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Budgeting tips from the Money Advice Service

List all your income and outgoings

Keep track of how much money you have coming in and how much you need to spend on essentials. You can use the Online Money Manager to help.

Divide your spending into essential and non-essential items

Take a look at your spending and create 2 lists: one for things you really need, and another for things you could live without.

Sort out your rent or mortgage payments

Make sure you keep your rent or mortgage money separate from your everyday spending money. Think about setting up a direct debit or standing order to pay your landlord or lender directly each month after you get your benefit payment.

Think about how you'll manage a monthly payment

Universal Credit is paid monthly so if you're used to working out your spending weekly or fortnightly, you'll need to start managing your money across the whole month.

Work out how you'll cover your essential outgoings

These include rent or mortgage, Council Tax, utility bills, and repayments on loans, credit cards or store cards. If there's a risk you'll fall behind with payments, don't bury your head in the sand. Lenders, councils and landlords can work with you to manage repayments if you tell them as soon as there's a problem.

Get better deals on regular bills

With essential bills, like your gas, electricity or phone, you could save up to £200 a year if you switch to a better deal. Even making a single call to your current provider to ask about cheaper tariffs could make you better off.

Check for insurance policies and make a claim

If you've taken out any income or payment protection policies you might find the insurance company will cover loan repayments if you're not working. Check your policy paperwork if you're not sure.

Think before you borrow

If you're tempted to borrow, think carefully about how you will keep up with repayments. Stay away from high-cost borrowing like payday or doorstep lenders. If you must borrow, credit unions can offer cheaper loans and will work with you to set affordable repayments.

Prioritise debts - and get help if you're struggling

Your rent or mortgage, Council Tax and gas or electricity bills are priority bills. If you're struggling to pay them, get free, confidential debt advice as soon as you can. A debt adviser can help you manage your debts even if you think you have no spare money to deal with them. The Debt Advice Locator Tool will help you find free advice in your area.