• Get help with your bankruptcy fees

    08 November 2012 / Debt / 0 Comment

    Are you looking to declare bankruptcy but struggling to afford the fees? There are companies, trusts and charities that might be able to help with your bankruptcy fees to ease your debt problems.

    If you are considering bankruptcy as an option to relieve your debt, you might have been surprised to find that you actually have to pay to declare yourself bankrupt.

    For many people, the fact they have to pay a not-unsubstantial amount of money actually puts them off a potentially helpful debt solution.

    The current cost for bankruptcy in the UK & Wales is £700 and £467 in Northern Ireland.

    If you are looking at bankruptcy as an option, you can get help with bankruptcy fees from certain companies and charities. You can contact the custom services of these companies to get an application form and if accepted, the money is given as a gift and does not need to be repaid.

    There is no guarantee that this companies will help with your bankruptcy fees but it is an option to explore. Here are some of the companies that might be able to help.

    Trust funds & associations that might help with bankruptcy fees

    EDF Energy Trust

    01733 421060

    The EDF Energy Trust offer grants to current, domestic EDF Energy customers which are primarily struggling with energy debts. In certain cases, they can also help with other priority debts - including help with bankruptcy fees.

    British Gas Energy Trust

    01733 421060

    British Gas offer grants to their existing customers, and Scottish Gas customers, and can provide financial help for domestic debts, purchasing household goods bankruptcy deposits and funeral expenses.

    Anglian Water Trust Fund

    01733 421060

    Anglian Water, like British Gas and EDF, is a trust fund managed by Charis Grants that is primarily aimed at helping people struggling with water and sewage debts.

    The Royal British Legion

    020 3207 2100

    The British Legion can offer financial help to both serving and ex-serving personnel. This also extends to their dependants and anybody serving, or who served, in the TA (Territorial Army).

    The Officers Association

    020 7808 4175

    For anybody who has held a commission in the British Armed Forces with a rank of, or above, Second Lieutenant, Sub Lieutenant or Pilot Officer may be eligible for help with bankruptcy fees and other financial aid.

    See whether your union can help with bankruptcy fees

    If you are a member of a workers union, or were in the past, then you might be able to ask for financial help with your fees. Try to get in touch with your Welfare office to discuss your options. Below are union contact details you can use to find information on whether they can help.

    Trade Union Congress

    020 7636 4030



    Get in touch with your local CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau)

    Some Trust Funds and grants are not eligible to the general public and require an official institution like the Citizens Advice Bureau to apply on your behalf.

    Get in touch with your local CAB and they might also be able to find local grants specific to your needs and help you with your bankruptcy fees.

    Citizens Advice Bureau

    08444 77 20 20

    Find out if bankruptcy is right for you

    If you think bankruptcy could be right for you, or you want to discuss your situation, you can use our online enquiry form or call Payplan now.

    Call Payplan: 0800 072 1203

  • Common debt problems (and how to deal with them)

    25 October 2012 / Debt / 0 Comment

    Struggling with debt problems? Find out what the main problems are, and how you can deal with them to simplify your finances, and start paying off your debt.

    Do you know how much debt you have? Some people don't.

    Being in debt is tough, stressful and emotional. This is possibly why many people don't know the exact amount of money they owe - there is too much to think about.

    There are some common debt problems that people face though. And if you tackle the most common issues in your situation first, it can make your money more manageable and allow you to get out debt.

    Here are some of those problems, and how you can start to deal with them.

    Common debt problems you might face

    • Payday loans. With very high APR's (sometimes 1000+%) and additional costs/fees for late payment or payment rollovers, payday loans can quickly escalate and become unmanageable. If you have too many payday loans, overcoming them might reduce stress, and give you one less problem to worry about.

      Our guide to getting out of payday loan debt has practical and actionable tips on how to clear your debts with payday loan lenders.
    • Credit cards. High interest credit cards and minimum payments mean you could be paying back your balance for years. According to What's The Cost?, a balance of just £1,000 at 14% APR would take 19 years to repay if you made only the minimum payment.

      There are ways to alleviate some of your credit card debt (like consolidating your balances) but they can still be very useful IF you use them correctly.
    • Bailiffs. If you aren't able to make your monthly repayments and don't ask for help, your lender(s) might pass your debt over to a collection agency. This can be particularly scary as these people will visit your home, knock on doors, and try to get access to recover the debt!

      If you've had a debt passed to a collection agency recently, or think you might soon, find out what your rights are when dealing with bailiffs to make sure you're prepared.
    • Unable to pay mortgage/rent. Falling behind in your mortgage or rent payments for as little as a few months might lead to an action to reclaim the property by your landlord or mortgage provider. It can be very frightening to face the prospect of losing your home!

      There are a number of things you can do if you have concerns about a house repossession, but the best option is usually to seek free advice on how to deal with this problem.

    Share your debt problems

    This list is just some of the most common debt problems people are experiencing - but there are more. From car finance and personal loans to compulsive shopping and "keeping up with the Joneses", there are dozens of different debt problems you might experience.

    Which problems are affecting you? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet to share.

  • Have you got too many payday loans?

    23 October 2012 / Payday Loans / 1 Comment

    How to find out whether you've got too many payday loans and how to manage your finances if they are getting out of control.

    A major problem with payday loans is how easy it is to get them. Many of them are available quickly (sometimes within the hour) and don't require a credit check.

    Here are a few ways to tell if you might have too many payday loans:

    • You borrow every month.

      If you are taking out payday loans every month to keep up with your bills, it can put you further into debt - with extra interest, additional charges and the compounding of interest. Have a look at your budget to see if there are unnecessary expenses you can remove to improve your cash flow.

    • You miss payments.

      Missing payments on payday loans is one of the worst things you can do, especially if the company you used has terms which allow fees and charges to be added to your amount. Your finances can quickly escalate out of control if you miss your repayment date.

    • Your debt is increasing.

      If you are using payday loans to make it until you get paid, but find your debts are increasing, then it might not be the best method to fix your financial difficulties. Try to save money every month and use those savings to keep you going until payday - avoiding payday loans altogether.

    What to do if you have too many payday loans

    If you have too many loans, and are now struggling to stay in control of your finances, here are a few things you can do:

    • Stop taking out/applying for new payday loans.

      This will only mask the problem temporarily and may make your overall situation worse.

    • Take actionable steps to get rid of payday loan debt.

      Our guide to getting out of payday loan debt will give you an idea of what options are available to help you.

    • Look at alternative options.

      High interest payday loans are often not the best choice to make your finances more manageable. Consider alternative methods of managing your debt that are more sustainable in the long-term.

    Reader thoughts

    Have you, or someone you know taken out too many payday loans and were unable to cope? Let us know in the comments below.

  • 11 Easy Ways to Save Money on Food Shopping

    03 October 2012 / Saving / 0 Comment

    Spending too much on your weekly food shop? These simple ideas will save you money and avoid food wastage.

    Spending money on food shopping is one of the most costly activities of my week - especially with a family.

    I've lost count of the number of times I've got to the checkout and been shocked to see how much I've spent. After all, I only went in for a few bits!

    If you've ever been in a similar situation, and you want to save money on food shopping without making it too complicated (like extreme couponing) then try a few of these ideas.

    Tips to save money on food shopping

    • #1. Plan your meals.

      Before you go food shopping, plan your meals for the week. Doing this will give you an idea of how much the shop will cost - and you can tweak it if it becomes too expensive.

    • #2. Only buy what you need.

      Once you have your meal plan in place, try to stick to it as closely as possibly by only buying what you need to stick to the plan.

    • #3. Shop online.

      I save money on food shopping every week by shopping on Tesco.com. There is less temptation to impulse buy, and the kids don't randomly put stuff in the basket either! Plus, there are exclusive bundle discounts/coupons available too.

    • #4. Do a "top up" shop.

      Instead of buying enough fresh fruit/vegetables etc to last a week, consider doing a "top up" shop during the week if necessary to get more. This saves a lot of food wastage and money - because you only buy more when you run out.

    • #5. Bulk buy.

      Many supermarkets have bulk buying offers (e.g. 3 for 2) that you can take advantage of. Make sure they will keep without spoiling and freeze them if needed. My mum buys multiple loafs of bread on offer and freezes them!

    • #6. Shop later in the day.

      Supermarkets will often reduce prices at the end of the day for short-life foods which might help you to save money. Because they are short-life, you will need to eat them quickly or freeze for later.

    • #7. Check big discount supermarkets.

      Apart from the major supermarket chains, there are other supermarkets, like Aldi and Lidl, that offer quite big discounts because they keep costs low with less staff, and little to no advertising.

    • #8. Use your leftovers.

      Wherever possible, save leftover food and freeze it for a "ready" meal later. Old bread can be turned into breadcrumbs with a food processor, chicken can be used in sandwiches or boiled down for soups or stock and black bananas could be used in a delicious banana cake!

    • #9. Check your best before dates.

      Keep an eye on whatever you have in your cupboard to avoid letting food go out of date. Put the short-life foods at the front of the cupboard/freezer and use them first to avoid unnecessary waste and expense.

    • #10. Grow your own fruit/veg.

      If you're feeling really frugal, you can grow your own tomatoes, carrots, lettuce etc in the garden to save more. The super frugal without a garden might even contact the local council to snag an allotment to grow in!

    • #11. Check local stores.

      Many places have a local farm shop with produce fresh from the farms. Sometimes, this means you can cut out the middleman and save money on food that has a premium in the supermarkets.

    Your thoughts!

    These are the main ways I've used myself to save money on food shopping, but I'm sure there must be more. This is where you come in.

    What is the ONE easiest way to save money on food you've tried, and why?

  • Joining the Yakezie Challenge

    02 October 2012 / News / 1 Comment

    Proud Member of the Yakezie Challenge

    Over the past few months, I've been trying to write more content about personal finance, simplifying your money and getting out debt without making your life miserable. It's been going well, but... I can do better.

    This is why I've joined the Yakezie Challenge, throwing myself into the personal finance sphere with some of the most well known finance bloggers on the web. No pressure, right?

    The challenge is basically to show commitment for this site and producing great content every week. If you're reading this then it's likely you know of the challenge or have taken it yourself. If not, here's the challenge in a nutshell:

    The Challenge...

    • Increase my Alexa rank from 1,617,637 to under 200,000 by Tuesday, 2nd April 2013 (6 months)

      Alexa is a simple way to rank websites, based on their traffic. As you can see, I have a LONG way to go on this front.

    • Write 2-4 quality posts on this site every week

      Committing to publish a few times a week is a big part of the Yakezie Challenge and will make or break getting the Alexa rank to less than 200,000!

    • Guest post in the Yakezie/finance blog community

      In addition to posting on this blog, I'll be trying to publish guest posts on other Yakezie Challenger blogs to raise my profile and improve traffic.

    • Selflessly promote other bloggers

      Helping out other bloggers for no reason other than to share their message is huge! I have done this once already with my roundup post, but I aim to do this weekly and link out to as many quality bloggers as possible. As the saying goes, "Giveth, and you shall receive." ;)

    This challenge isn't going to be a walk in the park, especially with a current Alexa rank of 1,617,637! I'm excited to take the challenge though and get motivation from people like Dominique at Your Finances Simplified, who is currently rocking an Alexa rank of 92,238!

    The reason for joining this challenge...

    Well, first of all: I want more traffic. More traffic means more people that I can help, which is the entire aim of this site.

    But more than that, I'm hoping that this challenge will let me make connections with personal finance bloggers who will see me as a fellow blogger, rather than a faceless debt consolidation company. Removing the idea that all debt companies are bad is very important to me, and I'm hoping this challenge will play a big part in that.

    Let's do this!

    Are you taking the Yakezie Challenge? Let me know how it's going and any advice/tips you have!

  • How to save money every month

    25 September 2012 / Saving / 1 Comment

    Easy-to-use ideas and planning to help you save money every month without compromising your lifestyle.

    Saving a little bit of money each and every month can be a very effective way to reduce your debts, build up a safety net and give you a bit of room for unexpected costs that life sometimes throws your way.

    Even if you are struggling to make your money last until the end of the month, there might be a way you can save just enough to put aside or use elsewhere. If smaller amounts is all you can save, they can quickly add up and may help you when you need it most.
    Read more

  • Do you budget for tips?

    Do you budget for tipping?

    20 September 2012 / Budget / 0 Comment

    Here in the UK, tipping isn't really a "thing". The only place we ever tend to tip is in a restaurant, and even then it's often a nominal amount of no more than 10%.

    Occassionally, we might let the pizza guy keep the change. I know, I know. We're too kind, right?

    So imagine my surprise when I went to New York last Christmas for my wedding. We'd spent thousands on flights, hotel, the venue, catering, drinks and day trips. But I never budgeted for tips.

    Read more

  • A Guide to Your Bailiffs Rights

    11 September 2012 / Debt / 0 Comment

    One of the most stressful and scary aspects of being in debt and unable to pay is if the lender decides to use a bailiff to try and recover that debt. You might not know what your bailiffs rights are, or how to handle the situation if you get a knock at your door from a debt collector.

    This bailiff advice guide will help to answer some of the common questions asked and better understand what the bailiffs can and can't do.

    Need urgent debt advice?

    For quick, free, impartial and confidential advice about bailiffs from experienced professionals, contact Payplan now:

    Call Payplan: 0800 072 1207

    Read more

  • Does Extreme Couponing Work in the UK?

    31 August 2012 / Saving / 0 Comment

    Last year, The Daily Mail said that extreme couponing was coming to the UK and that it could slash the cost of your weekly shop by a third.

    This was followed up by The Telegraph covering "the queen of extreme couponing" who was able to get her average weekly shop down to £50 for a family of four.

    Pretty bold claims and supposed savings to be had by extreme couponing, but does it work as well in the UK as it does in the States, and how practical is it?

    Read more

  • How to Get Out of Payday Loan Debt

    29 August 2012 / Debt, Payday Loans, Uncategorized / 2 Comments

    Payday loans are those short-term loans designed to help you out financially until your payday - hence the name. The usual repayment term is anything from 1-30 days, although some lenders might allow you up to 45 days or more.

    The emphasis of these loans is often how fast you can get the money and that you can be accepted for a payday loan even if you have bad credit. But what happens if you struggle to repay the loan at the end of the month?

    These types of loan can be difficult to manage if you struggle to make, or completely miss, your repayment. Because the representative APR of a payday loan is higher than a standard loan, interest charges can add up quickly - making the debt even more unmanageable.

    Read more

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