If you’re out shopping, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and to bow to pressures to spend. But the warm feeling that we get from buying nice things for ourselves, or presents for others, is so often short lived, as every year, more and more people end up in debt as they struggle to pay for presents and treats.
How can I work out what to spend?
Whether it’s taking care of the monthly bills or getting financial help when you need it, managing money is important to everyone. You may often feel tempted to spend on nice things, but please think very carefully before you spend. Here are some helpful these tips on understanding finance.
Debt is a major cause of stress and relationship problems for individuals, couples and whole families and can have a really damaging impact emotionally. Setting a budget will help you avoid spending more than you can afford. This budget planner tool is a good place to start, so why not give it a go?
Where can I get advice on debt?
Help managing money when things have got out of hand is known as ‘Debt Advice.’ There are a number of organisations that can provide free debt advice where you can get help from trained advisers, who won’t judge you or your situation.
Stepchange Debt Charity provides free expert advice to help you manage your debt, including what you should do when you miss your bill payments and will help you find the right solution to bring your debt under control. Try the StepChange 60 second debt check to help you take stock of your situation quickly, or the Debt Remedy tool to create a personal action plan in less than 20 minutes which will help you gain control of your debt.
National Debtline can help with both personal and business related debt problems (through their ‘Business Debtline’).
Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services.
PayPlan offers free, completely confidential help and advice for anyone struggling with debt and offers a wide range of solutions – from structured, formal debt plans to straightforward guidance on how to manage your debts and get back in control of your money. You can call PayPlan free on 0800 716 239 or complete the online form and one of their trained advisers will call you back.
Where can I get more general Money Advice?
Getting some guidance on how to manage your money or information on money products is known as ‘Money Advice’. There are many organisations and charities that can help with this and the Money Advice Service was set up to help people across the country in exactly this way. You can get help online, on the phone or set up an appointment near you to see one of their advisors.
How do I set up a bank account?
Basic bank accounts are easy to use and have the same features of a current account but you can’t have an overdraft or cheque book.
You can withdraw cash at the counter and at cash machines, and you may be able to set up Direct Debits. If you have been unable to open a current account, perhaps due to a poor credit history opening a basic bank account could be the answer.
Anyone can open a basic bank account. You just need to be able to show who you are and where you live by providing a form of identification like a passport, birth certificate, gas bill, electricity bill or rent statement. Basic bank accounts are available from most high street banks and credit unions.
For more information on bank accounts and savings click here.
Where can I get more information on loans?
Before you sign up for any loan – whether it’s a credit card, bank loan or store card – or add to an existing card or loan, you should think very carefully about whether you really need to borrow the money. In this day and age, with economic uncertainty and rising bills – many people are now choosing to pay back money they’ve already borrowed rather than borrow more.
There are hundreds of ‘loan sharks’ out there that might be able to offer a short term solution to your money worries – especially if you have a poor credit rating. These should be avoided at all costs as it can lead to much bigger financial troubles. Most of them are operating illegally, are dangerous and failing to repay on time can lead to intimidation or violence. To find out how to avoid them and consider other options, read this guide.
Before you decide to borrow you should ask yourself:
- Do you really need to spend the money?
- Have you got any other way of paying for it?
- Can you afford to pay it back?
If you have a tendency to buy things on impulse, try giving yourself a cooling off period of at least two days. You might find that you’re not so keen to buy it.
Some people borrow money without thinking about whether they can really afford it, or because they feel they have no other option, but that often isn’t the case.
You could delay making the purchase – or not make it at all.
Try asking yourself:
- Could I wait until I can afford to buy the item without borrowing?
- If there’s something I need, is there another way of getting it cheaper (for example, swapping it for something else or buying it second-hand )
However, if you decide that you do need to borrow money, have a look at these websites which provide most of the information that you will need to make a more informed choice, including information on different types of borrowing, getting the best credit deal and managing your credit ratings.