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5 ways to cut household outgoings and beat increasing living costs in the UK

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Woman shopping in a charity shop
Sales in charity shops are 22% higher than pre-pandemic due to cost of living crisis in the UK

UK households are failing to make ends meet in 2022, and by quite a lot.

With the constant increase in utility bills – including record energy costs rising by 54% since last April – and groceries and basic items costing more every time you step into a supermarket, the gap between earnings and money needed to cover essentials including rent is widening, according to recent data from the Asda Income Tracker collated by the Centre for Business and Economic Research (Cber).

And because of the soaring living costs, up 11% year-on-year, the pockets of those living in the UK are emptier than ever: there has been an 18% drop in average household disposable income of £175.80 a month.

Research shows that now a fifth of UK households have an average shortfall of £60 a week between what they earn and what they need to cover essentials such as food and transport. It is the lowest amount of spare cash Britons have had in almost five years as, across the country, the average household disposable income has fallen for eight consecutive months to a level not seen since December 2017, leading customers to resort to creative methods.

Here we hear from five seasoned UK households, as they share how they are fighting a shortage of money and escalating bills, one saving hack at a time.

 

Renegotiate old contracts

“One thing that’s always worked well for me is speaking to the cancellations team, be it your broadband, car insurance, mobile phone, or anything else. Especially when you’ve been with your current company for many years, they usually have some negotiation power. I did this recently with my mobile phone and got it reduced by over 40% for both myself and my wife. My parents also did the same with their Sky TV.”

Ravi Davda – CEO at Rockstar Marketing

 

Get new clothes from charity shops

“As a freelancer with three children living and working in Bridgwater, Somerset, I do whatever I can to reduce our household bills. I recently switched our energy supplier from Shell to Utility Warehouse. This should save us around £30 a month. I also no longer buy new clothes from stores. When in need of a few new tops I get them from charity shops as I noticed that many national high-street charity shops get brand new unworn clothing in from high street brands such as Marks and Spencer. Instead of paying £10-£20 for a fashionable t-shirt, I can grab one for around £3, instead.”

Helen Garfield – E-commerce Marketing & Social Media Manager at The Creatives Desk

 

Your phone is draining money

Some people are dead set on having the latest Android or iPhone models, but you are paying through the nose when you get a new phone through a big network and this can really make a big dent in your bills when you have two adults and a couple of young adults or teenagers around the house.
You will save over the long term if you just buy a phone outright yourself, and there are usually options to buy interest-free if you shop around.

You can also save by using sim-only or pay-as-you-go mobile phone deals over more expensive contracts that include the latest phone models.

Chris McDonald – Nutritionist at Home Office Gym

 

Ask for a discount

“Be brave enough to ask for a discount in any setting. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. This was drummed into me as a teenager when my mum would ask the very attractive and similarly aged (to me) sales assistant for discounts on our sports shoes or clothing. If I can be mortally embarrassed as a teenager, asking for a discount as an adult is easy.
Taking this into today’s world, I ask for discount codes from the live chat on sites I buy from, or in person when in a store.”

Connor McAuley – Blogger at Foundered

 

Stop buying ready meals

“One simple way to reduce your spending is to start cooking more meals from scratch. This can be much cheaper than buying ready-made or processed foods, and it’s often healthier too. So, if you’re looking to save money, these are just a few simple tips that can help you lower your household expenditure.

Luke Lee – Founder and Designer at Ever Wallpaper

Marcio Delgado is a Journalist, Producer and Influencer Marketing Manager working with brands and publications in Europe, America and Asia.

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Cannes opens with French comedy and honorary award for Meryl Streep

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Actress Juliette Binoche hands an award to Meryl Steep
Meryl Streep receives a honorary Palme D’Or from Juliette Binoche | Photo: Andrea Rentz

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival officially opened last night with Quentin Dupieux’s Le Deuxième Acte (The Second Act), and an honorary Palme d’Or awarded to American actress Meryl Streep.

Presented Out of Competition as a world premiere on the Croisette last night, May 14, this four-part comedy was also released in all French cinemas on the same day. The film stars Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel and Raphaël Quenard playing squabbling actors filming a movie produced and directed by artificial intelligence.

The opening ceremony of the 77th Festival de Cannes, hosted at the  Grand Théâtre Lumière, also had American actress Meryl Streep as a guest of honour.

Streep received the Festival’s Honorary Palme d’or, 35 years after winning the Best Actress award for Evil Angels, her only appearance in Cannes until last night.

“My mother, who is usually right about everything, said to me: ’Meryl, my darling, you’ll see. It all goes so fast. So fast,″ added Streep. “And it has, and it does. Except for my speech, which is too long,” said the three time Oscar award-winning actress.

Last year French Film director Justine Triet won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or for her murder mystery film “Anatomy of a Fall” becoming the third female filmmaker ever to win the prize, which was first awarded in 1955. 

The 77th Cannes Film Festival is set to run until May 25th, when the Palme d’Or winners will be revealed, 2024.

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films
The Science Behind Pixar can be seen at CaixaForum Madrid until 8 September.

CaixaForum Madrid is currently hosting The Science Behind Pixar exhibition, created by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios. The exhibition is divided into eight sections, corresponding to the steps in the process Pixar uses to transform an idea into a film. With specific examples from some of their most famous films, the public will be able to experiment with the techniques behind the modelling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting and rendering of animated films.

This is the third collaboration between the ”la Caixa” Foundation and Pixar Studios. In 2015, Pixar: 25 Years of Animation, represented a thorough review of this pioneering company’s work in computer animation in its 25 years of history. Subsequently, Pixar, Building Characters (which has travelled to five CaixaForums since 2020) focused on the visual design of the Pixar characters to best transmit the story and fit in with the other elements of the film. Now, the eight sections of The Science Behind Pixar will give visitors an insight into every stage of the technical process used by Pixar’s artists and computer scientists

The aim of the new exhibition is to peel away, layer by layer and in a way that is attractive for all audiences, the scientific, computer and mathematical concepts that lie behind our favourite Pixar characters. To do this, the exhibition is organised into eight sections, each of which explains in depth one specific step of Pixar’s technical process: Modelling, which allows characters to be created in 3D; Rigging, in which the virtual bones, muscles and joints are developed; design of Surfaces and Sets; Animation, which brings the story to life; Simulation, which provides automated movements; Lighting, which enhances the emotional impact, and Rendering, which turns 3D scenes into 2D images.

Throughout 815 square metres in CaixaForum Madrid, visitors will learn about all these steps that Pixar pays passionate attention to in order to bring its worlds and characters to life. Dozens of interactive and audiovisual elements will reveal what is hidden behind Pixar films, from the first-ever computer-animated feature film – Toy Story – which opened over two decades ago, to the release of Turning Red.

To better understand the science and maths that go into creating the worlds and characters of Pixar’s films, visitors will see audiovisuals and hear first-hand from members of the studios’ production teams. They will also be invited to experience different roles within the production pipeline, through screen-based activities and physical interactive elements.

In the Sets & Cameras section, for example, visitors will discover how camera placement and angles created a bug’s-eye view for A Bug’s Life; in Modelling, they will try their hand at creating a digital sculpture from an artist’s sketch and in Lighting they will use lights to solve challenges similar to ones Pixar faced in creating underwater scenes with virtual light in Finding Nemo. The exhibition route also includes human-size recreations of many Pixar film characters, such as Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), Dory (Finding Nemo), Mike and Sulley (Monsters, Inc.), Edna Mode (The Incredibles) and WALL·E (from the film of the same name).

Throughout the months that the exhibition will remain at CaixaForum Madrid, the ”la Caixa” Foundation will be offering various activities to bring the art and science of Pixar closer to all audiences. In addition, the general public can take a guided tour and families can choose between the family tour and the animated stories workshop-tour, where visitors can make a short, animated clip to understand all the phases of the creative process after visiting the exhibition.

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Switzerland wins Eurovision song contest with non-binary singer

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Non-binary singer Nemo, winner of the Eurovision 2024
Singer Nemo performed ‘The Code’ for Switzerland | Photo: Alma Bengtsson

After the very last set of scores had come in, The Code, performed by rapper Neno, was announced as the clear champion of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 with a points tally of 591 and a lead of 44 points. 

Croatia finished in second place with Rim Tim Tagi Dim by Baby Lasagna on 547 points. The other spot on the podium finish went to Ukraine, ending up in third place thanks to alyona alyona & Jerry Heil with their song Teresa & Maria, on 453 points.

Scores on the night were awarded in two stages, as is traditional at the Eurovision Song Contest. The first results to come in were from the juries, followed by the reveal of the public vote.

Once the initial points from 37 juries had come in, Switzerland already had secured the lead on the scoreboard with 365 points.

Nemo is the first nonbinary artist to win Eurovision.

“I’m mostly just really grateful for this experience and all the friends I’ve made along the way. This was one of the most queer representations we’ve seen at Eurovision which was amazing, I want to shout out all the other queer artists this year,” said the artist who was born in Biel, a small bilingual town in Switzerland.

Nemo’s triumph in Malmö is Switzerland’s third win at the Eurovision Song Contest to date, following victory by Lys Assia in 1956 and Céline Dion in 1988.

Switzerland first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, winning the very first edition of the competition, which it also hosted. 

It has been a controversial year for the song contest festival launched in 1956. For weeks, the question of whether Israel should be allowed to compete or not while engaged in a military conflict in Gaza dominated the media surrounding the event and attracted pro-Palestine activists to the Swedish city of Malmö. Eden Golan, a 20-year old singer representing Israel, was booed during a dress rehearsal; It has been reported that she was confined to her hotel room, while in Malmo to perform at Eurovision, after a series of threats against the Israeli delegation. Hours before the grand final, on May 11th, Dutch rapper Joost Klein, who represented the Netherlands, was disqualified from Eurovision 2024 over what the organisers described as an “incident” involving a female member of the production crew.

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