Managing finances can be overwhelming, particularly if you are caring for someone and are relying on a sole or low income. Here are some ways to help ease financial stress, manage a budget and make your money stretch further.
- Don’t suffer in silence! There are services available to help if you are struggling with debt or money management. Much of the stress comes from feelings of anxiety which can engulf you if you are trying to manage things alone. Speaking to someone is the best thing you can do – and having them help you go through your finances and work out a plan of action will help you to not only keep on top of things but will help you to breathe easy.
StepChange Debt Charity – free, confidential debt advice & management plans
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- Living on a budget. It’s very simple to work out and manage a budget once you know what you’re doing. Sometimes the thought of it can be scary and many people would prefer to avoid sitting down and working through numbers, however this only exacerbates the problem. Sit down with a friend or family member if you are able to, and work out your total income compared with your total outgoings. See if there are areas in which you can cut down, compare utility providers for the best deal and make shopping lists and stick to them.
- Shopping tips. Online grocery shopping can make life so much easier. It’s easier to stick to a list, and you can shop around for the best offers. Many supermarkets will offer you money off when you sign up so trying a few different ones to find your favourite will also save you some money! Once you have shopped somewhere a few rimes they will often automatically save your favourite or most bought items making your shopping even quicker and easier.
If you prefer to go out and about and enjoy a trip to the shops then make a list before you go. Not all items need buying every week, so if you’re on a budget and you have easy access to the shops don’t stock up on items that you don’t yet need. It can be so tempting to buy multiple items because they’re on offer but if this means going over your weekly budget and creating money problems it really isn’t worth it. A great tip for those who love a mental workout is to add up your shopping in your head as you go round, or use the self scanner so that you can keep track of how much you’re spending. If you’re adding up in your head, try rounding up to the next pound so that you know you’re within budget and you’ll get a nice surprise saving at the end!
- Comparing utility providers. Where possible, take a look around at what other providers can offer you with regards to savings and offers. Many people stick with the same companies out of ease, however there is a big chance you could be saving more elsewhere. It’s also worth chatting with your phone provider to see if they can offer you a better deal. Try https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/ for advice and information.
- If you’re in the position to save, look into the best bank accounts and ISAs to make the most of your money. There are apps that can help you budget and save if you’re not sure where to start. If your future or your children’s future worries you, then getting to grips with how much to save can be really helpful and will ease some of the stress surrounding this. If you’re on a low income, there is a scheme available called Help to Save which offers 50p for every £1 saved. Take a look at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/savers-to-earn-50p-for-every-1-saved-thanks-to-help-to-save to see if you’re eligible.
- Know what you’re entitled to. Many people are entitled to benefits and support but may not know where to look or how to apply. The HMRC website is a wealth of information regarding tax credits and benefits so take a look there to see if you can access any additional help.
Ask yourself these questions with regards to spending: Do you need it? When do you need it? Can you really afford it? Can you save for it? Asking yourself these simple questions can really help you to differentiate between your wants and needs, and gives you a bit more control over where your money goes