Feeling out of control when it comes to money can be scary, especially if you don’t know whether you’ve got enough to live on. Getting a single monthly Universal Credit payment might be making you even more nervous about keeping your head above water. The only way to manage your money is to draw up a household budget.
In Northern Ireland, Universal Credit works differently. Find out more on the nidirect website.
In Scotland, you might be offered some choices about how your Universal Credit is paid. Read our guide to Universal Credit in Scotland.
Drawing up a budget of all your household income and outgoings is a must if you want to make sure you can pay all your bills and manage until the end of the month.
Even if you’re already budgeting, changes to the benefit system will probably mean you need to make some changes to the way you go about it.
Just to remind you, the following benefits are being phased out for people of working age and replaced with Universal Credit:
In England and Wales, Universal Credit will be paid in a single monthly payment to each household.
So if you currently work out your budget weekly or fortnightly, you’ll have to start looking at your incomings and outgoings across the whole month
And if you’re using different benefit payments to cover set expenses, you’ll need to get used to having a single payment to cover everything
Get personalised help to budget for monthly Universal Credit payments with our Money Manager tool.
Despite how daunting it might sound, a budget is just two lists:
Four in five people who set a budget stick to it most of the time. Keeping to a budget gives you peace of mind and helps you to stay in control of your money.
Source: Money Advice Service research (2014)
Don’t worry if the money you have coming in changes from time to time.
The budget we’ll help you draw up will be easy to adjust without you having to start from scratch every time.
Use our Budget planner tool to help you make better use of your finances!
Now you’ve gathered together all the paperwork and figures you need, the easiest thing to do is to put it all into our online budget planner.
It will take at least half an hour to fill it in but it’s worth it because:
If you’re spending more each month than you have coming in, the next step is to look more closely at where your money is going and where you can cut back.
You might be able to get a cheaper deal on your phone or TV package.
Or you might find you’re paying more than you need to for your gas and electricity.
One of the advantages of moving onto a monthly budget is you can often sign up for cheaper tariffs if you pay monthly by Direct Debit.
Of course, drawing up your household budget is only the start.
Now you have to stick to it, which is easier said than done when prices are going up all the time and a one-off expense like a new pair of school shoes can threaten to derail it.
Read our Budgeting tips when you’re on a low-income to help you find ways to make your money go further each month
The important thing is you’ve taken the first step towards being in control of your money.
Now you know exactly where you stand. And even if things come along you haven’t budgeted for, you can go back into your budget, adjust it and work out a way to deal with it.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.