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Being the Budget Bride

calendar07 February 2016

Marianne Clough's avatar Marianne Clough

Being the Budget Bride

A recent survey by Your and Your Wedding Magazine showed the average cost is now more than £20,000. Can this be true? Mine was 18 years ago and it was a modest affair but it never came to anything like that kind of figure!

The wedding industry in the UK is big business. It’s worth £10billion. It seems the sky is the limit with how complicated you can make it and how much you can spend. It’s so easy to get swept along and the budget bride will need to keep very focused on her priorities. The perfect big day certainly does not guarantee a perfect marriage (whatever that is) and time might be better spent with wedding preparation sessions at your church.

A beautiful wedding dress can cost thousands but check out websites like, or Oxfam’s bridal shop for a fabulous second-hand gown. Don’t forget, the high street has a lot to offer with John Lewis, House of Fraser, BHS, Monsoon and Debenhams all doing their own wedding dresses and M&S offering a selection of bridesmaid outfits.

Venue - local theatre and seek to get it licensed. Sometimes simple really is best. One of the best weddings I ever went to was in a local village church. The bride and groom were childhood sweethearts but the bride’s Dad had just been made redundant. After the service, the guests walked to the village hall where friends and family had all pitched in with food and decorations. It was a day full of joy.

Perhaps that is the key: ask what those around you can do. This involves people and brings them together which makes it more personal for you and for them. Can a relative who loves baking make your cake as their present to you? Do you know someone who loves gardening – can they grow your flowers to keep down the cost? Could the team who regularly decorate the church for services do the same for your wedding day for a donation? Do you know someone who’s never without a camera? Perhaps they can take (even some) of your photos for you and make an online album. What about a get-together with your mates to assemble your table favours like bags of old fashioned sweets or tied bunches of lavender?

Home-made is surely the way to go for invitations. Research some great craft ideas, source items from Ebay and set about them yourself and you’ll save hundreds.

You might do yourself a huge financial favour by picking a low-cost day. Head for midweek in November or December and your venue may be much cheaper – and so might accommodation for your guests. It’s all in the timing too – a late afternoon wedding will mean you provide fewer meals for guests at a lower cost - and they’ll thank you for giving them more time to get ready and travel to your destination. Keep your numbers down and any costs per head for food will fall too, of course.

Much has been said about getting marriage right. It is a leap of faith as you both grow and change through the years with the mixture of surprises and challenges that life can throw your way. My best advice has to be this: don’t start your life together with debt. Poor finance is the source of far too many break-ups. So, start as you mean to go on with honest discussion about what you have, how you will budget and who spends what.

Christians Against Poverty provides specialised courses to help new couples learn more. Book your free place at

The money conversation

calendar01 February 2016

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

The money conversation

Around half of all couples in the UK say they are not always honest with their partner about their finances while a quarter said they actually lied to their partner about how much money they spent each month.

We know having 'the money conversation' with your partner can be daunting but if you aren’t open and honest about money, it can put a strain on your money and the relationship itself.

Three quarters of CAP clients said their debts had led to arguments with their partner and nearly a quarter of them said it had led to either a break up or a divorce -  the stakes are high. That’s why biting the bullet, sitting down together now to talk about your debt problems and make a plan to get out of debt, before it gets worse, could be the best thing for you and your relationship in 2016.

Remember, we at CAP are here to help you. Here are ten top tips we think might help:

  1. Pick a time when things are quiet at home and no one is dealing with any immediate stresses.
  2. Find time when you can be alone. Avoid times when the children are around, your mum-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 finances together and that it isn’t about blaming anyone.
  4. Admit that managing money 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 you might have very different attitudes to money. 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 one of the hundreds of free CAP Money Courses – to begin to build your budget.
  8. If you have debts, don’t delay in getting in touch with CAP for free debt help. You can call us on 0800 328 0006.
  9. Make payday the day you review how it’s all going and change your budget when its necessary.
  10. Avoid credit wherever possible and begin to save as soon as you can, even if it is a small regular amount.

Budget recipe binder – Bean Enchiladas

calendar29 January 2016

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Budget recipe binder – Bean Enchiladas

This week's budget recipe: Kathy's Bean Enchiladas

This dish is not only cheap but it's quick, easy and also very tasty. Beans are a great source of protein, which helps you feel fuller for longer.

Preparation time: 5 mins, cooking time: 30 mins, serves 4.
Total cost = approx. £2.76

1 tbsp oil
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tins Mexican mixed beans in a spicy tomato sauce (To increase spice add some chilli or cayenne pepper)
8 plain tortilla wraps
(Optional: grated cheese on top)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the pepper and onion for 5 minutes until softened. Stir in both tins of mixed beans with the sauce and heat through gently.
2. Divide the bean mixture between the tortillas and then roll up and lay side by side in a heatproof dish.
3. Spoon any remaining chilli on top and sprinkle over grated cheese (optional).  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 10 minutes then remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes until golden and piping hot.
Serve with some sour cream and enjoy!

*Prices from Tesco, correct at time of publishing

Why should I hire you?

calendar10 January 2016

Guest post's avatar Guest post

Why should I hire you?

There are various factors, which will contribute to you finding employment, such as a strong CV, good interview technique and relevant experience. But the first thing to think about is you. Applying for the jobs that best suit you will not only give you satisfaction in the long term, but you’ll be more likely to be able to sell yourself to a potential employer.

Even if you just need a job and don’t have the time or money to be picky, you need to understand yourself before an employer can hope to do so. Your desperation is not what will secure you the job – but your personality might be.

Start by asking yourself what qualities you value in a person? What makes you tick? In day-to-day life, what are you good at? And to answer that, you don’t need to think in terms of ‘official employability skills’, but just normal attributes. For example, are you an introvert or an extrovert, thriving more on your own or in company? Do you barge your way to the front of a queue of traffic, or do you wait at the back? Can you cook the dinner whilst talking to a friend and listening to the news? Can you switch off for long enough to read a book?

Working out who you are in your everyday life will help you work out what you can offer in response to a particular job specification. They may ask for a good team player; someone who is driven or assertive; an efficient multi-tasker; or someone who can absolutely focus – skills that you can recognise in yourself by asking questions like those above.

Once you’ve identified what your strengths and weaknesses are, you’ll be better equipped to write winning applications, and tell the employer with confidence why you are the best candidate for the job.

Whether you’ve just started job hunting, or you’ve been out of work a long time, take the opportunity to stop and think about what you like doing, what you’ve always wanted to do and whether or not you have what it takes to get there. And if you don’t have what it takes, this might be your chance to change that. Perhaps you could consider going back into education, finding an apprenticeship or getting a new qualification.

That’s just the start of the journey back to work, of course. But if the road simply looks too long and treacherous to face alone, there is hope. CAP Job Clubs equip and support you through your return to work, empowering you to communicate your skills and attributes to potential employers. Facing unemployment can be extremely difficult, but you don’t have to face it alone. For more information check out or to book your place call 0800 328 0006.

Written by Kimberley Taylor

New Year Money Makeover

calendar01 January 2016

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

New Year Money Makeover

With the festive season over, it’s easy to feel guilty about how much money you spent but that’s not going to fix it. Just like we need to cut back on the mince pies to stop our waistline expanding further, the sooner we take action on our finances the sooner our bank account will be back in shape.

Here is your twelve-month financial fitness plan:

January – Be honest. Make a point to sit down this month and take a realistic look at your finances. If things don’t look great, don’t panic; you just revealed a problem that was already there. For this month, work on sticking to a budget and commit the rest of this year to getting back on track.

February – Balancing the budget. With your budget at the ready, have a look at what you want to achieve and how you can get there. Perhaps that will involve cutting down on things or even cutting them out? How about savings? Try a free CAP Money Course - go to to find one near you.

March – Take the cash only challenge. It might be counter-cultural but it’s statistically proven that using cash will help you spend less. This month, give it a try and see if you can put the value back into your money.

April – Review. It’s always good to regularly review your financial situation to factor in any changes. Perhaps there are some more areas you can cut back in, or further? Or maybe you’re even in a position to increase your savings?

May – Saving for Summer. If you know you’re likely to want to go on holiday, start putting aside money each month now, rather than putting it on the credit card and getting stung by interest charges later.

June – Pass on the wisdom. Did you know that we form spending habits from as young as seven years old? If you have children, spend some time teaching them the value of money. If you don’t have children, perhaps you have a friend who could benefit from what you’ve learnt?

July – Stick with it! You’re half way through so don’t give up now! Look back and congratulate yourself on how far you have come, and remind yourself again of the end goal.

August - Back to school. Don’t give up to pester power when buying school supplies. Sticking to the plan is key and will help you stay on budget. Write a list together beforehand or try to buying online to avoid temptations in store.

September - 100 days to Christmas. On 16 September, Christmas will be just four pay away! Start saving a little every month instead of hitting the easy credit later in the year.

October - Lower your energy bills. This is the perfect time to make sure you are ready for winter by checking your house is properly insulated. Some people even save up to £200 a year by switching suppliers, go to [url=][/url].

November - Home sprint. You are on the last leg now, keep going. If you are feeling good about things, now might be the time to think about your goals for next year, or even further into the future.

December - Celebrate! Pat yourself on the back; you have made it through! Hopefully you’ll have saved enough to enjoy a credit-free Christmas. You should also now be in a position where simple maintenance of your budget will keep you going long into the future.

If however, you’ve found yourself limping over the finish line then don’t panic help is at hand.  Christians Against Poverty offers free advice regardless of age, gender, faith or background. Visit or call 0800 328 0006. They also run free money management courses to help you budget those bills and save for the future. Visit to find a course near you.

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