Budgeting and money advice
Financial pressures have knock-on effects on all aspects of your life. Luckily, there are lots of organisations who can help you manage your household budget and deal with your debts.
Balancing financial worries and mental health
Be honest about your financial situation. Do you feel like you’re in charge of your finances or are things getting out of control?
Pay attention when you’re spending money. It may help to use cash, instead of contactless, to pay for things as this is a visual reminder of what you’re spending.
Open letters and emails from your bank, building society and any companies you owe money to. This can be difficult but ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.
Get advice. It can be difficult to deal with money issues by yourself. Money advisers can help you take the steps you need to regain control of your finances.
Budgeting first steps
Get an idea of your finances. Do you know how much you earn and how much you spend?
Go through your bank account statements and make a list of all your income and your expenses. There are budgeting tools online that can help you do this.
Your budget can be a really helpful starting point if you later speak to a money and debt adviser.
Dealing with debts
Some debts are more important than others. These priority debts are ones that have the biggest impact on you if they remain unpaid.
Your priority debts include housing costs like rent, mortgage and rates. But payments towards car loans and court fines can also be priorities if not paying them means you’ll lose your only mode of transport or go to prison.
A money and debt adviser can help you prioritise your debts, guiding you as you come up with a plan to discharge these debts and work out ways to keep other creditors off your back.
Organisations who can help
There are lots of voluntary organisations across Northern Ireland who can help you deal with money, benefits and debt. They’ll do this free – you should never pay someone for debt advice.
- Advice NI can help you with benefits, money and debt
- Stepchange can help you manage your debts
- Make the Call can check if you’re eligible for more benefits
- Housing Rights can help if you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage
- Local advice agencies across Northern Ireland can help with benefits, debt and community issues
Getting the right advice
Northern Ireland has brilliant advice agencies who can talk to you about benefits, debt and money problems free of charge. You should never have to pay a private company for this kind of help.
It can be tempting to look for loans when you don’t have a lot of money but do have a lot of expenses like school costs, utility bills and Christmas to think about.
Short-term loans and doorstop lenders can seem like a good idea but you can end up paying back a lot more than you borrowed, especially if you’re only making minimum payments. Get money advice from specialists like Advice NI before taking out any loans.
Never borrow money from illegal money lenders.
Money and mental health
Mental health can change the ways in which you deal with money. And money problems can affect your mental health in the following ways:
- You’re unable to afford to pay for the things you need to stay well, like journeys to counselling or treatment
- You have trouble sleeping
- You feel anxiety and panic
- You neglect important social relationships and hobbies
- You make poor decisions about your money, which can lead to you feeling worse
Contact our Advocacy for All service if you are worried about money and mental health, and need help having your voice heard.
- Mindwise has a mental health and money advice service
- Mencap’s easy-read guide to the cost-of-living crisis
- The Consumer Council has tools to help you budget
- Mindwise has tips for tackling money-related anxiety