- Make sure you’re claiming any extra money or support you’re entitled to.
- Put all your important documents in one place so you can find them easily. This could be letters, bank statements, payslips, bills and receipts.
- Check your bank balance at a regular, set time so you know what you’re spending your money on and how much you have left.
- Build money tasks into your daily or weekly routine. You could allocate a set amount of regular time to think about any tasks you need to do around money, for example paying bills. You could plan a relaxing activity for after you’ve finished. You could start by using this money and mental health toolkit from the Mental Health and Money Advice website.
- Make a plan for ways to distract yourself, if you notice changes in your mood that might affect your spending.
- If possible, use cash instead of cards. Take out only the amount of money you can afford to spend, for example for a weekly shop.
- Create a budget. The Money Helper website has budgeting advice for people who are self-employed, on a zero hour contract, or claiming Universal Credit.
- Make a list of all the essential things you need to spend money on every month. This could be things like rent or mortgage payments, energy bills, phone bills and food shops. The Mental Health and Money Advice website has a free budget planner which might help.
- Manage your debts if you can afford to. You could set up a standing order to pay off your debts each month. Or you could use an online debt tool. Use one of the tools on the StepChange website.
- If you’re struggling to pay off your debts, get debt advice. You might find it helpful to contact one of these debt organisations.
- If you’re struggling to pay off your debts, you could ask for a break from paying interest on your debts. This is possible under a Government scheme called breathing space. The National Debtline website has more information about the breathing space scheme.
- Use bank accounts which allow you to put money aside in separate pots. This can stop you spending the money you need for rent or bills. Money Saving Expert has more information about different banking apps.
- Set up direct debits for your bills and other regular payments so they don’t pile up. See our information on what to do if you can’t afford to pay bills.
If you can’t afford the things you need, help is out there. Remember, everyone has the right to essentials like food and housing. If you need support, the following things can help:
- Claim benefits to help with your living costs.
- Use a local foodbank.
- Community Fridges offer free food and most of the time you don’t need a foodbank voucher to use them.
- Find out if you should be getting social care.
- If you’re on a low income and need to adapt your home because of a disability, you can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant.
- Speak to your energy supplier. Most energy suppliers have schemes for people who are struggling to pay their bills.
- The disability charity Scope runs an energy advice service where they can give you advice on managing energy bills and switching suppliers.
- Ofgem has information about getting help if you can’t afford your energy bills.
- Some councils have a local assistance scheme. You can apply to this scheme if you’re on a low income and need help with an emergency cost you can’t afford.
- Money Helper has a tool on its website which helps you to prioritise your bills and payments. It works like this – you pick the bills or payments you’re struggling with, and the tool puts these bills into a priority order. The tool then lists the steps you can take to help make these payments more manageable.
I was embarrassed of how others would see me if they thought I was financially unstable. Don’t be ashamed. In society, we aren’t well educated in money management.
It can be helpful to make a plan for what will happen to your money if you become more unwell. For example, if you have to go into hospital or if you need someone else to make money decisions for you. Having a plan might help you to feel more secure and in control. Here are some things you could do to plan ahead:
- Budget and savings calculators can help keep your spending on track. Or they could help you save in case something happens in the future, such as needing to go into hospital. Use one of these calculators from the Money Helper website.
- You can give legal control of your money to someone else, in case you become unable to make decisions in the future. This is known as a lasting power of attorney.
- Make a list of all the essential things you spend money on every month. This could be things like rent or mortgage payments, energy bills, phone bills, and food shops. Also make a list of any benefits or grants you’re receiving.
- The Mental Health and Money Advice website has information on managing your money if you go into hospital.
I have been thinking about where I could save money. Looking ahead to when my outgoings would drop helped me focus on a possible future.
This information was published in April 2022. We will revise it in 2024.
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