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For richer and for poorer - keeping your wedding plans on budget

calendar10 September 2019

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

For richer and for poorer - keeping your wedding plans on budget

Plan the wedding you can afford

Here’s some big news: I am getting married next year! I am incredibly excited to be marrying the love of my life, my fiancé. We have already started calling each other, “future wife” and “future husband” in everyday conversation, just because it’s so fun to say. We’re adorable. It’s sickening!

However, what I am not excited about is getting everything organised and paying for everything. Firstly, because we have never had to organise a wedding before, because we haven’t been married before and secondly because we are quickly discovering, from dresses to balloons, everything that has the word ‘wedding’ on it is at least five times the price of something you’d buy for any other occasion. Some companies even mark up the price for “wedding packages”. 

So, being a trainee wedding planner myself, I called on my married friends and all the married people here at CAP for affordable wedding advice.

Spend money on things you care about

You’re going to receive a lot of pressure, from people in wedding shops and even from your friends and family, to buy things they say you need for it to be a “proper” wedding. But really, as long as you’re married by the end of the day, it’s a proper wedding. So think about what you’d actually miss having. Looking back on all the weddings my future wife and I have been to, we have never thought, ‘wow! Those chair covers were amazing!’ so given the choice, we decided we’re not having them. This is a pretty good litmus test for most things. If you didn’t notice them then, then you probably won’t notice them at your own wedding either.

Wedding dresses

There are a lot of places you can go to get the dress you love, on a budget. Some of my friends said they had managed to get dresses for around £100 from an online overseas company and from stores that were shutting down. One lucky bride managed to get a dress for less than £50 because it was last year’s style. So like anything, it helps to shop around. You could buy second hand, if your budget is a little tight. Wedding dresses are usually worn for just one day so where ‘used’ read ‘practically new’.

Setting the date

“Wedding season” often occurs between May to October, with the peak during the summer months July/August. So that’s the time that wedding businesses are the busiest. This can mean you’ll have a lot fewer chances to shop around at that time of year and, in the worst-case scenario, you can find wedding businesses raise their prices during this time because that’s the time they get the most business. Picking a time of year or even a time of week when things are less busy could make a real difference. 

One of the reasons why we’re having our wedding at 3:00pm is so we only need to provide catering for the evening meal (don’t tell my guests that!).

Do it yourself

You can save a lot of money by doing a DIY wedding, as much as you can. You could make your own invitations and decorations on your computer, by printing, by e-mail or by hand with craft materials. You could make your own food and cake or you could do a ‘bring and share’ buffet. If you don’t think you could do it on your own, you could invite friends over and have a creative day together. You could make a Spotify playlist rather than hiring a band. You could even ask your guests to suggest songs to play.

Favours!

Do any of your friends, coming to the wedding, have a useful skill? Are they good at baking, playing music or doing photography? Why not call in a favour? My mum does flower arranging so we’re hoping she can help make some of the decorations herself. 

Even simple things like, is there even anyone who would be willing to give you a lift in their car? You could save money by not hiring someone to drive you. It could even be your friend’s wedding gift to offer their professional skills, for a reduced cost or for free.

Your marriage is more important than the big day

Stick to your budget. Your wedding is about you and your ‘future wife’ or ‘future husband’, starting your life together, as present tense husband and wife. So, don’t let your wedding day put your finances in trouble by breaking your budget for one day. It’s not just the wedding day that’s important it’s all the days after you spend with the person you love.

Born into poverty - how can this be fair?

calendar27 August 2019

Crispin Northey's avatar Crispin Northey

Born into poverty - how can this be fair?

Making ends meet is hard at the best of times. Throw in the two-child limit for Child Tax Credits and Universal Credit and suddenly hundreds of thousands more families are thrown in poverty.

 At CAP, we see every day the impossible choices families are forced to make and while mum and dad are trying to cope with the changes to their income, has anyone spared a thought for the children themselves?

Children are not immune from the strain financial worries placed on their families – relationally, practically and emotionally. The number of children already living in poverty in the UK is unacceptable. It is not right that children should bear the brunt of this policy. Like everyone else, they do not choose to be born and deserve the opportunity to flourish.

That is why Christians Against Poverty (CAP), along with 45 other charities, has thrown its full support behind Child Action Poverty Group (CPAG) and the Church of England’s All Kids Count campaign to remove this unjust and unfair rule which penalises those who simply cannot bear any responsibility for their situation the most – the children.

In CAP’s recent Client report, 80% of parents shared they felt debt negatively affected their children and 17% of all our clients went without meals on a daily basis before working with us.

So, what is this all about?

Announced in 2015 and introduced from 6 April 2017, the two-child limit removed entitlement to Child Tax Credits or Universal Credits for third or subsequent children born after this date - worth £2,780 per child per year.

Child Poverty Action Group estimates two million children will be affected in the next four years, half of whom would have been in poverty anyway.

Of the 160,000 families who have been affected so far, the majority (66%) of these are from working families, with potentially 300,000 children being pushed into poverty and one million pushed deeper by 2023/4. 95% of those surveyed said the two-child limit has affected their ability to pay for basic living costs. This is forcing families into debt to try to cover these and naturally the stress is affecting their mental health and relationships.

The Government has said the policy will have positive impact on family stability as it makes parents consider carefully whether to have another child but has supplied no evidence for this to date. We at CAP would challenge the Government to look again at this and end now the suffering they have placed on so many.

Learning to be grateful does you good

calendar03 July 2019

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Learning to be grateful does you good

We’re often told to count our blessings, but what if we took that literally?

What if we made lists of things we’re grateful for and actually counted them? Would it make a difference? 

Well, a lot of studies have looked into it. Scientists found that counting your blessings can help with a lot of things. It’s been found to help people sleep better, improve their empathy and mental health, and even strengthen relationships with their friends and loved ones.

So I got my notebook and started writing things down in whatever order they came into my head. I found it easier to do it this way and pick some of the best ones to think about later. I started off simple: my family, my fiancée, my home and things that keep me alive. And then on to more and more abstract and specific things. For example, hope (in spite of it all), acts of random kindness, lost things found, people who are amazing at niche crafts, the feeling of passing clouds and the continued incompetence of robots are all parts of later lists. I did it for a while and, strange as it seemed, there were a lot of ways it definitely helped.

It helped me discover the things I’m actually grateful for.

‘The internet’ and ‘sneezing’ are both on my list but there are several question marks around that first one. Because I am far more grateful for sneezes than I am for the internet. I don’t know whether that says more about the quality of discourse in my newsfeed or if it's just the fact that my hayfever makes sneezing a normal part of my day, this time of year, but it’s true.

There are a lot of things we do to give ourselves a little bump of happiness that don’t make us very happy or grateful, in the long run. Most of the time I don’t enjoy scrolling through the internet on social media. It’s just, ‘something to do’. So, I should probably cut down on it, right? Is there anything like that in your life?

It makes praying easier.

I don’t know about you but my prayers are usually a complete mess, not clear well-thought-out sentences. My thoughts are, at best, one or two or a few, long meandering streams that are easy to get lost in. So, when I make the effort to write it down, it can feel a lot more solid and organised when I come to pray, than if I just thought about it in passing. 

Also the act of writing was something to be grateful for. This might seem a little obvious, because I’m a person with a writing degree, who volunteers to write blogs every week, but I really like writing. Maybe you should incorporate something you like doing, into your prayer life. If you like singing, sing your prayers. If you like doodling, draw your prayers.

Practised gratefulness becomes instinctive.

The world teaches us not to be grateful in case it comes across as proud or boastful and sometimes because marketing and media is set up to pull us towards the next new thing. So, it takes some practice and unlearning, like any skill. That’s why doing it regularly and making gratefulness part of your routine is important. After a while I found myself finding things that I’m grateful for when I wasn’t sat down with a piece of paper. 

It helps on the days when you don’t feel like you have anything to be grateful for.

As often happens, I sometimes found myself too busy or tired to write something down. And it’s easy to find yourself feeling bad about not doing it and even giving up. However feeling bad about yourself is the complete opposite of what the idea is about. 

And there were days when I just felt sad and didn’t feel like being grateful. However, there were times when rereading my list or going through it in my head genuinely helped.

I hope you can find some things to be grateful for in your life.

There’s usually something to be grateful for. I hope you try to take care of the body and mind you live in. I hope you accept the help of people who care about you. No matter what happens, you are loved.

Finding family

calendar29 June 2019

Paula Walton's avatar Paula Walton

Finding family

I never expected to end up in the situation I did. I’d been married for 15 years. We’d bought a house together and had two kids. I had a steady job working for a building society. Life was great.

One day, my husband left suddenly.

By myself I could no longer afford the house, so I was threatened with being evicted. Within four months I lost both my parents. On top of all this I discovered I had breast cancer and had to undergo a full mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I was off work for a year and a half. I began struggling with depression and was put on anti-depressants. I ended up being on them for seven years. Enforcement agents were banging on the door, demanding payment for the debt I owed.

Life became a long list of obstacles. I felt like the whole world was against me. I felt there was no one nice in the world anymore – not one. Sometimes I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.

The day I called CAP, everything began to change.

From that first call the difference was amazing. The lady I spoke to was kind and non-judgemental. Then Jane (CAP Debt Coach) turned up with a big smile on her face. I just felt at ease.

As well as help with debt, I was invited to church. After a couple of months of hearing the stories and feeling like I was being spoken to personally, the church leader said, ‘If you want to give your life to Jesus then come up to the front’. I couldn’t get out of the aisle quick enough – I was stepping on people’s feet and everything!

Church is like having a family. Now I’m surrounded by brothers and sisters. My new partner Calum and I also got baptised together. It has been life-changing. Since finding Jesus and the church, life is just happier. I can truly say now that I’m finding my own identity in Christ and that there is hope.

Calum and I also got married – it was our pastor who asked us about it. Dealing with everything being thrown at us all the time, I didn’t think Calum and I were going to survive, let alone get married. It made us stop and appreciate all we’ve got – what God has given us. It was overwhelming. Jane did the prayers at the wedding, and we even invited Katie, our area manager.

CAP is not just about getting you out of debt, it’s about giving you a way to move forward. The spiritual support - there’s just nothing out there in the market that gives you support like that. My life is no longer a checklist of obstacles I’m facing – today it’s full of reasons to celebrate. I’m debt free, walking with Jesus and doing my bit to bring joy and hope to others.

Paula is now a Debt Coach for her local CAP Debt Centre. She is passionate about sharing the hope she’s found in Jesus, just as her local church and CAP centre shared with her.

On Monday, 132* people will call CAP feeling hopeless and alone, just like Paula. On Tuesday, another 132 will call. The same will happen on Wednesday, and every working day after.

Will you become a Life Changer today and make sure CAP is there to answer every call? Your monthly gift will help provide the level of additional support that our clients so desperately need.

Thank you – you’re about to bring real joy into a situation like Paula’s.

Become a Life Changer today

*Average number of calls to our helpline every working day.

What counts as destitution?

calendar26 June 2019

Marianne Clough's avatar Marianne Clough

What counts as destitution?

Relative poverty, absolute poverty, below the poverty line and now destitution. This subject is so political, so full of finger pointing. For a lot of us, it’s hard to weed out quite what the reality really looks like, aside from the rhetoric.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has helpfully found a benchmark of showing someone in destitution – the most severe form of poverty. They say it means they are going without two or more essentials in a month.

So, the cynic in you is rightly asking, ‘Well, what counts as “essential”?’

Here’s the list:

  • Shelter;
  • Lighting;
  • Heating;
  • Food;
  • Basic toiletries like soap and toothpaste; and
  • Clothing or shoes appropriate for the weather.

So, before we go further, let’s see which two we’d be OK living without in a month.

Going without heating in the summer doesn’t seem too bad, but if that means no hot water either, that’s pretty miserable when you can’t wash yourself or your clothes.

Maybe not having clothes appropriate for the weather isn’t too bad, but then, if you can’t be dry (and let’s remember you don’t have a car and can’t afford public transport) your wellbeing will plummet. Then, there’s not much comfort when you get home, if you have one.

The point is, there just isn’t an acceptable combination.

In a just and compassionate society like ours, is it right that anyone has to live like this?

CAP’s latest report shows that around a third of the people we’re helping are living in destitution. Their suffering is often a private, behind-closed-doors type of poverty.

Now, we’re challenging society and the Government to take a deeper look at UK poverty with the #LookAgain campaign.

Will you help us by signing up here?

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