/ Money

Cost of living: what are your biggest concerns?

With price increases and shortages becoming more frequent, we want to make sure we’re addressing the right questions. What are you most concerned about?

02/12/21: Christmas concerns

18/10/21: Cost of living

Between the hikes in energy prices, fuel panic buying and retailers warning supply chain disruption could lead to price rises and shortages of some products, you’d be forgiven for thinking that things feel a little chaotic at the moment.

It can all feel a bit overwhelming, but as the UK’s consumer champion, we want to make sure we’re giving you the practical advice, tips and information you and your family need to help get through what could be a tricky time for household finances.

We’ve got a lot of useful information across Which? that could help already:

Energy price hike: what you can do now

How to spend less at a supermarket

Saving tips to make your money stretch further

But we also want to hear from you. Let us know your questions and concerns in the comments and we’ll get our experts working on finding you some answers. 

Cost of living: what are your biggest concerns?
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There could be tough times for some of us ahead, but we’ll always be here – fighting your corner and working to make you as powerful as the businesses you deal with on a regular basis. 

Comments

Energy prices are the worst for me. It is difficult to work out how much they have increased, because Winter consumption is greater than Summer consumption and I haven’t been keeping tabs on the meter readings. The calculations with standing charges and conversion from therms to kilowatts is complex and I need to spend time with a calculator to work out what’s happening. The physical evidence is a monthly increase of around £65 a month and the likelihood that a cold snap will mean further increases. Petrol prices are high and I am glad to be able to visit the pumps around once a month now with only half a tank to fill. Grocery prices have gone up steadily and my bill for a small top up shop in now nearer thirty pounds than the twenty it was before.
Today I was charged £486 for new glasses, but, for the first time, the bulk of that was for lenses and not frames. An extra eye scan (all of five minutes) cost me £25. It is easy to understand that, for some , this Inflation will mean more careful shopping and less energy use, to avoid debt.

I agree with you, Vynor. There is a creeping rise in prices for everyday necessities [sometimes disguised by adjustments in the size, volume or quantity].

What might not be taken into account in considering energy bills is that people are staying indoors a lot more these days and using more heating fuel. This might be offset to some extent by reduced travel costs, but in your case, with a hybrid vehicle and some long journeys, what you save at the pumps might cost you more at the electricity meter.

Many of us are already fairly frugal in our lifestyles and making further savings or cutting back becomes increasingly difficult.

Vynor – If you are interested in keeping a track on energy costs you could have smart meters installed free. My display unit shows that since midnight I have used £3.37 since midnight, made of 90p electricity and £2.46 in gas. It is bitterly cold today and the total could reach £4.50 by midnight. I can look at the website and see how much I am spending each day. At present I have a credit balance of £5.04. Smart meters have been criticised but for those who worry about the next bill and don’t understand what costs most to run they are helpful. When I get round to buying an EV I hope to have a smart charger that automatically uses cheap rate electricity overnight.

I’m not using the car at the moment because it is covered in ice. I should have cleaned off the snow promptly but I’m not as smart as my meters. As John has said it costs more if you are in most of the day.

Just on the matter of ‘free’ smart meters – twice in the last two years my prices increased and then dropped again (I’m talking about prior to the current ACTUAL cost increases), coinciding with two waves of smart meter roll-out. Every consumer gets hit by the smart meter installation charges. I even asked my supplier if I could get a discount for NOT having a smart meter installed and they straight away said No. As somebody said long ago, nothing in life is really free.

Thanks Wavechange. I’ve written about smart meters before and am not enthusiastic. I have the data to do the calculations if I want to spend time on them. Generally, I try not to use more energy than I need to use, and, apart from “the extra jumper” routine don’t see many ways of cutting back on heating. I don’t waste food and don’t buy many household items that don’t just clean with the basics of cloth and vacuum. I am fortunate to be able to live without having a nil balance at the end of the month, but the residue is falling each month. I know there are many others who do struggle and each inflationary increase is another worry for them.

I know, Vynor, and I have been disappointed in the amount of money that has been spent on the roll-out of smart meters. I inherited my smart meters with the house and when I changed supplier I had to have new ones and a new display unit to be compatible with my new supplier. That additional expense could have been avoided if the companies involved and the government had foreseen the problem. Never mind, the customers can share the costs, even those who don’t have smart meters. 🙁

I learned how to read the meters and do the sums to calculate electricity and gas bills when I was a teenager, but not everyone can do this and some have meters in inconvenient places. The real benefit of smart meters will be to encourage us to use electricity when there is less demand – overnight and at certain times of day. This will help even out the demand on the grid and reduce costs.

I save on heating costs by heating only the rooms I am going to be using. When I go out I turn off the heating and turn it on when I get home. I was surprised to see that my energy use amounted to £5.91 one day, but that was because I had the oven on several times and had used both the washing machine and dishwasher. Being at home all day adds to energy bills but saves in other ways. Now I have to spend £90 on an online order from Waitrose to use a £14 voucher. This is all insignificant compared with the effect of inflation and low return from savings.

I believe the problem of incompatible smart meters was foreseen by government and industry. The protocols for universal use had not been developed when they were introduced. I would hazard a guess that their “premature” introduction was the threat from the EC that fines would be imposed on any state not meeting deadlines. The UK has always seemed to be receptive to such threats.

This is, I think, an interesting overview http://watt-logic.com/2018/06/13/smets2/

My main worry is about my Children and Grandchildren as growing children increasing mortgage interest and credit card rates ,fuel bills, utility bills , food bills, cost of clothing needed regularly as your Children grow The list is endless and unfortunately it’s all down to one man who promised the naive but didn’t deliver . Every country has had covid , we are the only country who has had the un necessary Brexit and in the middle of the pandemic just to try and prove a point and failed to deliver.

With all the price hikes and lack of interest in helping the most vulnerable from our government the situation is getting desperate. More and more people are cold and hungry in the ‘comfort’ of their own homes. Boris has no idea of the desperation and angst so many are suffering from -this situation has lead to suicides which is desperately sad.To put the Warm Home Discount up just £10 is a joke and shows his total apathy.Of course he is also giving everyone £200 which would be a little better if that was the case but no-it’s a loan!!! More debt! Thanks Boris for absolutely nothing! It is disgusting that no effort has gone in to reassure ,protect and help the most vulnerable in society. I feel so sorry for those who are already suffering food and fuel poverty and the desperation they feel-it is beyond sad.

Energy prices are the headline event – and if you already use a lot of energy, then you will face a big cost increase. For me, it’s (fortunately) not a crisis, but I have never overheated my home either. It was never such a crisis in the old days before central heating came along when people would just wear more clothes and put up with it.
The price increase that people seem to be ignoring is in the shops – general inflation – which nobody really notices because they all pay by card now that cash is dead. Speaking for myself, it looks like the cost of my weekly shopping has increased by at least 10% in the last few months. Some products have disappeared from the shelves altogether because the manufacturers won’t (can’t?) underwrite budget-level own brands; I speak as one who routinely goes for the budget-level own brands and now face paying a lot more to get big-brand alternatives. Inflation comes in many guises!