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Ways you can save on rent, council tax and bills

Thinking about money can be stressful. Trying to find ways to make ends meet every month is hard enough, but there can also be hidden expenses thrown in from having a family. Here we have some ideas and ways you can try and save some money from the big expenses of the month - including rent, council tax and energy bills.

If you aren't sure if you are entitled to any of the benefits or grants listed below, why don't you call the Money Talk Team on 0800 085 7145? They will talk through your monthly outgoings and bills, and let you know if there are any benefits or grants you are entitled to.

Housing benefit and help with paying the rent

Who doesn't want to save some money off their monthly rent bill? Here we have some top rent saving ideas that might work for you.

Top tips for saving money on rent

Tip #1: Stayed somewhere for a long time? Can you negotiate a better deal?

For some landlords, they value having good tenants living in their properties for a long time. If they question the rent or try to increase the amount of rent you pay, you could always try to negotiate a better deal.

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Tip #2: Do your research – what are rent prices in your area

Have a look online and see what other landlords are charging for rent? How does your rent compare? If you think you are paying much more than properties that are similar, why not ask your landlord why your rent is higher?

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Tip #3: Give up your parking space

If you pay for a car parking space, but you don't have a car, see if you can get this cost taken off your rent.

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Tip #4: Find out if you are eligible for housing benefit

If you are struggling to pay your bills, you might be eligible for housing benefits. To see if you are, call the Money Talk Team on 0800 085 7145. They will talk you through your current situation and will let you know if you are entitled to any benefits or grants or if you can reduce your household bills.

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Can you save on your council tax?

Council tax is one of the biggest costs families face. Whether you pay monthly or yearly it can really make a difference to your budget, and being in the know about discounts and exemptions can help stretch your money that much further.

mum looking at finances

mum looking at finances

How can I save money on my council tax?

Tip #1: Know your council tax band

Council tax is charged based on which band you're in and where you live. They range from A (very reasonable) to H (very dear). To find out the band for your property all you need to know is your postcode. Check on your council tax bill that you are being charged for the right band and visit the Check My Council Tax website to see if you can save.

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Tip #2: Who is entitled to save money on their council tax?

Lots of people get money off their council tax! Full-time students and care leavers aged between 18 and 26 don't pay any council tax at all, and there are lots of other reasons that the council might give you a full or partial council tax exemption. Visit the Check My Council Tax website to see if you can save.

Some of the reasons you might be eligible for a council tax reduction are if you 

  • Are a full time student 
  • Are living alone 
  • Are receiving housing support and are living in shared accommodation (with a shared kitchen or bathroom) 
  • If you or someone you live with is severely mentally impaired 
  • Are a full time live in carer
  • Were looked after by a local authority on or after your 16th birthday 


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Tip #3: What if I'm in arrears with my council tax?

If your council has contacted you about owing them payments, the Money Talk Team can try to sort that out and might be able to find a grant you’re entitled to, call them on 0800 085 7145

When you chat to the Money Talk Team, they will figure out what benefits and entitlements you should be getting based on the information you give them.

Your adviser cannot take any grants or benefits away from you and if it turns out you're receiving something which does not match up with the information you gave, they will just let you know: your adviser cannot take any grants or benefits away from you. The Money Talk Team are a free impartial advice service funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by the Citizens Advice network in Scotland.

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How to save money on your bills

Bills can be really stressful and it's sometimes hard to see where the money is going (or how to slow it down!)

Here are some top tips from parents on how to reign in your energy and heating bills.

mum and daughter reading

mum and daughter reading

How can I save energy at home?

Tip #1: Turn things off at the plug socket

Leaving your TV, radio or even your kettle on standby instead of turning it off at the plug can be a real energy waster. That little red light is costing you money!

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Tip #2: Turn things off when you leave the room

It sounds basic but turning off lights, the TV, and the radio can make a real difference and it only takes a few seconds. Get the whole family on board for the best results!

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Tip #3: Do your dishes in a bowl instead of under a running tap

Using a bowl cuts down on the amount of water you heat up at each wash.

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Tip #4: Turn the heating down just a little bit

You'd be surprised by how much of your energy bill is taken up by heating and hot water costs. Turning the heating down just a little bit (even just one degree if you have a digital thermostat) can make a big difference.

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Tip #5: Wash your clothes at a lower temperature

Heating water for a washing machine can really increase your energy bill. Try washing your clothes at 30 degrees, but don't forget to use the right type of washing powder!

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Tip #6: Wrap your windows

Get plastic lining for your windows for a cheap alternative to double glazing. You can get clear plastic insulation film which covers the whole window and can really make a difference to your heating bill!

It’s easy to install it yourself so there are no hidden costs.

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Tip #7: Draft-proof your house

Try putting down draft excluders at your doors and fill up any gaps you can see around your windows or walls. Even your letterbox can be causing a draft! If you have a fireplace, think about putting in a chimney draft excluder too.

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Tip #8: Shop around for deals

The quickest way to save money on your energy bills is to find the cheapest energy supplier for you. There are lots of bill comparison tools available online, make sure you're not paying more than you have to every month.

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What happens when your appliances break down?

It's an absolute nightmare when you have to replace or fix an appliance. It's one of the worst things that can happen because it's so expensive and you have to think about how to get the school uniforms cleaned or worry about how to keep the milk cold.

For those times when it just can't be fixed, there are ways to make buying a new appliance cheaper. Take a look at these parents' tips below.

boy with remote

boy with remote

How to make sure a broken appliance doesn't break the bank

Tip #1: Hunt around for local swaps

There are lots of groups across Scotland where people are giving away appliances to anyone who can come and pick them up. Have a look online for groups in your local area and maybe even post what you are looking for into a group. You never know your luck!

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Tip #2: Shop second-hand

Buying appliances second-hand can save you a lot of money. Look for stores that have the ‘Revolve’ logo. Revolve is a re-use quality standard for shops who sell second-hand goods in Scotland. This means any appliances sold there will have been checked over so they work, PAT safety tested and meet modern safety standards.

You can find out more about shopping second-hand here.

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Tip #3: Check if you’re eligible for grants or support

There is lots of help out there for families who need a hand getting kitchen supplies and appliances.

The Money Talk Team are a useful service run by the Citizen's Advice network in Scotland and they can check what you're entitled to in a quick confidential call on 0800 085 7145

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Tip #4: Apply for an affordable credit loan

Affordable credit is a more reputable alternative to high cost credit, such a pay-day loans. It is offered by not-for-profit social lenders. These companies aim to help you access credit, even if you’re on a lower income. They also provide further financial advice such as help in claiming benefits, opening a basic bank account or debt advice. One organisation, Fair For You, offers affordable loans to buy essential household items that the borrower can pay back in flexible instalments.

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Tip #5: Make sure you’re getting the right size appliance for you

Heating all of that extra water will waste your budget each month if you're not filling it.

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Tip #6: Buy energy efficient

Energy efficient products are usually more expensive but it's worth it over a long period of time because you'll make huge savings on your energy bills.

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Make sure you're getting all of the help you're entitled to

The Money Talk Team are a great service for helping parents make their money go further and finding ways to get a little extra back. They'll be able to advise you on how to get help with anything from switching energy supplier to school uniform grants and school lunch vouchers.