First Steps

Hi all! Nice to meet you.  

I’m Clare and I was made redundant on 30th November last year from a job I’d only been in for 2 years. I’m not used to being unemployed, if I leave a job it’s usually only to go onto another one. Fortunately I had been there long enough to get some redundancy money so that saw us over Christmas.

I wasn’t expecting to get a job very quickly as it was the Christmas season and employers aren’t looking for new staff at that time, I thought come January something would come up. It didn’t! I’ve found about half a dozen jobs I could apply for, not all in my usual field of bookkeeping and only had one interview since then which I didn’t get. So things aren’t looking so good.

As an older single mum with an 11 year old daughter who is very active, I knew we’d have to make some changes. On the plus side, I won’t be spending as much money on petrol driving into work and sitting in traffic jams and my electricity use won’t go up much as we only have electricity which won’t be going up much as we have storage heaters.

What can we cut down on? My daughter has happily given up on one of her dance classes, she likes tap best and was getting bored of modern dance. But that’s about it. As a single mum, I’ve always tried to work part-time to be home with her as much as possible because after school care is pretty expensive. Her father contributes £65 a month (yes, month!) towards her care, having given up his job and gone “self-employed”. Meaning not much spare cash at any time, so no savings!

The first thing I did was sign on for Unemployment benefits; though it turned out we are a Universal Credit area. This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it has taken a couple of months to get full benefits as my ex-employer paid me some arrears and outstanding holiday pay in December. This also messed up the free school meals application; though I’ve had two refunds from Council Tax as I now get council tax benefit.

The second job was to go through my direct debits. Nothing that I couldn’t manage without there but I thought I’d give my electricity supplier a meter reading. Turns out I was £400 in credit and paying £84 a month to them! Rather a lot for a small two bedroom semi! I immediately requested £200 refund and my direct debit went down to £30 a month. Great saving! I can’t change my supplier at the moment, I’m on a two year fixed tariff which was the cheapest when I last changed. I’ll be looking at that again in a few months when it ends.

So my tips for when you suddenly lose your income or if you are just trying to budget

1.    Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you can.
2.    Check your outgoings – what can you stop paying?
3.    Check you’re not paying too much for your utilities – try a price comparison website
4.    Try and cut down on groceries, could you go to a discount supermarket instead or change to supermarket own brands
5.    If you have any debts, can you pay them off with savings? If you can’t, and you are really going to have trouble paying them, talk to your lender and see if you could take a payment holiday or pay less. Don’t leave this until the account is in a real mess and you are looking at court proceedings and possible forced bankruptcy.

Then you have to decide what you are going to do next!

You could take some courses and improve your skills and knowledge. The JobCentre could point you in the right direction for free course. Your local college may have courses that are reduced in cost or free if you are unemployed. There are also online courses, some of which are free such as FutureLearn, OpenLearn and Allison courses.

I decided to start this blog to chronicle what I’ve been doing to survive without a job. I’m going to have a go at a few things to see what brings in the best money and how to save the money you have got!


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