So just how good are you with money? We're challenging you to take the Quids in! Mega Money Quiz and find out!
Taking the survey will give you a chance to take a look at what you're good at, and what you could do better. We hope it will make you think about some of your answers and challenge you to look after your money better, and it will also come up with a detailed action plan customised just for you, designed to help you get a grip on your cash.
To play the Quids in! Mega Money Quiz, just try to imagine yourself in the situation suggested and choose the option that's most like what you would do!
We will not capture your data while you take this quiz. It is completely anonymous.
You find £20 stuck in a hedge! There's no-one nearby you can return it to. What do you do with it?
“I'm off to the shops! You only live once!”
“Tuck it in my pocket and think about what to spend it on.”
“Straight down the bank with you, my new friend.”
A friend gives you a sure-fire tip for the Grand National. What's your next step?
“I don't bet.”
“I could do with a win. Let's chuck a few quid on it.”
“Borrow all the money I can and get down the bookies NOWWWW.”
A relative dies and leaves you £5,000. What will you do with the money?
“Excellent. I can clear off my loan, get rid of that tatty old sofa and finally get a new one!”
“Well... There are quite a few interesting investment opportunities I've been following.”
“Phew, that's handy. That should keep the bailiffs happy for a bit!”
Your washing machine breaks down. It looks like it'll never work again. What next?
“We'll have to live without one for a bit.”
“Well, I don't like touching my savings - but when you have to...”
“I can borrow enough to get a replacement.”
You get offered a great new job - but they want to pay your wages into your bank account at the end of every month.
“Shall I put it in my current account or my savings account?”
“I don't have a bank account. Cash or nothing Sunnny Jim.”
“Not a problem, though I'd prefer my money weekly.”
You hear on the radio that you can save up to £420 a year by switching your gas and electricity supplier online.
“I don't believe it. It's a con. They'll put the prices back up as soon as I switch.”
“Wow. Amazing. I'm going to do it now.”
“I switch every year.”
Some numpty's left the taps running in the bath. The living room's flooded, the ceiling's come down and the telly's ruined.
“I expect my landlord will be able to help me out with the costs.”
“That is annoying. I'll have to put in a claim on my home contents insurance.”
“Well, I can't really afford it, but I reckon Brighthouse will sort me out with a sofa and telly quick sharp.”
Nearly the end of the month and you run out of cash...
“Oh well, a payday loan will soon have that sorted out.”
“There's a man down the pub who will lend you cash in an emergency...”
“Have to dip into those savings again, but I'll pay it back.”
Please complete the quiz to see your results.
RED ALERT! You may be in Money Trouble! See your action plan for ways to get help.
AMBER GAMBLER! You're pretty good with your money, but could do some things better. See your action plan for things that could help you.
GREEN GOD(DESS)! We're not going to teach you much about looking after your money. As you're so shrewd maybe you could share some of your good habits with your family and friends! We may have picked up one or two things you could improve though...
Your Action Plan
Have you got a gambling problem?
If you do, then gambling is an addiction, and needs to be treated in the same way as an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
This quote from an anonymous contributor on the Gamcare website is typical: "I won £10,000 a day before my 19th birthday, guess what?... yep I lost the whole lot within a day online. I also lost every months wage package every month leading up to this (£1,200) I have always worked full time but I have nothing to show for this apart from about £15,000 of debt!!”
The problem is hope. However much they may have lost, gamblers always believe the only way to get the money back is to gamble more. This leads to debt, stress and, frequently, relationship breakdown. Some people lose their jobs, or even their homes.
The important thing is to recognise the problem, face it and seek help.
Gamble Aware, an organisation funded by the UK gambling industry through the Responsible Gambling Trust gives a tick list on its website of signs to recognise that your gambling is a problem. These include:
- Losing interest in usual activities or hobbies like going out with friends or spending time with family.
- Lying about your gambling or hiding it from other people.
- Borrowing money, selling possessions or not paying bills in order to pay for gambling.
- Neglecting work, school, family, personal needs or household responsibilities because of gambling.
Click here for the full list.
If you are concerned, contact Gamcare or Gamblers Anonymous. They can provide information and advice, refer you to other sources of help and advise you what may be available locally. This can include joining a local support group, referral to sources of help about money and debt advice, plus identifying other suitable forms of personal help such as counselling, and crisis support. If you are affected by another person's gambling, see Gam-Anon below.
Who can help?
Gamcare provides a free Helpline, forum and a live chat with an advisor. There also a section for young people 12-18 spelling out the risks of gambling.
Helpline 0808 8020 133
Gamblers Anonymous a group of men and women who have joined together to tackle their own gambling problem and help others do the same.
National: 020 7384 3040
Scotland: 08700 50 88 81
Gamble Aware is funded through the Responsible Gambling Trust, funded by the gambling industry in the UK. Its website has help and advice, plus tips about managing your gambling.
020 7534 6699
Gam-Anon provides support to anyone affected by another person's gambling problem.
National: 08700 50 88 80
Scotland: 0141 630 1033
Get a grip on your debt
It seems the only people flying high right now are high interest money lenders and payday loan companies. Avoiding debt is the best cure but once we're in the debt trap, what can we do?
- Write out a budget plan every few months or when anything that affects your cash changes like changing jobs, having kids or coming into a bit of money. See our Budgeting page.
- Find help as soon as you realise you can't make ends meet. Go to a not-for-profit advice agency (see side panel). Private companies will often charge you for helping, which defeats the purpose, and it will take longer to get back on top.
- If you have debts but a bit of money left over each week, pay off as much as you can afford without over-committing yourself. Be realistic because if you commit to payment levels and can't keep up with them, you will struggle to reach a new deal with lenders.
- Understand how interest works. It's the charge placed on top of what you borrow. As it's a percentage, the more you borrow, the more it costs you. Also the higher the percentage, the more it costs you. Next time you see an ad for a payday loan or easy access credit, take note of the percentage. QuickQuid say 1,734% is representative, so if you borrowed £100 and it took you a year to pay it back, you would pay £1,834.
- Pay off debts with high interest first. If you can, find credit with cheaper interest and move your debt around, working towards paying it off. It can take a while but you'll feel in control.
- Never borrow money from an unlicensed lender, even if it's someone you know. They offer ready cash for what you need and there's no paperwork but that also means they can ask you to pay whatever they like in future. If you get caught in this trap, contact the Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 555 2222.
- Don't stick your head in the sand. Face up to debt, however small, and take action. There is free help available and if you owe too much to even make the minimum payments each month, find help fast. You'll find you start to feel better with someone on your side who may be able to speak to lenders and even handle your payments for you.
- Don't be scared to pick up the phone as soon as you know you're struggling. They want to get their money back, however long it takes, and it's in their interests to strike a deal.
- Never borrow for anything you don't absolutely need unless you are completely sure you can repay it, on time and preferably before the lender whacks interest on top.
0808 808 4000
StepChange Debt Charity (CCCS) Debt advice charity offering free debt management plans and advice
0800 138 1111
Community Legal Advice (CLA)
0845 345 4 345
There are a number of debt advice agencies that operate in your area. To find your nearest advice centre or to get free advice call 0800 138 1111. You can visit www.moneyadvicemap.com and type in your postcode.
Find your local bureau at www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Say Goodbye to Buy Now, Pay Later - Get Saving in Advance!
The days of 'buy now, pay later' are pretty much over. We can't be so sure about how safe our incomes are so saving for holidays, Christmas and emergency purchases is the best way forward.
- Shop around. Savings should make you money, find the account PAYING YOU the best interest.
- Will you need emergency access to your savings? The highest interest might be in an account where you have to give lots of notice to withdraw or lose a lot of interest or even pay a penalty
- To build up your savings, set yourself a target. Divide the target by the number of weeks or months you'll add in money and make sure you never add less. You'll be surprised how quickly it grows. (The Government's Money Advice Service has an online savings planner. Click here.)
- Check out the Post Office. Look at interest rates and schemes like Premium Bonds, which are run like a lottery that pays out little wins but where you can cash in your original 'stake' at any time.
- Find out what local community savings schemes there are, such as credit unions or community enterprises like My Home Finance. Many offer better terms on loans once you're a saver with them.
- Never sign up to a scheme where you can't shop around for the best prices later. If you get vouchers at the end or have to buy from the scheme, check you can't get better deals elsewhere. [We checked the prices offered by Park Christmas Savings and found, for example, a Harry Potter DVD boxset (first seven films). Park's price: £74.99. Amazon: £29.30.)
- Avoid putting your money in an account or scheme that doesn't pay you interest.
- There's no point using a current account. They are designed to have transactions in and out all the time. They usually don't pay interest. Ask about a savings or deposit account.
- Steer clear if your savings won't be protected by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme), which protects up to £85,000 of savings. If you have more than that, open another account elsewhere to keep all your money covered
- Don't be afraid to get advice but check you don't pay for it out of your own money (some advisors will work for free or are paid by the companies you save with). If you're more confident and have a bit more to put by, talk to someone about cash ISAs and other investments that pay a bigger return tax-free. They can tie up your money so check the small print
When looking for further advice, the Government's Money Advice Service website is a great place to start. Click here.
Compare rates and, be careful, the terms (like how long it's locked in) at MoneySupermarket.com. Click here.
Advice on savings and comparisons by uSwitch. Click here.
Do you need to borrow some money?
Simply put, the best thing to do is to never borrow. Set up a savings account (or even just a jamjar) and stick a bit of money in it all the time, so that when you need money in a hurry you can get some.
But life is often not that easy. If you need to borrow some money these are your options:
1. Friends and family. There are several advantages to this route and a couple of big issues.
The advantages are that your loan may well be interest free, the repayment terms will be easier and no third party has to get involved in your money affairs.
The big drawbacks are that firstly you have to come client to your friends and family that you're in trouble and need the help, and secondly, that if you can't pay back the money you're hurting people you care about.
So our advice is to only ever borrow from friends and family if a) you're sure you can pay it back, and b) they're sure that they can manage without the money if anything goes wrong.
2. Social Fund. Before going for commercial debt, it's worth seeing if there are any loans available from the government's social fund available to you. Budgeting loans are only for those receiving benefits.
3. Credit Unions. Credit Unions will offer you some of the cheapest and easiest loans you can get. The drawback is that often you'll need to have been saving with them for a while before you can get a loan. Visit our credit unions page for more info.
4. Banks and Building Societies. To borrow from this lot you'll need a good credit rating, and often some security to offer them as well. You can get good deals here, and it may make more sense to borrow a larger amount from a bank or building society, with repayments you can afford, rather than to have little loans all over the place you can't keep track of. Have a look at www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/cheap-personal-loans for a list of loans available...
5. Payday loans. Payday loans charge you huge interest. Only ever consider one if you are sure you can pay it back at the end of the month. One in three people who borrow money from a payday loans company ends up getting into further money trouble. See our payday loans page.
6. Unlicensed lenders. Or loan sharks, as they're also known. Don't do this. It never works out well. See our loansharks page for more details.
Open A Basic Bank Account
An estimated one million people in the UK don't have a bank account - and many think they can't have one. But everyone can have a Basic Bank Account, even if you have a poor credit rating or have been declared bankrupt. You just need to go in and ask for one - don't be put off!
There are some good reasons to have a bank account. A Basic Bank Account will give you can get a cash card (not a credit card) allowing you to draw money from cash machines. If your wallet is stolen, you can cancel the card, whereas cash would be lost.
You can also get your wages or benefits paid directly into the bank, so you have access to it more quickly.
One of the biggest benefits of a bank account is being able to set up direct debits. You will often be offered cheaper energy prices or other bills if you can do this. Plus, it means there's no risk of forgetting to pay and getting a penalty.
You do need to keep an eye on your balance, though. A Basic Bank Account will not have an overdraft facility, so you must make sure you have money in your account to cover direct debits - otherwise the bank will charge you, and the penalty can be £25!
To open an account, you need to go to the bank and ask for a Basic Bank account. You need to take proof of ID (usually a passport driving licence, benefit books or HMRC Tax Notification or assessment letter) and proof of address - usually recent bills showing your address.
Martin Lewis of moneysaving expect.com recommends Barclays Cash Card and The Co-op Cash Minder accounts. Both let you set up a direct debit and have a cash card. It's also worth approaching your local credit union to see if they have a Basic Bank Account you can use. Call 0161 832 3694 to find your nearest.
Why not switch your utilities?
A surprising number of people think that switching is a con. They think that if you switch, the company you switch to will only put up your bills as soon as it can. Well, think about it - even if that is true, you'll still be saving money in the short term.
And what a lot of money you can save - £390/year is the AVERAGE saving you can currently make if you're a first-time switcher. You'd be mad not to do it.
We've got a special link to Uswitch you can use here. We make a little bit of money out of recommending you, and you save a load of cash. It's a good deal all round.
Switch your utilities now!
We've got a special link to Uswitch you can use here. We make a little bit of money out of recommending you, and you save a load of cash. It's a good deal all round.
Get Home Contents Insurance
When it comes to working out our budgets, home contents insurance is one of the things we might overlook. And yet, if something does go wrong, it can turn out to be a very important purchase.
There's been a lot of flooding this year. Just imagine if all your stuff got soaked. No more computer, or stereo, or possibly even cooker. Or what if your home caught fire, or you were burgled... Or even if a child emptied its milk beaker down the back of the telly?
Home contents insurance can be cheaper than you imagine - there are some great deals out there that could see your favourite things covered for the price of a loaf of bread every week. Quids in! says it's money well spent.
If you rent from a social landlord check with them to see if they have a scheme you can sign up to. Or if not, check out Money Saving Expert's low-cost schemes here.
Don't Shop at Brighthouse!
Shops like Brighthouse look to get money from you in four ways.
First they offer you loans with pretty high interest rates. Sure, you can pay them off weekly, and that makes them look affordable, but you'll still end up paying more if you borrow like this. See our borrowing page for other ways you can get hold of money.
Secondly, they charge you more for the item in the first place than you can get it elsewhere. A Beko oven can cost you £562, while a nearly identical oven is available from the Co-op for just £389.
Thirdly, if you don't have Home Contents Insurance Brighthouse insist you take out 'damage liability cover' and charges you for that, too.
Fourthly, they'll try to sell you Service Cover. In the example above, the Beko Oven, that would cost £436.80 for three years. The Co-op's cover is just £49.99.
So the total cost to buy from Brighthouse? A whopping £1,433.64. And the same thing from the Co-op? Just £438.99. That's why you shouldn't buy from Brighthouse or other companies like it.
The example we used here came from a Guardian newspaper investigation.
The trouble with loan sharks is that they don't have big teeth. They can be friendly, and talk as if they are doing you a big favour. But they will make sure you never pay off the loan, and the rate of interest can be enormous.
They may not even keep you up to date on how much you owe. Or they may offer you a new loan to pay off the old one, so keeping you in their debt.
In the worst cases, they can become aggressive in seeking their money. And then their teeth start to show.
Loan sharks are unlicensed moneylenders who operate outside the law and without any financial regulation. They will often take your post office account card, or other valuable items as security against the money you have borrowed.
They may use threats and violence to frighten you if you can't repay. Or they demand that you do illegal 'favours', such as growing cannabis.
The best defence against sharks is to budget carefully. Click here for financial advice.
The next is to ask yourself how badly do I need this loan? Your local benefits office (DWP) can make emergency payments if necessary. Could a local charity or church that could help you? Don't be too proud to ask.
Finally, make sure you see exactly how much you will have to repay before agreeing even to a legal loan.
If you are in debt to a loan shark, don't ignore the problem. If you are being threatened, go to the police. You can also report the loan shark anonymously to the illegal Money Lending Team (see contacts below).
Who else can I borrow money from?
- Always go to a licensed lender. Call the Consumer Credit Public Register on 020 7211 8608 to check.
- Shop around for the best deal
- If you're on a low income and need to borrow a small amount for a short time, try to a credit union. In most cases you will already need to be a saver with the union before you can get a loan, but some will give the loan first. Call the Association of British Credit Unions on 0161 832 3694 to find one near you.
- If you want to know your consumer rights, call Consumer Direct, a government-funded advice service, on 08454 04 05 06 or visit their website at www. consumerdirect.gov.uk to find your local organisation.
What should I do if I owe a loan shark money?
- You don't have to repay any money lent to you illegally.
- If you, or anyone you know, are being threatened, or believe you are in danger at the hands of a loan shark, you should immediately call the police.
- It is an offence for anyone to harass you in pursuit of an unpaid debt.
Illegal Money Lending Team - England
0300 555 2222
Available 24 hours
Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit
0300 123 3311
Text LOAN SHARK and the lender's details to 60003
Illegal Money Lending Team - Scotland
0141 2876 655
In Northern Ireland
Trading Standards Consumerline - Northern Ireland
0300 123 6262
If you'd consider taking out a payday loan, don't. Think again.
Payday loans are the fastest growing form of credit in the UK. Companies offering short-term loans are all over the press and TV, they are setting up on high streets, and even advertising alongside free apps on tablets and smart phones.
They promise ready cash and a way to keep things ticking over, even for people with poor credit ratings, but they can all-too-easily lead to spiraling debt.
The trouble is, the interest rates are usually in four figures. Quickquid advertises 1,734% typical APR (average compared to the amount borrowed if borrowed for a year). Wonga says 4,214% is typical.
Plus, there may be hidden charges, or penalties for non-repayment, which can be £150 for being just 10 days late.
If you get behind, the company simply offers more money - sometimes by text. So you keep paying.
The Good Practice Charter, signed by 90% of payday lenders was introduced in November 2012 and improved practice to some extent. For example, those who sign up agree to freeze interest and charges if a customer is in financial difficulty and making payments under a repayment plan, or after a maximum of 60 days of non-payment. Click here to download the charter, which governs lenders who are members of the Consumer Finance Association, the Consumer Credit Trade Association, the BCCA, or the Finance & Leasing Association.
Even so, Quids In! says if you are tempted to take out a payday loan, think about why you need one. If it's for bills, or everyday items because you can't stretch your income, you need long-term help and maybe some advice on better budgeting. A payday loan might do more harm than good.
If it's a one-off emergency, make sure you can meet the repayments, otherwise the cost of that loan will not only push you further into debt.
It's better to put a little aside in a savings account for unexpected extras. Even coins in a jar can soften the blow.
Payday loans in numbers
- 1 in 2 payday borrowers say they were hit with unexpected charged
- 1 in 2 payday borrowers roll over their loan at least once
- 1.2 million people took out a payday loan in 2011
- 1 in 3 people who take out a payday loan get into more money trouble because of it
(Source: Which? May 2012)
Call them if you are getting into debt trouble.
0808 808 4000
Stepchange Debt Charity
Can help you negotiate payback terms with your lenders.
0800 138 1111
Credit Unions can offer an alternative to Payday loans. Join one now, ready for that rainy day.
To find your nearest credit union, call 0161 832 3694
Citizens Advice (CAB)
Citizens Advice can help you deal with payday lenders.
Find your local branch on www.citizensadvice.org.uk