Q:I've just had my hours cut at work. I'd like to take on a second job, but there's nothing around. It sounds ridiculous to talk about Christmas now, but I'm already worrying! I usually start buying the kids a few presents really early to spread the cost - but that's going to be impossible this year. How can I make less go further, without going into debt?
A: I'm sorry to hear about the cut in your hours, and what it means for you.
One way to stretch household finances is to shop around for the best deals on your mobile phone and broadband (depending on the details of your price plan), and on utilities, such as electricity. Installing a water meter can also sometimes bring savings.
It’s worth checking your insurances and subscriptions - cancel any you don’t need and shop around for the others. It’s normally cheaper if you don’t leave it until just before the renewal date.
If your children are school age there may be help available with uniforms, technology and free school meals. Our website has more details.
A fall in income may mean you’re eligible for benefits, especially if you’re a parent or carer. The Turn 2 Us benefits checker is very useful.
It sounds like you’re normally very organised, and I’m sure this will stand you in good stead.
Make a list of the cost of your priority outgoings - such as housekeeping and essential travel - against your new income.
It’s easy to slip into overdraft, or miss a payment, and it can then become more and more expensive - and stressful - to get on the right track and out of debt. Likewise, think carefully about any ‘buy now pay later’ deals - they’re not always the best option long term.
If you are worried about debt, here at Citizens Advice we have specially trained advisors available to help, so please do get in touch.