Archive for June, 2012
Todays blog has been written by one of our Personal Finance Managers, Jane Armstrong.
I work in the client support department dealing with Debt Management Plans (DMP). My role is to make sure our clients’ income and expenditure details are up to date and sustainable and to look for any opportunities to save money for them. I also offer information on alternative debt solutions that may be available and beneficial for individual clients. My main aim is to help our clients, firstly by giving them a realistic budget to suit their personal circumstances and then to make them aware of any potential savings they could make on their expenditure and help them plan for emergencies. It also ensures that when our client’s circumstances change Payplan can continue to support them.
Just before 9am I start my day by checking my calendar to see what appointments and activities I have booked. I check my emails and instant messages and complete as many as possible before 9am. Then I begin preparing a preliminary check of my first appointment. If I have an annual review booked this is to make sure we have the most up to date information on the clients file as the creditors request an update once a year to keep the payment agreements in place. I call the client and update their personal details and budget. At the end of the call I confirm with the client the updated payment amount.
Until lunchtime I continue completing annual reviews.
After lunch I check my emails and instant messages again. If I have one of my clients who is almost at the end of their plan I receive up to date information from colleagues in another department about the remaining balance and number of payments left. I confirm when the next review will be done and that we will be in contact again when that has been completed.
Friday is the day that I contact any of my clients who are struggling to maintain their payments. This is an important part of my role because if creditors receive reduced, or no payments, they may see it as a breach of the agreement in place. If this happens they are highly likely to cancel the agreement and begin charging fees and interest on the accounts that may have been frozen or reduced during the agreement.
I then continue to deal with emails and instant messages and call clients for their annual reviews.
I feel proud every time a client thanks me or my colleagues for our help. Being part of our client’s solution is a reward every day. My proudest moment was the first time I was able to offer one of my clients the option of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), which meant they would pay off their debt sooner.
Being in debt and in a plan such as a Debt Management Plan (DMP) or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) can mean that many will have to change the way in which they spend and make cut backs. Many of these cut backs will come from areas of your budget which may be deemed as a luxury or non-essential.
Holidays are seen as a luxury to your creditors who will want to see that you are paying all that you can into your plan. For this reason we are unable to allow an expense in your budget to save for a holiday.
With this being said, people in a plan with us do still go on holiday.
If you want to look at the possibility of going on holiday whilst in a plan then you could consider one of the following:
*Collect vouchers from newspapers, magazines or the internet that offer discounts or cheap holidays to bring the cost down.
*book self-catering holidays
*set yourself a daily spend limit so that you do not live beyond your means whilst on holiday
For tips on budgeting whilst on holiday, please read our budgeting blog here
Remember it is extremely important that you maintain payments into your plan at all times. Failure to do so could result in your creditors rejecting your repayment plan for a DMP or can lead to the failure of your IVA.
If you have been issued with a County Court Judgement (CCJ), you must maintain payments to the creditor until the debt has been cleared in full. However, if the payments stop, your creditor can apply to the court to have them taken directly from your wages. This is called an Attachment of Earnings.
If a creditor wishes to pursue an Attachment of Earnings, you will receive a N56 form from the court. You are required to complete this form and make an offer of payment. If it is accepted, you make the agreed payments to your creditors and your employer is not notified.
However, if your offer is rejected, the Attachment of Earnings may be applied, and this decision is down to the court. The court will contact your employer to arrange the payments. These will be taken directly from your salary each time you are paid.
There may be a £1 administration fee on top of each payment as your employer is entitled to charge this, however it isn’t mandatory. If you fail to return the paperwork, you may be summoned to a court hearing. Once you have paid the debt in full you can ask for the attachment to be suspended.
If you change employer then you will be responsible for contacting the court to notify them of your new employer’s details.
By Rebecca Sowter Croll
When you first set eyes on that cute ball of fluff or multi-coloured reptile, long term cost may not be the first thing on your mind. It definitely was not the first thing I thought about when I bought my two poodles.
There are many factors to take in to consideration when picking the perfect pet, such as what type of animal you want, if you want to buy from a breeder or re-home from a rescue centre and lastly the breed, including the animal’s life span and size.
According to the ‘This is Money’ website, the true cost of owning a pet can be higher than you think, for example:
The average lifespan of a dog is 13 years and the typical expense adds up to £16,862
The average lifespan of a cat is 15 years and the typical expense adds up to £17,173
Figures on the Rabbit Rehome website show the average life span of a rabbit is 10 years and the typical expense is £5,180.
Given the level of expense involved in owning a pet it is worth making any savings you can. For example:
- Try and buy food in bulk and when it is on offer.
- When choosing collars, leads and bedding always look in the shops first to find what you want, then go online to see if you can get it cheaper.
- Even though pet insurance is another monthly cost it is something to consider. If your pet became ill would you be able to cover the costs?
- Reuse shredded paper from work for bedding for small pets such as hamsters or rats
Other things to consider:
Vet’s bills – think about the cost of annual injections as well as how you would face bigger bills
Do you have time to spend on basic training and regular walks if you get a dog?
Initial costs such as a bed, cage, food, injections, toys and insurance
If home furnishings get damaged be prepared to replace them on more than one occasion
Research where the nearest vet is that caters for any exotic pets
Will your pet require regular grooming or clipping?
When you go on holiday do you have a reliable friend or family member who can look after your pet? If not can you afford to pay boarding fees?
A pet will give you years of friendship and pleasure, but I hope this blog helps you to think about the cost before you lose your heart to one.