Bills and Debt

Keeping on top of your money and dealing with money problems

Here is a 2 page Money Help in Cambridgeshire Checklist that you can use to help yourself or others.

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Financial shocks

Around 4 in 10 of us are unlikely to be able to manage a ‘financial shock’ – that is emergency costs that we were not prepared for, e.g. washing machine breaks, car repairs, pet bills, theft or lost income. Preparing for and dealing with financial shocks is vital as they happen to everyone at some point.

There are several things to think about:

  • Insurance – protecting yourself against risks
  • Saving – having funds set aside to cover shocks
  • Avoidance – protecting yourself from scams
  • Alternatives – this is about knowing where to get free and recycled items more cheaply – especially if you are replacing household goods



Insurance is about protecting yourself against future risks –think about your way of life, your savings, people you live with – what could go wrong, what would you want to put right quickly.

  • Do you drive a car?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do you have belongings that are essential?
  • Do you have children?

If yes to any of these you will need to think carefully about insurance and if you drive a car it is a legal requirement to have at least third party car insurance.

What insurance might I need?

Use our Making Money Count insurance guide to find out about the different sorts of insurance you can get and what they typically cover so that you can decide which insurances you actually need.

Insurance can be expensive and should only be taken out if you can afford. It is about balancing the risks against the consequences if something happened.

If you buy insurance always compare prices – when you buy and at renewal – insurance companies will often reduce the first price they quote.

If you need insurance for your household belongings and rent from a housing association ask your landlord if they have a low cost cover that you can use.

Always make sure you are not covering yourself twice. E.g. if you have a Credit Union account it could include free life cover



Setting aside money in advance is another way of preparing yourself for financial shocks. Even a small amount of money makes a big difference, e.g. if you save 50p a day you will have over £180 in a year – enough to replace a fridge.

Try and make sure the savings are

  • Hard to dip into – otherwise you might be tempted to borrow from it when you shouldn’t…
  • Topped up regularly – a weekly or monthly standing order is a good idea
  • Have a realistic amount in it to help you in case of emergency



Avoiding scams

Scams are ways to con you out of your money and are the cause of terrible financial shocks and upset for too many people.

Always be suspicious if any of the following happen:

  • If something sounds too good to be true – like free gifts, ‘great’ investment opportunities or quick, easy money
  • You’re asked to give out personal or bank account information
  • You aren’t given long to make a decision or you feel pressured into making one immediately
  • You’re contacted unexpectedly by a company or person you have never heard of – this can be by post, email, phone, text or on the doorstep
  • You’re asked to pay anything up-front
  • The only contact details are a mobile phone number and a PO box address

If any of these happen – think first and do not respond before you have checked out properly and satisfied yourself that the offer or request is genuine.


The police or your bank will never:

  • Ask for your PIN
  • Ask you to transfer money to them or to another account even if they say it is in your name
  • Come to your home to collect your bank card, cash or cheque book

Before you invest any money:

  • Get independent advice
  • Check out the details with the Financial Conduct Authority’s warning list at Scamsmart

If you think you are the victim of a scam:

  • Tell someone you trust and get independent help from an organisation like Citizens Advice
  • Report the fraud to the police

Adviceguide from the Citizens Advice website also has lots of useful information about how to protect yourself and your financial information.


Free and cheap alternatives

If you face an emergency try and stay calm and think through all the options – especially if you are planning to borrow money to replace items that have been lost, stolen or broken.

The quality of household items recycled and sold second hand (or even given away free) is often very good and you can replace items much cheaper than buying new.

The main recycling furniture and white goods providers in the Cambs and Peterborough area are:

Cambridge Reuse

Ferry Project




You may also be able to get emergency grant help – you can ask:

  • Your housing association if you rent from one
  • The DWP for an interest free budgeting loan if you have been on the relevant benefits for at least 6 months
  • An independent money advice charity such as Citizens Advice for help in applying for a grant

For more information click here