(Advice shared with us directly from Christians Against Poverty)
There’s barely a family left untouched by the cost of living crisis. All year, we’ve seen rising costs of essentials and many people are facing an uncertain winter. How can we navigate our way through this challenging time? Financial struggles can put a huge strain on your mental health, so at times like these it’s more important than ever to know how to manage your money. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Know what’s coming in and going out
With different bills to pay at different times of the month, it can be difficult to keep track of your money. A personal budget can give you a clearer picture. Start by looking at how much income you have coming in per month. This includes:
● Gifts from friends and family
● Income from lodgers/property/non-dependents
Next, go through your bank statements and break down your spending into categories:
● Home costs
● Living costs
● Travel and vehicle expenses
● Costs related to family and pets
● Future needs
● Charitable donations
● Debt repayments
For more on what these categories include, visit our website here.
Maximise your income
It’s always worth finding out if you could increase your income. Check if you’re entitled to additional support by using the benefits calculator at gov.uk. Other ways to increase your income might be asking grown-up children who still live at home to contribute to household costs, or renting out a spare room to a lodger (make sure you check the terms and conditions of your accommodation before doing this).
Structure your finances
At CAP, we recommend setting up three separate bank accounts. This may sound daunting at first, but it will make managing your money so much easier. You can do this on most banking apps.
● One for regular payments – this is where you’ll receive your income and pay bills.
● One for weekly spending – use this for day-to-day expenses like food, clothing and transport. Make sure you leave enough in your regular payments account to cover all Direct Debits and standing orders to avoid slipping into your overdraft.
● One for savings – place any money you have left over into this account and store it away for a rainy day.
Knowledge is power
Knowing your finances is helpful, but extra budgeting resources can make the difference between getting by and thriving. Visit moneysavingexpert.com for helpful savings advice, and see what local community groups and initiatives are taking place in your area too.
Somewhere to turn
We understand that, for some, doing all of the above still won’t be enough. Each household is feeling the effect of the cost of living crisis in a different way. If you’re worried about costs this winter, help and advice is available at moneyhelper.org.uk. You can also get free debt help from organisations like CAP, StepChange and Citizens Advice if you need it.
During this challenging time, many of us are looking for hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. Remember to check in on those that might be struggling and encourage them to seek help if necessary.
We are blessed that here at JCC we have Fiona on staff who works for CAP. If you would like to get in touch with her directly, please email her at email@example.com