PRESSURE is mounting as petrol and grocery prices, energy bills and interest rates all soar amid a deepening cost-of-living crisis.
But this week our incredible Squeeze Team is back – and even bigger than before.
In a special three-day series starting today, we have brought together some of the nation’s top financial minds.
They share their best insider tricks to help you keep afloat and make annual savings.
Tomorrow, our beefed-up squad of money pros will help three struggling families to bust their bills and save thousands.
Then on Wednesday, we’ll be opening up our phone lines so you can receive advice from experts to help you get back in the black.
Today we hear from all our Squeeze Team panellists, old and new, about their No1 tips for yearly savings. Let’s get cracking.
MITCH YOUNG – FUSION CONSULTING GROUP ACCOUNTANT
I ALWAYS make the most of the tax reliefs available to me, particularly as I work from home for part of the week.
You can claim relief on £6 a week of expenses or more if your costs are higher – so that’s up to £62.40 a year for a basic rate taxpayer.
If you are married and your spouse or civil partner doesn’t pay tax, they can give you £1,260 of their personal allowance, which could provide you with a tax credit of £252.
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ROMI SAVOVA – FOUNDER, PENSIONBEE
I USE digital banking apps to get an immediate and up-to-date picture of all my finances all in one place – including my current account, credit card and pension.
Having visibility over my full financial position enables me to make better financial decisions – saving me thousands in the long run.
There are lots of apps you could try, including Money Dashboard, Neon, Emma and Plum.
MARTYN JAMES – CONSUMER RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER
I LOVE getting involved with my community to save money and help other people.
Apps like Olio are fantastic for snapping up free food that some don’t want to throw away, while on Next Door and local Facebook groups you can find free furniture, clothes, gadgets and more.
I’m in a group with 400 neighbours – we share food we can’t use and help older people with energy bills and other money worries.
HOLLY MACKAY – BORING MONEY INVESTMENT SITE FOUNDER
I’M a single mum so always remember to claim the 25 per cent discount on my council tax bill.
Anyone who lives either alone, or on their own with children, can apply for similar help.
Snapping up this support saves me hundreds of pounds a year.
But many people simply don’t realise they can claim, and so end up missing out on this handy sum.
JORDON COX – BRITAIN’S COUPON KID BLOGGER
I GET two-for-one meals and cinema tickets for the year with Compare The Market’s Meerkat Meals And Movies promotion.
You have to buy insurance to qualify so I get one-day travel insurance in the UK for £1. I’ve never paid full price at cinemas or restaurants since signing up.
To save money in the supermarket, I get high- value coupons by writing to my favourite brands saying how much I like their products.
BREAN HORNE – NERDWALLET FINANCE EXPERT
I USE my loyalty cards to get discounts as well as earning reward points. The Nectar app, for example, gives you special prices on some of the products you usually buy from Sainsbury’s each week.
But you’ll need to shop in-store using the SmartShop scanner or app to get the savings.
I also boost my points by entering my Nectar card when shopping at Argos, or with Asos and eBay.
VIX LEYTON – PR/MARKETING HEAD AT HOTUKDEALS
I MAKE a big effort to keep track of my subscriptions and be honest with how much I use them.
Lots of monthly contracts will allow you to hit pause, so if I know I’m not going to use the gym or a streaming service for one month, I’ll pause that to free up £20-£30.
If I’ve got a particularly tight month, I sometimes ring up and ask about payment breaks. You’ll be surprised how many businesses will be flexible to stop you from cancelling.
TARA EVANS – HEAD OF CONSUMER AT THE SUN
I HAVE a budget spreadsheet where I note down all my plans, bills and income each month.
It helps me to avoid overspending and means I save up cash.
There are apps that help you do this but it’s about finding the method that works best for you.
The important thing is keeping track and being honest with yourself about what you really spend as that’s how to make meaningful savings.
LEAH MILNER – SUN SAVERS EDITOR
I’VE recently downloaded the JamDoughnut app, which lets you earn cashback when you buy gift voucher codes for lots of places where you probably shop.
If, for example, you were going to Morrisons, you’d buy the gift code for the value of your usual weekly shop and earn five per cent cashback, or £5 on a £100 spend.
I’ve already earned a handy £8 in my first week.
JO THORNHILL – MONEYSUPERMARKET WRITER
WHEN it’s practical to do so, I’ll try to leave my cards at home and just take cash, which helps me stick to a budget, as I can only spend what I’ve brought with me. I challenge myself to have a no-spend day once a week.
To keep costs down on family days out, I try to plan ahead and pack a picnic. It means less queuing for snacks, less stress and less financial strain.
Plus, I try to find free festivals and events whenever I can.
JON CHESTERMAN – MANAGER AT DEBT CHARITY STEPCHANGE
I ALWAYS do my food shop towards the end of the day, to see what is marked down because it’s near its best-before date.
With bread and other foods, I’ll take it out of its packaging and divide it up into portions before I freeze it, so I only use what I need and don’t waste.
When driving, I try not to use the air-con for short trips – but as I get hay fever, if I have to use it, I use the air recirculation mode as this uses less diesel.
ANDREW HAGGER – MONEYCOMMS FOUNDER/DIRECTOR
I CUT down on both cooking costs and preparation time by batch-cooking a few extra portions of chilli or spaghetti bolognese and freezing them.
It also stops me ordering takeaways and drastically reduces my energy use.
We now only use the washing machine when there’s enough dirty laundry for a full load – that saves around 150 washes a year and so a whole lot of money.
HOLLY MEAD – DEPUTY CONSUMER EDITOR AT THE SUN
I ALWAYS look for cashback deals when buying my insurance each year.
This year I made £35 back on my home insurance, £52 on pet cover for my dog, Daphne, and £36 on my car insurance, all by using Topcashback before comparing quotes.
Also look for cashback on other major bills when you compare and switch, including mobiles, broadband, TV and energy, as well as when you shop online. Quidco is the other major site.
JIM LEE – JAMES LEE ASSOCIATES TAX ADVISER
I MOVE money from my current account and into another one to ensure I don’t spend it.
Having a second account, and maybe a third, allows you to create pots so you can budget for unexpected costs and future plans. Some banks let you set up separate pots within one account.
Allocate money to your various pots at the start of the month, when you get paid. If in debt, try to set aside money to pay that off each month, and put some toward long-term saving.
DAMIEN FAHY – MONEY TO THE MASSES EDITOR
I LOVE the Honey browser extension which I use to find discount codes for items I would be buying anyway, as well as earning rewards.
You download it and every time you shop online it automatically lets you know if there’s a code you could be using.
Activate Honey Gold and you can build up points to exchange for vouchers with popular stores like H&M, Tesco, Amazon and others.
I recently received a voucher for £40 from the rewards I built up.
NICK MORREY – CORECO MORTGAGE BROKER
I ALWAYS make a note of when my current mortgage rate is due to expire, and apply for a new one up to six months before it ends.
If you roll on to your lender’s standard variable rate you could be paying hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year more than necessary.
If you are struggling to keep up payments, speak to your broker or mortgage lender as soon as you can, to see what help they can offer.
SAVE: £2,760 on a £250k loan
LAITH KHALAF – AJ BELL INVESTMENT ANALYST
I’M meticulous about checking reviews if I have to buy any big-ticket items, such as a washing machine.
I ensure the model has good feedback from customers as well as reviews on sites like Which?.
Then when I look for the shop selling it cheapest I’ll check how long the warranty is, as this can differ. I also check delivery costs.
And buying something cheap that breaks down after a few years is a false economy, if you could buy something a bit pricier that lasts.
JAMES DALEY – MD AT CAMPAIGN GROUP FAIRER FINANCE
I ALWAYS pay annually for my car and home insurance.
Most insurers charge interest of over 20 per cent to pay monthly – which can add hundreds to your annual bills.
If you can’t afford the up-front payment you could see if you qualify for a zero per cent credit card, but use an eligibility checker first.
Make sure you keep up with minimum repayments and clear the balance before the interest rate rises.
RICHARD NEUDEGG – HEAD OF REGULATION AT USWITCH
I’M obsessive about keeping tabs on when my contracts end, and I go straight online to compare and find the best deal.
I’ve got an Economy 7 meter and tariff which means I have a cheaper unit rate for electricity overnight, so I make sure to run appliances on timers when I can.
For example, I’ll have the hot water tank running at night and I put my washing machine on with a delay timer when I go to bed so that it finishes by the time I get to the kitchen for my morning coffee.
SAVE: up to £357
ANNA STEVENSON – TURN2US WELFARE/BENEFITS SPECIALIST
RUN a financial health check every six months using our benefits calculator, to see if you could be getting extra financial support.
Many people assume that if they are in work they wouldn’t be eligible for support, but they still might be entitled to some.
You could find, for example, that you qualify for low-cost water or broadband tariffs, free school meals or Healthy Start vouchers for your children. Do the research, or miss out.
SARAH COLES – HARGREAVES LANSDOWN FINANCE ANALYST
MY family tested the supermarket basic range of cheese, beans and oven chips to see if we’d notice the difference.
We couldn’t tell the cheese was basic, and though the beans were a bit saucier and the oven chips slightly smaller, it didn’t bother us enough to trade back up again.
The difference in price between a premium branded product and the supermarket’s own brand has an awful lot to do with advertising costs, so you can often trade down without noticing.
SAVE: £110 on those items alone
HOLLY SMITH – AUTHOR AND COUPON QUEEN
I USE apps such as Shopmium, CheckoutSmart, GreenJinn and ClickSnap.
Each week they have discounts and freebies you can claim while doing grocery shopping.
I recently nabbed a free Starbucks drink, Laughing Cow cheese and Munch Bunch yoghurts.
With these apps you need to search what deals are available on products you buy before you hit the supermarket.
Then once you buy the items, take a picture of your receipt in the app to earn cashback.
SAVE: up to £1,500
NEED help batting bills or finding out what financial support you can claim? Maybe you are having a bad time getting your money back after a gripe with a company?
We are running a phone-in on Wednesday between 8am and 8pm. Our Squeeze Team will be on hand to help out with your problems.