Habinteg tenant and Editorial Panel member Chris Hicken from Milton Keynes has been running Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Money Courses for over 20 years. Here he shares his top tips to help keep our finances on track and tackle our debts.
The starting point to put you back in control of your money is to do a budget sheet.
On your budget sheet, write down how much money you have coming in (your income), and how much you have going out (your expenditure). Habinteg has a template budget sheet on its website. You’ll find it at habinteg.org.uk/budgeting.
When you take away your expenditure from your income, if the amount of money left over is less than zero, this means you have more money going out than coming in. If you find this to be the case, please contact your local Citizens Advice, or if you receive welfare benefits, you can contact a personal budget coach at your local Jobcentre Plus.
Failing to make essential payments like rent, mortgage, council tax or utility bills, will cause you to fall into arrears. If you’re in arrears with any company, please talk to them. If they don’t know your situation, they won’t be able to help.
Here are a few organisations you can turn to for advice. They may also talk with your creditors and deal with further communications on your behalf:
- do not pay a company to help you reduce your debts. There are free services that can help
- do not take a ‘payday loan’ to pay off your debts. Though it may be tempting to do so, they often have high interest rates and will cost you more money in the long run.
Get support from loved ones
I know from personal experience, just how crippling being in debt can be, but having the support of your loved ones can help tremendously. Talk to your family members, so that you can work the situation out together.
Lastly, don’t beat yourself up about it. Taking the first step to sort out finances will be hard, but it will turn out to be an exciting journey.
If you’re having problems paying your rent, please call Habinteg Direct on 0300 365 3100 to speak to a member of our Income Recovery team.