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Get money and budgeting advice

MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
edited August 2016 in Guest Q&As
Hello I’m Hilary and I work for Citizens Advice and the Money Advice Service. I’m responsible for the quality of advice and training of Money Advisors around Wales.

I also spent 26 years working as an Independent Financial Advisor, so I have a great understanding of most financial topics.

I’ll be here on the community from Tuesday 15 March for three days answering your questions and giving clear, unbiased money advice to help you make informed choices.

Ask me about anything: budgeting and managing your money, debt and borrowing, homes and mortgages, insurance, saving and investing, pensions and retirement. I’ll try my best to help!

Find more information from Money Advice Service in Scope’s money information hub https://www.scope.org.uk/support/disabled-people/money

Replies

  • aranciataaranciata Posts: 2Member Listener
    I have so many debts that I am considering bankruptcy. I can't afford the fees, where can I get help with them?
  • lauon90lauon90 Posts: 10Member Whisperer
    Hi, what would be your advice for someone who is struggling to budget? What is the best place to start?
  • RosemaryRosemary Posts: 11Member Listener
    Hello, I am going on holiday in May and I am looking for travel insurance. As I am a wheelchair user should I expect to pay more than my non-disabled husband for our trip to Germany? We don't plan any dangerous mountaineering or dangerous sports so I don't see why I am expected to pay more. What advice would you give? Thank you, Rosemary
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @aranciata. Hello.
    I'm sorry to hear that you are worried about your debt situation but there is help out there you know. Have you undertaken any debt advice yet? There are several debt solutions that may be suitable for you, bankruptcy being the last resort really so maybe you could consider having some free debt advice before deciding? Let me know whether you would prefer face to face advice, telephone advice or via the internet and I will refer you to the most suitable free debt specialist. If you prefer face to face advice then I would need to know where in the UK you are situated. However if you have made the decision already that Bankruptcy is your way forward then I would suggest that you visit www.turntous.org.uk and look at their Grant search facility as there are many organisations who will help with fees such as this and they will be listed on this website. If you get stuck let me know. Hope this is helpful.
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @lauon90
    Hello,
    Budgeting is always a great idea and I'm happy to help. The first thing you will need to do is to complete a budget planner. This is a template where you can list your income and expenditure and is essential for good budgeting. We have a great online version on our website (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) under the budgeting section. In fact we have two- a beta (short) version and a full version which I personally prefer and use myself. It's extremely simple to use and it takes you through it step by step. I'd have bank statements and a short list of your income and expenditure handy before starting. Once you have completed it, sign in to the website and it saves your budget planner until the next time when you can just sign back in and make whatever amendments you want to it. Be honest with yourself when completing it as no-one else gets to view it so it's yours alone. And if you know you spend so much on a particular item don't hide it, put it down as you need to see the results. Only then will you begin to make positive changes. Once you have completed the budget planner it will show you whether you have a surplus or a deficit. Consider whether this result feels accurate. If it doesn't then maybe you should consider keeping a spending diary for 1 month. These are also on the website in the budgeting section or if you have a smartphone you could download a free App called "spendometer". It's fab and I use it myself. You then just add every single thing that you buy over the month to the diary and then at the end of the month it will give a clear picture of how much you spend on what. Then add this new info to your budget planner. We have a very useful tool on our website (in the budgeting section) called "quick cash finder". (QCF) If your spending diary shows that you are spending lots on an item each month that you could consider cutting back or stopping altogether add the item to the QFC and it will show you exactly how much you spend on this each month or each year. It can be shocking. I used to spend nearly £3 per day on a starbucks coffee on my way to work until I realised it was actually costing me £1600 a year. I no longer buy coffee as I either wait until I get to work or take a flask. Whilst you are on our website in the budgeting section you will see that there is lots of advice around budgeting which you may find useful. Also, you could see one of our Money Advisers face to face to go through a full budgeting session with you. It's difficult to cover everything here but we do offer this free impartial service on a face to face basis. If you type into the search bar "face to face advice" on the website there are phone numbers for each area of the UK or you can book a session online. Please let me know how you get on. and if you need any further advice, I'm here in your community until thursday evening.
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @Rosemary
    Hello.
    Thanks for your question. I agree that it does seem unfair that you may have to pay more for a similar level of cover and insurers are not allowed to discriminate against a person who is ill or disabled by refusing to insure you however it depends on your actual medical condition. Some companies once you have disclosed the condition to them will either offer you full cover if you pay a higher premium for the policy. Others will simply not allow you to claim for pre existing conditions or you can opt not to and the policy premium (price) normally remains the same. However you have to factor in how likely it would be for you to be unwell whilst in Germany with that pre existing condition. If it is likely to cause you ill health and possible medical care or expatriation then you potentially would be better off paying the extra premium to have this covered and have peace of mind. Also be aware that if you don't disclose a pre existing condition to your insurer this could make the policy invalid and would mean that you would be unable to claim on it for any reason. Saying this there are several insurance companies around who specialise in giving affordable cover to people with certain medical conditions and depending on your own condition it might be worth shopping around. You are obviously an internet user so perhaps you would be comfortable visiting comparison websites to investigate this issue. There are several of these including comparethemarket.com, moneysupermarket.com, gocompare.com to name but a few. We recommend that you visit at least 3 of these sites when comparing products in order to get a flavour for what's available. Also bear in mind a few cautions whilst using them. Some of the products who are near the top of the page are not always necessarily the best or indeed the cheapest. These comparison sites are usually commercially driven and the top companies will normally have paid a fee to be situated at the top of the page. Also some of the great deals shown on them can often be expired by the time you view them.
    The other method of finding the best insurance policy would be to consider contacting a specialist insurance broker. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has a database of brokers that you can search by disability or medical condition. You can access a link for this and research lots of useful advice on our website (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) and by typing into the search bar "Buying insurance if you're ill or disabled". This will bring up lots of information that I'm sure you will find useful.
    I hope this helps someway towards finding affordable travel insurance and have a great holiday to Germany.
  • lauon90lauon90 Posts: 10Member Whisperer
    Thank you for your response to my budgeting question. It's much appreciated and I'll definitely check out those recommendations. I have another question- my brother has Asperger Syndrome and mild learning difficulties and as a result, struggles with the concept of amounts of money. When he became more financially independent with his own bank account, my mum found he was withdrawing the maximum amount from the account whenever he could, often carrying large amounts of cash around with him. As he's generally quite vulnerable this concerned us. My mum wasn't sure how to manage this so limited his access to the account- becoming the 'caretaker' of his card and withdrawing an agreed amount per week- essentially giving him pocket money from his own earnings which is slightly demoralising. As he is now 29, I think he needs to become more financially responsible for his own welfare. Is there any advice you can give me to pass onto my parents? Is there a bank account you'd recommend?
  • aranciataaranciata Posts: 2Member Listener
    Thanks. I'd be interested in telephone or online debt advice details if you have them please.
  • foxukfoxuk Posts: 81Member Talkative
    Hi,
    I am disabled myself (higher rate DLA mobility and lower rate care) AND I also provide 24/7/365 care for my bedbound wife (higher rate DLA both). We are on a Carers Benefit Income support mix and get what we are due - we don't need a benefits check-up.

    Our bungalow is falling apart around us and we live in one room BUT we own it outright and it's still worth a few bob (over £200K).

    We have no savings BUT my credit rating is such that we could live off plastic for quite some time.

    We have no debts, the card is cleared every month.

    How can we sell our home and move to more suitable property without causing a complete meltdown of our income? I have recently been diagnosed with Hypertension which also means I have to avoid stress.

    Social Services are no help whatsoever and seem to be working on a 'make life difficult and they'll have to agree to care' plan. We get no help from them and after 3 attempts over the past 14 years I just don't have the energy to make yet another attempt at convincing them that they do have an obligation to do a Carer's Assessment.

    It's the financial side I need advice on, other info is included only to demonstrate that we have covered all the bases.
  • LizzielooLizzieloo Posts: 3Member Listener
    I could do with help budgeting my monthly in comings and out goings and how to keep to budget
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @lauon90
    Hi again, regarding your brother's situation, your parents could set up another account with the same bank in which they give him full access whilst drip feeding it from his original account either by using online banking to monitor and transfer money across or by setting up a regular standing order from one account to the other. Although maybe it might be helpful for him to attend a budgeting session with one of our money advisers aswell, even attend with you or your parents?
    Hope this helps
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @aranciata
    No problem at all. If you are interested in telephone and internet based advice I would recommend www.stepchange.org.uk. They are also a charity and offer free comprehensive debt advice. Their telephone number is: 0800 138 111. Your call will enable them to take some details from you and they will arrange a day and time to call you back for a full debt advice session.
    I would gather together details of your debts (maybe have to hand the last statement from each of your creditors) and also details of your income and expenditure if you are able to but don't worry about this for your initial call as they will then explain what they need you to prepare (if anything) for your telephone appointment. I'd also have a read through their website as there is lots of information on there regarding debt resolutions.
    Hope it goes well for you
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @foxuk
    Thanks for your query and also many thanks for being so open about your situation. It really helps.
    Were you perhaps thinking of selling your home and downsizing by purchasing another property which would be more suitable for you or were you thinking of selling your home, putting the equity in your pocket and being rehoused in either the private rental sector or by local authority? The answer to this would make a difference as if you increase any capital (money held) this may affect any benefits that you are currently receiving and could mean you living off that capital until depleted.
    Also whether a local authority has suitable homes available for you and would indeed assist in this matter would much depend on where in the country you live and your local council housing policy.
    You haven't mentioned your age or your wife's and this is crucial really as there are some excellent resources and agencies out there who may be able to help but which agency would depend on your age. So for example if one of you is over the age of 60 Age UK would be a good place to start as they offer support, advice and resources which may be of huge benefit to you. If this fits, their number is 0800 169 2081 and I'd recommend that you give them a ring to see what is available in your area.
    Another factor that may be worth considering is whether either you or your wife have spent any time during your life in the services (army, navy, airforce) as Royal British Legion are another great organisation who have support workers who can come and assess your home in order to make it more suitable, help with any potential house move and could indeed grant you monies to either help improve your home or indeed assist with a house move. Their telephone number is: 0808 802 8080 and their website address is www.britishlegion.org.uk
    Also I recommend that you do a grants search on www.turntous.org.uk as there are thousands of different grants available which you may be entitled to via your medical conditions.
    I hope this has been helpful to you and please feel free to ask further questions if you have any.
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @Lizzieloo
    Hello, thanks for your query. I'm always happy to help with budgeting and had the same question posed yesterday so have answered you in the same format.
    The first thing you will need to do is to complete a budget planner. This is a template where you can list your income and expenditure and is essential for good budgeting. We have a great online version on our website (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) under the budgeting section. In fact we have two- a beta (short) version and a full version which I personally prefer and use myself. It's extremely simple to use and it takes you through it step by step. I'd have bank statements and a short list of your income and expenditure handy before starting. Once you have completed it, sign in to the website and it saves your budget planner until the next time when you can just sign back in and make whatever amendments you want to it. Be honest with yourself when completing it as no-one else gets to view it so it's yours alone. And if you know you spend so much on a particular item don't hide it, put it down as you need to see the results. Only then will you begin to make positive changes. Once you have completed the budget planner it will show you whether you have a surplus or a deficit. Consider whether this result feels accurate. If it doesn't then maybe you should consider keeping a spending diary for 1 month. These are also on the website in the budgeting section or if you have a smartphone you could download a free App called "spendometer". It's fab and I use it myself. You then just add every single thing that you buy over the month to the diary and then at the end of the month it will give a clear picture of how much you spend on what. Then add this new info to your budget planner. We have a very useful tool on our website (in the budgeting section) called "quick cash finder". (QCF) If your spending diary shows that you are spending lots on an item each month that you could consider cutting back or stopping altogether add the item to the QFC and it will show you exactly how much you spend on this each month or each year. It can be shocking. I used to spend nearly £3 per day on a starbucks coffee on my way to work until I realised it was actually costing me £1600 a year. I no longer buy coffee as I either wait until I get to work or take a flask. Whilst you are on our website in the budgeting section you will see that there is lots of advice around budgeting which you may find useful. Also, you could see one of our Money Advisers face to face to go through a full budgeting session with you. It's difficult to cover everything here but we do offer this free impartial service on a face to face basis. If you type into the search bar "face to face advice" on the website there are phone numbers for each area of the UK or you can book a session online. Please let me know how you get on. and if you need any further advice, I'm here in your community until thursday evening.
  • NoraRNoraR Posts: 12Member Talkative
    Hi, I've been trying to find the correct support for my neighbor who is an elderly gentleman, with associated health issues (sight-loss, uses a cane to walk) and who seems to have some short-term memory loss. All support seems reliant on assessments of his income, which he is very reluctant to share. I doubt he is getting the right support in terms of benefits, he has no telephone and is computer illiterate. To my understanding he is living on small amount of savings and pension, and uses a key or card to pay for gas and electricity, which regularly runs out. I have been trying to get him some support through the council and local groups from age uk to befriending networks, but it remains difficult because of the income issue. Is there anyway he can be eligible for support, that is NOT based on his income?
    Many Thanks,
    Nora
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @NoraR
    Hello, and thanks for your query.
    It can often be difficult with trying to help the elderly as they are mostly very proud and are frequently found to be reluctant to disclose much information. Generally a lot of the available support will be means tested therefore knowledge of his income would be key. However, depending on where he is situated there could well be support from social services and other more local agencies that are not income/capital reliant.
    For example I mentioned in a previous query that the Royal British Legion (RBL) can help ex-servicemen or women and the qualifying service length usually is just 1 week at any time during his lifetime. I would imagine if he is elderly that he would certainly have served his country at some point (and in fact if one of his parents were in the services that would make him eligible) and RBL would be a good point of contact for you. The sort of support they offer is that they can assess a person's home and lifestyle to see where improvements can be made, they can also offer monetary support for household items, repayment of debt and even money for food. It could be that they would need to evidence his income but I feel that it might be worth a phone call from you explaining the situation and they would tell you if they can help at all. Their number is: 0808 802 8080 and their website address is www.britishlegion.org.uk.
    Finally, to get a much more holistic view of everything that is available in your area your local Citizens Advice Office (we are not called Bureau anymore) would be a good point of contact. Our service is completely confidential and maybe if you could get him to his local office they would explain what they need from him and he might feel able to disclose more if he knew that it wouldn't be shared with anyone else. Even if he doesn't want to disclose anything to them they would still help him. I am unable to provide you with a phone number at this stage as I have no idea which part of the country you reside but if you visit our national website it will direct you from there. www.citizensadvice.org.uk
    I hope this is helpful to you
  • markandchrismarkandchris Posts: 4Member Listener
    Hello,
    I've been a single parent with my mentally disabled son since 1990, I'm 57 and my son 29 now.
    This last two and a half years I've been forced to stop working partly due to my own physical problems which are getting worse, and no longer having any family help available for my son,to provide a few hours care to enable me to work full time.

    My son receives the middle rate of care and lower for mobility, I receive £45 per week income support and £60pw carers allowance. I was on ESA, for 2 years, but the thought of the ATOS assessments and the hurdles you're forced to go through, made me switch to income support.

    Now, with the new care reform act having a clause in it, (s14) which has removed protection from charges a disabled person can practicably be able to afford, my local council are bringing in charges for daycare, which with the money he takes in every day, would cost me in the region of £80pw, which would force me to remove him from daycare.

    We live in our own home which needs many repairs, which I am struggling to do with our income, even without these charges.

    I volunteer at two charities (CAB being one) and am trying to find part time work which is difficult with my age and physical problem.



  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @markandchris
    Hello and thanks for your query.
    You must be very concerned about all of these changes and how you are going to cope. I feel for you. You have many ongoing concerns and I wondered if you could possibly give me an idea of what you need answers to please? You also haven't stated whether your son is in receipt of any benefits as this could possibly be something that he may have entitlement to? I look forward to hearing back from you shortly
  • Bec126Bec126 Posts: 3Member
    Hi, I really hope I am posting in the correct section, so apologies if not,

    I am currently a student at university studying law. I also have a disability. I am applying to continue studying at the university for a PhD to start in September. However, due to my disability I would need to stay on campus residence. My subject does not have any sponsorship for accommodation as they often expect students to work from home, however, because of my mobility problems (Wheelchair user) and there being no commute available from my parents home on campus accommodation is the only option. It is also the only safest option because my parents house is not adaptable to my progressive condition and currently I very rarely go home as it is not safe. My question is whether there is any financial support for students with disabilities with regards to living on campus accommodation for postgraduate students and whether there was any financial support to help me move in to accessible accommodation when I finish my degree instead, as my parents house is not an option? My concern is that once I finish my degree I will have no where to live, regardless of whether I continue studying as a PhD student or find a job. Until I earn money, I do not have the finances to support myself due to the extra costs associated with having a complex disability. I am also no longer safe living on my own so again, this only adds to the financial situation.
    Thank you in advance for your advice,
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @Bec126
    Hello there, many thanks for your query.
    In the first instance I would advise that you visit our website (www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk) and type into the search bar "Support to help you study when ill or disabled" as there is a huge amount of information to be found on there regarding assistance whilst you are studying. I am presuming that you have spoken to the university itself to ask if there is any such support? Often they don't always publish this sort of information on their website or in their literature so it is always worth asking if they have anything to offer you. Also I recommend that you do a grants search on www.turntous.org.uk as there are thousands of different grants available which you may be entitled to via your medical condition. You could also try www.disability-grants.org as they specialise in searching for grants for disabled people. With regard to your housing situation after your PHD I would contact your local council to see what type of housing options they have available in your area. You could also contact Shelter as they are the housing experts and will know of any housing schemes for the disabled in your locality. Their number is:0808 800 4444. (I have presumed you live in England so this is the Shelter England number, if this is not the case they will be able to give you the number for your UK country of residence)
    The other option is to contact your local Citizens Advice Office as they will have detailed knowledge of any help and support that is available to you and you can find your local office on our website www.citizensadvice.org.uk

    Hope this helps and good luck with your PHD
  • markandchrismarkandchris Posts: 4Member Listener
    Hello,
    Sorry for just getting back. My son receives ESA, and the lower rate for mobility and middle for care( DLA.) Though my doctor advised trying for the higher rates, but with the new cuts and PIP being rolled out, who knows what will be best.

    I really wondered if I'm claiming the correct things, as I volunteer at CAB it's a conflict of interest to advise me.

    I am struggling to walk myself, but am trying to find part time work around my son, but if I have to remove him from daycare, that will be impossible
  • MoneyAdviceServiceMoneyAdviceService Posts: 12Member Listener
    @markandchris
    Thanks for your response and no worries about the delay. I get what you mean about the conflict of interest but that is only with the office that you work at. Is there another Citizens Advice that you could access locally? I really think that you need advice around yours and your son's situation. How about accessing advice from Age UK? They have benefits advisers too. Or perhaps an organisation that deals with your son's medical condition? Age UK's phone number is: 0800 169 208. Also I recommend that you do a grants search on www.turntous.org.uk as there are thousands of different grants available which you may be entitled to via a medical condition. You could also try www.disability-grants.org as they specialise in searching for grants for disabled people.
    Hope you find some answers soon.
  • JenniferUJenniferU Posts: 124Member Talkative
    Thanks to everyone who posted a question, and a really big thank you to Hilary for offering her advice and expertise this week!

    We're closing this discussion now but you can post in this group if you have anymore finance queries and someone will get back to you: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/benefits-and-finances
This discussion has been closed.