Living on a budget

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Managing money and making ends meet when you’re on a low income takes careful organisation.  Find out some of the best ways to make sure you’re doing all you can to stay in control when you’re on a tight budget.

Work out your budget

The first step to taking control of your money is working out your living costs, including knowing what’s coming in, what’s going out and when.

Making a budget gives you a clear picture of where your money goes and shows you where you might have a chance to save money.

It will also help you see whether you’re living within your means.

For more on budgeting and money management, read this Beginner’s guide to managing your money.

Look at ways to cut costs

It can be difficult to increase the amount of money you have coming in, but you have much more control over what goes out.

While it might be possible to cut costs, some bills will stay constant and should be prioritised. These include:

  • water
  • energy
  • Council tax
  • electricity
  • broadband bills

You can save hundreds of pounds by switching utility providers and shopping around for lots of things, including your groceries and holidays.

For more information read this guide on How to save money on household bills.

Claim all the benefits you’re entitled to

It’s easier than you might think to check that you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to if you’re on a low income.

Some benefits are one-off payments to help with a particular set of circumstances like cold weather.

Others, such as Income Support, top up your regular income.

Find out more in this guide which explains Universal Credit and click on this guide which tells you all you need to know, including help you can get if you’re worried about keeping up with essential bills and payments.

Emergency borrowing to make ends meet

Budgeting Loans

If you’re on a low income and claiming benefits you might be able to get an interest-free Budgeting Loan from the government, to help you make ends meet at a difficult time. 

This can help with things like:

  • travelling expenses
  • clothing or footwear
  • furniture or household equipment
  • money to help you look for or start work
  • improving, maintaining or securing your home
  • advance rent or removal expenses for a new home

Find out about Budgeting Loans and get an application form on the GOV.UK website.

Learn more about the Budgeting loans and Budgeting Advances in the guide What is a Budgeting Loan/Advance?’ on the Turn2us website.

Other loans

Be very careful with other kinds of borrowing.

Things like payday loans, logbook loans and doorstep lending can seem an easy solution, but can make a bad situation worse.

They’re often a very expensive way of borrowing, so always try to find other ways.

Ask your family if they can help, or consider joining a credit union.

Credit unions offer banking services to people who would otherwise find them difficult to get.

Learn more in Borrowing from a credit union.

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