Feeling the Pinch?
12th January 2023
As the cost of living continues to rise there’s no getting away from the fact that, for many of us, juggling what available money we have is becoming harder.
On the back of the COVID 19 Pandemic and the war in Ukraine we’ve seen prices rocket. Where once we might put our heating on and not worry too much it’s fair to say that most people now are thinking twice before turning it up that extra degree - if at all. And it’s not just energy prices that are noticeably higher. With the rise in inflation everything seems to be becoming more expensive. Weekly shopping bills are creeping up with reports of some of the more recognisable brands now with eye watering prices and many parents are even struggling with the cost of school uniform.
It would be easy to become overwhelmed with this situation. And, if you’re having to prioritise between essentials because you simply can’t afford them life is going to be tough, and let’s be honest, can really start to affect you personally as the worry of how to manage everything takes over.
But if you are struggling, whilst it might not help your situation, it’s important to remember you’re not alone and its certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. A recent survey from the Money Advice Trust published in September 2022, who surveyed 2000 people, found that one in nine UK adults have gone without food because of the cost-of-living crisis. Among their findings they estimated that 10.7 million of us have seen our energy bills rise by £100 a month or more and 15.3 million people say they must use credit to pay for essentials.
If you’re starting the New Year worrying about how you’re going to manage the bills, then the worst thing you can do is ignore it. The sooner you ask for help the sooner you can get yourself back in a position where things are more manageable for you.
We’ve listed some hints and tips below. You can also find more information on our Cost of living support page on our website.
Make sure you prioritise your bills
It’s difficult to know what to pay first if you have a lot of outgoings. General rule of thumb however is to make sure you pay your priority bills first, for example your mortgage and utility bills. Once you’ve dealt with these make a list of your other outgoings and then figure out what to pay next.
Ask us for help with your loan
If you have a loan with us, and you’re worried about making your loan repayments, we can help. You can find tools in your online account which you can manage your repayments with, for example requesting a reduced payment plan, or getting some much-needed breathing space whilst you work out what you can afford. And, if you’d prefer to talk, there’s lots of ways in which you can contact us. Our customer services team will be happy to speak to you and to explore the various options that we have available to help you manage things through this difficult time.
Speak to your other creditors
If you can’t make your regular repayments on your credit products then talk to the companies you owe money too. Many creditors will welcome you contacting them and asking for help as no one wants to see you struggle.
Remember, they’re there to support you and will have options for you which could help.
Check if you’re entitled to any benefits
Check to see if there are any benefits you could be entitled to. A good place to check this is the Money Helper website. They have lots of help and information on their website about benefits. The Citizens Advice Bureau is another good source of information so it’s worth looking at their website too.
Create a budget
If you’re juggling your money then it might be a good idea to think about creating a budget. Having a budget in place, and understanding where every pound goes, may help you reduce your spending and help you make the most of the income you have. There are some great budget tools available to help you if you need them including one from Money Helper which can be found on their website here.
Seek independent help
There’s lots of organisations that can help with free advice and information should you need it. Organisations such as Step Change, Money Helper, National Debtline and the Citizens Advice Bureau all have lots of information and independent advice about money and debt available on their websites.
If there’s one final thought to finish with it’s this. If you are one of the millions of people right now in the UK who are finding things tough don’t suffer on your own. The sooner you speak to your creditors or an organisation that can help you the better. There’s so much support out there to help people at the moment so start the year with a plan to help you get back on track which will hopefully make 2023 a more manageable year for you.