Tips on managing your money, reducing your bills and cutting down on your spending.
Dealing with debt
There is plenty of help and advice available where you won't need to spend a penny. The links below are just a few that you may find helpful:
- Money Made Clear Wales - Welsh Government backed website that has been set up to help you manage your money better.
- Money Advice Service - Free, unbiased, independent advice and tools to help you manage your money better.
- National Debt Line - provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems.
- Citizens Advice Bureau - helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice, and by influencing policymakers.
Debt counselling for council tenants
If you have difficulty paying your rent and other bills and don't take action to deal with your financial difficulties, your debts will mount up and you may be at risk of losing your home, having important services cut off, losing your possessions or even going to prison.
We are here to help council tenants who are having problems in meeting their rent payments due to other financial commitments. We can arrange a FREE confidential session with an independent debt and money advisor for anyone in rent arrears or likely to get into arrears. To arrange an appointment, call the Rents Section NOW on 01495 235600.
One simple way of preventing getting into debt is to budget effectively. Many people spend far more than they can afford, and will find that keeping track of their spending can make a real difference.
- Calculate your actual monthly expenditure - be honest about what you spend. For help to work out your monthly expenditure follow this link to use the FSA budget calculator.
- Priority bills should be paid first eg. Council Tax, rent, mortgage, etc.
- Contact your creditors as soon as possible explaining why you are in debt
- Contact advice agencies to help with dealing with creditors, the Citizens' Advice Bureau offers a range of advice and support services
- Borrowing to repay existing debts is a bad idea, consider ways of making extra money
- You may be entitled to certain benefits if you are on a low income
- Plan your weekly shop carefully and don't buy too much so you don't waste food (and money). With nearly 1/3 of the food we buy ending up in the bin, Love Food Hate Waste outlines how we can reduce our waste and save money (around £420 a year for the average family). Visit the website to find delicious and thrifty recipes for your leftovers.
- Take your own lunch to work. It's much cheaper and will save you a lot of money.
- Grow your own food – It's not only good for you but will save you money too. Contact leisure services on 01443 863005 to find out about allotments plots that are available. RHS Grown Your Own campaign offers useful tips and advice.
- Budgeting and your finances from Direct Gov provide tips on budgeting and managing your finances.
Look for the best deals
Comparison websites are a good way to make sure you are paying minimum prices for utilities, services and retail purchases.
Uswitch, Moneysupermarket, Money Saving Expert and similar websites are a great way to make sure you are getting the best prices on gas, electricity, phones tariffs, Internet connections and insurance.
You can also juggle your debts to make sure you are paying the minimum amount of interest - compare credit cards and consider transferring to cards offering 0% interest rates. Store cards usually charge higher rates of interest so it might be wise to transfer these debts to 0% credit cards (but read the small print carefully to make sure there are no charges or transfer fees) or if possible arrange a low interest loan to reduce the amount you are paying in interest.
Sell your unwanted items
Many people have houses full of stuff they don't use or don't have room for, but these items might be just what someone else needs. Make some extra cash by selling your unwanted items - either online through auction sites or at local car boot sales and cards in local shop windows.
Save money with a Credit Union
Credit unions provide a good alternative to banks by providing low-cost loans as well as savings facilities for local people.
Islwyn Community Credit Union Ltd
Credit Union Building
Tel: 01495 222832
B.A.G. Credit Union Ltd
47 Commercial Street
Tel: 01443 838605
Smart Money Credit Union
Tel: 029 2088 3751
Shopping locally can not only save you money but will also help to support local businesses, many of which are struggling to get through these tough times.
Don't fall for a scam!
Watch out for rogue traders who appear on your doorstep and target the elderly and the poor. These are the people most likely to be at home in the day time, and least likely to know how to make a fuss. If you need work done, ask your friends, neighbours and workmates if they can recommend someone or look for members of trade bodies such as Trust Mark and the Federation of Master Builders.
Be suspicious of emails, phone calls or letters trying to get your bank account details. Genuine organisations don't ask for details in this way.
If in doubt contact Consumer Direct for advice.
Our Trading Standards webpages provide comprehensive information and advice about dealing with rogue traders, choosing reliable traders, scams and scam mailings.
What else you you like to see on this page? – If you feel we could add any information or links to organisations on this page that will make it more useful, please let us know using the box on the right on the page.