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Being a single parent is no bed of roses!

posted by in Budgeting Leave a comment

One parent and child tacmac

Parent and child (thanks to drinksmachine)

Being single does have rewards. You have complete control of your life and you’re able to do whatever you like when you like. You don’t have to justify your actions to anyone.

And some of the best parts of being single are being able to come and go as you please and not having to have an argument or discussion with anyone when you want to go on a shopping spree!

However, being a single parent and trying to raise children on your own is no bed of roses.

According to Gingerbread nearly a quarter (23%) of households with dependent children are single parent families, and there are 1.9 million single parents in Britain today.

As well as the constant demands from the children, you may find yourself having to juggle the bills on just the one income.

You don’t have the freedom to come and go as you please and there’s never any money left in your budget to go on a wild shopping spree.

It can be even worse if you have significant debt as well.

If you find yourself on the downward spiral of debt, struggling to make ends meet on your own with a young family, then don’t keep it bottled up and hope it will go away. It won’t. Tell others about it.

Using credit cards and payday loans to get from one pay day to the next or to cover unexpected expenses and income shortfalls just does not work. You need to work out a budget.

If there is more going out than coming in, look at ways to either try and increase your income or cut back on non-essential spending. By spending more money than you have coming in, things can only get worse.

Eight tips for single parents to grab back control of debt

  1. Do you find unopened bills scattered about the house in unusual places such as in the food cupboard, or stuffed down the back of the sofa? Don’t leave letters unopened. Deal with them as soon as they arrive.
  2. Contact your creditors as soon as you realise that you’re struggling. Don’t leave it until you’ve missed several payments. Let your creditors know what your circumstances are and why you are having problems paying your bills. Send them a copy of your income and expenditure to back up any offer of payment and don’t be pressured into paying more than you can afford.
  3. Make sure you are receiving all the benefits and Tax Credits you are entitled to.
  4. Tell family and friends that you’re struggling. They may be able to help you.
  5. Shop around for the best deals on utilities and mobile phones.
  6. Do you need two mobile phones? Is the SKY package essential? Cut back on unnecessary expenditure.
  7. If you’re living in your overdraft, change to a basic bank account elsewhere. This will put you back in charge of your finances and stop the bank taking money from your account to pay off the debts you have with them
  8. Don’t feel you have to cope on your own. Gingerbread and Netmums offer practical support for single parents.

And, if your debts are becoming a problem and you need some help, you can use our online debt advice facility Debt Remedy.

If you’re a single parent let us know how you cope! Remember, you don’t need to struggle alone.


Is a well-earned retirement becoming a thing of the past?

posted by in Archive Leave a comment

How debt rises with age (click to view a large version)

How debt rises with age (click to view a large version)

How many of us dream of the day we can escape from the treadmill of work to concentrate on enjoying our retirement? The mortgage fully paid off, a nice little nest egg in the bank, no more money worries and a chance to do all the things we never had time to do in the past.

For the majority of over-50s today a worry-free retirement is becoming more of a dream rather than a reality. Are we looking at a first group of older people going into retirement facing mounting financial worries with outstanding mortgages and unsecured credit commitments?

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Become the bank that likes to say “no”: Why do we find saying it so difficult?

posted by in Archive 1 Comment

Just say no loveheart

When we were toddlers, it seemed the only word we could utter was “no”. The ‘terrible twos’ were peppered with this tiny word as we tried to assert ourselves in the big wide world.

As time goes by and we get older we tend to feel guilty when we have to say “no”. We regularly give in to other people because we just can’t stand the thought of upsetting them.

We’ve highlighted four groups of people where the quest to be a people-pleaser and go for the easy life can stress you out, lead to low self-esteem and do serious harm to your pocket. Do you identify with these?

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Frugal Wooing – Valentine’s Day on the cheap

posted by in Budgeting 3 Comments

Service station

*Not* the place to buy those romantic gifts for your loved one

One sure way to dampen passion and loving thoughts on Valentine’s Day is to think about how to do it on the cheap or go for the easy option, such as flowers from the local garage. It hardly sounds very romantic does it?

However, with the Government spending and benefit changes biting hard, and money being tight, we may have to resort to some ‘frugal spoiling’.

The best things in life are free, or so the saying goes. One thing we forget in this materialistic, spend, spend, spend world of ours is that just spending time with the one you love is free and can never be replaced.

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Can you imagine a world where piggybanks are extinct?

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If everything was free… (thanks to alancleaver_2000)

Just imagine if you woke up tomorrow and there was no more money in the world. Although it’s a hypothetical question it does make you stop and think about how different history might be without it.

Before currency was widely used people bartered or traded goods and services for things that they needed. Two individuals having a commodity the other wanted would enter into an agreement, to trade their goods – corn would be traded for wool – or their services – “chop down this tree and I’ll make you some lunch”.

Our ancestors were happy to hunt, gather crops and look after their families. However with the enclosing of land, as the world moved towards Industrial Revolution, so came about the exchange of land and time for money. Modern politics, economics and social inferiority were born.

Ten things we would be freed from if there was no money

1. Piggybanks would become extinct.

2. You wouldn’t need to lust after a designer handbag to carry your purse. You wouldn’t even need a purse, to be honest.

3. You wouldn’t have to quake in your (non-Jimmy Choo) shoes about the size of your ever growing overdraft.

4. You wouldn’t worry about being mugged in the street for money. They might go after your sheepskin fur instead though, so keep it close.

5. You wouldn’t have to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ (they were rubbish neighbours anyway, always flaunting their wealth).

6. You wouldn’t need to get up to catch the crowded train to work because there would be no jobs. And no trains either. But again, no overcrowding!

7. You would only work to live and eat, so there would be no need to worry about buying the latest “get fit” DVD by a minor celebrity in early January and using it for two weeks before giving up yet again. We’d be too busy looking for food to use the stepper and mini-trampoline ever again.

8. You wouldn’t have any mortgage worries. Remember that ‘mortgage’ comes from the Latin for ‘death pledge’ anyway.

9. People might be happy that there were no bankers any more, although Porsche and Ferrari wouldn’t, as they’d go out of business pretty quickly.

10. And there would be no need for bank accounts, credit cards or store cards of course (and no bills pushed through the letterbox, saving postie from a bad back having to carry all of the ‘final demands’).

We can’t survive without money

More seriously, our lives today are centred on money.

We need it to buy necessities and want it for pleasure. We work to earn money and to pay for transport to work. We need food, clothing and shelter. We spend most of our lives thinking about “money” and if we didn’t have any, we probably couldn’t survive.

However think how free we might all feel without the pressure of worrying about where the next penny was coming from. Maybe people would be healthier and happier because in today’s current climate, for the majority of people, most of their problems are connected to money.

For example, one of the biggest causes of partnerships breaking up and health problems is the constant stress of money worries.

Living within our means

With the constant bombardment of easy credit it’s becoming more difficult to live within our means and use the money we do earn for the essentials in life.

For most of us, credit, never mind money, has now become an integral part of our lives, as has resulting debt. Whether to buy a home or a car, to go on a ‘well deserved’ holiday or just squander on an item we just can’t resist, we want more and we’re willing to forget about tomorrow to get something today.

This is fine if we pay off the debt at the end of the month. If we don’t, and we start to struggle to find the monthly payments, then that’s when money problems can start to escalate.

Maybe if we got back to basics and tried to live within our means, we could avoid the trap of unmanageable debt. That doesn’t mean living without material possessions, it means saving for them and paying for them with our own money, not a financial loan. It’s probably for the best if the piggybank doesn’t fall into extinction just yet.

If you’re struggling with money and you would like some further help you can get online debt advice through our website or contact us.

What would you miss if there was no money in the world? What would be better? Should we all get back to basics? We would love to hear your views.


Pets not debts: 10 money saving tips for pet owners

posted by in Saving money 2 Comments

Cat and money

Pets can eat money, although not usually literally (thanks to Piez)

It’s love at first sight. You’re smitten. How can you resist those big eyes that plead, “Take me home”? You’ve fallen hook, line and sinker and you take your new pet home to meet the family. Now be prepared for the commitment that will last the animal’s lifetime.

An important fact that some people forget when they set their hearts on a pet is that they can live for as long as 15 to 20 years. Before choosing your pet, you need to do your homework and look at the cost of food, shelter, vet bills, toys, accessories, and in some cases, training. Continue reading »


How much?! How we arrive at the #debtday figures

posted by in Archive 3 Comments


We’re using a more advanced method than this!

The #debtday numbers we’re publishing today can seem a little astonishing at first glance. Tens of millions of pounds?! That’s a lot of money. How can our callers owe that much!

The number of calls, and especially the total debt reported, do seem high compared to the normal numbers we normally report as an organisation.

Given this, we’ve provided this explanation of how we arrive at these figures.

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