How to make your money go further if you’re struggling with rent and bills.
Don't ignore your money worries. Money problems can get worse if they're ignored. A missed bill or forgotten payment can lead to a penalty charge, which means you owe even more.
Take one step at a time. You could find you are dealing with your money problems quickly and easily.
Get free debt advice from StepChange if you're struggling to pay your bills.
Use a budget planner
A budget planner can show you how much you spend each month and help you get in control of your finances.
Use the Money Advice Service's online budget planner to work out how much you spend each month.
Before you start, it's a good idea to get as much information as you can about your income and spending.
This could include:
- payslips, P45s and P60s
- benefits letters
- mortgage statements or rent costs
- bank statements
- gas, electric, water and other utility bills
- credit card bills, personal loans and overdrafts
- other living costs such as food shopping, buying clothes and going out
The more information you can get about your monthly income and spending, the more accurate your budget will be.
Claim benefits if you are renting
If you’re on a low income you may be able to claim universal credit.
Check the Local Housing Allowance website for details of the maximum housing benefit for private renters in your area.
You may need to move to a cheaper property to avoid rent arrears if you already claim housing benefit and it isn't enough to cover your rent.
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 council tax
You might be able to get council tax support 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.
Apply for Council Tax Support on GOV.UK.
Get advice from StepChange about dealing with council tax arrears.
Save money on mortgage costs
Check if you can find a better deal on your mortgage. You'll have more options if you do this before a big change such as taking maternity leave or redundancy.
The Money Advice Service has advice on changing your mortgage.
It's important to act quickly if you are in mortgage arrears.
Save on buildings 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 don't have to buy insurance from your mortgage lender. Use price comparison 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.
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 so you don’t end up paying for it twice
Switch energy supplier
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.
If you can’t switch supplier there are still ways you can save on your energy bills.
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.
If your metered water bills seem very high, check there are no leaks in your system.
You can usually pay for water rates in instalments. Contact your water company for details.
Save money on food bills
Shopping online could help you budget your food bill or find the cheapest deals in the supermarkets. You can use price comparison websites, such as mySupermarket, to compare costs.
You could also:
- Make a shopping list so you only buy what you need
- Try supermarket own brand items
- Freeze leftovers
Get tips on how to make your food go further on Love Food, Hate Waste.
Pay your TV licence in instalments
Most people need a TV licence to use a television, but there are some exceptions.
You can pay in instalments to spread the cost of a licence if you have difficulty paying the whole cost at once.
Get advice on money problems
Check these websites for help with money problems:
If you’ve ever taken out a loan, mortgage, credit card, store card, or bought something on credit, such as a car, you may have been sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).
The deadline has now passed for making a complaint about the sale of a PPI policy.
You can only make a complaint after 29 August 2019 if exceptional circumstances meant you couldn't complain before then.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has more information on exceptional circumstances.
Last updated 04 Sep 2019 | © Shelter
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