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7 ways to cut the cost of living alone

Without anyone to help pay the bills, the cost of keeping a roof over your head can soon rack up when you live alone. Here are 7 things you can do to cut the cost of living by yourself.
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Living alone can have many perks, but paying all the bills isn’t one of them. From claiming discounts to making your home as energy efficient as possible, get the lowdown on how to keep your bills as low as possible. 

1. Trim your council tax bill

You can get a 25% discount on your council tax bill if you live by yourself.

Claiming this rebate could save you hundreds of pounds each year so it  really is worth doing.

Contact your local council to notify them that you live alone and ask them to arrange for the deduction to be applied to your bill.

GOV.UK's guide to council tax discounts

Who can get the rebate?

The single person rebate is open to anyone who pays council tax and lives alone. Council tax is calculated on the assumption that 2 or more people share each residence - if you live alone you do not have to pay as much.

Are you paying too much council tax?

2. Check your benefits

Many benefits are based not only on your individual wage but also on your total household income.

If you live by yourself this could mean that you are eligible for financial assistance that you are not receiving.

Double check your eligibility for benefits even if you think you are not entitled to receive anything - you might be surprised.

What benefits are you entitled to?

3. Cut your water bill

You are unable to switch water supplier, as each water company provides services to a fixed area of the UK.

However, if you live alone it is still possible to cut your water bill quite dramatically, simply ask your supplier to install a water meter

If you don’t have a water meter installed most water companies will estimate the amount of water you use. It does this by making assumptions on the amount of people living in the property, based on the number of bedrooms. The larger the property you live in, the more you stand to save. However, simply being mindful of the amount of water you use should still be enough to cut your bills. The simple way to save £100s on your water bill

4. Reduce your car costs

Running a  car can be expensive, particularly when it’s only you driving it, but there are ways to save.

Car insurance

Adding a second driver to your car insurance policy as a named driver, especially if they are older and have a long history of no claims, can sometimes significantly lower your insurance costs.

This is because insurance companies think that if you are sharing your  driving with a lower risk driver, you are less likely to be involved in an accident and make a claim.

Named drivers do not ever actually have to drive your car (although they would be able to should you wish) and can be added to your policy on a 'just in case' basis.

Make sure that you only add them as a named driver, rather than falsely insuring them as the main driver. Fronting is illegal and could land you in serious trouble.

If you get caught, your insurer may cancel your policy, refuse a claim if you have an accident and even inform other insurance firms of your misdemeanour, making it more expensive and difficult for you to get insurance in the future.

10 easy ways to cut your car insurance costs

Breakdown cover

Breakdown cover is often cheaper for a vehicle rather than an individual, so if you only drive one car, this could be a great way to save money.

Check if you could reduce the cost of your breakdown policy by switching to vehicle-based cover.

Compare breakdown cover

Parking and car maintenance

Living alone means you will know exactly when you need to use any allocated parking you have, so you could rent out your parking space during the day when you’re not home. Alternatively, if you have a drive and have space that you don’t need you can rent that out too.

It could also be worth learning a few car maintenance basics to keep down its running costs.

Make money by renting out your drive

5. Be energy efficient

Customise your heating

Living alone allows you to take full control of the energy you use in your home. It also means that you can customise your lifestyle and your home so that you don’t use any more energy than you need. 

  • Set your hot water boiler to only come on when you will need to use it.

  • Set your heating to only come on when you are at home.

  • Avoid leaving electrical items on standby.

  • Ensure your fridge and freezer are kept well stocked to reduce their running cost.

6 ways to save on your gas and electricity

Switch to the best energy tariff

If you live alone, your energy consumption will likely be significantly lower than a couple or family , but if you find yourself on the wrong tariff you could find yourself paying almost as much.

Choosing an energy tariff without a standing charge could cut your costs as you would not have to pay a set daily connection fee for your energy.

When your current deal ends it’s always worth comparing deals to see if there’s a cheap one available.

Currently, and for the first time since switching began in the UK 20 years ago, you’re actually better off sticking with your existing provider when your current deal ends.

However, that’s unlikely to last much past April.

How to choose the right energy tariff

How do I switch energy supplier?

Insulate

Insulating your property is an easy way to cut energy costs without having to change your lifestyle.

Once you have cavity and loft insulation you should need to spend less on heating your home as less energy escapes through your walls and ceiling.

You can reduce your costs further by blocking drafts or getting a hot water tank jacket.

You may also be able to get a grant to help reduce the cost of insulating your home.

Energy Saving Trust's website

6. Stay in touch for less

If you are the only person using your landline and broadband then you have a significant opportunity to save by switching to packages that fit your exact usage.

  • Consider if you need a landline phone. So long as you have good reception, making use of free minutes on your mobile could be cheaper.

  • VOIP lets you stay in touch without paying for a landline; instead you can make cheap and often free calls via your broadband connection.

  • Look through your home phone bills and see exactly when and where you are calling. Then simply find the cheapest landline phone call package that matches your usage.

  • Check your broadband usage and find the cheapest broadband package that offers the download limits you need.

  • Alternatively, a home phone and broadband bundle that is tailored to your usage could help you save a significant amount too.

  • Regularly monitor your usage so you can make sure you are not paying for a service you don’t use

7. Cut your food costs

Changing the way you buy your food could cut your costs considerably over the long term.

Freeze

Supermarkets often target families and couples with multi-buy offers. You could take advantage of these offers and freeze the extra food ready to eat at a later date.

You may also be surprised to learn all the different foods that can be frozen. Milk, bread (ideally sliced), cheese and many vegetables can usually be frozen and defrosted without compromising their taste.

BBC Good Food website's guide to freezing food

Shop with a friend

A great way of making the most of the savings available through bulk buy discounts is to shop with a friend.

You can both benefit from multi-buy offers by splitting the produce and the cost.

Plan ahead 

Living by yourself allows you to be totally in charge of the kitchen and plan your diet with more precision.

Making meal plans, and writing an itemised shopping list before you hit the aisles is the best way to not just save money, but also minimise the amount of food you waste.

It also means you can make a note of the best before and use by dates and ensure that you eat your food before it perishes.

10 ways to cut the cost of your weekly shop

Help stretch your budget a little further by making the most of your savings.

About Martin Lane

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