Falling into debt is nothing to be ashamed of. It can happen to anyone at any time. If you’re struggling, why not ask for a helping hand to dig your way out?
Step Change Debt Charity – This is a national debt charity providing free debt advice. If you are struggling with debt, try their online ‘Debt Remedy’ tool, or call them on 0800 138 1111, Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Sat 8am-4pm. This is a Freephone number – including all mobile networks. You can also arrange a call back here on their website.
Managing your money
With the rising costs of bills, food and living expenses it is becoming harder and harder to manage our money. Ask for help before it leads to problems with debt.
- The Money Advice Service is a Government body that provides free information about money matters including budget and loan calculators as well as lots of other useful information. To complete an online budget and take their financial health check, visit their website: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
- Money Basics website – Three leading organisations have come together to teach money basics, providing lots of useful tools and guides: www.http://moneybasics.gemoney.co.uk
- Cash Questions will provide answers to your finance related questions free of charge: www.cashquestions.com
Help with Welfare Benefits
Every year, billions of pounds of welfare benefits go unclaimed in the UK. Even if you are working, you may be entitled to some of it.
- To check whether you’re entitled to any benefits, or on the right benefits, use Hackney Council’s benefits calculator. http://www.hackney.gov.uk/benefits-calculator.htm
- Welfare rights.net – benefits guides and a really useful welfare benefits message board: http://www.welfarerights.net
- Disability Law Service – They provide free welfare benefits advice, specialising in support for disabled persons. http://www.dls.org.uk
Whether you’re rarely in the red or often overdrawn, the right borrowing option depends on how much you want to borrow and how long you want to borrow it for. There are a number of ways different organisations can help you make the right decision.
- Lenderscompared.org.uk is a free to use, independent price comparison website for small cash loans: www.lenderscompared.org.uk
- Community Development Finance Initiatives (CDFI’s) lend money to people who find it difficult to borrow money from banks & building societies, with lower interest rates than doorstep lenders or loan sharks. Findingfinance.org.uk can tell you which CDFI’s you can apply to: www.findingfinance.org.uk
- Tackling loan sharks – A Loan Shark is an illegal moneylender who lends money without a license. They often charge very high interest rates and use intimidation and violence if you fail to make payments. You can check if a company is licensed and report one that isn’t at www.gov.uk/report-loan-shark or by calling 0300 555 2222 – text LOAN SHARK + your message to 60003.
- Findyourcreditunion.co.uk – Credit unions offer loan products suited to your individual needs, at a rate you can easily afford. www.Findyourcreditunion.org.uk
- The Money Advice Service have produced a number of quick guides on borrowing from mainstream and the social lending sector, visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk to access guides on: ‘Borrowing Money’, ‘Credit Cards’ and ‘Credit Unions’.
Most people have a bank account to manage their day-to-day money or to save for the future. However, if you don’t have one it’s a good idea to think about getting one.
- The Money Advice Service is a Government body that provides free information about money matters. The website has lots of useful information on different types of bank accounts, how to choose the right one for you and how to open one. Visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk to access guides on: ‘Your Bank Account’.
- The Financial Services Authority can give you lots of information on your rights when it comes to your bank account. http://www.fsa.gov.uk/bankingrights
- As well as offering loans suited to individual needs, Credit Unions offer a range of bank accounts and savings accounts with no hidden charges or fees.
Insurance and Energy
Energy costs will continue to rise over the years to come. Try this free switching service to check for the best deals around, visit http://circle.billscutter.com
- Home Contents Insurance – Don’t get caught out by a fire, a flood or theft. The Money Advice Service has a wealth of information on different types of insurance (and much more), and will help to make sure you don’t just go for the cheapest quote.
Pensions and Savings
Pensions might seem complicated but the basic idea is a simple one. A pension is a tax efficient way of saving regularly so that when you reach retirement you have an income to live on. It’s worth understanding their benefits, because your State Pension won’t be enough to live on – you need to save more.
- The Money Advice Service website is again a great place to start and has a vast number of tools, tips, calculators and guides to help you work out what type of pension is right for you and how much you should be saving.
- Credit Unions are community savings and loan cooperatives, where members pool their savings to lend to one another and help to run the credit union. Find your local credit union by visiting www.Findyourcreditunion.org.uk.
White Goods and Furniture
White goods are major domestic appliances. Furnishing a home and replacing white goods and furniture can be very expensive and more often than not people look to borrow or enter into hire purchase agreements to secure these goods, which can in turn increase costs significantly.
- The Furniture Re-use Network, which supports over 300 re-use charities, aims to relieve poverty and reduce waste by promoting the re-use of essential household furniture and electrical appliances to help people in need. Visit their website or call them on 0845 602 8003 to find out where your local organisation is based.
- Co-op Electrical offer a wide range of products including: Televisions, ovens, fridge freezers, electrical appliances and more at affordable prices. Visit their website or call them on 0800 28 00 111