Is Your Income MAXIMISED?

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by Liz, North Dublin MABS

In this week’s blog, I’ll take you through some of the tips you can follow to take control of your finances during COVID-19 by working out if you’ve maximised your income. Are you getting the best value and receiving you're entitled to?

In my previous blog I looked at how you can start to take control of your finances by auditing your own personal and household expenses. It might, on the surface seem like we should have started with maximising your income. However, reviewing your outgoings can have a quicker effect and longer lasting benefit when reviewing your household finances, so it’s always a good place to start.

In MABS, the maximising income review process is one of the key steps that we take with someone who comes to our service. Essentially, it has two strands, which I'll discuss in more detail.

1. Increasing your income by ensuring you are getting and using all your State provided entitlements and/or benefits.

Take a bit of time when looking at your entitlements – you may miss something that you have a right to. For example, are you a Carer for someone? If you are on Carer’s Allowance, you may also be entitled to the Household Benefits package, Carers Support Grant and free travel. This is just one example of how you can begin to explore any additional supports linked to certain social welfare payments.

If you or your partner has been laid off but one spouse or partner is still working, check with Revenue to see if you can transfer their credits to you and increase your standard rate cut off point. If you are set up with a Revenue online account, this can all be done online…. Revenue is encouraging people process everything through their online portal , which can sometimes mean a faster turnaround for you.

Speaking of Revenue - have you claimed all your health expenses for the previous four years? This may be something that you could also take a bit of time looking into. However, if time is something you have in plentiful supply now, it could be an investment well made. More information can be found here

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So, to increase your income... pick up the phone, open the laptop or PC and search. There has never been so much information for people in relation to their rights and entitlements. If you or anyone close to you struggles with technology, there are dedicated phonelines that can provide people with the relevant information:

2. Increasing the value of your income by, for example, shopping around for better deals, renegotiating payments to creditors (if and when necessary) and putting in place a manageable and realistic budget.

In terms of increasing the value of your hard-earned income, it’s pretty simple – shop around! This can be in relation to your groceries, utilities, car insurance – anything that you pay for. With so many of us now at home and taking care of ourselves, our families and our communities, you may find that you have the time to really take stock of what you have coming in and going out.

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Ask! You might be paying for a service that you can’t get at the moment due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), so ask your service supplier if it’s possible to take a temporary break from paying. As the old adage goes – ‘don’t ask, don’t get’. There is no guarantee, but it can’t hurt to ask.

One word of caution though….in MABS, we are very familiar with a term known as ‘Frugal Fatigue’. Scrimping, saving and being overly cautious with your household expenditure can, in a sense, become boring and increase your risk of over spending or over indulging in the future. Taking control of your finances can be empowering, there is no doubt about that. Aim, if you can, to continue to buy small treats for yourself... we need to keep ourselves afloat during this strange time.

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.