Top 5 ways to reduce your expenditure

A higher cost of living coupled with no increase in the working wage has meant that many people are now finding themselves in a position where they have to tighten the purse strings and cut back on some of the things they took for granted.

Which can be a pretty difficult thing to do! Cutting back on luxuries can be hard enough but cutting back on the everyday essentials can be near impossible…I guess that’s why they’re referred to as ‘essentials’.

However, if you find yourself in this position then do not despair as there are a number of ways that you can reduce your expenditure without making too many alterations to your lifestyle.

1. Reduce your bills

Gas, electricity, telephones, television, credit cards…all monthly bills that you can probably cut back without even noticing. A good way to cut back on utility bills such as gas an electricity is to simply go online and use a price comparison website to see which provider is offering the cheapest tariff.

If you are on a mobile phone contract check which tariff you’re on and see if you are actually making the most of it. For instance, if you have 500 minutes of free calls each month yet barely call anyone then it makes sense to switch to a cheaper tariff that gives you fewer free minutes.

And, if you are a subscriber to cable television you need to consider whether you actually need every channel that is available to you or you could change to a cheaper, more focussed package that may offer less channels but still includes most of the ones that you actually watch.

If you have credit card bills each month it is worth transferring them, if possible, to an interest free or low interest credit card as this will mean that you are paying less each month and you are paying more off your actual debt rather than paying off interest.

2. Watch what you eat

Eating out is usually a lot more expensive than preparing your own meals so you can save yourself a lot of money by sacrificing the odd meal out or takeaway every month. It’s likely that this will also have certain health benefits too!

And even more savings can be made by simply extending this practice to include breakfast and lunchtimes. Instead of paying in excess of £2.00 per day on a sandwich you can make your own for a fraction of the cost and by simply foregoing that morning coffee on the way to work you can save even more. It may not seem like much but if you are saving around £3.00 every working day then this could net you around an extra £60 per month.

3. Check your memberships

Are you a member of a gym or fitness club but very rarely go or very rarely get a chance to go? If this is the case then it may be worth biting the bullet and cancelling your subscription, at least until such time when you will be better placed to utilise it more frequently.

Or, if you really do not want to cancel your subscription, it may be worth seeing if you can get it at a reduced rate either through an ‘off-peak only’ membership or a corporate membership taken out through your place of work.

4. Reduce energy consumption

Whilst you can save money on your energy bills by simply switching provider, the best way to do this is by cutting back on your energy usage as this will help to save you money and help to save the environment.

Some energy saving measures, such as installing energy efficient bulbs and cavity wall insulation can come with a fairly expensive initial outlay but will effectively pay for themselves in time.

However, you can also save energy by simply switching appliances off instead of leaving them on standby, use only as much water as you need when boiling a kettle and even by turning down the thermostat on your central heating by just one degree.

5. Never pay full price

It seems that the one positive thing to come out of these tough economic times is that you no longer have to pay full price for a lot of things. So, when shopping for food, try to take advantage of bulk purchase offers on non-perishables or discounts on the things you regularly buy.

In addition, when eating out, try to use discount codes, vouchers or save your eating out for times when restaurants offer discounts or even two-for-one offers.

Author Bio: Robert Fox is a freelance writer, author, and editor for money-fox.com, a personal finance blog geared to making your money go further.

Tuesday, October 25,2011
Debt Support Trust
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Cancer Patients Suffer Debt Problems

A recent survey by Yougov for MacMillan Cancer has uncovered the extent that cancer patients are struggling financially. The survey of 1,500 patients found that one in six were being forced to cut back on everyday essentials such as buying food.

Further finding from the survey confirmed 5% of people had skipped a meal to save money and 7% were in fear of losing their house. The survey unveiled the true cost of fighting cancer for people in the UK, nearly a third of people fighting cancer have spent all or some of their savings, with a further 9% having to borrow money.

Benefits system

Over the next 5 years the benefits system in the UK will be changed dramatically. The Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and some other benefits will be rolled into one Univeral benefit. This includes other benefits such as housing benefit, income based job seekers allowance and tax credits.

The changes are expected to make the financial situation much more difficult for people with cancer. MacMillan suggests 7,000 cancer patients will be up to £94 a week worse off.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer is an expensive disease to live with, but this research shows just how close to the breadline many cancer patients really are.

Monday, October 24,2011
Debt Support Trust
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3 Potential Risks of For Profit Debt Management Companies

3 Potential Risks of For-Profit Debt Management Companies

As the worldwide financial crisis continues to deepen, consumers are increasingly turning to debt management firms to get help with their ever-increasing stack of bills. With a debt management plan, you make one monthly payment which is distributed to your creditors proportionately. Enrolling in a plan to help you erase your debt may be beneficial to debtors who owe less than £10,000 in unsecured debt and at least £100 in disposable income each month.

Although UK residents can turn to any one of the numerous debt charities to get free help with managing their debt, too often, they end up contracting the services of a for-profit debt management company. An ongoing investigation by the Office of Fair Trading has revealed widespread abuse and exploitation within the industry. If you’re considering seeking debt help from a fee-based organization, you need to understand the potential dangers you may face.

Danger #1 – Excessive Fees

For-profit debt relief agencies make money by charging their customers a fee for services rendered. Depending on the company, you may be assessed an initial consultation fee, a monthly maintenance fee, a flat fee for settling a debt or all three. While you may be able to negotiate a lower monthly payment with your creditors, the money you save may end being redirected to the debt management company. You can potentially end up paying more than you originally owed and extending your debt repayment period by months or even years.

Danger #2 – Poor Communication

One of the biggest attractions of for-profit debt management companies is their advertisements, which promise overwhelmed consumers a fast and easy alternative for getting out of debt. Credit counsellors are trained to “sell” customers on the benefits of their program without encouraging them to read the fine print. Too often, the focus lies on increasing the company’s bottom line, rather than helping consumers learn how to manage their money and get out of debt. Before you sign a contract with any debt management company, you should know how much your payment will be, how it will be distributed to your creditors, when the payment is due and the number of payments you’ll be responsible for. A qualified non-profit debt charity can give you detailed information about the pros and cons of debt management and provide a customized solution to fit your needs.

Danger #3 – Potential for Scams

One of the biggest risks associated with for-profit debt management companies is that some of these organizations exist solely to defraud their customers. While you’re paying hundreds of pounds to the debt management firm each month, the company may be simply pocketing your money without paying anything to your creditors. Meanwhile, the interest and penalties on your debt continue to accrue. By the time you begin receiving collection calls from your creditors, your financial situation may be exponentially worse than it was when you originally enrolled in the debt management plan.

While not all for-profit debt management firms engage in unfair or fraudulent practices, the lack of industry regulation creates a serious risk for unsuspecting consumers. If you’re drowning in debt, enrolling in a debt management plan may be the best choice for dealing with your financial crisis. Enlisting the aid of a non-profit debt organization firm can ensure that you get the help you need while avoiding the potential pitfalls of the for-profit debt management industry.

 

About the Author

FPT is a writer, the owner and managing editor of Financial Planning Tips – (Twitter follow: http://twitter.com/fptguy) – attempting to liven up the topic of personal financial planning – while helping to guide folks to financial security and freedom.

Wednesday, October 19,2011
Debt Support Trust
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“Pay Your Debt”

Debt Advice: Can’t Pay vs. Won’t Pay

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, urged Brits to pay off their debt to help the UK economy recover. As part of the Conservative conference in Manchester, Mr Cameron took the opportunity to address the UK’s personal debt problem, which he states is part of the problem with the economy.

The Prime Minister said, “The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That means households, all of us, paying off our credit card and store card bills.”

In principle, we support the belief that people should repay their debt, where possible. However, Mr Cameron refused to praise UK citizens who have manged to repay their debt. In 2005, credit card debt levels reached £67bn, whereas in May 2011 the total had fallen to under £60bn. The number of people requesting credit cards has also dropped over the past 5 years to 59million from 68.8million.

Debt Support Trust said “There will be people listening to David Cameron and asking, ‘how?’. How do I repay my debt? Do I stop eating? Paying my rent/ mortgage? Or perhaps I should reduce my gas and electricity consumption?

People who have no available money, perhaps because they have lost their job, had their working hours reduced or don’t have enough money each month to pay their bills as they fall due will struggle to meet Mr Cameron’s plan.  The thousands of people we speak to are predominantly can’t pays, not won’t pays.”

The Can’t Pays

It’s important to stress that there is a difference between the ‘can’t pays’ and the ‘won’t pays’ for debt. People who refuse to pay their debt because they don’t want to should pay their debt back before it escalates and they receive a default on their credit file.

The Can’t Pays will be struggling to make their ends meet. Running their home, paying to get to work and simply meeting the minimum payments back to their debt is a struggle. Other than winning the lottery, they are stuck in an endless cycle which seems never ending. There are a number of solutions which can help people in the “Can’t Pay” category.

Debt Management Plan or Debt Arrangement Scheme could potentially help freeze interest and charges for people in debt, enabling them to repay their debt more efficiently. Another option is an IVA or Trust Deed. These solutions enable people to repay and affordable amount towards their debt over a definitive period of time. There are positives and negatives to these debt solutions which can be read on the solution page under “How can we help“.

Thursday, October 06,2011
Debt Support Trust
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Protected Trust Deed – Is My House Safe?

Protected Trust Deed – Is My House Safe?

A very common question which we get asked by people who are suitable for a protected trust deed is, will my house be protected?

Answer

The simple answer is yes however equity will need to be established during the term of the trust deed. In some instances a person may not be suitable for a protected trust deed if they have too much equity in their property. Equity can be released in a range of different ways, such as, re-mortgaging or third party finance. If your house is in negative equity you will normally be asked to pay a nominal fee to discharge your Trustees interest in the property.

What is equity?

Equity is the difference between the property value and the outstanding mortgage, minus the legal and admin fees etc. If the mortgage value is higher than the property value then the property is considered to be in negative equity.

What if i inherit a house?

If you inherit a house before or during your protected trust deed then you would be required to release equity from the property and you may be instructed to pay back the full amount of debt (plus an interest payment) if it is possible. The same would happen for other windfalls too.

What if i sell my house?

When you enter a protected trust deed you are telling you creditors that you are unable to pay back the full amount of debt you owe. If you come into money while in a protected trust deed, you would be expected to pay this into the arrangement. The insolvency practitioner is the Trustee of your estate so selling your property would require their involvement.

What if I joint own my property with my partner?

If you joint own a property with anybody else you would have to realise your share of the equity. So, if after legal and admins fee’s there was £10,000 then you would have to contribute £10,000.

Thursday, September 22,2011
Debt Support Trust
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Over 55’s Have Less Than £500 Savings

Over 55’s Have Less Than £500 Savings

A report by Aviva has found that a quarter of over 55’s have less than £500 in savings after the insurer questioned 10,000 people.

The Real Retirement Report also found that the same age group had seen a drop in monthly income of around £80 over the last 3 months to bring the average income for over 55’s to £1,216.

Clive Bolton, a director at Aviva, said: “Our research clearly shows that the majority of over-55s do not believe that they should have to pay for care in retirement. However with a rapidly aging population, this is simply not possible.

 

Debt Support Trust is a registered debt advice charity (SC041902) providing debt advice on a range of debt solutions including;

Benefits Advice

General Debt Advice

Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA)

Protected Trust Deed (Scotland)

Refinance

Bankruptcy

Wednesday, September 21,2011
Debt Support Trust
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Energy Secretary To Get Tough On Energy Companies

Energy Secretary To Get Tough On Energy Companies

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is expected to announce his intention to “get tough” on energy companies when he speaks at the Liberal Democrat conference today.

The “big six” energy companies have all increased their price tariff recently and Mr Huhne will say he wants everyone to have affordable energy.

Mr Huhne is expected to say, “It’s not fair that big energy companies can push their prices up for the vast majority of their consumers, who do not switch, while introducing cut-throat offers for new customers that stop small firms entering the market.

 

Debt Support Trust is a registered debt advice charity (SC041902) providing debt advice on a range of debt solutions including;

Benefits Advice

General Debt Advice

Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA)

Protected Trust Deed (Scotland)

Refinance

Bankruptcy

Tuesday, September 20,2011
Debt Support Trust
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Average Deposit Reaches £66k

Average Deposit Reaches £66k

New research by First Direct has found that the average deposit is now £66,000 while the average household income has only risen 2.3 times.

In 1990 the average deposit was only £6,600 which means people who are able to get a mortgage are having to save for longer or borrow more money.

Bruno Genovese, Senior Savings Product Manager from first direct said, “Much has been made of rising house prices, but the average deposit needed in the first place has actually risen more than twice as fast as house prices and almost four times as fast as income,”

 

Debt Support Trust is a registered debt advice charity (SC041902) providing debt advice on a range of debt solutions including;

Benefits Advice

General Debt Advice

Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA)

Protected Trust Deed (Scotland)

Refinance

Bankruptcy

Monday, September 19,2011
Debt Support Trust
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Energy Saving Trust – How Can It Help?

Energy Saving Trust – How Can It Help?

The Energy Saving Trust is an independent organisation which has been created by British Government with the help of the private sector. The Energy Saving Trust aims to make energy more affordable to people who are struggling.

While the Trust was set up by British Government different parts of the UK may have different initiatives and help on offer.

With fuel cost rising all the time it is important that anyone who is facing financial difficulties seeks out help and advice from anywhere that they can save money. The help and advice offered by the Energy Saving Trust could help;

  • Save £300 a year
  • Get Lower the cost of energy rates without having to switch suppliers
  • Get free loft and cavity wall insulation
  • Get information about benefits which could mean extra money
  • Get Grants things such as central heating

What you are entitled does depend or your circumstances however the Trust does urge anyone who is within the following category to contact them;

  • Pregnant or have a child under 16
  • 60 or over
  • Living in residential mobile home
  • currently receiving benefits

If you want to save money on your energy bills then you can contact the Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512 012 for more information and advice

Alternatively you can visit http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

Monday, September 19,2011
Debt Support Trust
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Green Tax Could Increase Price Of Renewable Energy

Green Tax Could Increase Price Of Renewable Energy

According to a leaked document from Downing Street, green taxes could cost families an extra £300 a year which would be an extra 30% by 2020.

The note which was written by Ben Moxham, Prime Minister’s senior policy adviser, also question Chris Huhne’s believe that prices would be kept low because of energy efficiency.

Over time it is clear that the impact of our policies on consumer bills will become significantly greater,” Mr Moxham states.

 

Debt Support Trust is a registered debt advice charity (SC041902) providing debt advice on a range of debt solutions including;

Benefits Advice

General Debt Advice

Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA)

Protected Trust Deed (Scotland)

Refinance

Bankruptcy

Monday, September 19,2011
Debt Support Trust
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