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When money's tight, money management counts

When times are tough, money management really counts. So it's no great surprise that financial experts and debt advisers are recommending that people respond to today's financial challenges by improving their money management skills.


The comments came in response to findings by Lloyds TSB in its latest Spending Power Report - a 'comprehensive report examining trends in consumers' spending power'.


One of the most striking findings in the Report is that 19% of people in the UK have no discretionary income left over after they've taken care of their essential costs.


"It's an extremely worrying situation to be in," a Think Money spokesperson commented, "since it means there's no leeway at all. If one of these households runs into any expense they're not expecting in a month, whether it's fixing the roof or replacing their ageing family car, they may find it's difficult or even impossible to cope with it."


Even if no unexpected costs occur, the spokesperson continued, today's financial climate could, in itself, see them running into serious financial problems. These days, with inflation outstripping average income growth, people all over the country are finding themselves with less and less discretionary income as time goes on.


The press release goes on to take a look at debt, reminding readers that entering a debt management plan is one way struggling borrowers may be able to bring their debts back under control.


But that's not the first step to take - the "obvious starting point" for a household is to draw up a thorough budget, which can give them some real insight into their spending habits and (hopefully) help them identify a few ways of cutting back so they can stay on top of their expenditure.


In cases where that isn't enough, talking to a debt adviser is a good next step, as they can go over the individual's situation in detail and "suggest ways of bringing their monthly payments back down to a realistic level - possibly by starting a debt management plan, for example".


The Spending Power Report contains plenty of other interesting (or alarming) findings too, apart from the 19% figure.


For example, discretionary spending power grew by a mere 1.8% in the 12 months to January (and once inflation's been taken into account, that means it actually fell by 0.9% over the year). A full quarter of people intend to spend less in the future, while more intend to work on building up their savings or reducing their debt levels.




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