Are you one of the families that Prime Minister Theresa May recently described as ‘just about managing’ or JAM? Mrs May recently said that one of her priorities was to help those JAM families. She said her priority was:
…putting government firmly on the side of not only the poorest in our society, important though that is and will remain, but also of those in Britain who are working hard but just about managing. It means helping to make their lives a little easier; giving them greater control over the issues they care about the most.
Am I in JAM Family?
But who are these JAM families and how do you know if you are in one? While Mrs May was not specific, it’s clear that she meant people who are neither completely broke nor well off. She gave further clues when she referred to people who are earning between £19,000 to £21,000 per year but are missing out on some of the benefits offered to those on lower incomes like working tax credits and free school meals.
But many economists believe that trying to define this group of people by isolating their earnings is way too blunt a measurement to be accurate. They say that having enough differs according to household size and family structure.
The latest analysis of household incomes shows around 30 per cent of people live below the minimum income standard. The risk of falling short is highest for single people living alone, families with children – especially lone parents and single breadwinner households – young people and those in rented accommodation.
If you are in a JAM household, then this might mean that you can afford to buy school uniforms and children’s school lunches, but school trips might be too much. It might also mean that while you can cover the day-to-day expenses of running your household, unforeseen emergencies like higher-than-expected utility bills, a car breakdown or replacing a washing machine might be hard to cope with. People who are in this category are four times more likely to be behind with household bills and be unable to replace household goods when they break or wear out.
How can I save money if I’m in a JAM?
Cutting your household expenditure does not have to mean stopping buying the essentials. There are some less painful ways of saving money. Here are five of them:
Go online. Make sure all your utility bills are paperless as this will mean that you can save about £5 per fuel bill annually if you cancel paper statements. Many utility companies offer discounts and some give more back for those who manage their accounts online. While, paperless billing might not save huge amounts, you could cut your bills by hundreds of pounds by choosing an online-only deal, especially with energy providers. For example, you could save on average around £200 to £300 a year on your energy bills.
Use a provider for more than one service. One way of saving cash is to bundle your services and get two or more from the same provider. Look at phone, mobile and broadband deals where you could save hundreds of pounds a year.
Don’t be a loyal customer. Don’t stick the same bank, mobile phone operator, insurer or utility for years and years. You can be sure that if you do, then you will not benefit from the discounts offered to new customers. Make sure you always shop around every year when your contract is up and save yourself hundreds of pounds in total.
Reduce your phone bill. All of the main telephone providers offer special packages like free evening and weekend calls. If you’re with BT, sign up to its Friends and Family Mobile scheme – for an extra £1.50 a month, customers can call UK mobiles anytime for just 7p a minute, almost half the price of BT’s standard mobile rates.
Cut out stuff you don’t need. You’re probably like everybody else in that you waste hundreds of pounds paying for needless financial products. This can include extended warranties, mobile phone insurance and special home appliance emergency cover. You can end up paying an extra £200 or £300 a year if you sign up to all of these things but the actual cost of a breakdown could be much lower than this.
This money-saving blog has an enormous number of ideas for helping you shed the £’s from your budget – grab yourself a cup of tea and let yourself surf around. Use the search box, or simply click a category on the right hand side of this page. We’re confident you’ll find more than enough to get you started.
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2015. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 150+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read more about Oliver Jones