The start of a new year is always a strain financially. Finally January payday has arrived but after a long wait since December wages, and the Christmas expenses to still work off, things can look bleak. The Licensed Trade Charity has issued a few headline tips that can help you get organised and make the most of your money in 2020. The charity can also help further through its 24/7 helpline, benefits calculator and website which contains a number of help sheets on different areas of financial problems as well as health, mental health, housing and money too. Their advice is…
Wake up and (don’t) smell the coffee – get budgeting!
If one of your guilty pleasures is a visit to a coffee shop every day, cutting that out could save you over £1,000 each year. If your petrol bill is too big, could you cycle to work? Or walk to the shops? Every journey you don’t take in the car gives you longer between fill ups.
It sounds simple but working out how to budget better can make a huge difference. Drawing up a budget plan is something few people do but many should. List all areas of outgoings each month – rent/mortgage, utility bills, food, clothes, non-essential expenses, travel – and also what money you have coming in. It could show some obvious places you could save money. More details on how to do this are in the charity’s How To Survive On A Reduced Income helpsheet.
It may be that one of the things on your outgoings list was gambling expenses. With online gambling more accessible and popular than ever, it is all too easy to try to gamble your way out of trouble or even just innocently use online casinos as a form of escapism or leisure activity. It is easy to spend small amounts of money here and there without realising it is all adding up. Most people don’t know that you can gain free access to software that can help you remove temptation by blocking access to gambling sites on up to three devices – there is more information on the charity’s gambling helpsheet.
Around 1 in 6 people who may be eligible for state benefits or an income top up, and 1 in 5 who could receive housing benefit, are not claiming them. Meanwhile 40% of families eligible for pension credit are also failing to claim, missing out on £2,500 a year on average, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, it could be that you are not claiming benefits that you are entitled to. The Licensed Trade Charity website has a benefits calculator which will allow you to enter your information and find out if your situation could be eased by claiming more support and financial help. https://www.licensedtradecharity.org.uk/benefits-calculator/
Scrutinise your bills
If you haven’t changed your energy supplier in a while it is more than likely you are paying over the odds on a non-competitive tariff. Switching energy suppliers in many cases can save you over £200 a year and is very easy to do via comparison sites such as Uswitch. You only need a few details about your energy usage and bills to find out how much you can save, and once you’ve confirmed you wish to switch it is all done for you so no cancelling or setting up for you to do. It is that easy.
If you have debts building up on credit cards, look at ‘balance transfer’ offers where you may be able to get long-term balance transfer borrowing for 0% to cut out the mounting interest.
There are other ways to fight personal debt too – the Licensed Trade Charity works closely with debt charity Step Change who have an online debt remedy tool which takes your budget information and tells you the best way forward. It provides a personal action plan with a recommended debt solution and clear next steps advice. Take a look here.
Last year the Licensed Trade Charity gave away £1m in non-repayable grants, available to anyone who has worked in the trade for 5 years continuously at any point in their lives. These often cover items such as rent arrears on utility bill arrears.
If it is business debt rather than personal money that is the problem, the Licensed Trade Charity can still help. With advice on options such as debt management plans, IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements) and Business Bankruptcy fees, it can also link you to a host of other useful organisations who could help, and a Managing Business Finances helpsheet can guide you through difficult decisions and minimise worry.
Money problems can take many forms, and could centre around issues such as property, employment, tax information and even wills and probate. To support licensees with legal matters such as these, the Licensed Trade Charity has partnered with Law Express, the UK’s leading provider of personal and business telephone legal advice. This entitles you to one free phone call with a qualified solicitor who can explain the law to you in layman’s terms. Just call the charity’s helpline on 0808 801 0550 to check if that legal help is the best solution.