Talk To Your Bank
When you save a little money each month or just when you can afford to, you give yourself a little safety net. Having savings can help you avoid having to borrow money and pay interest when you have one of life’s disasters and need a bit more money.
One way to save is to set up a standing order from your bank account into your saving account. Another is to ask your bank to ‘sweep’ any money left over on payday into your savings. When you save money in an account it is safe from theft and can earn a little interest. The Police recommend that you do not keep a large amount of money in your home.
You can save money with a bank, building society or credit union. When you choose who to save the money with ask:
- About their terms and conditions
- How you can access your savings
- The amount of interest paid
- Whether they are a member of the Financial Compensation Scheme, which protects up to £85,000 of your money if they go bust
You may also want to ask about New Individual Savings Accounts (NISAs) as you will not pay tax on the interest you earn on savings of less than £15,000 per year.
Some people have more than one savings account. They choose one with instant access for life’s little emergencies and another that they give notice to access, but pays more interest. Think about how often you will need to access your money and pick the accounts that suit you.
Eat Well For Less
Food is expensive but it’s important to eat well and keep healthy. For more information visit the NHS website.
If you are pregnant or have a child under 4 the Healthy Start Scheme can help you buy basic foods including formula milk, milk and fruit. If you qualify you will be sent vouchers that you can use in local shops. To qualify you need to:
- Be at least 10 weeks pregnant or
- Have a child under 4 years old:
And receive one of these benefits
- Income support
- Income based job seekers allowance
- Child Tax credit with a household income of £16,190 or less
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
Working Tax Credit if your household receives the 4 week ‘run on’ payment
Some voluntary and charitable organisations have food banks including:
- The Maidstone Day Centre
- Meadows Children's Centre
- Marden Children's Centre
- Greenfields Children's Centre
- Sunshine Children's Centre
- The Lighthouse Church
- Restoring Hands at the Jubilee Church
- Salvation Army
- The Vine church
- The Baptist Church
They provide food parcels to help people in crisis. They all have their own criteria for how and who they can help, and they don't have food at all times. Before visiting the organisation, please contact them.
Understanding Your Bills
Many people struggle to understand their bills, however they are quite important and so you shouldn't just ignore them. If you don't understand your bill, contact the company/supplier that sent it and ask them to talk you through it.
Utility bills will normally be based on the amount you have used or the amount that your supplier thinks you've used. As a general rule:
- A is an actual reading by them
- C is a reading you've sent them
- E is an estimated reading by them
It’s a good idea to read your meters every three months and give your energy supplier the reading. They will send you a new, more accurate bill so that you pay the right amount.
There are lots of ways to pay a bill including direct debit, cash, cheque, standing order and pre-payment meters.
If you get behind on your bills contact the company/supplier. They will help you work out a repayment plan.