This session is all about money and managing financially. It is about how money makes people feel, what they are good at when it comes to managing money and what help or support people might need sometimes. Our local partners tell us about how money matters affect them and their family, friends and neighbours.
Overall, across our conversations it is clear that people’s aspirations are modest. They worry that poverty and an inability to mange money is deeply rooted in their communities.
As one person tells us: “Kids brought up in poverty will live like that.”
And as another contributor tells us:
“I wish for people to have enough money to be quite comfortable. No money worries would make them happy - to be able to get to the end of the week without having to worry about looking for really cheap meals. To be able to have an enjoyable holiday and relax. To be able to enjoy time with friends, going out to the cinema, the theatre, a meal. There’s more opportunities to meet more people if you have money. I’d wish for them to be a happy, confident person.”
To help structure their discussions local workers and local people used a prop and set of questions that encouraged them to take a money MOT!
This is a pictorial representation of what people told us. You can right click and save the image to your desktop as an A4 booklet here.
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Week to week people report that money is spent mostly on the costs of daily living – from paying rent and council tax to managing the garden and making repairs, to paying gas, electric and phone bills and the TV licence. Then comes paying for basic items like food, clothes and the odd cost like the hairdresser or barber.
Travel costs also take up some of people’s budget; for people who have cars there is the cost of petrol and other maintenance costs, for others bus fares are a regular cost.
Loans and interest also account for some spending. People talk about credit on Higher Purchase, credit cards and catalogues.
There are also costs associated with socialising and hobbies - from bingo to bowling to football to kids clubs. Some people spend some money on newspapers, books or magazines. Sometimes socialising includes alcohol. One person mentions the cost of drugs.
One person talks about the cost of a holiday, two people about going occasionally to a restaurant.
A theme across conversations is that people have to make choices day in and day out about where the money goes – there is rarely enough to go round.
“I’m often not able to pay rent and bills, the money is for basic needs like food and clothes.”
“When you have something like a kitchen appliance break you’re not able to replace it.”
The availability and cost of credit is raised as a particular issue.
“If you have an emergency you will go to licensed money lenders and have to pay over 200% APR. We need an emergency fund.”
“Credit companies exploit people in bad financial situations.”
The individual circumstances of some people are clearly difficult.
“There’s not enough money to go round. People can never get out of it and it makes them feel down when they can’t do things for themselves.”
“I feel sick when there is nothing in the house and the bairns are nipping your head because there is nothing to eat.”
“It’s a worry for young people, like when they don’t get their money on time to pay bills on time or eat. Thinking they will lose their accommodation and if they are drug or alcohol users they won’t be able to feed their habit which can lead to shoplifting and robbing.”
Most people say they feel worried, stressed and have little control about money a good deal of the time.
“I think about it all the time as every day you have to eat or need to use money is some way.”
“If there’s not enough money it’s constantly on my mind.”
“Managing money when there isn’t any gives people feelings of persecution, being out of control, worthlessness, limited options, stuck in a rut, a bleak outlook, depression and panic.”
“I feel angry and frustrated thinking how to find money to pay the bills. I find it difficult managing week to week just on my pension.”
“I’m petrified – due to commitments. But safer when money’s set out.”
People who have dependents also have feelings of guilt; that they are letting people down, because they feel they cannot meet basic needs.
“I feel guilty; it makes me feel horrible because no money means I can’t take my daughter out when she wants.”
“The experience of struggling has been very stressful. It hurts me to not be able to provide as much for my daughter and ex-wife as I would like to at the moment.”
Feelings of fear, anxiety and panic are common. Mental health and wellbeing is directly influenced by money worries.
“Unexpected costs make me panic because I don’t have savings.”
“There’s been suicides over the years. People aren’t able to budget, they don’t know where a bit of breads going to come from.”
Only one person - a young person - says not having money “doesn’t bother me”, although their mother “worries about money all the time.”
Only a few people feel they are in control of their finances.
“Sometimes it’s a worry but I get by. I feel in control of my money.”
“I’ve got no money worries.”
There are mixed feelings about being dependent on family to help with money. One young person with disabilities and several older people have relatives or workers who help them manage their money and spending, but sometimes this can be resisted, or can cause conflict, at least initially.
“I had a daily allowance to buy my lunch at college but I spent it on junk food and fizzy juice. My foster mother took my money off me and I was angry. I went to the dentist and got eight fillings so I know now it was for my own good. She makes me packed lunches now. I don’t think at the moment I should have money each day for lunch.”
For one older person they appreciate that help means they “don’t have to worry about bills being paid” but they also feel “dependent upon family” and feel bad because “sometimes I feel they may feel obliged to do it.” There is also a sense that when it comes to money the world can be an unjust place.
“You feel depressed. You get down when you don’t have enough. Fed up. Pensions aren’t enough.”
“It’s an unfair world – for example the amount a nurse gets paid versus a footballer.”
When people have money problems they report being embarrassed, with feelings of “worthlessness.” Worries cause depression and ill health. A lack of money can isolate people from their communities and leave them feeling alone.
“You miss out socially as I can’t afford to go out with my friends. It can make you feel miserable. I don’t discuss money problems with anyone.”
“When there’s not enough money left over I’m pretty much stuck in the house. On rainy days there’s pretty much nothing to do for free.”
There is a recognition that some people see no way out of living with little income.
“This a huge question, it’s not just about managing money you have or haven’t got. People who have been living with money problems see it as a way of life rather than a temporary state of affairs. People have a lack of motivation, a lack of self esteem. The longer you’re down the harder it is to get up. The nanny state can be a problem! There is free independent advice but with no motivation or bright outlook it’s easier to sail along as you are.”
People identify the following things that they could use help with:
arranging payment plans
making phone calls and writing letters
changing behaviour patterns involving money, such as “practical help to work within your means or deal with being impulsive.”
People would like to have more information about where to seek help and advice – services should be “well advertised.” The following services and sources for help are known across our participants, although they do not always know how or where to contact them:
Citizen’s Advice Bureau (also known as CARF)
Local MP or Council
Fife Council Money Advice Services
Family support workers
The Pension Service
Fife Council Customer Contact Centre
Fife Rights Forum
Disability rights worker
Homeless unit worker
Friends and family
Participants recognise that building on social networks can provide support. Families and friends are important.
“Families often help each other out.”
“A lot of what I’ve got has been given by others…you need people helping each other out.”
“I don’t know my neighbours but we are a close knit family and we help each other out as required.”
Again, it is recognised that not everyone knows where to go for help
“I don’t know where people can get support to stop things getting to that stage of debt.”
“There are no services locally. Though Citizen’s Advice would probably help.”
Several people talk about a reluctance to seek help because they feel proud or embarrassed.
“People just ignore things until they get desperate because they find it hard to admit that they’re having trouble coping.”
There is recognition of the need to give people good information and advice about the financial aspects of moving from benefits and unemployment back into work.
“People could use advice on the benefits of going to work. A lot of people think they will be worse off having to work and pay full rent and council tax, etc.”
Some find government benefits helpful, such as “when we got that heating allowance from Gordon Brown a couple years back that helped.” Another person would like “cheaper electricity because the new meters are too expensive.” Also a single mother would find it helpful to have “more money, extra on top of benefits.” Many residents complain about the “need for better pensions” and “more work and a decent wage.”
One person would like their local Council to “be more lenient with rent arrears.”
Others talk about the need for “cheaper food shops – I travel to Kirkcaldy to get cheaper shopping.”
The need for affordable credit is an issue for some people.
“We need more credit unions.”
“It would be useful for a scheme where you could pay in installments but with no interest. My daughter needed a new bed and as I couldn’t afford to pay one outright I had to order one out of my mum’s catalogue as this meant I could pay it up, but it meant I had to pay three times the price on interest.”
Younger people may also have trouble accessing credit and so they “rely on others to order goods from catalogues.”
There is a recognition that those you might expect to help might not:
“It’s difficult to understand the bills how they calculate the final amount. Phoning customer care is not always helpful.”
Local people identify some things about spending and managing money that they would like to stop – and other things they would like to start or be better at.
Some people talk about spending money on unnecessary things when there are other needs that should be paid for. For most people in the study, it can be a struggle to just cover basic needs.
“Get back to basics, making sure everyday things are dealt with.”
“Don’t buy a bargain unless it’s something you really need.”
Others feel pressure to “keep up with the Jones’s” and feel they are being left out if they don’t have what others have.
“We need to stop being materialistic.”
People also feel pressure to spend money for special events, there is an awareness that it would help if they could “be realistic with events such as Christmas.” People recognise that they spend money to improve how they feel. Or that they spend on impulse.
“Sometimes when I’ve felt a bit fed up I’ve spent money to cheer myself up although I know I should budget to make the money go further. Bought vinyl records and stuff which I know I don’t need but I’m buying more and more all the time as a treat. I spend money on one-arm bandits when I’m feeling low.”
“I should try to stop being impulsive.”
“I need to stop spending money I don’t have.”
People talk about the need to stop or cut back on spending on alcohol, smoking or drugs. People also believe it would be good to stop spending money on “gambling at the bookies”, “bingo” and “spending more than you can afford on lottery tickets and scratch cards.”
Several residents talk about the need to avoid high interest loans from “credit cards and money lenders”
“I know you should avoid credit cards and catalogues. I need to stop robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
There is recognition of the need to confront money problems and to be better at money management and checking out what borrowing costs.
“You ignore money worries, hoping that they will go away. People should stop hiding from debt.”
“You need to stop burying your head in the sand. Don’t ignore it, it won’t go away.”
“I’d like to have more control on my spending, be able to manage money better, to plan and prioritise.”
“I could be better at investigating and seeking advice when purchasing goods, looking for interest free loans. To be more informed where to seek advice.”
Nearly everyone says they would like to be better at saving money: “Yes, I would like to start saving money at the bank. If we had more money.”
Most people speak about the need for more money, for maximising income and the need for not only more employment, but better quality employment.
“We need more money to live on.”
“There should be full employment and a good wage.”
“The government should attract industry.”
“Lower Council taxes are what we need. Or get rid of council tax for poor families.”
“There should be more pensions for the elderly and lower heating costs.”
“The government should stop robbing the poor to give to the rich.”
Public services such as transport and social activities should be affordable. Many talk about wanting free things for children and young people to do locally.
“There should be more activities for families in our local area so families with no money or means of transport don’t miss out.”
“Somewhere fun and free for all – to go for a coffee morning where people can chat.”
There should be low interest options for borrowing money.
“There should be access to affordable credit for people in debt.”
“You need to reduce interest rates for loans or any items on credit.”
Childcare costs should be affordable for everyone.
“There should be free childcare so parents can work.”
“People say you should get a job and get help to pay for childcare. But child care costs are extortionate - £100 a week... it’s not worth your while financially to work.”
One person’s view is that single parents who choose to stay at home with their children should get more benefits: “Why should lone parents have to struggle?”
Another person wishes that “carers like my brother were paid more; he hardly goes out because he can’t afford it.”
Advice and support should be promoted and available to everyone, particularly children and young people.
“I wish people could have more information and help to manage their money so they will be able to pay their debts, buy food and buy theirselves a wee treat.”
“People should have full awareness and access to services.”
“Young people should have support and advice.”
“Help young people with their money when they go to college, university, training or start a job.”
“Schools should teach more budgeting skills.”
Across discussions contributors want people to have enough money to meet basic needs and to be able to socialise.
“People should have enough to pay bills.”
“I would want them to have enough for savings; they’ve not got enough for savings now, just a day to day existence.”
“People should be able to live a happy life with the money they have.”
Our participants also have things they have learned that help with money and managing financially. While one contributor advises to “try and find yourself a rich man…” other suggestions which might help friends, family and neighbours were made.
Tips on budgeting
Try and stay within your means.
Prioritise, put essential needs first.
Plan and spread the expenses out over the month
Be realistic – although that’s difficult to put into action.
People could plan ahead on what they want to do and give themselves time to save up instead of struggling at the last minute. For example, you need to plan a holiday not just do it at the last minute.
Tips on paying bills
I have learned not to have a big bill come through the door – I put money away in the bank each week toward the bill.
I used direct debits for important bills so I’m no tempted to no pay them.
Tips on shopping
Resist the urge to buy just because you have the money.
Do a weekly shop rather than day to day.
Don’t spend money on crap.
Get value for food and clothes.
Look around the charity shops.
Don’t take all your money with you, it only makes you spend more.
Tips on living sustainably
I joined a ‘Cooking on a Budget’ course and learned how to plan my menus for the week.
Take care of the things that you do have.
Repair rather than replace.
Live within your means.
Tips on saving money
Try and save even a little.
Try and save a little for unexpected needs.
Save up for a rainy day.
Tips on money and happiness
Enjoy yourself while you got it – it’s a compromise with saving money.
Find other ways to get the feel good factor rather than retail therapy.
Watch spending money on food to treat yourself.
My father taught me that your best friend is a pound in the bank.
Tips on credit
Avoid big interest credit.
Don’t get into debt.
No Higher Purchase!
I stopped using loan sharks and joined a credit union, I now have more money in my pocket – now nobody knocks on my door for debt.
Tips on benefits
Make sure you’re claiming all the benefits that you’re entitled to.
Tips on honesty and asking for help
Be open about your circumstances – don’t be embarrassed to say you can’t afford it.
I’ve learned to talk about money problems and seek advice and not ignore it. Deal with it right away. I’ve been late paying a bill and ending up being charged extra which just added to my problems. There is help out there it’s just knowing how to access it.
Contact CAF for money advice. It makes it much easier to get help – you might get some extra money to put away. Then you can save a bit and feel good and treat yourself.
Speak to support workers.
Speak to people in a similar situation to yourself.
Give your money to a reliable person to keep it for you.
In discussion participants identify the importance of learning about managing money when you are young. The following issues are important when it comes to that learning.
The role of the school
School should teach the value of having a job and paying your way.
I wish that school had taught me more about budgeting.
Teach young people about money at primary school.
Have savings clubs at schools.
Invite speakers to schools and youth groups to give them insight into how debt can make a negative impact on their lives.
Give information packs about budgeting.
Wider learning and family support
Educate the parents and grandparents.
Family members should teach children how to keep their money.
Have speakers go to social clubs, lunch clubs to give advice to older people and young people.
Credit do’s and don’ts
Warn young people about credit cards.
Tell them about credit unions.
Teach them to work out the APR.
Teach them that debt will follow you - don’t let debt build.
Help kids understand that having debt leads to stress and worry.
Knowing where to get help and advice
Help them to realise that it is not embarrassing to consider getting help – it’s not to be avoided.
Young people should know who to contact for help to sort out their money.
Encourage them to trust support workers.
Give lots of information and advice.
The value of work
Young people need to want to earn money – and understand it doesn’t just appear on its own.
Understand that money doesn’t grow on trees!
Learn to save by doing small jobs to get pocket money.
Budgeting and saving
Live within your means.
Plan and save.
Raise awareness of priorities.
Teach children to be individual with their needs, not the latest fads.
Learn that brand names are not always the best – encourage individuality.
Learn about living independently
Show them what they get for money.
Learn that they can’t have all they want.
Think of others
What implications are there for regeneration activity – either in terms of policy or practice of service providers – from our conversations about money?
Following our established pattern of reporting back we now pose key questions for the agencies managing regeneration activity based on what local people have told us.
Does regeneration activity reduce social isolation which results from money constraints?
In the communities targeted by regeneration are there things for people to do socially that are affordable or free? For example, are there things like coffee mornings in community settings, free activities for children, affordable and regular transport to activities outside the neighbourhood?
Does regeneration activity address the need for financial support and advice services?
Are such services targeted, personalised and local?
In their promotion or delivery do they address the stigma and embarrassment associated with seeking help?
Are they working in the realm of preventative work, crisis intervention and long term support?
Are such services integrated into the network of services that can also support people in areas such as gambling, drug or alcohol use or homelessness?
Does regeneration activity ensure services are available to help people learn new skills and competencies in order to reduce stress and feelings of powerlessness when it comes to money?
Does regeneration activity have a role in limiting the activities and negative impact of a range of providers of high cost loans and goods?
Does regeneration activity support individuals’ and families’ access to affordable credit and encourage saving?
Does every resident in the target regeneration areas have access to affordable credit and banking facilities?
How can engagement with credit unions be developed?
Does regeneration activity bring opportunities for employment, training or a return to education; particularly at a local level?
In support of this is childcare affordable, flexible and locally available?
Are people with caring responsibilities adequately supported to get back into education, work or training?
Are people with long term experiences of unemployment supported into education, work or training?
Does regeneration activity maximise income for those living on pensions and benefits?
Which local services can do this?
Which agencies/staff have a role and remit to do so?
Do others identify need and signpost effectively to those who can undertake this work?
Does regeneration activity impact on the availability of local, affordable food?
Does regeneration activity support and encourage learning about money management across the generations, but particularly with an eye on the long term through work in schools?
Is there support for educational activity in the informal/community education based sector (youth work, churches, health projects etc) on issues of money management?
There are other good sources of information about the importance of money and money management to the process of regeneration, health and wellbeing.
1. Views on income from Fife residents in the recent Fife Regeneration, Health and Wellbeing Community Survey: This is what residents in the target regeneration areas said in last year’s Fife-wide survey about income, with the views of residents across Fife as a whole as a comparison:
Households with net annual income of under £8,320 (less than 80% of median income in Fife)
Families with children in low income households (net annual income of under £8,320)
Elderly low income households (net annual income of under £8,320)
Residents with “some” or “deep” financial difficulties
Residents dissatisfied with the financial services available
Residents with a bank or building society account
Residents who save with a credit union
Residents with a Post Office Card account
Residents dissatisfied with opportunities to get financial advice
Residents living in fuel poverty
2. On the Money website – Financial Education
On the Money is a free resource that will be distributed to schools throughout Scotland. Standard Life, Learning and Teaching Scotland and Scottish Book Trust have worked in partnership to produce a book of stories for primary school children to help them become financially informed and aware and to aid their growth into financially capable adults. More here.
3. For Social Justice: An Agenda for Action on Poverty in Scotland
A recent report (2007) from the Poverty Alliance which gives recommendations on how to reduce poverty and relative economic inequality based on consultations across Scotland. More here.
5. Are mixed communities the answer to segregation and poverty?
Findings from a study (July 2007) from Joseph Rowntree Foundation: More here.
6. Monitoring poverty and social exclusion in Scotland 2006
From the Joseph Rowntree Foundation: More here.
7. Voices of people experiencing poverty in Scotland
From the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (March 2007): More here.