As the Extra Costs Commission has today published the findings of a year-long independent inquiry into the extra costs of disability, along with recommendations to drive costs down, members of the charity Scope's online community share their own MoneySaving tips. We'll let Jen Urwin, Scope's community and social media officer, take it from here.
Life costs more if you're disabled – that's a fact. Research by Scope shows that on average, disabled people spend an extra £550 a month on living costs.
When the Extra Costs Commission launched last summer, MoneySavingExpert.com called on readers to tell [Scope] their stories, and issues reported ranged from higher transport bills to expensive specialist equipment. The findings from today's report back this up.
So we asked our online community of disabled people and their families to tell us their savvy tips and life hacks for getting around some of these extra costs. Here are some of the suggestions they made:
- Plan meals in advance. "When I'm well enough to make a meal, or have somebody round who can do so, I always make extra and pop some in single-serving pots to freeze. That way, I can have an easy home-cooked meal on days I can't manage anything more than the microwave."
- Get a cheap grip. "Sponge hair rollers are a fantastic and cheap way to help improve grip on tricky objects. Just slot the sponge hair roller through a fork, toothbrush, etc." Another suggestion is: "The cheapest and best piece of equipment I have is my "Harry Potter wand". It's a long stick with good blob of Blu Tack on the end, which I use for everything from picking up pills or dropped bottle tops, to tapping the barometer."
- Buy gardening mats to protect your knees. Use kneeling mats from Wilko, etc., or other cheap gardening mats to protect knees. Keep in the bathroom and anywhere you find you are on your knees. It's cheaper than specialist equipment."
- Don't necessarily pay more for specialist shoes. "Skate shoes (like DC or Etnies) are brilliant for going over splints as they go nice and wide. I've found that I don't always need to go a size larger with them, which was handy when I was only wearing one splint (I now wear two). I used an insole in the shoe without the splint to make sure the shoe fit better, and it gave my foot a bit more support too, which is never a bad thing."
- Don't let your phone bill leave you short. "I have just put a block on my mobile phone so I do not go over my monthly allowance. This saves me quite a bit each month, particularly on those texts you don't realise are being sent as picture messages."
- Use 'free' voice control on mobiles. "I have cerebral palsy and a fab free thing that I have just recently started to use a lot more is the Siri function on my iPhone. It's really useful when my hands get tired." [MSE note: Siri and similar services connect to the internet, so 'free' applies to wi-fi use; watch for mobile data bills when out and about.]
- Seek cheapest tariffs plus discounts. "I regularly check my household bills on comparison sites and change provider at least once a year. New customers tend to get the best deals, although it's always worth ringing your current provider with a cheaper deal you have found, and sometimes, if you threaten leaving, it will match it or sometimes find a better deal. If you're claiming benefits, also ask if it has a social tariff, and don't forget to claim your Warm Home Discount – £140 credit added to your electricity bill."
- Use charity shops and markets. "I never turn my nose up at second-hand goods (except for shoes, socks and underwear). Charity shops and eBay are a great source of second-hand bargains."
- Reuse and recycle. "My mum grew up in the war, so she's of that generation that never wastes anything. Recently she's been making waterproof pillow protectors out of an old shower curtain."
- Sell unwanted stuff. "A great way I've found to make money is to sell stuff that's lying around unwanted at home. Put stuff on eBay or organise a car boot sale with friends and family. You can even sell things in an online car boot sale. Sell unwanted gadgets online or in local shops." [MSE note: See our Boost Your Income guide for help.]
- Start saving for Christmas. "I put a bit of money aside each month for Christmas. That way, it doesn't leave me in debt in January."