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Get ahead with summer savings

calendar08 May 2016

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Get ahead with summer savings

Whether you are looking to get away, thinking about how to entertain the kids, or you are just wanting to make the most of getting out an about at home, there are ways you can be smart with your money.

Planning ahead
If you know what you are likely to be doing, there’s no reason why you can’t start thinking now about how you can save money. Create a budget of what you would like to do and roughly how much it would all cost. If you find yourself wildly off budget, then be realistic about what you can afford. For example, do you need to go abroad this year or could you try camping in the UK instead? Could you plan some fun activities at home instead of going away for the weekend? It is better to say ‘no’ now rather than find yourself in financial difficulty later.

Shop around
If you’re headed abroad, have a look at price comparison sites for the best deals on airlines or hotels, TravelSupermarket.com or Skyscanner are a good place to start. It’s worth noting that budget airlines are cheaper when you book two or three months in advance, but package holidays are cheaper when booked last minute. Also, have a think about when you travel because according to Which? Research, it’s 35% cheaper to fly on a Tuesday than a Friday and 45% more expensive to come back on a Sunday! Remember to book your airport parking in advance to get the best deal and try travelmoneymax.com for the best currency exchange rates.

Staycation
If a holiday abroad is not on your agenda, why not see what this country has to offer? Visitbritain.com is a great website for ideas that include all the best of British culture, countryside, heritage, food and entertainment and suggestions to suit your budget. There are also lots of websites offering discounts on eating out and activities such as Groupon or Vouchercodes. These savings can really add up so don’t be afraid to suggest cheaper alternatives to your friends – they will probably appreciate the savings too!

Kids go free
As for activities for the kids, MoneySavingExpert.com has a great list of free and cheap ideas to keep them entertained over the school holidays. Your local council or library may also list some free events happening in your area. If you do plan taking them to a theme park or major attraction, then see what deals and vouchers there are beforehand, and remember to take a packed lunch instead of spending lots on food.

Save now and pay less
With so much credit readily available, why would you bother saving when you can pay later? It may be a quick fix to your financial situation, but a lot of us end up spending far more than we needed to. For example, a £900 holiday paid back on credit over a year could end up costing you £1,057. That’s £150 you could have put towards your next trip. Saving is effectively the same as paying back each month what you borrowed just the other way around and without the interest or the stress if you fall behind in your repayments.

Getting into debt is very easy but a lot harder to get out of. However, if you’re struggling don’t worry, we can help. Try a free CAP Money Course for help with budgeting, or for free debt help call us today on 0800 328 0006 or go to capuk.org.

Be SMART, set goals

calendar08 May 2016

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Be SMART, set goals

What is it you really want to do? Many of us know what our dream job would be but have no idea how to make it a reality. Thinking about it can be incredibly overwhelming and can leave you seriously doubting your abilities.

There will have been times during her training, when Jessica Ennis felt the same but her sheer determination and ability to set herself goals led her to achieving gold in the 2012 London Olympics. Setting yourself a series of realistic, achievable goals will help you get to where you want to be.

A toddler learns to walk with one step at a time – achieving your dream is no different. Set yourself tasks every week and push yourself to complete them. Whether it’s researching the field you’d like to work in, or beginning to fill in a few application forms, making sure you have constant goals to complete will bring you one step closer to achieving your ambitions.

Think ‘SMART’ when setting your goals; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, that is. It will help you get focused and you are much more likely to achieve with these factors in mind. Unless you have a superhuman ability to remain constantly enthused, the chances are you will find it hard to stay motivated at all times.

Unfortunately, most of the time motivation must be pursued and it’s up to you to get inspired. Whether it’s finding quotes from business entrepreneurs such as Sir Alan Sugar, or researching stats to inspire you to help the causes you’re passionate about, there are many ways to seek motivation.

No matter what field you want to work in, the likelihood is you’ll have to start from the bottom. Be realistic – don’t expect to dive straight into your dream job. Whether it’s putting in a few volunteer hours at the animal shelter you’d love to someday manage, or getting a job which will simply help you gain enough money to start your own business, it’s important to focus on that long-term goal. Looking ahead will help you remain positive and bring more enjoyment to what you’re doing.

If you struggle to set goals, aren’t sure what field you’d like to work in or even where to begin looking for jobs, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Finding the right job isn’t easy, and can be a daunting process but CAP Job Clubs are here to help. They will teach you vital skills whether it’s building confidence or communicating with employers. Meeting in small groups, CAP Job Clubs will support and encourage you as your search for employment begins.

For more information check out capjobclubs.org or to book your place call 0800 328 0006.

Written by Kimberley Taylor

Budget recipe binder: Mushroom Stroganoff

calendar15 April 2016

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

Budget recipe binder: Mushroom Stroganoff

From what I’ve heard, this is a bit of a ‘Marmite’ dish. When I told my sister recently that I eat it once a week at least, she was glad to be sitting down. ‘It’s the worst!’ she told me in no uncertain terms. Don’t sugar-coat, will you, sis? Still, it’s a super easy, super inexpensive and super healthy recipe, so it’s worth giving it a try and deciding whether you’re in my mad-about-mushrooms team or my anti-strog sister’s!

Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Serves: 4
Total cost: £3.50*

Ingredients

Oil (to fry)
1 large onion
300g closed cup white mushrooms
1 orange or red pepper
Water (boiled in kettle)
2 vegetable stock cubes
Sprinkle of tarragon
300g low fat crème fraîche

To serve:
120g cous cous (uncooked weight)

Method

1. Wash and quarter the mushrooms, then wash the pepper and chop, getting rid of the pips. Finely chop the onion.
2. Put the dry cous cous in a bowl and cover with water from the kettle (approx. 150ml). Cover the bowl with a plate or cling film and set aside.
3. Fry the onions and the pepper until soft, add the mushrooms and fry until they reduce to about half the size (you might need to add a splash more oil, but not too much as mushrooms tend to soak up liquid initially and then let it all back out again).
4. Pour in enough water to just cover the contents of the pan. Stir in the stock cubes and tarragon.
5. Bring to the boil for 5 minutes. You want the water to reduce slightly – but keep an eye on it and don’t let it boil dry.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the crème fraîche.
7. Use a fork to fluff the cous cous and serve in bowls.

Tip: Add 300g Quorn Chicken-Style Pieces at stage 3 and brown slightly before adding the water. The Quorn will soak up the flavor of the mushrooms and stock – a delicious way to add some protein to this dish. (Total cost with Quorn: £5.17*)

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing

A record breaking March

calendar06 April 2016

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

A record breaking March

This March has been our busiest ever for people calling in for debt help, breaking every record we’ve ever had in 20 years.

On March 21, our New Enquiries Team at CAP received 252 calls - the most calls we’ve had in a single day, since CAP started. 2016 looks to be busy. In fact, we’ve already had six record-breaking days so far this year!

This is both sad and encouraging news to hear because the more people who call us, the more we can help. We know that ringing for debt help isn’t easy and takes a lot of courage. Many people wait because they feel embarrassed or simply don’t know about us. Some waited up to three years before calling, thinking they could sort their finances out themselves.  However, so much need is a worrying sign.

We know debt isn’t a small problem in the UK. One in six adults in the UK are living with problem debt. Living with constant demands from creditors and bailiffs can be horrendous so, as we’re finding more and more people need our help, CAP is going to have to grow fast to meet this need.

Please do what you can to help us – and all those people calling for help.

You could try fundraising or donating and help out that way. You could come and volunteer with us at CAP Head Office (like I do myself and many others). You could help simply by spreading the word and telling people about the life-changing work CAP does across the UK. Maybe it’s time to talk to your church leader again about all our new services and how your congregation could get involved?

See how you can help at capuk.org/partnership

We’d love to visit your church!

calendar06 April 2016

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

We’d love to visit your church!

Here’s the thing: Christians Against Poverty is fast-moving and always changing. Just when you think you’ve got your head around what we do, we go and change it again!

We have and will always be a debt counselling charity – that’s true – but in recent years, CAP’s focus has widened to include the causes of poverty.

We’ve gone upstream to what’s making people’s financial problems worse. Did you know we’re now helping people with money education, job clubs, learning essential life skills and even addictions?

Of course, we can only do this through the love and care of the local Church which is where you come in!

CAP’s Church Partnership team is often told: “We can’t do much about poverty, we’re only a small church” but here’s another fact: one in three of the congregations we work with have 50 to 100 members. You don’t have to be a mega church to make your mark!

We’d love to send you one of our CAP speakers to speak at your church and tell true stories from the front line of UK poverty that will inspire your church into action and show them that they really can make a genuine difference in their community.

Depending on how close you are to one of our centres, our speakers can do anything from a short ten-minute slot in the Sunday morning service (about CAP and what they can do) to a 20 or 60-minute presentation including our latest films featuring stories of lives transformed by God.

We also can give a sermon on what exactly the Bible says about how we should react to poverty in the world.

There’s nothing like hearing about something first hand and feeling like you’ve got all the information from the ‘horse’s mouth’ – that’s why testimony is so powerful.

Here’s how you put in your CAP Speaker request: [url=https://capuk.org/get-involved/your-church/book-a-cap-speaker]https://capuk.org/get-involved/your-church/book-a-cap-speaker[/url]

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