Cost of Living

Couple who owed £40,000 and lived on less than £1-a-day reveal 12 tips to beat cost of living hike


A couple once forced to live on less than £1 per day after falling into £43,000 debt, reveal their tips for beating the climbing costs of living as food and energy prices soar.

Ricky and Naomi Willis from Hull struggled to afford food after racking up debts from payday loans they took out when they both found themselves unemployed within months of each other.

With millions of households facing rising bills this year, they have teamed up with internet service provider Plusnet to help people get better value and more than they bargained for.

Their troubles began when Ricky lost his job as a machine operator at a printing firm and the following year Naomi lost her job in insurance. They began maxing out several credit cards to cover living costs. Each time the credit card had higher interest, making it increasingly difficult to pay off.

After their car and fridge freezer broke down in the same week, they had to put it all on credit as they had no savings left.

Ricky said: “We knew the repayments would eat up everything, but we didn’t feel like we had a choice. We didn’t know how we’d get by if we didn’t. It just kept spiralling from there.”

With no money coming in, they quickly accumulated £43,000 in payday loan, credit card and catalogue debt and began to struggle to afford essentials including food.

They hit rock bottom when they realised, they had to live on less than £1-a-day and choose between eating and putting their youngest child in a nappy.

Naomi said: “I still remember the day, I was working in HR, we were a week away from pay day and all we had left was £6.20 to our names. In the cupboard there was only enough food to feed our family for three days.”

Their financial woes were so deep that Ricky and Naomi were forced to decide between feeding their kids, feeding themselves and nappies for the baby.

Ricky said: “We drew up a list and feeding our kids was top, then nappies for the baby. Us eating came third.

“We worked out that with the food we had in the house if we were careful, we could feed the kids breakfast, lunch and dinner for four days, but it meant we would miss out on dinner a couple of times. I went to bed that night and cried. I felt like I had let my family down.”

The next day Ricky and Naomi started their journey back to solvency by ruthlessly scouring their bank statements to cut back on any non-essential spending and get a complete picture of their finances.

New research from broadband provider Plusnet has revealed how the average UK householder has paid £299 over the odds on their mortgage, £222 too much on their fuel bills, overspent £156 on broadband and wasted £132 on TV packages over the last year, due to complicated pricing or puzzling language.

They also spent £162 on car insurance and £84 on pet insurance they either did not realise they bought or did not understand, according to a survey of 1,500 UK adults commissioned by Plusnet.

Naomi said: “We studied everything and understood exactly where our money was going. We looked at where we could squeeze more value out of what we were spending and made sure we weren’t spending a penny on products or services we didn’t absolutely need. That saved us thousands of pounds per year.”

As well as setting up individual payment plans with creditors, the couple also made the most of money-saving apps like Freecycle, stuck to a cost-effective meal plan and sold old belongings. Their frugal lifestyle adjustments meant that they managed to become debt free in just four years.

Ricky, 42, and Naomi, 37, set up the Skint Dad blog in 2013 to help other people get their finances back on track. Now their money-saving tips are helping hundreds of thousands of followers as living costs skyrockets this year.

Naomi said: “It’s going to be a really tough year for a lot of households. For some people it might seem impossible to weather the storm ahead - Ricky and I felt the same once - but there are easy things you can do to ease the pressure.”

Joanna Carman, Director at Plusnet, said: “With the cost of living going up, finding simple, good value deals that best suit you could be one way to take control of your finances. Our research shows that people often regret spending money on products and services, but simple tricks to shop sensibly and avoid complicated offers can hugely help.”

Skint Dad’s full money saving tips that could save you thousands of pounds a year, can be found here: https://skintdad.co.uk/best-money-tips/.

12 tips to help overcome the cost-of-living rise

Cut energy costs

Being smarter with how you use energy can cut your consumption and energy bills. Even simple things can save money: block up any drafts from doors, windows and even an unused chimney, adjust radiator thermostats down in rooms you don’t use as much, and turn off all appliances and lights when they’re not in use.

Choose the right broadband

Make sure you’re not stuck with a broadband provider where you pay for more than what you need. Plusnet offers a reliable product range without all the bells and whistles from £18.95 a month.

There are many providers that offer unnecessary add ons that cost you more money, but switching providers doesn’t take long and can save you a small fortune in the long run.

Get cashback

When shopping online, be sure to get cashback on your everyday spending. Use sites like TopCashback or Quidco to get money back on your spending. You can also double your cashback by using apps like Airtime Rewards.

Tackle any debts

If you are struggling to keep on top of debt repayments, there is support to help you get back on track with your finances. Contact StepChange Debt Charity or National Debtline for free and impartial debt advice.

Check your bank account regularly

It’s easy to sign up to different services and if the amounts you spend are small, you may not realise you’re still paying. Log on to your bank account and check for all direct debits and standing orders from the last few months and cut back on what you don’t need.

TV subscriptions

Many people have ditched traditional TV and swapped to online streaming services. The trouble is, when you have a few, the costs add up fast and you’re paying just as much as you were before. Do you watch many of the series or films on every service? If not, cancel and save.

Save on fuel

You can check for prices of fuel stations online before you fill up, which can save you on the cost of each litre. Many fuel stations also have loyalty schemes where you save up points to get money off future purchases.

Meal plan

Planning out weekly meals for your family will reduce the money you spend at the supermarket and will lower food waste.

Use a slow cooker

Use of a slow cooker, which makes cheaper cuts of meat taste delicious and tender, plus it uses less energy than an oven.

Claim all tax benefits

Use a site like Turn2us to check that you are claiming all the benefits available to you. You might also be able to claim tax relief if you’re working from home or get tax relief on things like uniforms or tools for work.

  Select the right mobile phone provider

It’s easy to get trapped in an expensive deal with a mobile phone provider with the number of options out there. You will genuinely get better value for money when you buy a separate handset and SIM only deal, avoiding a lot of unnecessary costs.

Plusnet offers a SIM only contract with unlimited minutes and texts for just £7 a month and you can even keep the same number as before.

Consider a side hustle

A lot of families are already squeezed and doing everything to live below their means, so bringing in extra income could be worth looking into. From online tutoring to party planning to ridesharing, finding something on the side that interests you could be a great way to make cash


About Plusnet:

Plusnet was born in 1997 with a simple plan – to think and act differently from other communications providers and save consumers and businesses money. That's not changed since the day we launched; almost 25 years later we're still providing great value phone, broadband and mobile services nationwide, from our HQ in Yorkshire. 

We pride ourselves on keeping things simple, giving great value broadband and offering the best customer service out there. And we’ve got a stack of awards to prove it as we were recently awarded ‘Best Broadband Provider’, ‘Best Value Provider’, ‘Best Customer Care’ at the Broadband Genie Awards 2019. We've also won ‘Best Value Pay Monthly’ at Uswitch’s Broadband and Mobile Awards 2020 and ‘Best Provider Customer Service’ for a staggering seven years in a row in. It’s an award voted for by the public, which makes us feel extra proud 

For more information visit: http://www.plus.net