There have been lots of discussions recently about everyday living costs, and it’s good to understand what support is available to help you. Here, Scheme customer and disability blogger Emma Muldoon shares her advice for saving money, including some discounts and tips that can add up to big savings.
According to disability charity Scope, everyday living costs are higher for disabled people and their families. This is due to a range of factors, such as needing to use more energy for heating or having to spend more on transport. This can be worrying for a lot of people, which is why it’s worth making the most of any money-saving tips and discounts that you can. Although each one might only give you a small saving, they can add up to make a big difference overall.
Be aware of your energy usage
The recent increase in energy costs has led to household bills rising significantly. As a full-time powered wheelchair user with a progressive muscle-wasting condition, I understand the importance and benefits of having a warm home for our health and wellbeing. It is essential for many elderly and disabled people, who rely on medical equipment on a daily basis and use electricity to charge their mobility aids.
Although we’re now entering the warmer months, the energy situation can still be concerning for some. Finding ways to make little savings in other ways can help, such as the Warm Home Discount Scheme. Eligibility to the scheme would take £140 off your electricity bill between October and March. This may not be useful just yet, but it’s good to remember when it comes round to Autumn.
The WaterSure scheme also helps some households receiving benefits with their water bills, if they need to use a lot of water due to medical reasons or if they have three or more school-age children. The scheme helps eligible people by capping their water bills at the average household cost for their water company.
Contact your local authority and energy supplier to find out if you are eligible for additional support and rebates available.
Also, take a look at some tips to help lower your energy consumption.
Be mindful of your food shop
A weekly food shop can be expensive when trying to keep the entire household satisfied. And making a shopping list and sticking to it can often be easier said than done – especially with the lure of special discounts and ‘buy one get one free’ deals.
Personally, I find that grocery shopping online can help avoid the temptation of buying needlessly – and it’s also much more convenient. You can view your previous orders to see if there’s anything you bought that didn’t end up getting used – and then see if there are things you could cut out of your next order that you wouldn’t miss. It can also be helpful if you decide to batch cook your meals for the week, because you can easily see all of the ingredients in your basket.
If you do decide to shop in-store, don’t overlook the ‘reduced’ aisle and yellow sticker items as you never know what you might find. The best bargains are often found after 7pm, but this can vary depending on the supermarket.
There is also a free app called Too Good To Go, which allows you to get discounted food from cafes and restaurants that would otherwise go to waste. With food that’s usually 50% or more off the standard retail price, this is a great option if you want to get big discounts on your favourite eateries. Just be aware that the exact items you get will be a mystery, as it depends on what’s been sold during the day – you’ll get a ‘surprise package’ of items from your selected restaurant.
Enjoy free days out
Saving money doesn’t have to mean curbing what we like to do for fun. If you have a disability and enjoy going to the cinema to watch the latest movies, the CEA card allows you to get a free ticket for your companion. You’ll need to pay £6 for the card, but it’s valid for a year.
It is also possible to enjoy cheap days out with many visitor attractions offering discounted tickets for people with a disability and free admission for companions such as English Heritage, the National Trust and many more.
Lots of theatres and music venues also provide discounted tickets for disabled people, as well as free companion tickets to shows. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount whenever you visit an attraction or venue, as you could end up with a nice little saving.
Shop and save
Friends and family that care for you can apply for a Discounts for Carers card. The service offers money-saving discounts for some of the biggest brands for shopping, insurance, travel, finance and more.
You can also get cashback when shopping online using sites like TopCashback. They are free to use and allow you to receive a percentage of cashback on your online purchases. It means you are essentially earning free money on purchases you would typically make anyway. The amounts can vary depending on the retailer, but the cashback soon adds up and you can get back hundreds of pounds.
Travel for less
We all know fuel costs have increased but there are a few things we can do to put the brakes on our spending. Simple things like driving slower, journey planning and keeping car tyres pumped up may seem obvious, but they do save fuel consumption.
If you aren’t already a Motability Scheme customer, it’s worth seeing if you’re eligible to join. You exchange your qualifying mobility allowance to lease a car, Wheelchair Adapted Vehicle (WAV), powered wheelchair or scooter, which can be a cost-effective way to stay mobile.
Want to learn more?
If you regularly travel by public transport, it may be worth applying for a disabled person’s bus pass from your council to get free or discount bus travel. If you travel by train often, it might also be worth looking into getting a Disabled Person’s Railcard. If eligible for the railcard, you and a friend can receive a third off rail fares. The card costs £20 for one year or £54 for three years, but the savings will be worth it if you travel by train often.
To read more from Emma, please visit her blog Simply Emma.