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How to improve your money skills

Clarion Futures

Discover how to develop the skills and knowledge needed to improve your financial wellbeing today and for the future.

What is financial capability?

Financial capability is the ability to manage your money well. This means both day to day and through significant life events, such as having a baby or moving home.

And it means you have the resilience to handle hard times financially – like losing your job unexpectedly, or not being able to work due to illness.

But financial capability is more than this. It’s also an attitude that is more than just living for today – it’s having the confidence to put money skills into practice and understanding the longer-term value of doing so.

The financial impacts of coronavirus

Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our lives in so many ways. Unfortunately, for many people, the pandemic and lockdowns that have come with it have led to income shocks.

For some people, this was because they were furloughed, put on reduced hours, or made redundant. For others, it was because they needed to shield, or care for loved ones.

A personal debt crisis is now emerging and 1 in 6 people behind on household bills have been unable to afford food during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, many people who’ve experienced severe financial difficulty because of coronavirus are from groups already identified as being vulnerable to problem debt before the pandemic. For example, 50% of people on zero-hour contracts and 30% of people with children under six were behind on their bills.

Developing your financial capability

People in need of debt or financial advice often have wants and needs that go beyond simply resolving urgent debt problems.

They often want to get better with their finances to feel more empowered, more confident and more capable in managing their money. In other words they want to become financially capable.

By increasing your financial skills, understanding and confidence you can reduce the chance of being caught in a debt cycle. This means you may benefit from financial capability support before, during or after the need for debt advice.

Financial capability support services help increase your financial confidence, enabling you to develop the skills and knowledge needed to improve your financial wellbeing for the future. Guidance can include:

  • effective ways to budget and make your money go further
  • how to improve your shopping habits
  • simple ways to save money and maximise your income
  • ways to handle bills and make key payment dates.

How to find help

One of the specialist organisations we work with is called Pennysmart. They provide a service that not only tackles immediate debt problems, but also helps you become more financially capable. For example, they won’t close your case until they’ve checked your benefit entitlements and you have a balanced budget.

To see how Pennysmart could help you, or to find out more about the different ways we can help, please contact our Guideline team.

Contact us

There’s also lots of free, confidential and impartial advice that can be accessed online or by phone, including self-help tools or talking through issues with expert advisers. If you, or someone you know, needs support on how to manage finances or debts, you can get free support and guidance from Citizens Advice, as well as from our partner organisation, StepChange.

Jack’s story: “It’s a weight off my shoulders”

“I got into debt in my early 20s. I didn’t even realise I was getting into debt as it was so easy.

“Every time I went to buy something in the shops I was offered credit instead of just paying for it. My bank who were meant to be keeping my money safe extended my overdraft from £250 to £1,000 after a five minute web-bot conversation.

“I hid this initially as I didn’t register the debt building up as I had a full-time job which meant I could afford the repayments. It became a problem for me when my temp contract ended and my new job was for less money.

“Even when I began to receive demanding repayment letters I hid it from my parents.

“In the end, it felt less stressful to stop keeping secrets from my family and open up.

“My parents helped me to access free debt advice from StepChange who put a repayment plan in place and the letters stopped.

“Before I spoke to my parents I had no idea that help was available as my friends never talk about money or debt. I still don’t like to talk about it, but I’m pleased I managed to as it has been a weight off my shoulders.”

Find out more about talking about your money worries

My parents helped me to access free debt advice from StepChange who put a repayment plan in place.


Debt Awareness Week: 22-28 March

Debt Awareness Week is an annual campaign run by one of our partners, StepChange: the UK’s most comprehensive debt advice service. It aims to open up the conversation around debt and encourage people to take the first step and seek advice.

You can find out more on the StepChange website where you’ll find a range of guides, including:

  • paying off persistent debt
  • dealing with debt stress and mental health
  • how to get emergency funding in a cash crisis.

There’s also a coronavirus and debt information hub with step-by-step guidance for people on reduced incomes due to coronavirus.

Debt Awareness Week survey

Coronavirus has caused debt and money worries for many people. Share your experiences in our quick, anonymous survey – whether you’re struggling with money or not.

This will help us understand how residents are coping at this difficult time and enable us to shape our services to better meet your needs.