From planning a wedding to facing redundancy, starting from Monday, 26 January, 2009, Graham and Karen on BBC Radio Norfolk will be examining and exploring money issues that affect you.
RaW Money is a great way to pick up tips and tools for managing your money better.
Supporting you through the downturn
Our weekly on-air money club features real-life stories of the struggles you face in the downturn and we offer expert advice and tips, to support you on a range of money issues.
"Saving up all those little pennies does make so much difference. It's important for Norfolk to understand how to save their money effectively during these difficult times," said Graham Barnard.
Each week on-air we'll be looking at different issues that may impact on your life.
Advice for all
Over the coming weeks we'll be covering a range of money related topics;
Monday, 16 March - Planning for the unexpected & insurance
Monday, 23 March - Educating your child about money
Monday, 30 March - Retirement and pensions
Monday, 6 April - Summary of general money tips
So tune in to Graham and Karen on BBC Radio Norfolk to interact and find out more.
Money making hints and tips - 09/03/2009
With household budgets tightening, maybe it's time to consider boosting your regular income with some money making hints and tips:
How about renting out that spare room to a lodger? Tessa Shepperson, from Norwich-based landlordlaw.co.uk and former landlady herself, has some tips on ensuring a smooth tenancy:
- Ensure your tenant is trustworthy. After all, they have the key to your house when you're not there
- Don't make an immediate decision on a lodger - try and follow up references and do an online credit check to analyse their financial background
- If you have gas appliances in your house and you're going to have a lodger, you'll need relevant gas certification and will need to have appliances checked by someone Corgi registered. After Wednesday, 1 April, 2009, this will change to the Gas Safety Register
- Any furniture in the lodger's room must be fire retardant and room wiring has to be safe
- Regular household insurance won't cover the lodger's belongings
With an additional income, what are the implications on the amount of Income Tax you pay? Alan Pratt, from HM Revenue and Customs in Ipswich, has this advice:
- Everyone has a tax free allowance of £6035, so if your total annual income is below this threshold, there is no need to worry. If in doubt, get in touch with HMRC
- If you are considering self-employment, tell HMRC three months before you start your business, otherwise there could be a penalty for telling them too late
- There are free workshops for people wanting to set up their own business. Your local HMRC office will tell you how to keep records and complete tax returns
- When selling goods online to raise extra cash, generally there is no need to inform the tax office, but if you're buying and selling for profit, HMRC will need to know
- If you're on benefits and want to make a little extra money, you must speak to the Department of Work and Pensions, as your entitlement may be affected. They will tell you whether you need to declare your additional earnings
- If you're lucky enough to win the Lottery, your winnings are exempt from tax. If you don't spend it all and decide to invest, there will be tax to pay
Redundancy - 02/03/2009
With many employees across Norfolk facing redundancy as the credit crunch bites, it can be a daunting prospect having to enter the job market. Norfolk Guidance Services aims to guide victims back into work.
Tom Molloy, service manager at NGS, had this advice:
- If at all possible, don't wait for the redundancy to happen before acting. If you know redundancy is on the horizon, get prepared
- Even if you think you're in a secure job, it would be wise to put some money away each month to protect yourself if the worst does happen
- When it comes to redundancy, fear can spread very quickly within an organisation, so it's important to keep communications open with employers. Lack of communication leads to panic and it prevents clear thinking when planning for the worst
- If you're worried about redundancy, then begin to do a self-assessment - look at the skills and qualifications you have. Redundancy can create an opportunity to do something different and your abilities may open up a new career path
- Look to develop your skills and experiences. There are many online, adult education and bite-size courses that can help improve your everyday skills to make you more employable.
- Try and be flexible - companies that are cutting back on their staff may give you additional work. Be prepared to work weekends. If you're flexible and have more to offer on your CV, your name won't necessarily be at the top of the redundancy list
- Remember, there is help out there! Money is available for training through organisations such as Norfolk County Council and The East of England Development Agency
- If you're self-employed and work is drying up, there is still help for you too. There are many companies that can help you with marketing and working tax credits are also available if your salary has dropped
Planning a wedding - 23/02/2009
Kate Mulhall, managing director of Norwich wedding planners Invisage, gave her professional advice on budgeting for the big day.
With the average cost of weddings so high (£17,000 the average, according to Kate), it's important to set a budget and work back from there.
It is not all doom and gloom - with the right advice and a little cost cutting on non-essentials, it is possible to have a glorious wedding for a more modest £5000.
- Do not scrimp on photography - the day goes by so quickly for the bride and groom and once it's over you only have photography to remind you of the day
- Make sure you're comfortable with what you're wearing and that you feel a million dollars
- Remember, it's often the guests that make a wedding. Don't cut back on numbers to cut costs if it means not inviting the people that are important to you
- Don't worry about what the reception venue looks like on the outside - book a village hall. They can cost as little as £20, rather than the usual £2000 for a wedding reception at a hotel and they have an amazing country feel on the inside
- Food is often a big drain on a wedding budget. Why not have a hog roast with salad - people love it and it's much cheaper than a three-course meal
- There's no harm in getting mothers and aunties making cup cakes and making your own wedding cake
"Lets not forget that it is one day - it's important to concentrate more on the marriage and not the wedding day," said Kate.
Bills and budgeting - 16/02/2009
Bill Henderson of the Yare Valley Citizens' Advice Bureau, said the key to drawing up a day-to-day budget was being absolutely realistic about what you're going to spend your money on.
Too often people remember the obvious outgoings like rent/mortgage, electricity and gas, but forget about things such as birthday presents and holidays.
He had this advice:
- Fill out a personal budget sheet - you can get one from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Make a list of all your outgoings and all your income. If the outgoings exceed the income, you're going to need to cut back somewhere
- The cost of a running a car is more than simply the petrol. Make sure you add up the cost of taxing, insuring and servicing the car too
- If you're in debt, you need to be able to back up your budget with your creditors. Spending on items like presents around Christmas will be acceptable, but not if you're being too lavish
- Make sure you're claiming any benefits you may be entitled to. The CAB has a computer programme that will help you do this
- Draw up a priority list of your debts. Top of the list will be things like the mortgage or rent, council tax and utilities. Credit cards and overdrafts come further down the list
- If you're tempted to take out a loan, make sure you don't just look at the sum you're borrowing - you need to be able to make the repayments
- Don't forget other incidental costs like prescriptions
Loans - 09/02/2009
Anita Hennington from St Andrew's Financial Planning in Norwich had this advice for anyone who needs to take out a loan to cover an unexpected bill:
- Personal loans are reasonably priced - go and see a broker to see what the options are, or pop into your bank. It's still easy to get a loan if you have a good track record of dealing with credit
- Checking a price comparison website is also a good idea, but a face-to-face session with someone at a bank or building society might be better for some, so you can ask questions which come to mind
- Your friends and family may have had personal experience - have a word with them
- Using a loan shark or a high street firm that offers to lend you money against your next pay cheque, also called payday loans, should be an absolute last resort. Their interest rates are extortionate!
- Always check the interest rates and terms of your loan
- Ask what the total amount payable is at the end of the loan
- Find out if there's a charge for ending the loan early
- Never borrow from 'Peter' to pay 'Paul'
Credit cards and store cards - 26/01/2009
Becky Betts and David Clayton spoke to former Coronation Street star Sherrie Hewson about her involvement with RaW Money.
Andy Cobb, Debtline manager at Citizens Advice Bureau Norwich, was on hand to give advice on mounting debts;
- Don't panic
- There is no need to feel isolated and alone
- Don't ignore letters from the bank
- Keep track of your interest payments
- Budget your income and expenditure
- Prioritise your debts
- Ask for help if you need it!
Where to go for help;
- National Debtline - 0808 808 4000
- Your local Citizens Advice Bureau