Over the festive season, it’s easy to overspend and be left with money worries in the new year. If you want to start January with good control of your finances, we’ve got some helpful advice that can help get you on the right track.
We also want to remind you that our Money Advice and Benefits team are here to help - if you’re struggling with paying your rent or just keeping up with costs in general, please contact us to discuss the support we can offer you.
If you’re worried about money, one of the first things to do is to have a budget. Write down what money you have coming in (e.g. from your job or benefits) and what money you have going out (e.g. bills or spending money). You can also use a budgeting tool such as the Money Advice Service budget planner or our Benefit and Budgeting calculator.
Start with your outgoing fixed costs (rent, council tax, water, gas etc.) before moving on to other spending. For this, keep receipts over a couple of weeks to see how much you are spending on areas like food, travel, cigarettes etc. And don’t forget about online shopping!
Once you have this information, consider what costs you might be able to cut down on. Are there any subscriptions you haven’t used in a while? Could you cut back on outside food costs by cooking at home? You can even use a comparison website such as www.confused.com or www.uswitch.com to see if you can save on any of your bills. If there’s anything you think might be an unnecessary cost, reduce or cancel it altogether.
After all of this, you can now create a budget for each area of spending (e.g. setting aside £20 a month for a gym subscription). You should be able to clearly see how much money you have coming in, what your fixed and ‘optional’ costs are and how much money you have left outside of these costs.
It’s important to check that you’re claiming all of the benefits that you’re entitled to. You can check using our calculator, and don’t forget to claim Council Tax Support if you claim Universal Credit.
Don’t be tempted by people offering to lend you money – you could still be paying for it by next Christmas! Loan sharks are illegal lenders who often target vulnerable people. They might seem friendly at first but borrowing from them is never a good idea, even if you feel you have no other options.