Unpaid carers face bleak financial future

Unpaid carers face bleak financial future paying care costs on top of tens of hours of care every week says Carers UK

New research released today by Carers UK, the leading membership charity for people caring unpaid for family and friends, shows unpaid carers are “bankrupting their future to pay for the present”.

As well as providing significant levels of care themselves, more than two thirds (68%) of carers are also using their own income or savings to cover the cost of care, equipment or products for the person they care for. As a result many are struggling financially and unable to save for their own retirement.

Unpaid Carer

A survey of over 7,500 people currently caring unpaid for family or friends, the majority of whom provide well over 50 hours of care every week, reveals the huge personal and financial cost of caring for a loved one, with two in five carers (39%) saying they are struggling to make ends meet. Those who take on caring responsibilities often struggle to juggle a job as well, with many reducing hours, turning down promotions or leaving work altogether.

The financial pressure on carers is having a knock on effect on their futures, with more than half (53%) of all carers unable to save for retirement.

Those struggling to make ends meet are the hardest hit as carers with little money to spare are forking out hundreds of pounds to cover the costs of essentials like nutritional supplements, bed pads and mobility equipment.

The vast majority (78%) of carers who report they struggle financially are paying towards the cost of care services or equipment for the person they support. For those on a low income or receiving Carer’s Allowance – the benefit for people caring for more than 35 hours a week and just £66.15 per week – it is a never ending struggle to make ends meet. Three quarters (73%) of this group are unable to save for retirement.

On top of the huge personal cost of care, crucial support is being cut with one in eight carers (12%) reporting that they or their loved one received less care or support in the previous year, as a result of reduced support from social services.

The survey findings paint a worrying picture of carers under immense financial, physical and mental strain and an underfunded social care system that is taking its toll on families.

  Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“This is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, with carers already providing high levels of support left short-changed as they use money for their retirement trying to cover the care costs of their loved one today.

“As it stands, providing unpaid care is pushing thousands of families into poverty and is having a lasting impact on their finances and quality of life.

“Our current social care system is on the brink. Families urgently need affordable, high quality care services and carers need access to regular breaks and stronger workplace rights to ensure they can combine work and care if they wish to.

“The leadership candidates cannot afford to ignore this burning issue affecting millions across the country and must commit to funding and delivering a reformed system that has families at its heart.”

Carers UK is urging the government to urgently put in place the financial and practical support that carers need, both in the short term and over the longer term, to ensure the sustainability of the health and social care system.

Source: Carers UK

How to save money on groceries

Grocery shopping can be costly and challenging if you don’t plan it in advance. With prices seeming increasing by the moment, it can be difficult to stick to your food budget. To help, here are some tips on how to save money on groceries.
Prepare a meal plan for the whole week
A good way to save money and avoid impulse buying is to prepare a weekly meal plan and write your grocery list accordingly. You can even go one money-saving step further and make your meal plan around grocery stores’ weekly discounts.

However, do not forget to take a look at what you already have in the fridge and freezer before preparing your menu for the week. That way, you can use up these remaining ingredients before they go bad and you have to throw that hard-earned money straight into the garbage.

 Become a flexitarian
Also, consider including more vegetarian meals than meat, and follow a flexitarian diet. Cutting back on meat and swapping it for plant-based protein is an easy way to drastically lower the grocery bill. Meat is much more expensive than a block of tofu or a can of beans. Plus, you’ll be getting more healthy fiber and less unhealthy saturated fat into you.
Choose local brands
If you don’t want to spend a large amount of your money at the grocery store, purchase locally produced products. These are more often than not as good as, and may even be healthier than, well-known national brands. Besides, in most cases, well-known brands just repack local brand products under their name. This means that you really are just paying for the label, which makes these goods 20-30% more expensive than local brands as a result.
Choose seasonal fruit & vegetables
Fruit and vegetables can be very expensive, depending on the season. When produce is out of season, it costs more because it has to be grown and flown to you from overseas countries. When produce is in season, there is an abundance of produce that is locally available. Because it costs less to transport it to the supermarket, it costs less for you to buy!
Buy frozen fruit & vegetables out of season
If you don’t want to deprive yourself of your favorite food, the solution is to buy them frozen. Frozen products are often cheaper than fresh, non-seasonal foods. This is because it doesn’t have to be transported as quickly because it doesn’t go bad as fast. Also, don’t worry that frozen produce might not be as good for you as fresh. Studies have shown that frozen food loses little to no nutrients compared to fresh.
Grow your own items
You can’t get fresher and cheaper than growing your own produce. However, not everyone has a large garden that they can grow a variety of crops, let alone have the time. But such a large space is not necessary. You can save money by growing fresh herbs in your kitchen: all you need is a pot, some soil, and a sunny space to put them. You can even make use of limited outdoor space by growing tomatoes in a pot on your balcony. They’re low maintenance and are as rewarding to grow as they are tasty!
Avoid food that has been cut, peeled or grated for you
Rather than buying sliced carrots, or fruit that is already cut, opt for whole vegetables and fruit that you can prepare yourself. The same goes for grated cheese: are you really so pressed for time that you need to spend extra money instead of grating it yourself? Not to mention, food that has been cut or prepared loses its nutrients quicker. So, not only is it more expensive, it’s also not as healthy for you. Doing some simple preparation at home is a very easy way to save those much-needed pennies.
Take cash to a grocery store and leave bank cards at home
A great way to help you stick to your budget is to only bring cash with you to the supermarket. You can’t buy anything extra if you physically don’t have the means to pay for it!
Use a shopping list or a shopping list app
One of the most effective ways to save money at the grocery store is to make and use a grocery list. Why? Because it can help you doggedly stick to only what’s on your list.

If you’re more technologically minded, you might want to consider using a shopping list app. It’s as effective as a hand-written list, but has smart features that make it even more useful. Such features include sharing so you can work with someone to build a list. This can also prevent whoever you’re sharing the list with buying duplicate items. Some also have a price and budgeting tool which can help you plan the cost of your groceries and give you more control over your budget.
Avoid distractions and temptations
If you have children, try not to take them with you. They can be a distraction and can be very insistent when they want something, causing you to buy extra unplanned items. If you have to take them with you, be clear and tell them you are buying only the products that are on the shopping list. Why not involve your children by making shopping a game and having them find products for you? This will keep them from getting bored and tempted by their favorite candy.

Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach can also distract you. Not only are you more likely to fill your basket with food that you don’t need, studies have also shown that hunger makes you more impulsive and contributes to bad decisions making.

Also, avoid going down aisles that you don’t need. By avoiding them, you simply won’t get tempted by what’s in them. This is especially true for aisles filled with chocolate, candy, and cake.
Join your store’s loyalty program
If your grocery store has a loyalty program, why not join it? You may be eligible for discounts or even free items, which can help you save even more.