Top ten money saving tips for Debt Awareness Week
It’s Debt Awareness Week, the perfect opportunity for re-assessing your finances post-Christmas to find out if you need help, and where to get it.
“The combination of changes to welfare benefits and rising household costs is taking its toll” says Birmingham Settlement CEO Martin Holcombe. “Our debt advice service has seen record numbers and we now have to turn people away as we just don‘t have the resources to meet the demand.”
Recent figures released by the Money Advice Service paint a similar picture. They report that one in three UK adults is estimated to have started 2014 in debt, and figures released this January for the end of 2013 paint a bleak picture with the average household debt at £6,016 without including mortgages.
“We have put together our top ten tips to help families budget and help them manage their money better, this year, more than ever, people need help controlling their finances” says Martin, they include.
1. Compile a weekly budget and keep to it. Work out your spending limit after bills for food and drink.
2. Cut back on unnecessary expenses. Make shopping lists and do not be distracted by bargains. Ask yourself: “If I didn’t need something this morning, do I really need it now?” Be wary of tempting 2 for 1s on products you did not intend to buy.
3. Buy supermarkets’ own brands, the reduced price is often down to lower spend on packaging rather than lower quality products.
4. Shop online for cheaper items rather than the High Street, but check delivery costs as these can often put up the total costs.
5. Try home-made gifts. If you are looking for a birthday gift, why not bake one?
6. Ensure that you continue to pay your priority debts such as mortgages, rent, and Council Tax, fuel and court fines – if you’re unsure how to order your priorities, speak to a money advice service.
7. Consider applying for financial help if you are in debt and struggling. Birmingham Council has discretionary top-up funds for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support. Some utility companies have independent Trust Funds – Severn Trent Water, British Gas, EDF and NPower, for example.
8. Do not spend money that you do not have! But if you need to borrow money, be aware of the interest rate and amount repayable. Payday loans are not cheap.
9. Don’t hold on to unwanted items – Ebay them! Whether it’s duplicate wedding gifts, unwanted Christmas presents, or simply clothes you never wear, you could convert your clutter to cash.