If you’re struggling to manage your money it is worth looking at what you are spending to see if there is anything you can cut back on or do differently.
We have set out some ideas, including tips to cut your household costs and make sure your income is maximised.
Tips to cut your costs
If you are finding it hard to keep your home warm you may be interested in trying Home Energy Scotland's funding finder tool.
They provide clear and impartial advice on how to keep your home warm and they may be able to help you access financial support to make energy-efficiency improvements to your home, such as a new heating system or improved insulation.
They can also check if you are eligible for any discounts from your energy supplier.
If you are finding it difficult to afford to heat your home to a comfortable level or to power your home sufficiently you are experiencing fuel poverty. You can get help with fuel bills and heating your home over the winter.
Free school meals
All Primary 1 to 5 children in North Lanarkshire are entitled to receive free school meals but if your child is in Primary 6 or above you need to apply for free school meals. If you are eligible and apply your child can get a free school meal and this will cut your ongoing spending on school lunches.
The school clothing grant is a one-off payment of £140 for early years and primary school pupils and £150 for secondary school pupils for eligible applicants. You must apply for the school clothing grant, regardless of what primary your child is in. This is extra income that will help you manage your money when you need to buy school uniform items.
Check out the eligibility criteria for free school meals and for the school clothing grant.
You may be able to reduce your spending at the weekend and during the school holidays by sending your child to Club 365. This is for primary school pupils who are entitled to free school meals.
Free bus travel
You may be able to reduce your outgoings by making use of the free bus travel available to all 5 to 21-year-olds living in Scotland. You will need to apply for a National Entitlement or Young Scot Card (NEC) for your child to benefit from free bus travel. The Young Scot Card also offers a number of discounts that might help you make some further savings.
You can also benefit from free bus travel around Scotland if you are over 60 years old or if you have a disability. For this, you must apply for an NEC.
If you need to travel with a companion due to a disability your companion is entitled to travel for free with you if your card has the Companion Travel logo on it.
Friday and Saturday Night Project
If you have a child aged nine years old or above you can make use of the free Friday and Saturday Night Project, which provides a fun and safe environment for young people to socialise with friends and play a variety of sports within a leisure venue.
This can help to reduce your costs if your child normally attends entertainment or leisure activities that are not provided free of charge.
Active Teens membership
There is also the fantastic free Active Teens membership that gives 11 to 15-year-olds living in North Lanarkshire free access to our gyms. This will reduce your costs if you are paying for a gym membership.
Active 60 membership
If you are a North Lanarkshire resident aged 60+ you can benefit from signing up for the low-cost Active 60 membership which costs £50 for the full year and provides access to leisure facilities including gym, fitness classes, swimming and much more. This can reduce your costs if you spend more than £50 on leisure activities.
You may be able to make some savings by looking at what you spend on your grocery shopping and planning in advance to stick within your budget. Our budgeting tool can help you with this.
Energy savings tips
If you are struggling to pay for your broadband service but want to stay connected you could check with your internet provider about going on to a Social Tariff.
Tips to ensure your income is maximised
You can use our benefit calculator to get an estimate of what benefits you may be entitled to and to check that your income is maximised.
You may be able to boost your income by £20 per week if you have a child under six years old and are on a low income by applying for the Scottish Child Payment.
You may also be able to apply for a community care grant or crisis grant through the Scottish Welfare Fund if you are on a low income and struggling to meet your essential needs.
You may be able to get a cost of living payment if you’re entitled to certain benefits or tax credits.
If you are unsure if you are entitled to any of the support available or, worried that you have missed out on support, please contact the Tackling Poverty Team by emailing TPteam@northlan.gov.uk or by calling 01698 332551.
Other tips you may find useful
If you are worried that you have been a victim of a financial scam and you want to report it or need some advice you can contact Consumer Advice Scotland.
Information is also available from Trading Standards Scotland to help you stay alert and avoid scams.
You can get help with saving money by receiving a bonus to boost your savings by signing up to the UK Government's Help to Save scheme. You can sign up to the scheme if you are on a low income and receive Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.
If you need to take a loan or buy items on credit, there are different options for affordable credit available from responsible lenders, such as your local Credit Union.
The Money Savings Expert website provides a money makeover by looking through all of your outgoings to check if there is anything you are paying for which you do not need or use.
If you have debts that you are struggling to repay the Tackling Poverty Team also provides Debt Advice offering advice and assistance with all debt matters including rent and mortgage arrears, council tax arrears, gas and electricity arrears and general debts including credit cards.
Financial support for families with children at school
If you have children at school or pre-school and you have a low income you may be entitled to financial support. This booklet covers the range of financial support which may be available and details of how to apply.
NL Money Worries Leaflet
If you are worrying about money support is available in North Lanarkshire. This helpful guide provides 3 steps to which you can follow to find options and places to get help.