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Top tips for tackling the cost of living crisis

Rising inflation is still in the headlines and there’s little comfort being told it won’t last forever with most feeling the effects now

As you’ve paid in to USS in the past, you’ve built up some guaranteed benefits in the Retirement Income Builder ready for you to take when you come to retire. But what can you do to help ease the burden now?

  1. Get more from your groceries. As well as shopping around at different supermarkets, planning meals and batch cooking could save you cash and it might help reduce waste too. Think about knocking together a meal planner that’ll be easy to stick to and which will help with your shopping list, your prep and might save you some time.

  2. Clucking for an alternative to lamb for your roast? With prices for lamb and some other meat sky-rocketing over the past year, chicken’s going cheap (the second bird pun didn’t work – sorry). You get the point, though? There might be less expensive alternatives to your usual groceries.

  3. Cut energy bills where possible. We know this is a difficult one with cheap tariffs still very few and far between and with government support payments coming to an end next year, but they’re a few life hacks you can start today. Try switching to dimmable LEDs, which use about half the energy of traditional bulbs, or using the Eco setting on your washing machine. The Energy Saving Trust has put together a useful article which highlights which household appliances are the biggest users of electricity with some tips on how to use them as efficiently as possible.

  4. Are there things that you regularly spend your money on that you no longer need? Maybe a subscription service you don’t use that often or a free trial you’ve forgotten about that’s run out or even a gym membership you joined as part of ill-fated New Year’s resolution… it all adds up. A quick review of your banking apps may reveal a few things you can save money on that you won’t really miss.

  5. Get off the gas. The less said about the costs of running a car, the better, but if you have to drive, take it easy. Driving smoothly in a high gear and sticking within the speed limit can knock 25% off your fuel bill in a conventional car. Smooth driving can give you more mileage from your EV too, if you have one. You can also cut costs by making sure your tyres are the correct pressure, turning off the air conditioning, and emptying the boot.

  6. Take care of your future self. This is a tough one because we’re feeling the pinch now, but don’t neglect your rainy day fund entirely. It’s easy to stop planning for the future when the present’s so tough.

And while you’re probably some way off retirement right now, whatever you have built up in the Retirement Income Builder also includes some inflation proofing, the amount depends on when you built up your benefits.

Remember, if you need to talk to someone about getting by or for any other reason, reach out. The Citizens Advice Bureau is a good place to start, if you think you need some help or support. And check out the government’s Help for Households hub, for more useful information.

Published: 9 December 2022

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