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Making ends meet when you don’t have full-time work can be tricky. If this sounds like you, our guide can help.
As part of our ‘women and debt’ week, we thought we’d have a look at what it’s like trying to cope when you only work part-time. Yes, we know that may seem a little sexist – why would we concentrate on women and part-time work? Well, because our research has shown that, although the workplace has changed significantly over the past few years, the vast majority of those working part-time are still women.
The current state of play in the UK is that there are 6.2 million women in part-time employment, compared to 2.2 million men. And this is mainly because women are still the main carers in the home. They’ll not only be looking after their own children, but any other relatives that need caring for too. And, of course, this means that many women are earning less than men too. So, how can you make ends meet if you don’t work full-time?
If you’re specifically worried about getting into debt because you’re having a baby, we’ve written a two part blog on this very topic – Money worries and pregnancy. It’s definitely worth a read.
Tip 1 Budget!
If there’s only one piece of advice we can give you about making your money last when you’re on a part-time wage, it’d be make a budget and do it really well. It’s key to keeping yourself financially fit and allows you to monitor your finances as you move through the week or month.
The first part of doing this is to work out what your incomings and outgoings are each month. So, sit yourself down with a pen and paper, or a notepad on your chosen electronic device, and make two columns. Mark one column with incomings and the second with outgoings. Now, get a couple of recent bank statements and note down everything that gets paid into and out of your account each week or month, depending on how often you get paid. Incomings will include your salary, any benefits, child maintenance, pensions or other money you receive. Outgoings are things like your rent/mortgage, food, travel, council tax, clothes, mobile phone – everything you have to pay for each month. Don’t forget to allow for your cash withdrawals too.
Add up each list and then take the total going out from the total coming in. Do they match? Or have you got more, or less, than you need each month to pay everything on your list? If there’s something left over, it’s called your disposable income, or DI as it’s often referred to, and you should be fine. If they match, it’s cutting it a bit fine and you may want to move on to the next stage – a spending diary – to see if you could make some small cutbacks to ease the situation and make your life a little easier. And if you find that your outgoings amount is more than your incoming amount, you need to take action now. The first thing you should do is complete the spending diary detailed in tip 2.
This is a very brief introduction to budgeting, we’ve lots more help and advice in the other blogs located in our money saving section.
Tip 2 A spending diary
If you see that your incomings are not enough to cover your outgoings, or you’re only just meeting the amount you need to cover your bills each month, you need to think about how you can rectify this. You may be able to see obvious places where you can cut back, but if you can’t, a spending diary is the way to go. This is really what it says it is – a diary of everything you’re spending.
Do it for a couple of months, if you can, and then analyse your data. It’ll allow you to see where your money goes and, once you know that, you can try to work out ways to cut back on areas where you might be spending too much. You could, for example, realise that you are spending £10 a week on take out coffee that could be slashed off the budget just by making a coffee before you leave for work and taking it with you. We’ve written some comprehensive instructions on how to create and use a spending diary, we suggest you have a read before trying – Are you leaking money?
If you think that a spending diary is not going to be the answer to your debt problems, you may want to think about getting some more help, in the form of a debt solution. You can see all the debt solutions available in the UK and Scotland here.
Tip 3 Prioritise your spending
If you only have a small amount of money to play with each month, you’re going to have to be really savvy about what it gets spent on. So, you need to prioritise the bills that need to be paid first. If you don’t know which bills needs to be paid first, it’d be a good idea for you to read through this blog – What are priority and non-priority debts? But, to give you a brief rundown of what priority bills are, they are the ones that keep a roof over your head, food on the table, the utilities on and you out of trouble with the tax man. So you should be thinking about:
• mortgage or rent
• any loans secured against your home
• income Tax, National Insurance and VAT
• council Tax
• gas and electricity bills
• water rates
• court fines
• child maintenance payments
• hire purchase loans (HP) (essential ones i.e. car to get to work or oven to cook food.)
• TV licence
Once these have been paid, you can start to pay for the other things you need to live – like your mobile phone, new non-essential clothes, entertainment and so on.
Tip 4 Do you qualify for benefits?
If you’re working part-time, earning less than a full-time wage, it makes sense to find out whether you are claiming all the help you could be entitled to from the government. You may find that you are eligible for a benefit you didn’t realise you could claim, and just adding that into your budget makes it possible for you to make ends meet each month.
To find out if you can claim, the government has a page on their website with a benefit calculator. Just pop in some details and it’ll tell you if there’s something you can claim.
Tip 5 Save, whenever you can
If and when you do find yourself with some extra cash at the end of the month, it’s really a good idea to try and put something away. So, if there’s a time in the future when you find yourself short, you’ll have a little something to fall back on. Now, we would never recommend doing this if you have any debts that need paying off, especially if those debts are accumulating interest and charges – there’s more about this in our blog Should I use my savings to pay off credit cards? But, if you have no debts and a little spare cash, squirrel it away for a rainy day.
So, we hope these five tips will help you stay on top of your finances when you don’t have a regular income. But, if you feel you need more budgeting help, you can find lots of useful articles in the money saving sectionmoney saving section of our blog. And in the main blog you’ll find information about the problem debt solutions there are available in the England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the solutions available for Scottish residents.
If you feel like you need some help managing your problem debts, it may be time to give us a call. Our trained advisors will chat through your situation and then advise on what would be the most suitable debt solution for you.
by Shelley BowersBack to blog home