I’m broke, what should I do?

You’re down to your last couple quid, there’re a dozen bills to pay and only a lone tin of spaghetti hoops in the cupboards. Many of us have been in this position but don’t panic, here’s our top tips for when you’re facing a cash crisis. 

young woman in hat looking away

My cupboards are empty, what should I do?

When money’s tight, it’s easy to skip meals but it’s important that your health doesn’t suffer. Here are some ways to tide yourself over so you don’t starve:

  • Go home, or ask family for help. We know this isn’t an option for some of you but if you can, asking for help from family is your safest bet.
  • Using food banks: It’s not a long-term solution but they can give you the essentials to keep you going if you have no other options.
  • Markets: Visit your local food market at the end of the day. By this point everything will either be cheaper or destined for the skip.
  • Go big: Make a big pot of food, portion it out and put it in the freezer so you have dinner sorted for the week.

Arggh, my benefits haven’t come through and I need cash now

You think you’ve filled in all the right forms and ticked all the right boxes but your benefits can still get delayed or sanctioned. If you’ve run out of money, you can apply for:

  • Hardship payments: This is a reduced amount of benefit, which is available if you have no other way of covering essentials such as food, heating or medical supplies.
  • Short term benefit advances: Available if you’re waiting for a benefit claim to be processed, haven’t been paid your benefit on the due date, or are waiting for your benefit to go up because of a change of circumstances.
  • Budgeting advances or budgeting loans: For help with one-off payments such as rent, removal costs or furniture for your new home.

I can’t get benefits – what should I do? 

Sadly when it comes to government benefits there are a few cracks that people can fall through. This means you need a Plan B in your pocket just in case you don’t qualify for the benefits you need. Here are some other options:

  • Borrowing from someone you trust, like a friend or family member: This plan all depends on whether they have any cash to spare and how comfortable you feel about asking. It can be awkward but in terms of avoiding debt, it’s the safest place to start.
  • An agreed overdraft: An overdraft is something the bank can add on to your account, which allows you to spend money you technically don’t have. Make sure you agree it with the bank first and don’t spend more than you’ve agreed or you could rack up hundreds of pounds in overdraft fees.
  • Local welfare assistance schemes: Useful to help with essentials such as heating your home or food bills.
  • Credit union loans: Credit unions specialise in offering loans at low rates and helping members who need financial help.

I need a job, now!

The job market is tough right now. Sending off endless CVs and travelling to different job interviews trying to sell yourself can feel disheartening, but it’s important not to let it get to you.

To help you on your job search:

  • Sort out your CV: Keep it simple, brief, highlight your key skills and make sure it’s no longer than two pages.
  • Jobcentre Plus: It sounds obvious but they’ve got a huge selection of jobs on offer so it’s a good place to go to if you need help.
  • Local businesses: Visit any shops or cafes in your area to see if they have any jobs going. The money might not be amazing but if it’s near your house then at least you don’t have to worry about paying for travel.
  • A recruitment agency: Agencies have access to LOADS of jobs that never get advertised and they get commission for every person that gets a job so they’ll be more motivated to help you on your job search.
  • Look online: Don’t forget social media – put a callout saying you’re looking for a job and join groups relevant to your skills and career on Facebook.

I can’t find a job and I need to sign on

If luck hasn’t been on your side and you haven’t managed to secure a job yet then you may be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Universal Credit depending where you live in the UK.

If you need help with your rent then you may also be able to claim housing benefit depending on your situation. To find out which benefits you can claim use the government’s benefits calculator.

I’m in debt but I can’t pay off what I owe

Rather than sticking your fingers in your ears and pretending nothing’s happening, if you’re in debt you have to face up to it. Don’t hide from the red letters. You don’t have to deal with this on your own. There are lots of amazing free organisations that can help you.

If you’re worried about getting cut off by your phone or electricity provider, call them. It’s not only in their best interests to help you find a way out of the debts you’re in, it’s actually a legal requirement that they help you.

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