Managing your finances

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With rising fuel costs and the end of cheap, fixed-rate mortgages, the cost of basic living now means that lots of families are finding themselves with less money available each month.

If you are struggling to cope it is vital to take that first step in asking for help. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse.

  • Open your post. It’s important to prioritise which debts are most important and ensure you are paying what you can afford. If you have a mortgage, it’s especially important to keep up with payments so that you don’t lose your home.
  • Seek support and advice. Anyone struggling with their mortgage or any housing problem can contact Shelter's free housing advice line on 0808 800 4444.
  • For all other bills, you can get in touch with your supplier and make voluntary arrangements. Don’t hesitate if you are struggling.
  • Shop around for cheaper insurance deals when it comes time to renew your household or car insurance.

Shopping

When you want to go shopping, you may find yourself wondering where the money is going to come from. If you need a bit of extra cash and want to clear out a few old things in the process, consider selling off some unwanted items like clothing, games consoles or games and CDs that are still in good condition. If you’re computer savvy, you can use online stores like Amazon and eBay or you can just do it the old fashioned way and head out to a car boot sale

Then, when it comes to the shopping, make a plan in advance to save yourself some money. Make a list of what you need to buy and how much you are prepared to spend before you head out, to help you avoid impulsive spending. Do a quick price comparison too – you can search online to see which stores offer the best value, and you can even find a great bargain through an online store. There may be a local community foodbank you could access, to find out more please contact The Trussell Trust.

Look out for loyalty card schemes that get you money off in shops you use regularly, but be careful to avoid spending money in those shops for the sake of it – a bargain isn’t a bargain if you don’t need it!

If you want an excuse for a cheap get-together with friends and a chance to get some new clothes for free then think about organising a clothes swap party or ‘swish’. Everyone taking part brings along at least one item of clothing that they're proud to give to someone else.

Finding extra cash

You could sell unwanted items like clothing, games consoles or games and CDs that are still in good condition online on a site like eBay or think about going to a car boot sale, to make a bit of spare cash.

Tough times guide

Deidre Sanders, Family Lives Patron and Problem Page Editor at The Sun, has produced a guide for families who are feeling pinch in these difficult economic times. The guide, called 'Tough times', provides simple, practical advice and signposts to other support organisations.

With rising prices, spending cuts and pressure on jobs meaning many families are feeling the pinch. It’s extra challenging when a family is facing special hardship because of bereavement, illness or accident.This guide will help you protect your relationships and family life against fortune’s knocks, and it explains where to find understanding support and practical help. 

Download the Tough Times guide

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit that has started to replace 6 existing benefits with a single monthly payment into your account. Universal Credit will help you to be better off in work, start a new job or work more hours. For more information please click here.

Tax credits

The deadline for renewing your tax credit claim is 31st July 2016. If you're in receipt of tax credits, you'll receive a renewal pack before the end of June. It's important that you submit your claim as soon as possible to avoid the rush and make sure it reaches the HMRC office on time. You can do this quickly and conveniently online by visiting: www.gov.uk/managetaxcredits

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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