“I’ve been struggling with money for around 18 months since being made redundant. I am looking for a job and claiming benefits but am finding it hard to make ends meet. I can’t afford to spend time with my friends or get them or their kids birthday presents so I pretend I’m busy or ill. Affording enough to eat each week is difficult and I just feel that everything is getting me down. My debt is growing and I can’t see this changing any time soon. Everything seems so hard and I’m not sure what to do any more.” Adrian M, Southend
Penny says: Dear Adrian,
Thank you for plucking up the courage to write, I know asking for help can be the hardest mountain to climb, but you’ve done it now so here we go. I can’t help thinking even though you’ve been on benefits for 18 months, you might still be missing out on some of the less well known ones. So always worth getting a benefits check done. Sometimes your landlord might have welfare benefit officer who can do this for you, or you could access the ones online such as this one on the Quids in! website. There are also others at turn2us.org.uk, entitledto and betteroffcalculator.co.uk.
When you’ve checked you are claiming everything you should, then it’s time to work your way through your spending and bills, to make sure you are not paying too much on any of these. Check you are not paying too much council tax, ask your energy and water suppliers if you qualify for any of their low income schemes. Make sure all your other outgoings are on the lowest rates by asking providers if they can do more for people in your situation.
If after all of this you still can’t manage to pay your debts, it might be worth a session with a free advice charity such as Citizens Advice, StepChange or an AdviceUK member. They will be able to support you through dealing with any problem debts, you’d be amazed how many options you have when you are finding it tough.
Then once you have got your money back on track it sounds like you need to spend some time on your health and wellbeing. Look out for social groups, local council run schemes for those on benefits to eat well on less, cooking on a budget and find a way to exercise for free. IT will all help you stay positive when you are finding it tough to carry on.
Good Luck Adrian!