Even the best laid plans are not infallible. There will be times in your life when you’ve put a lot of effort into organising a budget, only for all your intentions to be scuppered by something unexpected. In my 20’s I was constantly finding myself tripped up but unexpected bills, bits dropping off my car, and a tiny hand being held out for school trip fees.
There’s no shame in finding yourself in a bind, especially in the current economic climate. Jobs are sparse, and well-paid jobs are even harder to come by, making it difficult to have a contingency plan for when your finances go awry.
These are my top tips for coping financially when things don’t go to plan:
Check what you’re entitled to
I’d say the breakdown of a relationship is one of the biggest reasons for sudden changes to finances. Chances are, if you suddenly find yourself a single parent, you’ll be entitled to some help from the government. If you’re not already getting it, Child Benefit is something that you’ll be entitled to if your income is below £50k. If you’re working, you might be eligible for Working Tax Credits, alongside Child Tax Credits, and possibly even help towards childcare costs too (to check, you can ring the Tax Credits Helpline on 0345 300 3900 or use the Tax Credits Calculator). If you’re not working, head down to your nearest job centre for advice on what you’re entitled to, and ask how you go about getting financial help towards your housing. You usually have to visit your local council, but the job centre will be able to point you in the right direction.
Borrow from family
This is something I would only advise you do if money is offered and you are certain you can pay it back. For example, if something essential breaks and you’re close to payday, it probably won’t hurt to borrow £50 off your mum. Think carefully about how borrowing from loved ones may affect your relationship in the future, if you think it’s something that may be held over you, try and sidestep it if possible.
Use a short-term loan
Again, this is something you need to spend some time considering before you go ahead. Short-terms loans are designed to be just that: short-term. This generally makes the interest rate higher as it poses more of a risk for the lender to lend money this way. Usually, if you pay the loan back in full after a few days, it can work out cheaper than going overdrawn and paying bank charges. My friend’s car broke down 6 days before her student loan was due, but she needed her car to travel to her part-time job. She used Cash Lady to supply her short-term loan as she was concerned going over her overdraft would not only cost a lot, but harm her credit rating. She was able to settle the full loan amount the moment student finance landed in her bank, which was absolutely the best option for her at the time.
Save a little each week
This obviously won’t help if you’ve not been saving and you’re suddenly stuck, but it will future-proof your finances a little bit. I always recommend building up a rainy day fund, even if you’re currently working on paying off debt. As someone who has had more than her share of bad luck, I can assure you, things will go wrong at inconvenient times and the minute you’ve spent a load of money on Christmas or holiday abroad, your washing machine will break and you’ll find yourself stuck. If you need some ideas for how you’ll find this extra cash, then you need this post about how I plan to save £3000 this year.
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