Help with managing your money, debt management and information about borrowing money
It's important to keep a track of your finances so that you don't spend more than you can afford.
If you want help to keep on top of your finances, a budget is a really good way to start. This is just a record of the money you have coming in (from things like your salary or wages, pensions or benefits) and payments that you make (such as your rent or mortgage, insurance and Council Tax as well as living expenses and other regular spending).
Creating a budget allows you to work out if you have enough money to do the things you need to do or would like to do. Many people spend more than they realise.
If you don't have enough money to do everything you would like to, think about using your budget to help you decide what is most important to you.
Saving money (opens in a new window) on your energy bills will help you to reduce your outgoings.
We have information on financial care planning.
Help and advice
If you have debts and find that you are not able to make any of your repayments or if you're facing the threat of court action, you should get help quickly. Don't ignore the debt, it won't just go away. It's very important that you seek free, independent debt advice as soon as possible.
Our service provider directory lists a number of organisations who provide advice and support.
If you're unable to pay your gas, electricity or water bills, many of the companies offer schemes to help you; contact your energy supplier as soon as possible.
Citizens Advice (opens in a new window) provide practical help you if you are unable to pay your bills.
You may be entitled to benefits (opens in a new window) if you are on a low income.
If you do not have enough money for food you can ask to be referred to a food bank by a social worker, health visitor, church leader, a Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service officer, your housing association or an advisor from Citizens Advice. They will assess that you meet the criteria, issue you with a voucher and advise you of your nearest food bank.
Before you borrow
Before you borrow money think about whether you really need to, or if you can pay for what you need in another way. You may want to think about saving up for your purchase. If you do need to borrow money, the first thing you should do is check you can afford the payments. Take a look at our information above on budgeting.
Before you borrow money (opens in a new window) carefully consider the choices that are available, the interest you will be charged and any fees you may have to pay. There are many ways to borrow money - from your bank, a credit union (opens in a new window) or other loan companies.
Payday loans (opens in a new window) are high-cost short-term loans to tide people over until pay day. Typically you have until your next pay day to pay back your loan plus interest. Only take out a payday loan if you are really sure you can repay it on time. If you're already in financial difficulty they are unlikely to help you in the long run.
Make sure that you only borrow money from an approved lender. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) keeps details of all licensed lenders, as well as everyone who has applied for a licence or has had one taken away or suspended. If a lender isn't listed as having a current licence, don't borrow money from them and don't let them come into your home.
Check the FCA register (opens in a new window) to see if a lender is licensed.
Loan sharks (opens in a new window) are illegal lenders who often target low income and desperate families. They may seem friendly at first but borrowing from them is never a good idea - even if your credit rating is poor or you only need a small amount for a short while.
If you have been approached by someone who you think is a loan shark, you need to report them (opens in a new window). Contact the police if you are in immediate danger.
Advice and support
Our service provider directory lists a number of organisations who provide advice and support in Dorset.