Is it time for you to have a conversation about your household finances? Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
The manager of a free debt counselling service in Norwich is warning families to have an honest conversation about their household finances.
Christmas debts often start to bite in the first few months of the year, and continuing pressure on incomes could make the squeeze more profound in 2018.
John Graver, manager of the Norwich Central Debt Centre, run by Surrey Chapel and Christians Against Poverty (CAP), said money could still cause “friction” in relationships.
“With the squeeze on family finances getting even tighter, it’s important for the sake of your health, happiness and your family life to talk about money,” he said.
Research by CAP revealed eight in 10 of its clients who were in a relationship said debt had caused arguments, while almost a third said money problems had caused a complete relationship breakdown.
Here are CAP’s top 10 tips for starting a discussion about household finances:
1. Pick a time when things are quiet at home and no one is dealing with any immediate stresses.
2. Avoid the conversation when the children are around, your mother-in-law is visiting or a big bill has just landed.
3. Agree that you want to make it a year when you get on top of the finances together, and that the money conversation isn’t about blaming anyone.
4. Acknowledge that money management can be hard, especially when stressed, or if you’re on a low income. Mistakes may have been made but this is about looking forward.
5. Remember your attitudes to money might be very different. Past experiences can shape these but you can play to each other’s strengths.
6. Decide on a shared goal you want to aim for, like a day out, a holiday or a new car or just a “getting back in the black” celebration. This will happen twice as fast if you’re in it together.
7. Use one of the many online tools – or book into a free CAP Money Course – to begin building your budget.
8. If you have debts, don’t delay in getting help from a free debt counselling agency like Christians Against Poverty, Stepchange, National Debtline, Citizens Advice, Payplan, the Money Advice Service or, if you’re self employed, Business Debtline.
9. Make payday the day you review how it’s all going and make adjustments to the budget where necessary.
10. Avoid credit wherever possible and begin to save as soon as you can, even if it is a small regular amount.