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Living with a smaller income

With energy and food costs rising considerably faster than average incomes, most of us are having to find ways of coping with smaller household budgets.

See below for ideas and information that may help.

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For families with children

Tackling debt

Don’t let worries about debt dominate your life. There are steps you can take to get better control of your finances. We can help you do this.


  • Travel by bus when you can. Remember that if you are under 22 or over 60 you can travel by bus for free all over Scotland.
  • If you own a car, try to share journeys so that you can split the cost.
  • When buying fuel for your car, remember that fuel prices vary quite a bit from one petrol station to another. Know your local area and, if you are comfortable using phone apps, download one which identifies the cheapest outlets for you (there are a few to choose from).
  • Do more short journeys by bike or on foot. If you don’t have a bike you could look into whether your work offers a cycle to work scheme which allows you to save at least 25% on the cost of a bike or e-bike.

Energy usage

Refer to our higher energy costs page for ideas on reducing costs and usage.

Leisure for less

Time away from work and household tasks can be a chance to unwind and enjoy life. This is less easy for the cash strapped amongst us. But there are things you can do that cost less or nothing at all.

  • Make a flask and meet up with friends in the local park.
  • If it’s wet or you’d rather be somewhere cosier, visit one of our libraries or community drop-in points. Arrange to meet a friend or just take a good book. Many of these facilities offer free tea and coffee over the winter so you won’t even need your flask.
  • Visit one of our tourist attractions – many are free.
  • Make use of our network of leisure centres. Children aged 11-15 years can become an active NL member for free and all residents aged 60 and over can become a member for £50 per year.

Financial assistance

As well as the energy bills support scheme which provides all eligible householders with £400 towards the cost of electricity this winter, there are several additional funds that pensioners and people on lower incomes / benefits may be entitled to. Check our crisis support page for details.

Check your entitlements and get the best from your household budget

If you need additional help or are concerned that you are not receiving everything you are entitled to, try using our budgeting tool or benefit checker.

Alternatively, contact our Tackling Poverty team who can help you to make sure you are getting all the support available to you. Email or call 01698 332551.

Other useful pages

Page last updated:
15 Nov 2022

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