Sickness, redundancy, caring for another person or having a child may mean you have less money to live on. Take a look at our money-saving ideas.
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Claim housing benefit if you are renting
Check if you are entitled to housing benefit.
Check the Local Housing Allowance website for details of maximum housing benefit for private renters in your area. If the amount of housing benefit you get isn't enough to cover your rent, you may need to move to a different property or area to avoid rent arrears.
If moving home isn't an option, claim a discretionary housing payment from the council. This may give you time to explore other options.
Get help with paying for council tax
You might be able to get your council tax reduced if you are on a low income or claim certain benefits.
If you live on your own, you are entitled to a 25% discount on your council tax bill. You could also get a discount if you live with someone else who isn't your partner and has a low income.
Find out more from Which? about getting your council tax reduced.
Make sure the council knows if you are an all-student household. Provided you fill in the forms and provide evidence of your student status, you shouldn't have to pay any council tax at all.
If your home is empty, or solely occupied by people under the age of 18, or you are severely mentally impaired, check if you are exempt from paying council tax.
Find out more from StepChange about dealing with council tax arrears.
Save money on mortgage costs
Check if you can find a better deal for your mortgage. You'll have more options if you do this before a big change such as taking maternity leave or redundancy.
Money Advice Service has advice on changing your mortgage.
Check if you could benefit from overpaying on your mortgage. You may be able to reduce the amount you pay in interest each month. Check there is no penalty for doing this.
Try the mortgage overpayment calculator from Money Saving Expert.
Find more information on overpaying your mortgage from the Money Advice Service.
Find out how to talk to your lender if you have mortgage arrears.
It is important to take early steps to deal with mortgage arrears.
Save on buildings and contents insurance
Buildings insurance helps with rebuilding costs if your home is damaged by fire, floods or subsidence. It is important to have this type of insurance if you are a homeowner. Your mortgage lender may insist on it. You have to keep paying your mortgage even if your house burns down.
You don't have to buy insurance from your mortgage lender. Use money-saving websites or online searches to help find cheaper deals. You may be able to reduce your costs by agreeing to a larger excess. This is the amount you pay if the insurer has to pay out on a claim.
Find out more from Which? on home and contents insurance.
If you own a leasehold flat or house, your freeholder should have arranged buildings insurance for the whole building. You'll usually pay for this as part of your service charges. Check what cover is provided.
Cut your energy costs
You can usually choose to switch your energy supplier. It is worth shopping around for deals.
You may also want to compare results from price comparison websites such as:
Energy suppliers offer social tariffs with reduced rates for vulnerable or disadvantaged customers. They may be a useful option if you are over the age of 60 or claiming means-tested benefits.
Look at the Energy Saving Trust's top tips on reducing your energy costs.
Save money on water bills
There are two ways you can pay for water, either through water rates, or using a water meter. You may save money by using a water meter if you are a small household and don't use much water. Once you have a water meter installed, you can't change back to paying water rates.
You can usually pay for water rates in instalments. Contact your water company for details.
If your metered water bills seem very high, check there are no leaks in your system.
Save money on food bills
Shopping online could help you budget your food bill or find the cheapest deals in the supermarkets. Use sites such as My Supermarket to compare costs.
Search out cheaper supermarkets and see what markets have to offer. Try supermarket own-brand foods. Making a shopping list may help you buy only what you need.
Consider if shopping online could help you budget your food bill or find the cheapest deals in the supermarkets.
Check if you can pay your TV licence in instalments
Most people need a TV licence to use a television, but there are some exceptions. Find out from TV Licensing about who needs a licence.
You can choose to pay by instalments if you have difficulty paying. Find out how to spread the payments for your licence.
Get advice on money problems
Check these websites for help with money problems:
Last updated 01 Jan 2015 | © Shelter