Today sees the start of this year’s Talk Money week.
Launched as an awareness campaign, Talk Money Week is about encouraging people to open up about money, talk about their finances, and thereby improve both their financial wellbeing and their mental health.
At CAS we strongly support Talk Money Week. We want people to feel empowered by talking about money and to find a solution to their financial worries. Our network of local CABs offers free, confidential advice to anyone who needs help with their finances and someone to talk to.
A critical component of debt prevention and improving financial wellbeing is financial education. MyBnk research found only 2 in 5 young adults across the UK are deemed financially literate. Further, almost a third of parents and carers don’t talk to their children openly about money, according to MoneyHelper. Educating kids early on is incredibly important in building financial confidence, which in turn will lessen their chances of getting into debt at a later age.
We also know that many people are struggling with money because their income simply doesn’t cover their monthly outgoings. If you’re in this situation, then you’re not alone. 1 in 2 complex debt clients we see are stuck in a negative budget with no disposable income. Those who do have some money left over at the end of the month are seeing this amount reduce rapidly.
Luckily, there are lots of people out there who can help you access the money you’re entitled to, through checking your eligibility for benefits and grants. Your local CAB will run income maximisation checks for you, and in doing this, many of our clients feel more educated and empowered as a result.
Help is available outside of an appointment too. The MoneyMap, our online self-help tool, signposts you to information and advice on maximising your income, reducing bills, and easing the costs of daily living.
So, there’s support available. There’s also more money than you’d think. There’s £19 billion of unclaimed welfare support across the UK. Many people don’t know that because we’re used to hearing unhelpful rhetoric designed to stigmatise claiming. But the truth is, there’s people struggling out there who aren’t taking up all the support they’re entitled to.
Our message is simple. Come to your local CAB and let us help you check if you’re missing out on anything, and then claim it. Open up about that overdraft that’s causing you stress. Seek the advice you need to get you to a place of financial stability.
This year the theme of Talk Money week is Do One Thing. We’re encouraging everyone to look up our Money Map (www.moneymap.scot). From benefits to grants, council tax to housing, energy to food & clothing, it points you to the most helpful sites where financial assistance can be accessed.
We’re also calling on organisations to raise awareness of the tool by promoting it across your various channels and platforms to your individual audiences: members, supporters, followers, staff, or customers. By maximising reach we can maximise the positive impact on peoples’ lives.
People now talk more about mental health – which is a good thing. Let’s talk more about money too. Sometimes it’s just as simple as that to break down stigma and open the door to the help you need.
Isabella Williams works in the Financial Health team at Citizens Advice Scotland.