Making the Most of Your Money

Decrease Spending

Complete a Spending Diary and Budget Planner. To help see what is essential or non-essential, split your expenses into needs and wants.


These are expenses you can’t avoid. This includes essential expenses such as food (groceries), housing (e.g. rent, rates, insurance, mortgage payments), utilities (e.g. gas, electricity, phone), children (e.g. childcare, school dinners), transport (e.g. car expenses, public transport), and credit or debt repayments.


These are expenses which you may be able to do without. This includes non-essential expenses such as subscriptions (e.g. Netflix, Sky), memberships (e.g. leisure clubs), alcohol, meals out/ takeaway, holidays, beauty treatments, and non-essential clothes.

While it might be more difficult to reduce spending on needs than wants, the following tips can help you to consider if you can reduce spending in either area.

Ways to decrease Spending

Change Utility Provider

Compare prices across different utility and fuel providers in NI and switch provider for cheaper tariffs or prices. There are a range of online tools to help:




Consumer Council

Energy price comparison tool

Compare Gas and Electricity prices in NI

Domestic power costs comparison tool

Compare Gas and Electricity prices in NI

Power to Switch

Energy price comparison tool

Compare Electricity provider prices in NI


Internet price comparison tool

Search for high speed broadband

and costs by postcode

Cheapest Oil

Oil price comparison tool

Home heating oil price comparison

Shop Around

Before you buy, always see if you can get the item or service cheaper elsewhere by comparing prices and deals. Use comparison sites (e.g. for insurance), discount sites or find voucher codes to find the best prices. Useful sites include:

Comparison Sites

Discount & Voucher Sites

Compare the Market

Money Saving Expert

Go Compare

Living Social

Money Supermarket


Be Sustainable

Rather than buying new, save money while being ethical, and shop second hard (e.g. charity shops, local buy & sells) or on ‘Give-Away’ sites. For example:

Organisation Description
Freecycle Household items available for free. 
You can even request an item that you are looking for. 
Olio A sharing App where food and household items available for free.

Save Energy

Save energy in your home to reduce fuel and utility bills. For tips on how to do this visit: 

Meal Planning

Planning meals and making a packed lunch can help reduce costs as well as food waste. In addition, when buying food cut out luxury items, and try to buy deals or non-brand (cheaper) goods. If you are prone to impulse buys, try doing an online shop instead or making a list and sticking to it. Sites such as Safe Food can help with meal planning.

Reduce Non-Essential Spending

Are you paying for things you don’t need (e.g. forgotten subscriptions, services you no longer use – check your bank statement)? Can some expenses be reduced (e.g. by doing things less often or looking for cheaper/free alternatives) or cut out entirely? Set limits on your spending and take up hobbies you can do for free (e.g. walking).

Banking & Credit

Transfer your balance when the interest free periods run out and keep swapping to the best deals. Review your banking terms and swap to higher interest accounts or cash-back offers where possible. 


If housing costs are high consider whether downsizing your home or moving to a cheaper area/cheaper accommodation is possible. If transport costs are high, is it viable to move to an area where these can be reduced? Make sure all implications of a move are factored into decision making. 

Maximise income

There are different ways of increasing income which will depend on your circumstances.

Benefits & Supports

Are you receiving all the benefits, pensions, supports (e.g. benevolent funds, energy schemes, child maintenance, cost of living support) to which you are entitled? You can visit a Benefit Adviser who can complete a benefit check to help you to maximise your income and complete a ‘Better Off’ calculation to see how changes could impact your benefits. There is also a range of online information and self-help tools to support you:



Benefit Calculator

EntitledTo website

Pension Credit Calculator

Crisis support Information

Energy Bills Support Information

Cost of Living Payments

Income Maximisation

Increased/Flexible Hours

Can you increase hours at work or get a second job? Can you condense hours to reduce childcare or transport costs? Remember to consider tax or benefit implications.


Check your tax band and that you are receiving minimum wage. To find minimum wage rates visit:


Can you ask adult children for rent or Air B&B a room to generate income from your home? Be mindful of mortgage, tenancy or tax implications (e.g. permissions).

Any income generated may impact on any benefits you receive. You should also check whether you have to pay tax on this income. A Benefit Adviser can complete a ‘Better Off' calculation to help you.

Energy Grants & Schemes

Check to see if you are entitled to any energy efficiency grants or schemes or energy bills support. Further information is available on our Money Talks section.