Boost your income
Make sure you claim any benefits or tax credits you are entitled to. Check the benefits section of the GAIN Website or speak to a Welfare Rights adviser at a GAIN agency to make sure you are claiming everything that you are entitled to.
Click here to find your nearest GAIN agency or call the GAIN Helpline on 0808 801 1011 Mon- Fri 10am - 8pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm. Calls are free from land-lines and some mobile numbers.
Reduce your spending
If you need to cut back on your spending, look for areas where you are confident you can really make savings. Set yourself targets and stick to them. But remember to be realistic.
You could consider switching to a cheaper supplier for basic services, such as gas and electricity, or for other major items of expenditure.
You might be able to save money by reviewing any loans or other borrowing. You could think about switching to a cheaper credit card or to a different mortgage for example. Again, you can find information on what's available both on the web and elsewhere. The Money Advice Service has information that you can use to compare different financial products: click here.
Most people have their pay, benefits or tax credits paid directly into a bank account and having a bank account makes paying bills easier.
Most banks pay interest on money in your account, but the rate of interest varies widely. If you often have large amounts in your account, consider shopping around for a high interest current account, or move some of your money into a high-interest savings account.
Look at the charges before you choose an account. You won’t usually have to pay for payments into and out of your account but you will have to pay if you go overdrawn without permission and for one-off services such a stopping a cheque.
If you feel that a current account is not for you at this time, consider a ‘basic bank account’ that doesn’t allow overdrafts.
You may get a discount if you pay your bills by ‘direct debit’. Check with the companies that you pay regularly (for example, gas, water and electricity) to see whether they offer a direct debit discount.
If you prefer to pay by cheque, make sure you’re on time- some companies give a discount for prompt payment. If you’re late paying your utility bills, such as gas and electricity, you run the risk of being cut off and having to pay a charge to be reconnected.
Look After Your Paperwork
Keeping an eye on your paperwork may help you avoid problems such as being late with your payments or not having enough money in your account to meet your payments and becoming overdrawn by mistake. Try to:
- Make a calendar note of when payments are due, for your rent or mortgage, insurance policies, TV licence, car tax and MOT etc;
- Fill in cheque stubs with the date, amounts and details of who the cheque was paid to;
- Make a note of cash withdrawals in the back of your cheque book, or keep receipts;
- Check your bank and credit card statements as soon as you get them and query anything you think is wrong.
You also need to keep key documents such as bank statements and payslips for up to three years (more if you are self-employed) in case you have to complete a tax return, so file them in a safe place.
Saving For That Rainy Day
If you can manage it, regular saving is the best way of building up a nest egg. You can arrange a standing order with your bank account to pay a set amount of money from your current account into your savings account on a regular basis that suits you.
Remember - you don’t have to save with the bank or building society that holds your current account. Others may pay better interest on savings. To help you choose, have a look at the information about savings accounts and comparison tables at tables.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/Comparison-tables-home/Savings-Accounts
Know What You Are Taking On
There are times when you need to borrow money, whether it’s a personal loan, buying with a credit or store card or buying on hire purchase. These are all forms of borrowing.
The bottom line is if you borrow money, you will have to repay it in the future with interest added. Can you afford the repayments from your household budget? Ask yourself- do you really need the item you are buying?
- Always read the small print.
- Always check the APR.
- Make sure that the repayment period is not longer than the useful life of the item you buy on credit.
- Make sure that you know the total amount you will have to repay.
What Is APR?
APR stands for annual percentage rate. It tells you the cost of the loan taking into account the interest on the loan and other charges. All lenders have to tell you what their APR is and you can use it to compare loan offers. Generally the lower the APR the better the deal, so if you are thinking about borrowing –shop around!