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5 Ways your community can help you to save money

5 Ways your community can help you to save money

This winter, the cost-of-living-crisis will hit us hard with rising energy prices and increasing costs. But things aren't totally hopeless—here's how your community could help you cope

Our new Prime Minister Liz Truss has already laid out plans to help households, but for many it will not be enough to plug the increasingly gaping holes in our finances.

The good news is that where government help falls short, the people in your social circles can step in. And of course, you can return the favour too.

What is a community?

Community street party

Your community can be anyone you are connected to in some way, whether that's where you live or interests you share

A community can be made up of the people we live next to, with whom we share common interests and experiences, or are connected to in any other way. In today’s world, the power of social media and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp mean you don’t have to physically be in the same space as someone to be a part of their community. However, for a community to work, the principles of trust, belonging and relationship still apply.  

"Communities have always pulled together in both happy and turbulent times"

From street parties to support groups, communities have always pulled together in both happy and turbulent times. This winter when the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis hits, the need for community will be necessary. Mutually exchanging resources, information and emotional support with other will make the next few months more bearable for many. 

Here are just a few tips.  

1. Accountability

The cost-of-living crisis will force us all to prioritise what we spend money on. As prices increase, retaining more of our cash for the bare necessities will become paramount.

If you need more discipline in this area, an accountability partner or group might be the answer. According to productivity experts, you are more likely to stay responsible for your goals if you know you have to periodically check in with another person.

In fact, they say that by sharing your intentions, your chance of success jumps from 20 per cent to 60 per cent.

2. Item swapping 

Jumpers for the children, a pair of boots, a new hat. These are examples of some of the items you may need this winter.

We generally tend to spend more in the cold months, and when you have an entire household of people to provide for, the cost can quickly add up. According to the Bank Of England, a typical UK household’s expenses increase by 29 per cent in December alone.

"Don’t be shy about asking those you are closest to if they have an extra blanket they no longer use"

So imagine how much money you could save by acquiring these items without spending an extra penny. Don’t be shy about asking those you are closest to if they have an extra blanket they no longer use, or a book or toy they are about to get rid of. The worst they can do is say “no”, and besides, you’ll be offering something in return.

3. Information sharing and emotional support 

Community offering emotional support

Your community can provide emotional support, which is essential in difficult times

The best thing about a community is it’s the wealth of knowledge. You might not inherit a pair of shoes or a cardigan, but you could get essential money-saving advice. From the latest government support available to where to shop for reduced items, those in your circle may hold the key to crucial financial help. This is why it will be important for you to voice your needs.

Your friends, family and associates will be able to give you something else money can’t buy. Emotional support. Finances is a source of worry for most people. In a survey by mental health charity Mind, 74 per cent of the respondents said that difficulty with managing money went on to affect their mental health.

According to the charity, sharing your worries with the right people can ease stress and reduce anxiety.

4. Communal saving 

A “susu” or “pardner” is a rotational saving system conducted amongst friendship groups or people who trust each other. The practice originates from mainly West African and Caribbean communities. Members contribute an agreed equal sum of money into a savings pot on a monthly or weekly basis, then pay a different person in the club the total pool of money on an agreed schedule. This continues until every member has been paid once.  

"Because there is usually no written agreement, it is important for everyone involved to act with integrity"

This method of saving has been historically used by minority groups and marginalised communities who were once unable to obtain bank loans but works well for anyone struggling to put money away. Because there is usually no written agreement, it is important for everyone involved to act with integrity.  

5. Cooking together 

Communal cooking

Community meal swaps can be a great way to save some money, minimise waste—and have fun!

Banding with your closest friends or neighbours to prepare and share meals works well for small communities. That’s not to say you have to be at each other’s houses for dinner every night. You can simply batch cook, divide the food into portions and meet weekly to swap meals.  

By buying in bulk and cooking a communal meal rather than individual dinners, you stand to save money and minimise waste in the long run. It’s also a lot of fun. Just ensure you have enough freezer space! 

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