Managing on a Reduced Income

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by Liz, North Dublin MABS

Take control of what you can

Our society finds itself in challenging times. With the ongoing uncertainty of job security many people are currently managing their households on reduced incomes, and wondering what the future holds.

However, it is possible to take control.

My name is Liz, and I work at MABS. Over the next four to six weeks, I will be sharing some of my learnings from over 20 years of working in MABS, supporting and guiding many hundreds of people with money and debt concerns.

In this, week one of this blog series, I look at managing on a reduced income and taking control of what you can. Continue reading to find out what I discovered while taking control of my finances and how I had some apologising to do at the end of it all.

I sat down and went through my bank statements and realised €6.99 was coming from my account every month. There was no obvious description of what it was or where the money was going. After much thought - and blaming my older sons - I realised I had signed up to a mobile phone app for my 5-year-old son that he had never used.

€6.99 might seem small, but it adds up to almost €84 in the year! Add this small monthly payment to other potential ‘hidden’ charges, and they can really add up.

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You might be asking how I missed it. Well, the monthly payment was a pre-authorised debit card payment through the mobile phone online app store. It wasn't showing up in my standing orders or direct debits and wasn’t immediately obvious. As you can imagine, I had a few apologies to make following my discovery...

So, what did I learn? Take time to go through your statements! From working with clients in MABS over the years, it is amazing how many people don't know what comes out of their account on a weekly or monthly basis - myself included! It’s important to review statements on a regular basis to make sure you’re not missing anything.

What did I do next? I cancelled the subscription, and I also started to look closely at my direct debits, standing orders and my general day to day card transactions...My husband, like thousands of others, has been laid off from his job. So, I took a at my own family’s situation and I made a decision to do the following:

These are my examples, and I’m sure you will have different ones. I made the decision to cancel these direct debits as it was the right to do for my family and me. This meant that we could prioritise the most essential outgoings for the next few months.

Note of caution - be sure to check the terms and conditions of your contract so that you don’t have any nasty cancellation fees. You might even find out that some of the services you subscribe to offer payment holidays and breaks.

Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start, there are many supports out there for people who need guidance and advice.

There is a big drive by the Citizens Information, and the the Government in ensuring a good flow of trustworthy information is steadily available. Our website has excellent tools and information for people to begin looking at their personal and household spending - what's coming in and what's going out.

Next time I’ll be looking at maximising your income. Until then stay safe and healthy and look take this time to carry out a review of your household finances. Like me, you might be surprised at what you find.

Do you have a story to share, or a money saving tip that maximises your income? Get in touch and we’ll see about sharing them on our social media. Perhaps you have a question that you would like us to cover in this blog – get in touch on Facebook, Twitter, Messenger and now Instagram.

MABS is open, and money advisers are available to take your queries over phone or email and to provide guidance. You can find details of your local office here, or call the MABS National Helpline on 0761 07 2000.