Maximising your finances and budgeting

Here are some useful tips and resources to help you empower your financial stability

Ensure you are accessing all the relevant benefits.

This can be confusing, but there is helpful advice on finding out what you’re entitled to from Citizens Advice

Council Assistance Funds

If you live in Southwark or have been placed in Temporary Accommodation by Southwark Council, do not get any welfare benefits and contribute to energy bills, you may be eligible for a discretionary Cost of Living fund.  Other councils will have similar schemes in place so check directly with them.

Food Banks

Take advantage of a local food bank if you feel you can’t cover basic food costs. You need to be referred to a foodbank via an agency such as Citizens Advice, social services, and local charities like Kineara (if you’re a client of ours), or you can reach out direct to Trussell Trust. Here is a useful directory of London foodbanks

Help with Food for Children and Pregnant Women

If you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of 4, you may be able to get support to buy healthy food and milk via the Healthy Start Scheme. Find out more here

Negotiate Payment Plans

If facing difficulties with bill payments, communicate with utility providers or creditors. Organisations are sometimes willing to negotiate payment plans or offer temporary relief during financial crises.

Explore Education and Employment Opportunities

Look into free educational and training programs that could enhance employability. Gaining new skills may open up opportunities for employment and increased income.

Save Whenever Possible

Even in challenging financial situations, if possible, try to set aside even just a small amount for savings. Having a small emergency fund can provide a buffer for unexpected expenses.

Prioritise Essential Expenses

Identify and prioritise essential expenses such as rent, utilities, food, and necessary transportation. Ensure these are covered first before allocating funds to other expenses.

Use a Free Online Budget Planner

This can help you keep a track of how you spend. Here’s a useful one

Create a Bare-Bones Budget

Develop a minimalistic budget that covers only essential needs. Cut out non-essential expenses temporarily to ensure that crucial bills are paid. Focus on needs rather than wants during periods of financial instability.

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