The Sun Squeeze team have saved these readers over £3,000 with simple cost of living hacks to help lower your bills.

EVERYONE is feeling the pinch with the cost of gas, groceries, energy bills and skyrocketing interest rates.

But help is at hand with The Sun’s Squeeze team – our panel of experts who know how to cut your bills.

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The Sun’s Squeeze team is saving these readers £3,242 – here’s how you can benefit tooCredit: Getty

We’ve brought together the best financial minds in the country to share insider tips to help you stay afloat in the worsening cost of living crisis.

Today, they tackle real problems for two families.

The Garcia Lopez family

THE Garcia-Lopez family have had to borrow £4,000 on a credit card and loan because their annual income of £29,000 is not enough to cover the bills.

Part-time nanny Michelle, 37, and her sound engineer husband John, 34, are spending £1,400 a month on rent for the two-bedroom flat they live in with their six-year-old son Thomas and daughter of Michelle, Izzy, 15, in South West London.

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The Garcia-Lopez family have had to borrow £4,000 on a credit card and loan as the income is not enough to cover the bills

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The Garcia-Lopez family have had to borrow £4,000 on a credit card and loan as the income is not enough to cover the billsCredit: Darren Fletcher

After tax, national insurance and housing costs, they are left with just £533 a month, or £122 a week, for all their other bills and food.

They used £4,300 in savings just to try to stay afloat and they have £500 left.

Michelle says: “Before our kitchen cupboards were full to bursting, but our £80 weekly grocery budget is buying less and less.

“During lockdown John had virtually no work, my childcare was cut off and we used our savings just to keep our small apartment and eat. We no longer have a car so we are limited to shopping at our local Tesco.

Michelle, John and Izzy’s mobile phone bills are £100 a month as they have unlimited data to video call Michelle’s family in the Philippines and John’s relatives in Colombia.

Energy costs £80 per month. They spend £40 a month on a Virgin broadband and TV package and £80 a month on home contents and gadget insurance.

They also pay Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and Spotify Premium for a total of around £384 per year.

They spend around £120 a month in restaurants and their loan and credit card payments are around £180 a month.

Sun Savers editor Leah Milner said: ‘John and Michelle’s debt is likely to get worse unless they take drastic action. They should use the eligibility checker on MoneySavingExpert to see if they could qualify for a better loan rate.

“They can use the same tool to find out if they could get a zero percent balance transfer credit card. This could reduce their interest payments by around £240 a year.

“They currently do business with Nationwide and Barclays but could each earn a £170 welcome bonus if they both switch to HSBC. It’s an easy way to pocket £340.

The Sun’s consumer manager, Tara Evans, adds: “Not having a car doesn’t mean they can only shop at Tesco because Iceland offers free delivery.”

TRICK

Leah says, “They could use a nifty trick to get meals and two-for-one movie tickets for an entire year through Meerkat Movies and Meerkat Meals.

“They should each buy a cheap insurance policy from CompareTheMarket, like UK day trip insurance for a few pounds.

“It could halve the family’s annual bill for dining out from £1,440 to £720 and they could enjoy many trips to the cinema at half price.

“When their mobile plans with Three end, they can switch to another plan with much less data and make their video calls from home wifi.

“They could cut their total bill to £12 a month with Virgin Mobile for unlimited calls and 5GB of data.”

Richard Neudegg, Head of Regulatory at Uswitch, said: “Dropping one of their subscription services would save them around £96 a year.”

Jo Thornhill, money expert at comparison site MoneySuperMarket, said the family would save £96 a year at the end of their Virgin contract by switching to an 18-month Sky contract, which includes Sky TV, broadband and Netflix for £39 per month.

Holly Mead, Deputy Head of Consumer Affairs at The Sun, added: ‘It might be cheaper to add their gadgets to their main home insurance policy.

“They can also get £30 back if they sign up for TopCashback and click Confused.com before comparing costs and buying a new policy.”

Garcia-Lopez family

  • £340 bank bonuses
  • £720 dining out
  • £192 TV and Broadband
  • £30 insurance refund
  • Mobile contracts at £987
  • £240 credit card and loan interest

TOTAL SAVINGS: £2,509

Cassie Bishop

SINGLE mum-of-three Cassie Bishop, 35, from Cardiff, works six days a week at two different jobs but can’t sleep at night because of her bills.

She lives with her sons Kiel, 15, Kyron, 13, and Ryan, 10, in a two-bed flat.

Single mom Cassie Bishop works six days a week at two different jobs but can't sleep at night because she worries about her bills

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Single mom Cassie Bishop works six days a week at two different jobs but can’t sleep at night because she worries about her bills1 credit

Cassie says, “I feel really anxious. I just don’t know how I’m going to get to the next payday.

She typically brings home around £1,100 a month as a teaching assistant and an additional £120 a month working three hours a week as a relief carer.

Once the rent is removed from his Universal Credit, he is left with around £250. Her precarious finances have been hit even harder this month as her salary has fallen short by £300 and she is trying to find out why.

Cassie now worries she won’t be able to afford the used bike Kyron would like for his birthday in July.

Her broadband with TalkTalk has soared to £40 a month and she is struggling to cut food costs at Aldi.

She adds: “Boys eat so much. Then they have holes in their sneakers or tell me about a school trip and I think, “Oh my God.”

Cassie has prepaid energy meters with British Gas, paying around £100 a month in total, but is eligible for the £400 energy support grant.

She pays for a SIM-only phone at £25 a month with Three which has unlimited data.

MAKE ENDS MEET

Cassie has had to rely on a food bank in the past and may need to do so again.

A debt collection company is claiming around £3,000 in back taxes for council and water.

She says, “Every time I ask for help, I keep hitting brick walls.”

Cassie is far from alone. Almost half of workers surveyed by the GMB union say they have had to borrow money to make ends meet in the past six months.

But The Sun’s Squeeze team can help.

Jonathan Chesterman, of debt charity StepChange, says: “A debt counselor will be able to apply for the Breathing Space program which will give them 60 days, when their creditors cannot take enforcement action, to determine what she is able to do. Pay.”

He urged her to contact the StepChange helpline on 0800 138 1111 or via online chat. Regarding the shortfall in her salary, Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said a recent change in employers may have led Cassie to be placed under an emergency tax code.

She told him: ‘Check with your employer if this is the case then contact HMRC and request a tax code change.

Consumer expert Martyn James urged Cassie to contact her energy supplier, British Gas.

He said: “She should explain that she is struggling to pay her bills and ask what help is available.”

He also advised Cassie to seek help with her rent through the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) program.

She needs to check on the Turn2us website to make sure she is not missing any benefits or grants.

Leah Milner adds: “Cassie could save a lot on her cell phone bill. If she can get by with 15GB, she could get a Plusnet deal for £8 a month plus £25 cashback on a prepaid card, saving £229 a year.

The Sun also put Cassie in touch with big-hearted Mike Jones, who runs a bike recycling scheme, Free Bikes 4 Kids, in Newport, South Wales. He hopes to find a birthday bike for Kyron.

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Cassie could also save £11.99 on her TV and broadband bill by switching to the same Sky contract that Jo Thornhill recommended to the Garcia-Lopez family.

And she could replace her £40-a-month pet insurance for French bulldog Hercules with a policy with Frank, costing less than £18 a month and saving Cassie £264 a year.

Cassie Bishop

  • Mobile plans at £229
  • £240 TV and Broadband
  • £264 pet insurance

TOTAL SAVINGS: £733

Earn your bills

WE know how difficult it is for millions of people to make ends meet right now.

This year we have seen energy bills rise dramatically and inflation is now said to be heading towards 11%.

That’s why we’re giving TEN lucky readers £2,000 each to spend on their bills.

For a chance to win £2,000 to help pay, just follow these steps:

  1. Download the Sun Savers app or sign up at sunsavers.co.uk.
  2. Go to the Offers section and click “Start Collecting” on the Earn Your Bills page.
  3. Collect SEVEN 13 Sun Savers codes. We will print one daily until Saturday July 2nd. You can find today’s one on page 22.
  4. Enter or scan your seven Sun Savers codes on the app or website by midnight on Friday, July 8 to be automatically entered into the contest.
Michelle Garcia-Lopez says:

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Michelle Garcia-Lopez says: ‘Our kitchen cupboards were full… but our £80 weekly grocery budget is buying less and less’Credit: Darren Fletcher
Cassie Bishop says, “I feel really anxious.  I work six days a week and I just don't know how I'm gonna get to the next payday'

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Cassie Bishop says, “I feel really anxious. I work six days a week and I just don’t know how I’m gonna get to the next payday’1 credit

About Hannah Schaeffer

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