Empowering the Freelance Economy

Why freelancers must prepare for more bad news

Freelanxers that keep on top of financial developments will be better prepared/ Photo by Daniel Friday Danzor
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British food prices are up 30% since Brexit, according to an LSE report. We highlight the other costs likely to rise this year along with cost-saving tips

Researchers at the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE have found that the cost of Brexit to each household now stands at £250 when only considering the impacts on food since December 2019. This aggregates up to £6.95 billion overall for UK households.

Between December 2019 and March 2023 food prices rose by almost 25 percentage points. This analysis suggests that in the absence of Brexit this figure would be 8 percentage points (30%) lower.

That means costs are going up, not down.

Tessa Clarke, co-founder of Olio is on a mission to curb global food waste

How to make your food bill stretch

Here are some tips to avoid food waste, which can happen for a variety of reasons.

Things to also consider:

  • For example, would you waste less food if you just shopped for what you needed on a daily basis rather than a big shop once a week?
  • Do family members often make last-minute plans and you end up with extra food? To avoid this make family meal nights a ritual and if anyone does make other plans, they should be conscious that they can have what is leftover the next day.
  • One-pot meals can often be less expensive since they can use extras or things close to their sell-by date, such as vegetables, off-cuts of meat, cheeses, creams, etc. One-pot dishes can also save on cleaning up. Here are some recipe ideas.
  • Make food that can be easily preserved to eat the next day for lunch or frozen if you have extra so you have another meal for one or two in the future for those days you need something fast.
  • Anything you know once opened could go off in less than 3 days should be placed on a special shelf in the fridge so you are more aware of it. Or you can think of a meal or dessert you could use it in and make later that day. Otherwise, freeze if possible so you can use it.
  • Choose frozen over fresh veg if you are prone to throwing out unused veg
  • Keep a little bit of extra sauce for second-day pasta as it usually gets dry after being in the fridge overnight.
  • Sign up for alerts about free surplus food in your area, such as Olio

How much could you save by growing your own veg at home?

Price comparison and personal finance site Which? says to be mindful to plant fruit and veg that your family will actually eat to avoid waste. Try a few things in containers that don’t take up a lot of space if that is a concern. Some will do well inside if in a sunny position and watered according to the plant care directions.

Here’s a Guide that Which? has published that shows just how much you can save on certain things, sometimes as much as £12 per kilo in savings!

Mortgage and renting costs set to rise again: plan for more budgeting

Meanwhile, on top of rising food prices data provider Moneyfacts said the average two-year fix had reached 6pc – adding around £1,000 a year to a typical borrower’s bill.

A Telegraph report said that although some British lenders allow customers to fix their mortgage for ten years or more, the rates charged are “typically higher” and the products are not widely used, accounting for only 1.5pc of the market before 2022 according to software company Twenty7Tec.

Is a short-term interest-only mortgage the best option?

In a separate Telegraph report, Ben Merritt, director of mortgages at Yorkshire Building Society, said he has seen an increase in customers opting for interest-only payments.

He said: “The target market has changed from what it was pre-financial crisis. It was once used to decrease payments and increase borrowing power. Now, you need a plausible repayment plan in place.”

Graham Cox, Director & CeMAP Mortgage Advisor suggests that interest-only mortgages can be a “great option for self-employed borrowers and are still widely available.”

However, he warns that while they offer the benefit of cheaper monthly payments, they carry more risk for applicants and lenders alike. “For that reason, eligibility criteria are stricter than for the equivalent capital repayment mortgage,” he says.

Rent devours highest proportion of income in a decade

If rent is going up, so too must your rates. Here are some hard facts by how much.

  • Rent is up 10.4% in a year – the 5th month of double-digit growth. 53% of tenants say their rent has risen in the past six months (Hargreaves Lansdown).
  • Renters spend 28% of their income putting a roof over their head – the highest in ten years.
  • The availability of property is down a third from the five-year average.

Block in work in advance for the next 6 months

With rising mortgage costs, better budget planning will be required of most households, especially those of freelancers who have sporadic pay. Scheduling or blocking work months in advance with clients is a safer way to handle your finances, you just need to do the extra legwork to land the work.

Keep track of spending on a weekly basis

Most bank accounts have online or app facilities that allow you to see your incomings and outgoings for the month. If you set a budget for essentials you can see at the end of the week or month where you are on track and where you are losing more money than planned. With that information, you can swiftly change bad habits.

Budgeting can also highlight where you are coming up short and need to increase your earnings. It may mean taking more ongoing work for clients or working holidays whereby you still get away but get up early or work late at night to fit in the odd project or assignment.

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