Cashing up your cash: Where do I get my money from?
The first thing we need to do is work out where we get our income from, and how much money we have to live on.
The vast majority of our money comes from two sources. Earnings from work and money from benefits and tax credits. Whatever we might here in the popular press and from those who should know better, there is no shame in claiming benefits. It is not scrounging. The numbers receiving some sort of support from the state is nearly 15 million people. The vast majority of families with children claim Child Benefit. Until the recent changes, 98% of children were covered.
If you have children, or are responsible for them, then make sure you claim what you are entitled to. While people generally know about Child Benefit, the various different tax credits can be more confusing and their take up rates are lower. For those who are fostering, then there is also financial support available from your local authority.
If you find it all too daunting and confusing (and it can be, even those in Whitehall who designed it admit that it’s a bit of a mess) then get some help. Friends, family, a trusted neighbour. Or visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau, they’d be happy to help ensure you get what you are entitled too.
You might also want to think about how you can increase your income. If you are working that might mean thinking about asking for overtime, taking on a new shift or even potentially looking for a new job. These are all big steps and clearly need to be considered carefully within your work-life balance, but again help is available. Jobcentre Plus take over 10,000 new vacancies every working day, and they’ve only got part of the market covered. Opportunities are out there, and training and college courses are available too.
Once you’ve thought through all of that, you should have a decent grasp on your weekly or monthly income. Lots of people find it can change with shifts and overtime week to week, month to month. See if you can work out an average, what is the normal amount? But also, what’s the minimum you’ve received. It’s good to know that, and plan for living on a tighter budget too.
Write it down… keep it safe.