What you can do to stop your finances spiralling out of control

calculator and notepad

Citizens Advice North Herts is offering advice on how to cope with rising energy costs - Credit: Citizen Advice North Herts

With many already struggling to stay on top of household bills, the weekly food shop not stretching as far as it did and energy bills going up, what can we do to stop our finances spiralling out of control?

It’s always worth checking the Citizens Advice website or calling us in case you are eligible for benefits or support with energy costs and living costs. Our website also contains advice on how to reduce living costs and information on ways you may be able to increase your income.

Most people who work are entitled to get paid at least the National Minimum Wage. This includes casual workers, people on zero contracts and agency workers. If you are entitled to the minimum wage, the amount you get will depend on your age and whether you’re an apprentice.

There is also a higher rate called the National Living Wage. You should be paid this if you’re 23 or older and you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Check the National Minimum Wage calculator on GOV.UK to see if you’re being paid the right amount.

And if you’re already behind on bills, prioritise paying your rent or mortgage, plus energy bills and Council Tax first. Not paying these bills has the most serious consequences. You should speak to the person or company you owe money to, to see if they can help you set up a realistic repayment schedule.

If you’re on a low income or claim certain benefits, you might be able to get help with the costs of sending your children to school. You could get free school meals and transport to school. You may even be eligible for a grant to help to buy school uniforms.

You might be able to save money by switching to a different broadband, phone or TV provider. Check your terms and conditions before you switch though, if you’re part way through a contract you might have to pay an exit fee to leave early. Exit fees can be expensive and it might be better to wait until the end of the contract before switching.

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We know that times are incredibly tough but please remember, you don’t have to face this alone, do contact Citizens Advice North Herts via northhertscab.org.uk or phone 0800 144 88 48.