Careful budgeting and being more disciplined in the way that you deal with your money will bring you long-term benefits. Creating a plan that allows you to keep track of where your money’s going every month (and how much you can afford to pay your creditors) is essential for a debt-free future.
Our debt information and advice section is a great place to start – you’ll find advice on looking after your money, dealing with creditors and managing debts. For more on money management our budgeting advice section is packed with helpful hints on creating a budget, who to pay first and what to do if you can’t afford to pay your bills.
Reduce your spending
If you’re already cutting back on your spending, you’re doing the right thing. But could you do more? Here are some ideas on how you can save money.
- If you plan your shopping and work to a budget, you’re less likely to make impulse buys or spend more than you want to. Use a shopping list and stick to it.
- You should never cut back on essential food items - but are there cheaper brands or supermarket own-label brands that offer better value?
- Consider switching to a cheaper supermarket.
- Look out for special offers, keep coupons and remember to use them.
- There might be reduced grocery items available at the end of the supermarket day. Could you take advantage of that?
Gas and electricity
- Are you getting the best deal on your gas or electricity? You could try utility switching to lower your current bills.
- If you stay with your current provider, there are other ways you could save money. Most companies offer a discount for paying by direct debit. Or if you have gas and electricity from the same supplier, you could get a dual-fuel discount. Contact your supplier to see if that’s available to you.
- Maybe you can reduce your energy consumption. There are many ways you can do this, such as using loft and cavity wall insulation. There might be free offers available. Visit Energy Saving Trust or call them on 0300 123 1234.
If you’re a low water user, it might be cheaper to have a water meter fitted. There are also water saving devices that can be used in the home. Contact your water company to find out more.
Telephone, satellite and internet
These bills can really add up. So it’s worth reviewing the package that you're on to make sure that it offers the best value available. Check with your current provider, shop around or use comparison sites. Here are a few ideas for cutting costs:
- Change to a combined phone, TV and broadband package. Bundling all three together usually results in a better deal.
- Think carefully about what you really need. If you can live without those extra TV channels, for example, you can make substantial savings.
- Cancel your mobile phone contract and start using a pay-as-you-go phone. With a pay-as-you-go phone you can control how much you spend more easily.
One of your biggest monthly bills is likely to be your mortgage or rent. Moving home is probably a last resort, but if you think it’s possible, consider downsizing or moving to a cheaper property.
Increasing your income
When times are difficult, finding ways to boost your income is not an easy task. But if you’re able to work, don’t give up. Keep looking for opportunities that could improve your situation. If you’re already in work, could you increase your hours or take on a second job?
Here are a few other things to consider:
- Are you claiming all the benefits that you’re entitled to? If you’re not sure, try our benefits checker.
- Could you rent a room to a lodger?
- Maybe you could get a friend to move in and share the bills?
- Do you have unwanted items you could sell?
Our StepChange MoneyAware team are dedicated to uncovering the best money management tips.
- Visit their debt blog and discover the best ways to boost your budget.
- Follow them on Facebook – they’ll answer your questions, share stories and post useful videos.
- For Twitter updates follow them @MoneyAware.
- Sign up to the MoneyAware newsletter and have useful tips sent straight to your email inbox every month.
Are there any other useful resources available?
There are a number of money advice tools that can help you keep on top of your finances. A good place to start is the Money Advice Service HealthCheck. It will ask a few simple questions and create an action plan to help you get the most from your money.