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A guide to the hacks and apps that will help make your financial life a breeze



NHS worker Leah Roberts, a 38-year-old mum of one and living in Yorkshire, has learned to beat rising food and living costs by sticking to a few simple rules.

She said these small changes have saved her “a few hundred quid a month” just by being savvy with her spending. With the cost of living shooting up, we could all use some tips.

In a bid to help you save on the small stuff and even potentially put some extra money aside as a cash buffer for unforeseen expenses, i spoke to the experts to discover some simple hacks to beat rising prices.

Simple habits to help you save

Leah does “one big shop a week” at a discount supermarket, which she says encourages her to use what she already has in the fridge and freezer.

She is signed up to Shop and Scan, a market research company, so she gets points each week for letting them know what she buys. She avoids takeaways and tries to cut down on small purchases such as coffees so she can afford bigger items like her “new winter boots”.

Workers in specific sectors may also be able to make surprising savings if they reach out to companies directly. Because Leah works for the NHS she has a Blue Light Card, a discount card for the emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces.

By being “cheeky”, Leah said she has emailed companies ahead of time to see if they would give her a Blue Light discount, with her most recent success saving her £8 on a hiking backpack for her son.

On clothes shopping for herself and her son, Leah uses “a mix of nice quality charity shop clothes and items in the sales”. As her son outgrows his clothes, she gives them to charity or sells them on.

“I always shop around to find the best deals on my utility bills and never let my contracts expire, which can be really costly,” she tells i.

“I’m also signed up to various reward schemes and cash back sites including Topcashback. I have a Nectar card when buying petrol and I’m always careful to look out for offers – like February’s triple points on fuel deal.”

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There’s an app for that

Leah’s careful hunting out of the best and cheapest products is just one way to save money as inflation, already more than 5 per cent and set to get even higher, eats into the value of the pound in our pockets.

Add to this the impending rise in national insurance and ever-increasing energy bills, life is looking very expensive. Fortunately, there are a number of apps and services available to consumers which are designed to help them build up their savings pots, often without much input needed from savers themselves.

Chip

In recent years, a number of digitally focused firms have emerged to help consumers plan for the future. One example is Chip, which is a free app that builds a person’s savings automatically and “fights” to bring users better rates.

Its auto-saving technology allows customers to set specific amounts and it’s possible to link the app to a debit or credit card so that every time you spend, the difference between, say, a £2.50 coffee and the next nearest pound – 50p – is automatically added to your savings account. Savings really can add up, with the average Chip user saving an extra £3,000 in 2021, according to the company.

Monese

Anyone who needs to transfer money out of the UK knows it can be expensive. Monese lets you open a UK and a Euro account quickly and easily. Free starter accounts can be set up with Monese and a number of “Monese pots” can be opened for savings.

This app also allows you to round-up the loose change from purchases made on your card, and set a monthly budget, and track and categorise your spending with Monese’s Spending Overview tool.

Banks

While a large number of digital players have entered the money-saving world recently, existing well-known companies have also expanded their services to help consumers build their pots.

Chase, the bank owned by JP Morgan, currently allows UK customers to round up their debit card purchases to the nearest £1, and deposit the small change into a separate account where it will earn interest at a very competitive 5 per cent for 12 months. Tesco Bank recently launched Clubcard Pay+, which offers savers double points, as well as awarding one point for every £8 they spend at other high street shops.

Shoppers can add money and ringfence their grocery spend from any UK bank account into their Tesco Clubcard Pay+ account, using a free app. Tesco Clubcard Pay+ ­allows shoppers to save while they shop by rounding up their purchases to the nearest pound, saving the difference into an account.

“The ability to hook up all your accounts including current, savings and credit cards in one place allows you to see what’s coming in and going out,” says Ben Faulkner, a Money Dashboard user working in communications for ethical investment firm EQ Investors.

“There’s a clear dashboard with easy-to-understand charts and graphics, as budget planner and you can also create your own transaction categories and it’s free to use.”

Ben added that he has found price comparison websites helpful for keeping bills as low as possible, mentioning Uswitch’s app as especially good.

“This is a great app for managing your personal finances,” he said.

“You can compare and switch gas and electricity suppliers, broadband deals, mobile phone deals, car and home insurance, credit cards and boiler cover. It’s now even more important to make savings where possible.”

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