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worried woman

A third struggle to make their wages last a month

Ten million UK adults - a third of the working population – struggle to make their wages last most or every month. That’s the key finding of the Money Advice Service’s research into how we spend our paycheques.

For two-thirds of those who can’t make it to the end of the month, the cost of living is just too much. The majority find there is little left after bills while some struggle to even cover essentials in the first place. It means just getting through to the next pay day is a challenge.

Others battle with their bank balance thanks to spending more than they should, with post-payday splurges and not being aware of how much they’ve spent depleting the money available towards the end of the month.

How strugglers cope as the month goes on

Turning to credit and other forms of borrowing are the most common ways strugglers try to get by, with credit and store cards used by a quarter.

Four in ten (41%) of those then max out their cards, while one in eight (12%) reduce their credit card payments to the minimum. Both have implications for the amount of extra money owed in interest – making the following months even harder to afford.

Overdrafts, friends and family, and savings are also sources of funding to get through to next payday.

Those that choose to cut back – just over a third (36%) of those who struggle – resort to staying in and surviving on basic foods such as toast, cereal and old tinned goods. One in ten (11%) even skip meals to make their money last.

Ways to help you get by

If you’re resorting to borrowing to get by, especially if it’s to cover essential bills, it’s a sign you need to take action fast. If the debts haven’t already built up they soon will and it’s better to get ahead of them than let the money you owe take over.

Don’t pay for help with your debts. You can get free, independent advice all over the country. The Money Advice Service has a handy tool so you can search by your postcode for someone near you.

Whether you’ve debts or not, it’s essential to work out where your money goes. A spending diary for a month can be a revelation for unconscious spending on things like takeaways, coffees and drinks out. Seeing the total you’ve spent on these small things can make you think twice.

To take your money planning to the next level a budget will help you calculate how much cash you have after bills each month.

Whatever is left after the essentials is what you can spend on all the extras. Splitting it to a weekly amount can stop you overspending, while you might also be able to find ways to bring down bigger costs, such as through switching your energy provider.

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