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The cost of living crisis has seen the price of everyday items increase exponentially. Our latest research shows that more than 9 in 10 customers are now concerned about the higher cost of living, with 89% already noticing the effect on their finances. It’s been energy and grocery bills where customers are particularly feeling the pinch and nearly 6 in 10 anticipate that they’ll have to change their lifestyle next year to combat these price increases. We spoke to Virgin Money customers about tackling the cost of living crisis and their tips on savvy ways to save money.

Get more from your groceries

As food prices go up, grocery shopping has become the main concern for 57% of the population Link opens in a new window, and many people are already changing their behaviour. Half of our customers have started buying own brand products and according to research from Virgin Red, 28% of people are opting for budget supermarkets Link opens in a new window, but there are other ways of cutting down on your food expenses if this is something you are already doing. ‘Look at planning meals in advance to save waste and stretch food further,’ says Virgin Money customer Agnes. Batch cooking and then freezing will help with this and save much-needed time on busy days. Plus, spending more time cooking in the kitchen has the added bonus of improving your culinary skills.

Another great money saving tip is never go shopping when you’re hungry – you’ll always be tempted to over buy. Brian, Virgin Money customer says, ‘prepare shopping lists before entering shops to prevent purchasing products that aren’t essential’. To stretch your budget further, download apps such as wonky fruit and veg deliverer Oddbox Link opens in a new window, and Too Good To Go Link opens in a new window, which sells on surplus food. These reduce food waste as well as your shopping bill. Win-win.

Save energy at home

Cheap energy tariffs are virtually impossible to find at the moment, so the best money saving tips involve just using less energy. There are so many ways that you can do this – and the good news is that it’s great for the environment too. Dimmable LEDs use about half the electricity of bigger fluorescent ‘energy saving bulbs’ and, while they come with an initial outlay, you’ll recoup this quickly.

Turning your thermostat down one degree will cut your bill by around 4% or £65 a year Link opens in a new window, and don’t heat the entire house if you’re spending the day in just one room; instead use thermostatic radiator valves to set the temperature in different places.

Draught-proofing is another great money saving tip and will bring down the energy bill for a typical home by £30 a year Link opens in a new window. Try reducing how much you use appliances too, so wash more clothes less often and on a cooler setting in the washing machine, cut your shower time, avoid the tumbler dryer and fill the dishwasher completely before putting it on. Watch out for ‘vampire devices’, like your Sky Box. These drain power even when they’re on standby, and The Energy Saving trust estimates you can save £55 a year Link opens in a new window by switching them off when not in use.

Make your money work harder

There’s never been a better time to make your money work harder and Virgin Money offers its customers plenty of saving tips and opportunities. Over 40% of our customers have signed up to various cashback or reward schemes to help them get more out of their spending and ‘earn’ on average £257 annually Link opens in a new window. Virgin Money Cashback Link opens in a new window gives you cashback when you spend with participating retailers Link opens in a new window. Offers are updated regularly so keep an eye on the app or sign up for notifications to stay in the know. Use the card linked to your account and, once a transaction goes through, the cashback will be sent to your Virgin Money Cashback account within 35 days. It’s as easy as that!

As well as being rewarded when you spend, Virgin Money’s M Plus account linked saver Link opens in a new window gives you a fantastic rate. Current account holders can supercharge their savings with the new rate of 2.02% AER/2.00% Gross (variable) on balances up to £25,000. Plus, you can earn 1.51% AER/1.50% gross (variable) on balances above £25,000. ‘The linked saver stands out from other bank accounts’ says customer Ann. ‘There is no limit to the number of times money can be withdrawn from it, which is why I moved other savings from different banks into it… and it has a high maximum amount of money allowed to be saved at the interest rate.’ If that wasn’t enough, M Plus account customers also benefit from 2.02% AER/2.00% Gross (variable) on current account balances up to £1,000.

Little luxuries

Around 39% of people have cut back on luxuries to combat the increased cost of living and the same number have reduced the number of subscriptions they have. While it is a cost-cutting exercise, this offers an opportunity to review your spending and decide whether that on-demand TV subscription or gym membership is really worth the money. It’s also a good money saving tip – not to mention extremely satisfying – to do an overall ‘health check’ on your finances. You might find unexpected direct debits that you can cancel without depriving yourself too much.

Take control of your finances

There’s been an increase in the number of customers wanting to keep a better eye on their finances, with 70% now reviewing them weekly or monthly. More than half of Virgin Money’s customers see online and mobile banking as an important tool for this.

The Virgin Money Mobile Banking app Link opens in a new window features ‘tag and track’ transactions which sorts your spending into categories that you can then set budgets and alerts on. ‘The breakdown you can get in the app is a good way of tracking expenditure,’ says customer Scott. If you set up a balance or transaction alert, you’ll also be contacted if you go below or above a set amount. What’s more, the Sweeps function manages your money so that if your current account balance goes below a specified level, you’ll avoid charges because it’ll automatically move money from your Virgin Money savings account.

The Virgin Money Mobile banking app works for savers too, as you can pick a goal and create a savings pot for it. There’s no limit on the number of pots you can create, and Virgin Money will do the maths, helping you stay on target and reach your savings goal. Something that’s made even easier thanks to Virgin Money’s linked saver rate of 2.02% AER on balances up to £25,000. ‘The mobile banking I have with Virgin Money helps enormously,’ says customer Moira. ‘I can see where every penny goes without leaving home. It’s an extremely useful app.’

Travel savvy

You can even tackle the cost of living crisis while you’re travelling. When you use your Virgin Money debit card Link opens in a new window abroad, we won’t charge you any fees for spending or drawing out cash. While we won’t charge you, some ATM providers may apply a charge. You’ll be notified of this before you go ahead with the withdrawal.

The Virgin Red rewards club Link opens in a new window also allows members to earn Virgin Points on everyday purchases from the likes of John Lewis, ASOS and Marks & Spencer. Plus, Virgin Points never expire, you can spend them on everything from everyday treats to a once-in-a-lifetime experience or holiday.

Start a side hustle

A great way to earn some extra money is by starting a side hustle. Whether it’s online tutoring, jewellery making or becoming a dog walker, the beauty of a side hustle is that you can make the hours work around your life. ‘I am going to repair musical instruments as I have a national certificate in stringed instrument repair,’ says customer James. You never know, if your side hustle really takes off, it might become your new career.

Clear out or rent out

Clearing out your clutter is a therapeutic experience but it’s also a great way to earn some extra cash. Sell your old mobile phone on sites like Sell My Mobile Link opens in a new window; books, DVDs, games and CDs on Music Magpie Link opens in a new window; clothes on Depop Link opens in a new window and Vinted Link opens in a new window; and everything else on eBay Link opens in a new window or Facebook Marketplace Link opens in a new window. Alternatively, you could rent out things that you need, just not all of the time. Sites like Turo Link opens in a new window allow you to rent out your car when you’re not using it; while Fat Llama Link opens in a new window is a great site for those wanting to lease out anything from cameras and sewing machines to musical instruments and DJ equipment.

While the cost of living crisis is set to put a squeeze on family finances, you’ll be surprised the difference careful planning and a little budgeting will make. You never know – you might learn a new skill, help the environment, or even change career.

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