Ricky and Naomi Willis, from Hull, were living on less than 1 pound a day after both losing their jobs within months. They struggled to afford groceries after racking up debt on payday loans and credit cards. Now they want to help others.
Their problems began when Ricky lost his job as a machine operator at a printing shop and Naomi lost her insurance job the following year.
With no money coming in, they quickly amassed £43,000 in payday loans, credit card and catalog debt.
Things came to a head when her car and fridge freezer broke down in the same week, wiping out her remaining savings and adding to her debt.
Ricky says, “We knew the paybacks would eat up everything, but we had no choice. It just kept spinning from there.”
The family of four hit rock bottom when Ricky realized they were living on less than 1 pound a day. “We made a list and feeding our two daughters Daniella and Chloe was the best, then diapers as Chloe was a baby. Food came third.”
Ricky, now 42, went to bed that night crying. “I felt like I had let my family down.”
Ricky and Naomi, 37, began their journey back to solvency by ruthlessly scouring their bank statements to cut back on all non-essential expenses.
New research from low-cost broadband provider Plusnet shows the average household is paying £299 more a year than odds on their mortgage, £222 on fuel bills, £156 on broadband and £132 on TV packages.
They also spend £162 on car insurance and £84 on pet insurance when cheaper alternatives were available.
Naomi says, “We made sure we didn’t spend a penny on products or services that we don’t absolutely need. This has saved us thousands of pounds a year.”
They created custom payment plans with creditors, used savings apps like Freecycle, sold belongings, and stuck to cheap meal plans. Thanks to their frugal lifestyle, they became debt-free in just four years.
Ricky and Naomi, set this up skin dad Blog in 2013 to help other people get their finances back on track. Now her money-saving tips are helping hundreds of thousands of followers as the cost of living soars.
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Naomi said: “It’s going to be a really tough year for a lot of households. Weathering the storm may seem impossible, but there are things you can do to take the pressure off.”
Here are her top 12 money-saving tips.
Be energy conscious. Even simple measures can save money. Block drafts from doors, windows and even unused chimneys, lower radiator thermostats in unused rooms and turn off appliances and lights when not in use.
Choose the right broadband provider. “We pay £18.95 a month with Plusnet, no frills,” says Ricky.
Get cashback when shopping online. Use sites like TopCashback or Quidco. With Airtime Rewards you can double your cashback.
Check your bank account regularly. Check direct debits and standing orders and cut what you don’t need.
Beware of TV subscriptions. The costs add up quickly. “Do you watch many of the series or movies on each service? If not, quit and save,” says Ricky.
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save fuel. Before you fill up, find out about gas station prices online or use loyalty programs.
meal plan. When you plan weekly meals for your family, you reduce the money you spend at the grocery store and decrease food waste.
Use a slow cooker. This makes cheaper cuts of meat tasty and tender and uses less energy than an oven.
Claim all tax benefits. website Turn2us.org.uk you can check if you are taking advantage of all government benefits that are available to you.
Choose the right mobile operator. You pay just £7 a month for a SIM-only plan and often keep your old number.
Consider a side hustle. From online tutoring to party planning to ridesharing, this could be a great way to make some extra money.
Deal with all debts. Contact StepChange Debt Charity or National Debtline for free and impartial debt advice.
Joanna Carman, director at Plusnet, said: “Simple tricks to shop sensibly and avoid complicated offers can be of great help at times like these.”