Managing your money

Many people find finance can be a bit confusing and time consuming - but getting your budget right helps make the rest of your life run a little bit more smoothly.

We can help make sure you have the cash you need

Budgeting

Budgeting helps you get a grip on your money, so you can ensure you have cash to spend when you need it.

Budgeting can also help stop you getting into debt, or help you get out of it.

A change in circumstances, such as losing your job, starting a new job or having a baby can all have a huge impact on your finances and mean you have to think twice about how much you can spend.

We want all our residents to feel confident about managing their money, so our Financial Inclusion team is always on hand to help you through any financial worries and offer budgeting advice. Just get in touch for advice and you’ll have one less headache to deal with.

Savings

By putting some money aside, you can get your money working as hard for you as you have worked for it.

Saving a little each week, or setting aside some money for a rainy day, can help you plan for the future and cope better with any unexpected bills and expenses.

Using a budget planner can help you make small changes to your spending that will allow you to save. Even if it’s less than a pound a week, every little helps.

Ways to save:

  • Interest Savings Accounts (ISAs) offer tax free savings, so you get the best interest rate possible.
  • Banks and Building Societies offer lots of savings accounts tailored to what you need.
  • Credit Unions are community based organisations and offer savings accounts to anyone who lives in their area. All savings are protected by free insurance, and used to provide loans to other people in your community.

Because banks, building societies and credit unions pay interest, this will add even more to your savings.

For more information on finding the best savings account for you, just get in touch.

Borrowings

It always costs to borrow but sometimes borrowing money is the only option. If you do find that you need to borrow, treat it like any other purchase and shop around for the best deal.

There are three important things to consider:

  1. How high is the interest rate?
  2. How long will you be paying it back?
  3. Can you afford the minimum repayments?

Interest rates are very important and can vary dramatically. A bank might charge 10% interest, while a pay day lender might charge as much as 5853% interest.

If you borrowed £100 for 12 months at these interest rates you would have to pay £5 interest to the bank, or £5,753 to the pay day lender.

Please get in touch if you feel like you need advice about borrowing money. We can guide you through the options and help you make the best choice for you.

Dealing with Debt

Borrowing money is a fact of life for many of us.

We offer our residents free, confidential debt support provided by our partners Fiscus. Fiscus is a specialist debt specialist that will give advice and support on dealing with your debts. Advisers can even visit you in your home if you prefer.

Unmanageable debt can be a huge strain, so it is important to seek help. A debt adviser won’t judge you, they will listen to your problems and help as best they can.

Debt clinics

Appointments are available every Tuesday morning, and Fiscus hold a debt surgery every Tuesday afternoon from 1.30pm – 4pm at The Cestria Hub.

To make an appointment, please contact the Financial Inclusion Team on 0191 385 1407, or drop in at the debt surgery.

As the surgery is a drop in, you will be seen when the adviser is available, so we can’t guarantee how long your wait will be.

What debts to pay first

It’s important to understand which bills to pay first if you’re in debt. While pay day lenders and loan sharks may shout loudest, the bills that ensure you have a home and heating should be prioritised.

Priority debts – pay these before any other bills:

  • Mortgage, rent, or any loans secured against your home
  • Income Tax, National Insurance & VAT
  • Council Tax
  • Gas & Electricity
  • TV Licence
  • Child Maintenance
  • Hire purchase agreements, if what you're buying with them is essential
  • Court Fines

Illegal Money Lending

A loan shark is an unlicensed money lender. They are not regulated by the Office for Fair Trading and are breaking the law if they loan you money, although you are not breaking the law if you borrow it.

We don’t advise borrowing from an illegal money lender as there are many risks, including:

  • Your loan will be on very bad terms
  • You will pay an extortionate rate of interest (rates as high as 131,000% APR have been recorded)
  • You will be harassed if you get behind with your repayments
  • You may be pressured into borrowing more from them to repay one debt with another

Stop Loan Sharks

We are working with the Illegal Money Lending Team to stamp out loan shark activity in Chester-le-Street as part of the ‘Stop Loan Sharks’ campaign.

The Illegal Money Lending Team is a national organisation, supported by the Government and the Office of Fair Trading. They provide support to victims of loan sharks, and help prosecute perpetrators of illegal money lending.

Reporting a loan shark (in confidence) could not be simpler:

If you would like any more information on how to deal with a loan shark, please visit the Illegal Money Lending Team website

Helpful Websites

Debt advice websites

There are some free resources and some additional organisations that can provide you with similar advice to our debt service.

Online Resources

Organisations providing support

  • StepChange debt charity: Free, confidential debt advice online, by phone and free debt management plans
  • Payplan: Free, confidential advice for people in debt and a no-cost provider of debt management plans
  • Christians Against Poverty: Free, confidential advice people in debt (Please note you do not have to be a member of Christian faith)
  • Illegal Money Lending Team: Loan sharks are illegal moneylenders who often charge very high interest rates. You can check if a company is authorised to lend money and report loan sharks anonymously.
  • Advice in County Durham: A new initiative making it easier for you to access the right advice and support in Country Durham.
  • FISCUS: Debst advice, Crisis Support, Benefits Advice.
  • Durham County Council: Make a housing benefit claim, apply for the council tax reduction scheme, review your welfare rights, get debt advice and financial help.

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