Are you dreading the budget and the additional financial pain it may bring like me?
A recent uSwitch survey shows that over half of us are not going to get a pay rise this year. And three-quarters of those lucky ones who have had a rise said it fell short of the 4% increase on the Consumer Price Index.
With the 2.5% VAT increase this year, food prices going up by 6.3%, a 5.8% increase in rail fares and 5.9% increase in energy costs it is no wonder many of us are worried.
On top of this over 40% of us are having sleepless nights worrying about job security.
We are also in a position where we are seeing food rationing as well as energy rationing. Over one fifth said they would be cutting back on food and we know from another survey that just over 75% of us rationed our energy over the coldest months this winter because of worries about bills.
What I also worry about is a possible rise in interest rates. If you have a mortgage, the prolonged period of low interest rates has probably eased the pain a bit, but with the prospect of the Bank of England raising rates before the end of the year, the financial crisis many of us are facing will get much worse.
I think in this Budget the government should do two things. It should significantly raise the threshold at which we start paying tax and give us a bit of money back to put in our pockets and it should certainly raise benefits by more than the Consumer Price Index.
The fact is if you are on a low income you are likely to be spending a good percentage of your income on food and energy and simply raising benefits based on a general index will not provide adequate compensation for these increases in prices.
Personally I think it is a disgrace that there should be energy and food rationing on the scale we are seeing now. These are essential to our health and wellbeing. They are as important as a roof over our heads and health provision.
I only do the job I am doing because I passionately believe in consumers getting a fair deal and being able to pay for the essentials in life with perhaps a bit left over for the fun bits, but today we are seeing that not even essentials can be afforded.
Whilst I hope the Budget will provide some help, I am not holding my breath.
My advice is to see what savings you can make. I know this sounds old fashioned but buy fruit and vegetables loose not in packets. Packaging costs money which is reflected in the price. Go to a local market where food is often cheaper if there is one near you. Don’t waste expensive petrol travelling to one. Although a good wheeze is to go the supermarket just before they are closing where you might find fresh food marked down because they want to get rid of it. But to make a big difference look at your other essentials. You can save up to £450 by just switching your gas and electricity. There is over £300 difference between the cheapest tariff and the most expensive one. If you also shop around for a better deal for your mobile phone, credit card and other services you could save enough to enable you to balance your budget and have a bit of change left over for the odd treat.
Do you have anything you would like to see in the Budget which you think might make a big difference? Reasonable suggestions please – it is no good asking for a tax-free holiday for a year because it ain’t going to happen.