What support does Aspire's Money Matters offer?

The starting point is to help people with Spinal Cord Injury understand what their current financial situation is. We will work with you to complete a Budget Planner listing all your income and outgoings so that you have a clear picture of what your current situation is.

Once I have completed a Budget Plan what should I do next?

It can be difficult to increase the amount you have coming in, but you have much more control over what goes out. The Budget Plan will help you identify non-essential or 'discretionary spending' that could be stopped until your financial situation is stable. Things such as club memberships, subscription TV, online film clubs and social spending are all areas where immediate savings can be made.

So, what are the benefits of cutting back on these so called 'discretionary items'?

From time to time we all have periods of financial uncertainty and this is really about taking preventative action – money saved by cutting back in these areas can be used towards clearing any existing debt such as expensive credit card balances or loans. Alternatively, the money can be used to build up savings that may be needed to help with those inevitable unforeseen costs that we all experience, reducing the need to borrow more in the future.

Should I discuss this with all my family?

It’s good to get everyone in your family involved with keeping to the new budget. Sit down together and talk things through as this will help everyone understand why cutting back on expenditure now will help avoid bigger financial problems in the future. Simple things we take for granted in our lifestyle can make a difference, for example spending £2 a day on a take away coffee, sandwich or snack amounts to £780 a year; for two family members that’s £1,560 a year!

So, should I discuss things with anyone else?

Yes, as with keeping the family involved, talking to any creditors is always beneficial. If you feel you may struggle with paying the rent, it’s good to talk to your landlord or housing officer as soon as possible as they may give you more time to pay or even consider a rent reduction. Likewise, talk with your mortgage provider who may consider a payment holiday, extending the term to reduce monthly costs or even the type of mortgage arrangement you have in place. All utility providers have a duty of care and will often work with customers to help them through difficult times. Again, it really is about keeping everyone informed and taking actions before payments are missed and debts start building.

What if I have no money left over at the end of each month?

In those circumstances we would help you check if you are maximising your income, including considering a full benefits check.  At Aspire we have a dedicated Welfare Benefits Advice team who specialise in supporting individuals affected by Spinal Cord Injury to get the correct type and levels of benefits they are eligible for.

In addition to maximising my income, are there ways I can reduce my outgoings?

Making the most of the money you have may not be as easy as it sounds, but getting into good spending habits will have a positive effect on your outgoings. Food, household items and own brand labels can cost less at 'budget supermarkets' so looking at how you are shopping can result in weekly savings. Shopping around for the best energy and insurance deals can have a real impact as it only takes 20 minutes to check and can save some households up to £300 a year.

I currently have debts that I am struggling to pay and don’t know what I can do about it

We will help you to understand how to prioritise your debts, as sometimes it may not be the debts owing the most amount that can have the greatest consequences for you. Simple information around the pros and cons of each situation will help you decide what action you feel is best for you.

I do not feel confident in talking with my creditors, is there any help you can offer?

Initially we would explain how you can approach your creditors to get the best outcome, both now and in the future. Although we are unable to give regulated financial advice, if you feel unsure about doing this yourself and give us your permission, we would be able to talk to your creditors directly on your behalf with any proposal you have and come back to you with their responses.

So how would you describe the service that Aspire's Money Matters offers?

Aspire's Money Matters offers free impartial guidance to people with a spinal cord injury. From getting a clear picture of your current financial situation, to maximising your income and making the most of the money you pay out. We will help you budget effectively, take control of your money and, where needed, help you to become debt free.

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