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First published:
02/11/2023

Top Tips

Conquer the Cost-of-Living Crisis: 5 Tips for Talk Money Week

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Talking about money can be overwhelming and even frustrating, especially in a world where the cost of living keeps rising. Recent statistics have underlined the stark reality of financial insecurity for many individuals and families. In Scotland alone, it is estimated that more than 1 million people live in poverty. At Change Mental Health, Scotland's mental health charity and member of Mental Health UK, we are dedicated to encouraging open conversations about personal finances.

In the spirit of Talk Money Week, we want to provide you with five practical tips to navigate the challenges posed by the ever-increasing cost of living. Talk Money Week reminds us of the importance of understanding our financial situation and making informed decisions. This week serves as a reminder that, now more than ever, we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about money.

1. Budgeting and Planning

You may have heard it a thousand times, but creating a budget is an effective way to take control of your finances. Think of it as a roadmap that helps you manage your money better. Start by listing your sources of income and all your monthly expenses, including bills, groceries, and rent. Regularly reviewing your budget and adjusting it as needed can help you adapt to changing financial circumstances and keep your finances on track.

It's also a great idea to see if you might qualify for any extra benefits. Figuring out the benefits system can be a bit tricky, but we have got plenty of information to help you.  

2. Bank Switching

Another way to potentially save money and improve your financial situation is by considering bank switching. Many banks offer incentives to switch your current account to them, which can include cash rewards of up to £250. Be sure to compare the offers from different banks and choose one that suits your needs and preferences. Switching banks can be a straightforward way to access benefits that may help you better manage your finances overall.

3. Sign-Up Offers

Numerous services, like streaming platforms, online retailers, and even electric companies, often reward new users with enticing benefits. These can range from free trials to discounts or free credit. It's a fantastic way to get more value for your money, especially when you're signing up for services you would use anyway. Just ensure you read the fine print, understand any commitments, and enjoy the benefits of these sign-up offers without any unwelcome surprises.  

4. Financial Scams

It's crucial to stay vigilant against financial scams. Scammers are skilled at impersonating legitimate organisations or creating enticing opportunities that seem too good to be true.  

Some of the most common scams include:  

  • Phishing Emails: Be cautious of unsolicited emails that request personal information, passwords or financial details. Verify the sender's authenticity before responding.
  • Fake Tech Support Calls: Scammers may pose as tech support agents, claiming your computer has a problem. They'll ask for remote access or payment to fix a non-existent issue.
  • Lottery or Prize Scams: You're told you've won a lottery or prize, but you must pay fees or taxes upfront to claim your winnings.
  • Work-from-Home Scams: Offers of easy money with no experience may require upfront fees or involve illegal activities.  

Always verify the authenticity of any financial offer or request for personal information. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or messages, and never share sensitive financial details or send money to unknown parties.  

When in doubt, contact the organisation directly using their official contact information to confirm the legitimacy of the request.  

If you need to call your bank, you may want to call 159. Stop Scams UK has launched the UK-wide 159 call service, a way for you to ensure that you are securely contacting your banks. However, not all banks are part of this scheme. You can read more about which banks are part of this scheme, and more about these scams, from Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert, here, and what to do to protect yourself from scams and fraud on our dedicated scams section here.

5. Managing Debt

If you have debts, managing them is crucial. When you find yourself in debt, it's important to take initial steps to address the issue. The first things you must do are: assess your debt, create a budget and prioritise repayments.  

If you find yourself struggling with an unmanageable amount of debt, reach out to a financial expert for assistance. Keep in mind that managing debt is a gradual journey, so it's important to remain patient and compassionate toward yourself. You might also think about seeking support. You can read more about your options for dealing with debt here.  

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Talking about money shouldn’t be taboo. By creating a budget, saving, and managing debt, you can face these challenging times with confidence. Start applying these tips today and remember that open conversations about money with loved ones can lead to valuable insights and support, helping you achieve your financial goals. 

Mental Health and Money Advice Service

If you or anyone you know is struggling during the cost-of-living crisis, you can consult the following resources from our Mental Health and Money Advice Service for support: 

Or if you would like to speak with one of our specialist advisers at our Advice and Support Service for free and impartial advice, call our Advice line on 0808 8010 515, we are open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., or email us at advice@changemh.org.

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