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Mixing romance and finance

calendar26 January 2015

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Mixing romance and finance

Sitting down to discuss money matters isn’t anyone’s idea of a romantic date, but it could be a crucial investment into your relationship. Misunderstandings can add extra strain and pressure to any couple, so it’s best to get it out in the open.

Taking the time to have a candid conversation about money can also create a deeper level of trust between you and your partner as you discuss what’s important and learn to compromise.

This month, book a money date in the diary. There’s no need to get too heavy; just pick a few questions and get a conversation started. Remember, any issues that you uncover were probably there already so at least now you can decide how to move forward.

1. How do you spend your money? Everyone has different ideas about how much money to spend on different items and what hobbies are important to them – make sure they don’t become an area of conflict.

2. What is your view on credit cards? For some, cash is a rare sight in their wallet, whilst for others credit cards are strictly for emergencies. Do you need to come to a compromise on using credit?

3. Should we have joint or separate accounts? Sharing money is not for everyone, but discussing how bills get paid and who pays for what, is a must! If you choose a joint account and there is a big difference in your earnings, will you pay in an equal amount or a percentage of your income?

4. Should we save and how much? Most would probably agree that savings are important, but for some, that looks like a set amount every month whilst for others it’s whatever is left over – if there’s anything at all.

5. What are our future priorities? Buying a house, saving for the kids’ education, investing in a pension – there are lots of considerations to be made for future needs.

6. Do you have any debts? People’s views on debt vary and it’s important to know if your partner is bringing debts into the relationship.

7. How are your finances right now? This is great open-ended question to bring up from time to time that helps highlight any issues that might need nipping in the bud.

CAP is helping change the law to help the poor!

calendar22 January 2015

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

I’m a dreamer. I know that can sound clichéd, but what I mean is I often find myself thinking of what might happen in the future. One of these dreams was 19 years ago when I first started CAP. I wondered if the work I was doing would ever grow from just me in my home office. I imagined the day when CAP would become large enough to have a significant reputation, and be strong enough and loud enough for Government to listen to us. I dreamed of the day our work would be able to change laws to benefit the poorest in our society.

Well, that dream has started to become a reality. Some of the poorest families we work with are actually ‘too poor to go bankrupt’. They need to go through bankruptcy as the only way out of a life sentence of debt, but they can’t afford the £705 fee. They also couldn’t access a Debt Relief Order (DRO) – which is essentially a cheaper bankruptcy for people with no assets – because they had debts of over £15,000.

We felt this was an injustice worth challenging, so we campaigned alongside other charities to raise the DRO upper limit.

You may have seen on the BBC or in the Independent, where CAP was quoted, that the Insolvency Service has agreed that those with up to £20,000 of debt will be allowed to access the cheaper DRO from October this year. This is massive news that will bring freedom to some of the very poorest people in our society over the coming years. These fairer laws will enable them to access justice. We have spoken 'up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.' (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Your financial support, your prayer, your volunteering – all of these mean that you have stood with us to make this possible. Let’s praise God for the increased influence he is giving us to use on behalf of the poor in our society.

I look forward to letting you know when some more of my dreams come true.

Financial Health Check

calendar01 January 2015

Kate Martin's avatar Kate Martin

Financial Health Check

Following the pinch of Christmas, January’s bank balance can confront us with a bit of a shock. It might be time to make some important financial decisions, so CAP has composed a questionnaire that will give you an idea of where you’re at:

1. Are you aware of where your money goes each month? (E.g. Direct Debits, bills, credit card or overdraft payments.)

a) I am always aware of all my outgoings.
b) I am aware of most of my outgoings.
c) I don’t always know where a lot of my money has gone each month.
d) I pay very little attention to where my money goes each month.

2. How much is in your current account?

a) £________
b) I’m not sure but I know I’m in the black.
c) I think I’m a little way into my overdraft.
d) I have absolutely no idea.

3. Where does most of your excess money go?

a) Into a savings and investment.
b) I save some, but spend most of it on holidays and activities.
c) I buy a lot of clothes/books and somehow seem to save very little between paydays.
d) I splurge on treats and things I don’t need, and regularly overspend.

4. Do you live by a budget?

a) Yes, very strictly; and if I need to spend over my budget I account for it and make sure I spend less next month.
b) I have a rough budget and try to live by it, but sometimes I overspend.
c) I made a budget a few years ago but it’s probably out of date now.
d) Budget?…

5. Do you generally pay for things with cash or card?

a) I always use cash, and if I pay with card I write details on the receipt and keep it for my records.
b) I generally use cash because it’s easier to keep track of how much I’ve spent.
c) I usually pay with card but very rarely pay for things on credit.
d) I use whatever plastic is to hand.

6. What happens when you buy presents for friends and family?

a) I decide how much to spend and never go over.
b) I agree a mutual budget with the other person but if I go a little over it’s okay.
c) I tend to buy what I know the person will like, even if it’s a bit too expensive.
d) I often forget what I’ve bought for them and keep buying more and more things.

7. How often do you reassess what your money goes on?

a) Once or twice a month.
b) Three or four times a year.
c) Maybe once a year.
d) I’ve never assessed my finances in my life.

8. Do you manage to keep on top of your debts?

a) What debts?
b) Yes, they rarely cause a problem.
c) I just about keep up, but I sometimes miss payments.
d) I’m always behind on repayments and interest builds up quickly.


If you scored mostly As, congratulations on your excellent money management – feel free to treat yourself once in a while… At the other end of the spectrum, if you scored all Ds, you might be in need of professional debt help before things get seriously out of control. If you’re somewhere in the middle, scoring mostly Bs or Cs, it might be worth having a financial check up, just to make sure you’re in tip top shape. Why not try a CAP Money Course - it’s free and has already helped over 12,000 people last year to fine tune their finances.

Your 2015 money makeover

calendar17 December 2014

John Kirkby's avatar John Kirkby

Your 2015 money makeover

When the festive season is over, it’s easy to feel guilty about how much money you spent — but that’s not going to fix it. Just as 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. Download your twelve month financial fitness planner and get started!

Download your 2015 Money makeover planner

Add the money makeover to your online calendar

January – Be honest 
Dust off the bank statements and create a simple budget to see what you having coming in and out. 

February – Balancing the budget
Have a look at what you want to achieve and how you can get there. Need help? Try a free CAP Money Course.

March – Take the cash only challenge
It might be counter-cultural but this month, give it a try and put the value back into your money. 

April - Review
The end of the tax year is a good reminder to review your accounts.

May – Saving for summer
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’ve children, spend some time teaching them the value of money. Check out CAP Money kids.

July – Stick with it!
You’re half way through! Look back and congratulate yourself on how far you have come, and remind yourself again of the end goal.

August - Back to school
Write a list together beforehand or try to buy online. Sticking to the plan is key and will help you stay on budget. 

September - 100 days to Christmas
On 16 September, Christmas will be just 100 days away – that’s only four pay packets to go! Save a little every month instead of hitting the easy credit.

October – Lower your energy bills 
Make sure you are ready for winter by checking your house is properly insulated.

November – Home sprint
Keep going. If things are going well, perhaps think about your goals for next year.

December – Celebrate!
Well done! You should also now be in a position where simple maintenance of your budget will keep you going long into the future. If not, don’t panic, you can get some extra help by calling us 0800 328 006.

Saving money on your Christmas Meal

calendar11 December 2014

Kathy Freeman's avatar Kathy Freeman

Saving money on your Christmas Meal

Worried about being done up like a Turkey this Christmas Day? It’s probably one of the most expensive meals of the year, but there are lots of ways to keep the costs down whilst still creating a wonderful festive feast. Here’s our ten top CAP Christmas dinner tips to whet your appetite…

1. Set a budget: It’s really easy to get lost in the festive hype and end up buying treats and festive bargains, which you don’t actually need. So be realistic, think about what you actually need, create a budget and then stick to it. Your bank account will thank you in the New Year.

2. Make a menu for the week: Before you go shopping, plan ahead all your meals for the Christmas week. If you have a plan you’re less likely to waste food that you bought on a whim or overspend in the supermarket buying random things not on your list.

3. Be supermarket savvy: There are plenty of deals to be had, but don’t get drawn in by the first one you come across. It pays to do your research – is a great way to scan the shop prices from the comfort of your armchair.

4. Size matters: If you are smart at turning leftovers into other meals, then it might be worth getting a larger bird, which can work out cheaper per kilo. However, if that’s not your thing, then you’d be wise to buy something smaller, or even opt for a turkey crown. Alternatively, if chicken is on offer, you may want to break with tradition for a cheaper bird.

5. Stuff it: If you decide to go for a whole bird, you should aim for 500g on-the-bone weight per person but you can cut costs by making up the some of the weight with sausagemeat stuffing – cheap and also very tasty.

6. Waste not, want not: There are lots of creative ways to use up those leftovers, such as potato cakes from cooked potatoes, stock from the turkey carcass and soup from uneaten vegetables. Have some recipes up your sleeve ready to make the most of your leftovers before they hit the bin.

7. Homemade winners: Gravy, mince pies and pigs in blankets can all be made relatively cheaply and easily at home. Save some pounds and impress your dinner guests with the time and care you have taken to create things from scratch.

8. Make your own: Crackers and table decorations can cost a small fortune so get crafty and try making your own. Hobbycraft sell a pack of 12 cracker snaps for just 80p so all you need is some old toilet rolls, leftover wrapping paper and a few cheap choccies to pop inside. Get the kids involved and you’ll have a fun afternoon activity planned too.

9. Spread the costs: If you have a large family, why not ask everyone to bring a dish and share the costs out. That will take the pressure off you, and probably off them too, plus it’s more fun having everyone join in.

10. Spread the joy: Finally, if you can’t face making Christmas dinner, then why not volunteer your time at your local Salvation Army serving meals to those who’d otherwise be on their own on Christmas Day?

If you'd like some help fine tuning your finances then try a free CAP Money Course – click here to find a course near you!

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