Have you got a money problem that’s too terrifying to face this Halloween? Whether you’re battling devilish debt or struggling against scarily high levels of interest, don’t run away from your money demons.
With October Half Term activities or childcare to pay for, dressing up for Halloween and buying all the treats, October can be an expensive month. So we’ve put together some tips to tackle some of the scariest money horrors.
The Horror of…Not Having Enough Money to Last Until Payday
More and more families are finding it harder to make ends meet until payday – which is why there’s been an explosion of payday loan lenders on our high streets.
If you find yourself running out of cash before payday:
- Don’t go for a payday loan. Don’t take out one if you can possibly avoid it – the interest rates they charge are ridiculously high. Payday loan companies are financial vampires – they suck people dry and get many into more debt than they can pay off. Have a look at our alternatives to payday loans instead.
- Make a budget. You’d be surprised at how much unnecessary fat you can trim from your expenses when you draw up a proper budget (did you know that 1 in 3 people spends more than £2,000 a year on lunchtime sandwiches, for example?) Making a budget needn’t be complicated either – we show you how to make a full family budget in under 30 minutes – easy!
- Check you’re getting what you’re entitled to. Billions of pounds worth of benefits go unclaimed each year – just because many people aren’t aware of what they’re entitled to. If you’re on a low income, got children, or have health issues, check this handy benefits checker to make sure you’re not missing out.
- Earn extra cash. You’ve probably already got your hands full with work, the kids, and keeping the house in a semi-respectable state – but there are still some simple ways you can make money from the comfort of your home whenever you have a spare moment. Check out these quick money makers.
The Horror of…Bailiffs Knocking at Your Door
The main thing to remember is that you DON’T have to let them in.
In fact bailiffs are also like vampires – in that they can only enter your home if you invite them in! (Though see the exceptions below).
Bailiffs are not allowed to force their way into your property (for example pushing past you when you open the door). They can only gain access to your property if:
- They gain access through an open window or unlocked door (known as ‘peaceful entry’)
- They have previously gained ‘peaceful entry’ to your home (or previously been invited in)
- They are collecting things like unpaid income tax or VAT, and have a court order
Make sure you keep your doors and windows shut and locked at all times, and remember don’t invite them in. Sometimes they’ll ask to come in so they can have a chat about how to resolve your debt, or even ask to use your toilet. Don’t believe a word of it – once they’re in, they’ll pack up anything they think they can flog and leave.
Remember that you can’t go to prison for refusing to let bailiffs in – despite what some of them may say!
The Horror of… Wasting Hundreds of Pounds on Interest Payments
Are you someone who only pays off the minimum amount on your credit card or debt each month?
If so, stop. You’re just giving money to the bank – while barely reducing your debt.
Here’s an example: if you borrowed £1,000 at 18.3% APR and only paid the minimum back each month, it would take you 17 YEARS to pay off your debt – and you would have paid an eye-watering £1,113 in interest.
So you would have paid more in interest payments than you originally borrowed!
The golden rule with debt is: the quicker you pay it off, the less it costs.
But what if you can’t afford to make more than the minimum repayments?
The first thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is make a budget. This will not only help you identify where you can make cutbacks – it will also help you stick to a spending limit.
If you still find yourself in debt even after making your budget, see how to get debt-free in 10 simple steps.
Remember that if you have an outstanding balance on your credit card, you could shift your debt onto a 0% balance transfer card.
These cards give you time to clear your debt without paying interest charges – so each penny you pay goes towards reducing your debt, rather than boosting a bank’s profits.
The Horror of… Having Your Identity Stolen
The first you know of it is usually when an unexpected bill or debt collection letter for things you haven’t bought lands on your doormat.
So how do you prevent your identity from being stolen?
- Don’t throw out paperwork that has your personal details on without shredding it first
- Be careful if you receive unsolicited calls from your bank. Never reveal your full password, login details or PIN number – your bank should never ask for these.
- If you receive an email that you think is pretending to be from your bank, ring your bank to check – they will quickly confirm if the email is genuine or not
- If you receive a phone call from your bank and you’re not sure it’s genuine, ask for a main switchboard number you can call them back on (or just call the bank on the number printed on your statements)
- Always check your bank and credit card statements. Report any unusual activity to your bank immediately.
- If you move house, get Royal Mail to redirect your post for at least 6 months
- Check your credit report – it will highlight any changes to your credit file and alert you to any suspicious activity (check your credit report for free here)
- It can be especially useful to check your credit report a few months after moving to check that everything is as it should be.
See stop-idfraud.co.uk for more information.