Great 'what do you pay more for if you're poor?' Hunt

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  • Jacks_xxx
    Jacks_xxx Posts: 3,874 Forumite
    Not being able to afford to put in central heating and boiler often means that poorer families have to rely on an immersion heater, boiling kettles and an assortment of plug in electric heaters that make the meter spin so fast you can't see it!

    If you can't afford an internet connection and home computer to go paperless, can't have direct debits on your bank account, or money is too tight for the lack of control inherent in monthly direct debits then you'll pay more for everything.

    The high cost of public transport has a knock on effect on so many things.

    One example is the cheaper school uniform deals.

    If it costs £20 to get your children and teenagers onto a bus to the out of town supermarket where the heavily advertised deals are then how much are you really saving? If items are out of stock you can't afford to keep going back.

    Those deals never fit my long legged, long armed kids either so the bus fare for 3 or 4 people might be entirely wasted money - on top of buying the uniform at full going rate elsewhere, plus another set of bus fares to get to another school uniform supplier.

    I'm glad that the MSE team is doing this kind of work, there is a lot of complacency and ignorance out there about what life is like on a low income.
    Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Einstein
  • glider3560
    glider3560 Posts: 4,115 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    kymie wrote: »
    We are a working family, but we are barely keeping our heads above water. We dont drink, dont smoke, and dont have days/nights out, kids dont have any paid for after school clubs (luckily the schools have their own free clubs for them to go to once a week) and we dont have regular holidays (last holiday was 2007). I think some people see poverty as those not working and on full benefits, but actually I think its the low income families who suffer more. I havent had a new pair of glasses for 5 years (even though I now desperately need them). Also I have been poorly for a few weeks now but cant afford to get a prescription (and cant get over the counter as Im still feeding my youngest). Both those examples are usually free if you are on benefits. Also school trips! I know the schools try hard for the children these days but if you have more than one or two children at school the trips you are expected to pay for can be crippling, and if you are seen to be a working family you are not offered help! I also agree with all the posts mentioned above.
    If your income is below a certain level you can get free prescriptions and glasses by filling out an HC1 form under the NHS Low Income Scheme: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/Illorinjured/DG_10018978
  • Prescriptions cost a fortune if you can't afford to buy a pre-payment. As a student I couldn't afford a prepayment as I was paying out up to £60 a month for prescriptions so couldn't afford to save up for the pre-payment but myself and my partner were earning too much between us to qualify for any help. Fortunately this is no longer the case for me but I know other people who are in the same boat as I was and it's frustrating.
  • In addition to the comments already made about gas and electricity on prepayment meters - we've had them for several years and have paid off the debts my ex left me to pay when he moved out.

    Recently I looked into how much I might be able to save if I was paying for gas and electricity by direct debit and was amazed to find that I could be able to save over £300 a year by getting rid of the prepayment meters and then switching provider.

    I contacted my current provider to enquire about switching to credit meters and was told that I would have to pay £52 for each meter to be changed over (providing I passed the credit check). There's no way I can afford to pay over £100 up front to do this so it looks like I'm stuck with having to pay more at the moment :(

    sofa_bean
  • glider3560
    glider3560 Posts: 4,115 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    sofa_bean wrote: »
    In addition to the comments already made about gas and electricity on prepayment meters - we've had them for several years and have paid off the debts my ex left me to pay when he moved out.

    Recently I looked into how much I might be able to save if I was paying for gas and electricity by direct debit and was amazed to find that I could be able to save over £300 a year by getting rid of the prepayment meters and then switching provider.

    I contacted my current provider to enquire about switching to credit meters and was told that I would have to pay £52 for each meter to be changed over (providing I passed the credit check). There's no way I can afford to pay over £100 up front to do this so it looks like I'm stuck with having to pay more at the moment :(

    sofa_bean
    Some providers will switch to a credit meter free. If you can find one who does this (search the Gas & Electric forum), then switch your prepayment meter to them then ask to change to credit meter. You can then switch supplier to whoever you want. A slightly complex approach but still cheaper than £100!
  • avinabacca
    avinabacca Posts: 1,062 Forumite
    kymie wrote: »
    We are a working family, but we are barely keeping our heads above water. We dont drink, dont smoke, and dont have days/nights out, kids dont have any paid for after school clubs (luckily the schools have their own free clubs for them to go to once a week) and we dont have regular holidays (last holiday was 2007). I think some people see poverty as those not working and on full benefits, but actually I think its the low income families who suffer more. I havent had a new pair of glasses for 5 years (even though I now desperately need them). Also I have been poorly for a few weeks now but cant afford to get a prescription (and cant get over the counter as Im still feeding my youngest). Both those examples are usually free if you are on benefits. Also school trips! I know the schools try hard for the children these days but if you have more than one or two children at school the trips you are expected to pay for can be crippling, and if you are seen to be a working family you are not offered help! I also agree with all the posts mentioned above.

    Fair enough - why don't you jack work in then, and go on the social?
    Oh come on, don't be silly.

    It's the internet
    - it's not real!

  • Rebob
    Rebob Posts: 1,010 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker Mortgage-free Glee!
    Alex30 wrote: »
    Prescriptions cost a fortune if you can't afford to buy a pre-payment. As a student I couldn't afford a prepayment as I was paying out up to £60 a month for prescriptions so couldn't afford to save up for the pre-payment but myself and my partner were earning too much between us to qualify for any help. Fortunately this is no longer the case for me but I know other people who are in the same boat as I was and it's frustrating.

    If you get a reciept when getting the perscription you can then claim the cost back when getting the pre payment certificate.
    The best bargains are priceless!!!!!!!!!! :T :T :T
  • It's not easy, but there are ways to get round some of the problems given above:
    elbeie wrote: »
    Anything from the supermarket. There is no way that you can afford to bulk buy and take advantage of big-buy-bargains.
    Get together with friends. Work out what you buy in common, and then bulk-buy and split. You could save more money by getting one person to do the shopping and then chip in for petrol costs.
    Car and House insurance - as far as my experience is aware these are the only organisations who penalise you and add a charge for paying monthly.
    As you say, it's difficult, but the only way round this is to put aside an amount every month so you have enough to pay in a lump sum. And of course, shop around & try to get cashback.
    Fen1 wrote: »
    Clothing, especially items like shoes..
    As above, especially for school shoes. Also, don't forget charity shops - you can pick up good-quality clothing for less than poor-quality new clothing.
    Techhead wrote: »
    Phone costs. Its expensive to run a landline. So many are on pre-pay mobiles.
    Is it, though? Yes, it'll cost money in line rental, but if someone buys a package, it'll include most of their calls. Plus they'll have broadband, which should save far more than the cost of the line - families on low income should qualify for free laptops, or get a friend to put out a call on Freecycle.
    Fen1 wrote: »
    Nutritious food. Too often, the only shops in deprived areas are 'corner' shops that only sell long-life goods. Any fresh fruit and vegetables are often poor quality and expensive, if they stock any at all. Ditto meat and fish.
    Can be cheaper to order from a major supermarket and pay the delivery charge. It usually means being online and having some sort of card, but library and pre-payment cards are possible.
    vinvin wrote: »
    prescription charges! if you have ill health and are poor,bad luck. If you pay for a pre-payment certif because of your ill health but cannot afford a years certif you are heavily penalised.
    Will only help a certain number of people, but double-check if you're eligible for a medical card, or at least some help. Even if you're not on benefits, certain conditions (eg diabetes treated with metformin) automatically qualify for free prescriptions.
    paganrongs wrote: »
    Also, laundrette costs a fortune: local machines are £3-5 per wash plus 50 p per 5 mins in a dryer.
    The washing machine's just died, and can't afford to buy one - so we've had to go to Littlewoods, who charge more, and put it on Buy Now Pay Later, costing more again (although planning to pay in full before it's due).
    Don't do it! Get on the internet (obviously, the two above can, but otherwise, go to the library or ask a friend to do it), find your local Freecycle group and put out a request - on my local group, washing machines are one of the most frequently offered items. Then get someone to help you collect it. It'll save a fortune on laundrette bills - it might be a bit battered, and it might last half the time of a new one, but it's free! I haven't bought a big kitchen appliance in years - I always get them off Freecycle. Second-hand shops are another option - at the very least, it'll take the pressure off and give you a bit of time to save up for a new machine - or if you're on a very low income, you may be able to get help from charities that furnish homes.
    glider3560 wrote: »
    If your income is below a certain level you can get free prescriptions and glasses by filling out an HC1 form under the NHS Low Income Scheme: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/Illorinjured/DG_10018978
    And if you don't qualify, buy online. I now pay around a tenth of what I used to for my specs, and they're far better quality than most of the ones I bought on the high street. A basic pair of single-vision specs should cost under £25 (and no, there isn't a zero missing off the end).
  • reading these posts i think i agree with almost all of them!
    Companies take advantage of the fact that there aren't large sums of money or spare cash.
    Personally i find decent food expensive. Fresh fruit and veg are just not an option sometimes. Because things like fish fingers and chips are a lot cheaper to live on then you end up gaining weight, according to government statistics this then puts a drain on the nhs with all the problems it brings.
    The government are discussing plans to reduce the amount of money given to those both in and out of work. Would it not be a good idea to give out food and fuel vouchers?

    Personally i have everything insured to the hilt but only because i wouldn't be able to afford to replace or fix things.
  • Jacks_xxx
    Jacks_xxx Posts: 3,874 Forumite
    moneyse1 wrote: »
    It's not easy, but there are ways to get round some of the problems given above:

    I appreciate that you're trying to be helpful, but many of the things you've suggested would take a lot of hard work and organisation that you may struggle with if you've got kids and three jobs.

    Plus an internet connection and computer that most low income households don't have. We all talk as if everybody has the internet, or has access to other people's, but there are 25 million households in the Uk and only half of them have the internet.

    Plus a car - most low income families don't have access to one of those either.

    moneyse1 wrote: »
    Get together with friends. Work out what you buy in common, and then bulk-buy and split. You could save more money by getting one person to do the shopping and then chip in for petrol costs.

    Absolutely, great idea. But can you carry bulk buys for several families on the bus? And then carry them round to everybody's houses? And find out where the best deals are without the internet? Planning this regular weekly operation can be difficult when you have very little free time and your schedule doesn't mesh with your friends. She's off when you're at work etc.
    moneyse1 wrote: »
    As you say, it's difficult, but the only way round this is to put aside an amount every month so you have enough to pay in a lump sum. And of course, shop around & try to get cashback.

    It's often just not possible to both pay monthly and save the same amount every month so that next year you won't have to pay monthly. Money is a finite resource and the lower the income the less flexibility.

    moneyse1 wrote: »
    As above, especially for school shoes. Also, don't forget charity shops - you can pick up good-quality clothing for less than poor-quality new clothing.

    This is not something you can rely on because it's entirely a matter of chance. I've never found anything I, or the kids needed in a charity shop in 25 years of weekly trawls but Hubby found a pair of shoes once and a coat once.

    moneyse1 wrote: »
    Is it, though? Yes, it'll cost money in line rental, but if someone buys a package, it'll include most of their calls. Plus they'll have broadband, which should save far more than the cost of the line - families on low income should qualify for free laptops, or get a friend to put out a call on Freecycle.

    Is there a link to the free laptops? I know many low income families but nobody who has been given a free laptop.

    If they are entitled to one then I want to help them get one. I do need to point out though that a laptop isn't much use without the internet and a broadband connection is often too expensive, and the cheapest deals often unavailable to people on a low income.

    moneyse1 wrote: »
    Can be cheaper to order from a major supermarket and pay the delivery charge. It usually means being online and having some sort of card, but library and pre-payment cards are possible.

    I'm not sure how often this is actually true. You can get quite a lot of low income style shopping for the £5 delivery charge. The delivery charge can balance out if you do huge shops taking advantage of bulk buys and special offers but that's difficult on a low income. You just don't have the money to do it.
    moneyse1 wrote: »
    Will only help a certain number of people, but double-check if you're eligible for a medical card, or at least some help. Even if you're not on benefits, certain conditions (eg diabetes treated with metformin) automatically qualify for free prescriptions.

    Yep. Not a high proportion though.
    moneyse1 wrote: »
    Don't do it! Get on the internet (obviously, the two above can, but otherwise, go to the library or ask a friend to do it), find your local Freecycle group and put out a request - on my local group, washing machines are one of the most frequently offered items. Then get someone to help you collect it. It'll save a fortune on laundrette bills - it might be a bit battered, and it might last half the time of a new one, but it's free! I haven't bought a big kitchen appliance in years - I always get them off Freecycle. Second-hand shops are another option - at the very least, it'll take the pressure off and give you a bit of time to save up for a new machine - or if you're on a very low income, you may be able to get help from charities that furnish homes.

    I'm so sorry be negative again but it's impractical to keep getting the bus to town to visit the library to see if somebody from Freecycle has offered you one or listed one - especially as libraries are being closed and their hours cut even more. It would be Murphy's law that because you didn't reply over the weeknd they would think you were messing them about and offered it to somebody else.

    The other thing is, how are you going to transport this washing machine machine to your home if you don't have a vehicle? If you buy one from @$&*! Bright House or similar they will deliver twenty it to you 20 flights up with a broken lift.

    moneyse1 wrote: »
    And if you don't qualify, buy online. I now pay around a tenth of what I used to for my specs, and they're far better quality than most of the ones I bought on the high street. A basic pair of single-vision specs should cost under £25 (and no, there isn't a zero missing off the end).

    I don't think those of us who have the internet appreciate how much we learn while casually browsing which you can't do in the library where they have time limits and a constant queue.

    Apologies for my negativity, I really don't mean to pee on your parade.

    It's just that the crux of the issue is that it's because poorer people don't have cars and computers and bank accounts which allow direct debits, and spare money sloshing around that they pay more for goods and services.

    So solutions that require cars and computers and bank accounts which allow direct debits, and spare money sloshing around are not solutions for them.

    :(
    Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Einstein
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