You may feel that your situation is not serious enough at this point to seek help from someone else, so here are a few suggestions to help you regain control of your finances.
Amending Your Household Budget
- Make sure you are getting all the benefits/Tax Credits you are due. If you have had a benefit application turned down before and your situation has changed, or you haven't applied for a while, it is worth trying again. You can also get a free benefit check from our Customer Income Maximisation Team.
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- Go over all your household expenses and see if you can cut down on usage or get a better deal elsewhere e.g. for phone, internet, insurances or utilities. There are many price comparison sites on the internet and it may be worth seeing what else is on the market.
- Get advice on your energy usage at Changeworks on by contacting them on 0800 512 012 or Consumer Focus http://www.consumerfocus.org.uk/. Getting advice can help you cut your costs - and help cut your carbon footprint too.
- Check out the cheapest way to travel to work. We often use our cars when we don't need to and you may be able to travel more economically if you buy tickets in advance or in bulk e.g. multi-journey/group/rover tickets or railcards for the train. If you walk to and from the station, rather than park your car at the workplace, you'll be getting some exercise too.
- Look at your housekeeping costs - do you throw out a lot of waste food, or are you buying costly products you don't need? There is a lot of useful information about how to cut your housekeeping costs in the newspapers, on TV and on the internet.
- Make provision for as many of your costs as you can; the Post Office has a Budget Card that you can use to save up for certain expenses e.g. Road Tax. You can use this for utility bills too, but you may find you get a better deal if you pay by Direct Debit as you may get a discount. For more information; Tel. 0800 316 0586 or go to www.postoffice.co.uk/budget-card.
- The Post Office can also help you save for Christmas. The Post Office has set up a Christmas Club which allows you to use a card to save up money. You can use the card to pay for your presents or to get vouchers and you can get information about this at your local Post Office.
- If you find it hard to pay your Council Tax on time, and so usually fall into arrears, look at the different payment methods offered by the Council. Remember to spread the payments over 12 months to help reduce the amount you are paying each month and do check you are getting all the benefits/discounts that you may be due. If you are on a low income, and prefer to pay by cash, you can start paying your Council Tax Bill in March, so that by the 1st of April, you have paid the first instalment due in full. That way, you will always be paying in advance and you won't default on the payments because you are paying late.
- Check if you are paying a monthly fee for your bank account. Some accounts charge you a certain amount per month e.g. £5. These accounts have 'offers' attached to them e.g. discounts on travel, insurances etc but often you can get these things cheaper elsewhere, so ask if you can switch to a no cost, no frills account.