A lot of personal finance advice starts out with "Everyone needs an emergency fund". A survey showed that a third of middle-class families couldn't pay an unexpected bill of £500 without borrowing, so the lack of savings is a very widespread problem. But what if you already have debts that you are paying off? Accumulating an emergency fund will delay clearing the debts and increase the interest … [Read more...]
I write about a lot of Personal Finance that isn't directly about problem debts. Those articles are gathered here.
Spending - reducing or controlling it is usually essential if you want to reduce your debts. So Budgeting is another big topic.
Your grandparents used a pen and paper, but now we have Apps to make all this easier.
Mortgages - sometimes thought of as the only good sort of debt!
Credit ratings - important if you have too much debt or very little!
Have you heard of "present bias"? It's not wanting a jumper for your birthday rather than a bottle of wine, it's a behavioural economics term for a self-delusion that everyone suffers from to some extent. It affects many areas of life and one of the most important is making poor decisions about money - present bias makes it easy to get into debt and much harder to climb out. All too often we … [Read more...]
Having a cheap holiday at home may not sound a lot of fun. If you are trying to blitz down your debts (is that one of your 2018 New Year resolutions?) it can be a huge gain. If your credit card is maxed out you may not have an option - but you can make a deliberate decision about what you do instead. I asked some friends when they had done this and what they did, there were a wide variety of … [Read more...]
The National Housing Federation (NHF) has today published a major report called One Year On - the Impact of Welfare Reforms on Housing Associations and Tenants. This looks at the impact the introduction of size criteria - commonly called "the bedroom tax"- has had since April 2013 and looks at the likely readiness of social housing tenants for Universal Credit. As a CAB advisor I have seen many … [Read more...]
Funerals are expensive. The average funeral now costs £4,000 - that is an 80% increase in the last ten years. They are also a difficult time, as you are upset yourself and having to deal with what may seem like an over-whelming list of practicalities, from getting death certificates to informing friends and relatives who haven't yet heard about the death. And if you were living with the person who … [Read more...]
If you want to cut your expenses, food should be high up on your list. Food shopping is a large part of most people's budgets and it's also one that you have a lot of control over. It's not easy or quick to cut what you spend on rent, council tax or transport costs, but adopting a few new habits can help you reduce your grocery bill and still eat well. Plan, plan, plan Planning is the key to … [Read more...]
Without a good budget it's really hard to decide how to tackle your debts or to keep on top of them as you try to implement your chosen plan. This article looks at what goes into your budget and the different approaches people use that help them. Why budget? I wrote a long section here but Dave Ramsey has said it shorter and better: "A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of … [Read more...]
If you feel your money just vanishes or you are worried your budget isn't realistic, a spending diary will give you the facts you need to take control. Without knowing what you actually spend, all too often plans to cut back are just good intentions that don't work in practice. Why you need a spending diary Many people have little idea about what they spend - it feels as though their income … [Read more...]
If you are serious about paying off your debt, stopping using your credit card is the key first step to take. Until your debt stops increasing, you can't make a realistic plan to clear your current debt. As the saying goes, if you want to get out of a hole, then stop digging. But how hard will it be? Four common excuses for not giving it a go Do you recognise any of these: "I'm only … [Read more...]
Disability benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance (AA) are meant to cover the extra costs you get because of the disability. So is it right to use this extra money to pay off debts? Can your creditors make you do this? That may sound a bit abstract, but it leads to a very practical question - if you need a Debt Management … [Read more...]