If you have problems with money, you’re not alone. We can help. Perhaps by suggesting how you can increase your income or cut your spending. Maybe by helping with a money problem you’re facing right now. Or helping with anxiety or another health problem that’s getting you down. To help we need to know about your income, including benefits, and what you spend each month on essentials and other items.
Julie was a single parent with a 7-year-old son. Although she worked part-time she was worrying that she couldn’t make ends meet. She came to the office to ask for our help with her financial problems.
Julie brought recent pay slips and letters showing her total income, including benefits. She also brought a letter from her gas and electricity company showing a big debt for unpaid bills.
Talking through the background, our adviser discovered Julie was just about managing to pay her monthly bills, but had nothing left to pay off the debt.
The adviser checked her benefits.
She couldn’t claim any extra benefits. But she was now earning less than when she first claimed housing benefit. That was important. She should report her change of circumstances to the council who would recalculate her housing benefit. This might help.
The adviser also telephoned the energy company.
They said Julie’s debt had grown because they had no recent actual meter readings and some direct debit payments had been missed. The company agreed to put the account on hold for a set time. This allowed us to work with Julie to sort out how much she could afford to repay each month. We could also offer her advice on ways to avoid getting into difficulties again.
Julie had only been able to guess what she spent each month on different items. We gave her an printed form where she could write down everything she spent. We asked her to check actual amounts before she came for a second appointment.
When Julie came back with her completed form, the adviser found that her mobile phone bill was high. She could reduce the bill with a different contract. This and other savings reduced her spending enough to allow her to agree with her energy company to pay off the debt in instalments she could afford.
* Composite story of a client’s problem, names and events altered for confidentiality purposes.