

Cashback websites pay you when you go through them to spend with retailers or providers.

You can make £100s a year using them properly. Some top-paying cashback sites include Topcashback, Quidco and KidStart.

See MSE’s cashback guide for more information on how to use cashback and guidance to make sure you protect yourself.

8) Delve into your direct debit and scan your standing orders

These two, plus hidden recurring payments (where you give firms permission to take money each month from your debit or credit card) can leave money unwittingly leaving your bank account.

Try MSE’s direct debit audit guide for a walk through of how to check what you're paying and cut out any unnecessary spending. 

9) Look for cheap and free days out

There are plenty of fun and interesting attractions to visit across the UK that won’t break the bank.

National Rail offers 2for1 entry to 300+ regional attractions when you buy a single, return or season ticket.

Or if you are looking for a totally free day out, have a look at the free museum, galleries, parks and instore activities near you. See MSE’s things to do with the kids guide for more ideas.

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