Paying the bills
There are certain things that we know will always happen, the sun will always rise and set, the British weather will always keep us on our toes and bills will always need to be paid. When you are a single parent on a limited income the alarming regularity at which these bills seem to arrive can be quite nerve-wracking, especially when a new lot arrives when you’ve only just finished scraping together what you needed for the last ones!
Paying the bills is important however as not only do we rely on our housing, utilities and everything else, the longer a person struggles with bills the quicker and deeper they are likely to fall into debt. This combined with the stress that comes with financial struggle is no joke and so we are here at Dream Bear to help.
This section looks at a wide range of topics that all add up to helping you pay your bills. We offer advice and guidance on claiming benefits, budgeting, how to claim discounts on certain bills and great hints and tips which may help you reduce your bills and make your income stretch further. Did you know for example that the majority of regular bills can be reduced if you decide to pay by direct debit? Did you know that if you are the sole adult occupant in the home that your council tax bill could also be slashed? Keep reading for many more hints and tips just like these.
We help you look at ways to reduce bills and ways to ensure that there is enough in the pot to pay them when they are due. From envelope budgeting to negotiating with companies when you are in arrears we offer a wealth of first-person experience (many of us have been there) as well as signposting you to other agencies who will be able to help.
Finances when you are a single parent and are trying to keep afloat on a single income can be fraught with worry and difficulty. Thankfully there are many ways around the limitations your budget may suffer from such as claiming benefits, budgeting effectively and more. We have dedicated sections to help with all aspects of financial organisation and more. This section however is dedicated to those nifty tips and tricks that other single parents have discovered while trying to stay within budget.
Did you know for example that you can remove biro from your wall with a cloth and hairspray? We know you love your child’s artwork however on the living room wall two days before a landlord inspection when you really don’t have the money for a tin of paint or two to cover it up this type of decorating is not helpful. One parent tells us that if you spray hairspray on the affected area, wait a few minutes and then wipe that the majority will be erased. Repeat until the biro is all gone!
*Please do a test on your specific paintwork before tackling this job head-on.
Did you also know that if you contact your water company to tell them that you have young children in the home that you will be marked as a priority household in the event of the water going off? This means that you may be entitled to free bottled water to tide you and your family over.
We have some weird and wonderful top tips for you, all tried and tested by parents and all of which will save you money or make your life easier in some way.
As single parents keeping on top of the finances can be a real juggle, particularly when you have been used to having two incomes in the home or if your own income has been reduced for any reason. Working on increasing your income is the first step to keeping in the black and if you see our Benefits section and the Making Extra section along with Budgeting and Dealing with Debt sections you’ll find a lot of help and guidance with this.
On top of increasing what is coming in, working on ensuring that your income stretches as far as possible is the best way forward. A large part of keeping costs down is to be a savvy shopper.
There are a number of different ways to be more savvy with your shopping, all of which will save you money which can be used elsewhere (or even saved).
Grocery shopping is quite possibly the biggest culprit when it comes to draining your shopping budget and there are a number of ways to combat this from shopping online and having your groceries delivered (no being tempted by the special offers) to working to a list, dropping brands and shopping around. Indeed these tips work well well with the majority of food, child and home related shopping trips.
Coupon and Vouchers
Coupons and vouchers are also invaluable when it comes to savvy shopping however a word of warning, make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of buying more than you need or something you really wouldn’t usually use purely because you have a money off coupon. This sort of bargain hunting behaviour can actually cost you more than it will save.
Buy Second Hand
Once upon a time there was once a stigma around buying second hand anything and yet now it is almost fashionable. It doesn’t make sense for example to shun the charity shop because someone has worn the clothes before when there is a good chance that several someones will have tried your high street item on before you’ve bought it. The additional benefit to buying from charity shops and similar is that money goes to those in need and as a single parent there may have been a time when you found yourself in need in one way or another and as such you may well understand the need to support charities better than most.
Buying via Ebay and Facebook buy-sell sites is also a great way to slash the price of certain items, especially as if you do buy local you may pick up and avoid postage fees. If doing this do of course be aware of the safety issues of turning up at a stranger’s house with your wallet!
Don’t Buy at All
One of the savviest ways to save money on your shopping is to not go shopping at all. Ask yourself “Do I really need this” or “Could we repair what we’ve got” before spending. If you do need something, particularly something for the kids or the children why not get in touch with your local Freecycle or Freegle group? These are community run groups through which locals offer up everything from toys to technology and furniture to appliances for free provided the person who gets them comes and collects them, The reasoning behind the movement, which has been established for some years now is to keep unwanted items out of landfill by passing them on to those who’ll use them.
There are times when you really can’t avoid spending, be it for food, something for the children or something else. Be smart though, stay within budget, check special offers and vouchers and really embrace the buzz that comes with bagging yourself bargain.