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How to Make the Most of the Benefits You Receive

Claiming benefits of different kinds will help you to maintain an income that supports you and your family. There are some benefits that you might claim when you are out of work, but also many benefits that are available to people in work. When you are claiming any kind of benefit, you’re sure to want to make the most of the money that you receive. It can be very helpful to have that money coming in, but it’s often not enough for you to feel as if you can live comfortably. If you are in receipt of any benefits or think that maybe you should be, there are various ways that you can make the most of them.

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Check You’re Receiving the Right Benefits

The first thing you should do is check which benefits you might be entitled to. There are many different benefits and tax credits, and they are even overseen by different governmental departments. This means that it can all get quite complicated, and you might be unsure which benefits you could have access to. The best thing to do is to use a benefits calculator, which you can find online, or get advice from an advice agency. Citizens Advice is one useful resource that you might find beneficial.

There are several different circumstances that could mean you are able to get help. You might be able to claim benefits if you are disabled or the carer of a disabled person. If you are a parent, you can look into child benefit and child tax credits. If you are not working or have a low income, you may also be eligible for some help. Other circumstances could make a difference too. For example, if you live alone, you can claim a discount on your council tax bill. If you are an older person, you might be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment.

Claim Benefits While Working

The various benefits that are available aren’t only for people who are out of work. If you are working but still need help with money, you might be able to top your income up in various ways. Some benefits are based on how many hours you work or on your income. For example, you may be able to claim Universal Credit if you are on a low income, or you may be able to claim “new style” Job Seeker’s Allowance if you work less than 16 hours per week. Universal Credit has replaced some benefits for most people. For example, it has replaced Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Other benefits available for those in or out of work include Child Benefit. Child Benefit is available for children under age 16 or under 20 and in education or training. However, some of it may need to be paid back if the claimant or their partner earns over £50,000 per year. If you are pregnant, you might also be able to access the Sure Start Maternity Grant if you already receive other benefits, and you are expecting either your first child or a multiple birth.

Know How to Manage Your Benefits

When you receive benefits, it’s also very beneficial for you to understand how they work and how you can manage them. This isn’t always easy, but it’s often necessary to avoid getting caught out. Not only will it help you to know what you’re entitled to and what your rights are, but it will prevent you from accidentally spending overpayments and make sure you know what to do if any of your benefits are stopped. It’s important to know how you can manage your benefits, for example through using an online account, as well as who you need to inform if you ever have a change in your circumstances. You should know who to contact if you ever have an issue or need to query any decisions.

Appealing a Decision

Sometimes you might apply for a certain type of benefit, and your application might be rejected, or you might be awarded less than you think you are entitled to. When this happens, you might need to appeal the decision. Before you can appeal, you need to ask for your decision to be looked at again. This is known as a mandatory reconsideration. Within one month of receiving this, you will need to appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. After submitting an appeal, you can provide evidence, and the appeal will be decided at a tribunal hearing.

Avoid Overpayments

One issue to be aware of with many types of benefit is overpayments. If you are accidentally overpaid, you will be required to repay the money. An overpayment might occur because you haven’t told the relevant body about a change in your circumstances. It could also happen due to a mistake by the other party. However, if you receive any overpayments, you need to correct the issue as soon as possible. This is why it’s also important to know how much money you should be getting and when. It will allow you to notice when you might be paid too much and question the amount.

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Understand How Income and Savings Affect Your Benefits

It’s also necessary for anyone who receives benefits to understand how your income and savings will affect your benefits. If your income rises or drops, it could mean the amount you receive in benefits changes. Even having savings can make a difference to what you are entitled to. If you have savings of up to £6,000 (or £10,000 if you are over state pension age), it won’t affect any claims. If you have savings between £6,000 and £16,000, everything above the lower amount is treated as a monthly income of £4.35 for each £250. If you have more than £16,000 in savings, you won’t be entitled to any benefits affected by savings.

Create a Budget

Having a budget is always helpful, but it can be especially useful if you receive any benefits. A good budget will help you to make sure that everything you receive is put to work, and that all of your essential expenses are covered. It can be worth spending some time looking at your essential outgoings, including rent, utility bills, food, clothes, and anything else that you need to pay for day-to-day. When you create a budget, it can help you to find the different ways you might be able to save money. You will get a clear picture of the money you have coming in and going out.

Get Help with Home and Transport Costs

There are many ways you can access help with various expenses at home and transport costs. For example, the Winter Fuel Payment can help you with energy bills during the cold winter months. Another way you might be able to get help is through the various transport schemes. If you receive the higher rate PIP or DLA payment, you can use it for the Pentagon Motability Scheme or similar. There are also railcards and bus passes, for example for disabled people and pensioners. You might need to be receiving other types of benefit to access some of these schemes.

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Benefit from Free NHS Services (Dentist, Optician, Prescriptions, Etc.)

When you are receiving some types of benefit, you might be eligible for free health care when you otherwise would have to pay. For example, if you are receiving some types of low-income benefits, you don’t have to pay for dental treatment with an NHS dentist. You can also access free eye tests, as well as free prescriptions. It’s important to note that the criteria are different for people receiving Universal Credit. To be eligible for help with healthcare costs, you need to have had no earnings or had net earnings of £435 or less in your last assessment period, or £935 or less, depending on your circumstances.

Look for Discounts and Concessions

Receiving certain benefits, or the reason you receive those benefits could also help you to access discounts in other areas too. For example, many venues or shops will offer discounts or concession prices to disabled people and their carers or to people on low incomes. One example is that many arts venues want to encourage people from lower-income backgrounds to attend performances and exhibitions, and so offer discounted prices to make it possible for more people to attend.

Find Other Services Your Benefits Will Help You to Access

You may also find that your benefits entitlement can help you to access other services if you need them. This can include being able to attend a food bank, for example, if you need an emergency food package. You might be able to access grants from charitable trusts to help with other expenses, such as your utility bills. There are various organisations that are not run by the government, but that do offer their services to people receiving benefits. You can even get help with vet treatment from PDSA.

Make the most of the benefits that you receive by educating yourself and getting a good understanding of the benefits system. Once you know what you should be receiving, you can plan to spend it wisely.

Personal Finance Tips for Business Owners

Being a business owner means balancing your business’s finances and your personal finances. As well as making sure your business is bringing in enough money, you need to keep your own finances healthy. If you’re not personally doing well financially, it will make it difficult for you to continue running your business. Entrepreneurs can face some unique challenges because they take on a lot of risk, and they don’t have any support from an employer. If you’re trying to run a business while also fulfilling your own financial goals, there are a few key moves that you can make.

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Have an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is the savings that you can rely on when you have unexpected expenses. Everyone should have one to help cover costs, such as home repairs or medical expenses. It’s even more important for entrepreneurs to have an emergency fund if they rely on income from their business. If your business has a slow month or anything starts to go wrong, you might be unable to pay yourself your usual salary. An emergency fund will help to keep you afloat. Building a fund worth at least three to six months’ expenses will give you a strong safety net.

Be Careful with Credit

It’s important to manage your business credit, but you also have to pay attention to your personal credit. It’s best to stay out of debt if you can and to balance any credit that you do have to make sure you’re not borrowing too much. Keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30% is smart. You should try to maintain a clean and solid credit record, so keep up with any payments and avoid missing any, even if you can only pay the minimum payment. This will help you if you want to secure any long-term debt, such as a mortgage, which can be tricky if you’re a business owner.

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Prepare for Your Future

Many entrepreneurs don’t think enough about their financial future. They might feel they can’t afford to save for the future or simply don’t consider it because they don’t have the benefits they might get from an employer. But by accessing some advice on retirement planning for entrepreneurs, you can start getting set up for your future. You can still be prepared for your future and ensure you will be able to retire, even if you don’t have help from an employer.

Give Yourself a Pay Raise

As your business grows, you can consider whether you can afford to pay yourself more. At certain times, it could be the right moment to give yourself a pay raise. Of course, you don’t want to do this too soon, when it’s also important to have money to invest back into your business. However, as your business grows, make sure that you are rewarding yourself for your hard work too. You deserve to benefit from the growth of your company.

Although you need to spend a lot of time working on your business, don’t forget about your personal finances. It’s important to pay attention to them too.

How Schools Can Enhance The Learning Experience

One of the most essential elements of ensuring your students are engaged and interested in the subjects they are being taught is to provide a sense of enthusiasm to the subject. If they feel as though the teacher or presenter of said information is interested, they too will adopt that sense of interest through osmosis. Most children will be happy for this additional support, and to that end, you’ll likely help them improve their grades.

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However, any worthwhile faculty will continually consider just how they can enhance and improve the learning experience for their pupils, because this will not only help them retain information, but it will improve how various measures of the subject are processed. For instance, homework will likely be completed earlier and to a higher standard, test results will be more promising, and students will report higher levels of satisfaction in their classes. 

These three metrics can be important for any school to achieve, as it can not only provide a fantastic learning experience but also improve their standing in the eyes of the education board. With that in mind, some of the following advice may be necessary:

Regular Trips

School cultural trips can help not only beat the stuffy boredom of the classroom, which unfortunately can arise even if used well by a caring teacher, and brings life to a subject. No matter if you’re studying the best of geography, a historical environment, or a cultural consideration and connection, there’s almost nothing better than continually proving to your students that the theory learned in the classroom has real, actionable and practical influence as part of the real world. That in itself can help children pay attention.

Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic learning can be very important for students to take part in. While we are all different learners, having something in your hands and examples to take part in can be important. This is why children are often given careful access to perform their own scientific experiments in a caring environment. Flashcards, props and toys can also be used to demonstrate a point, such as when playing games as part of the class in a language lesson, or through applying concepts to reality through the woodworking class. Kinetic learning, for most children, is easy to internalize due to how ‘real’ it is.

Balanced Homework

Balanced homework is important to get right. Too little and students can forget exactly what lessons and tidbits of wisdom they get from each session, while too much and it buries children and prevents them from engaging with your current topics. To the extent that you can, balancing your need to teach the curriculum with reasonable homework allotments can help kids feel more engaged in their lesson without having to worry about an overblown extra consideration that takes away from their resting time. All schools could benefit from prioritizing this balance.

With this advice, we hope your schools can correctly and prominently enhance the learning experience.

Financial Planning for Life’s Unexpected Events

Life always brings surprises, some of them good, some of them not so good, and many of them that require some financial input from you. That’s why it’s so important to plan, as best you can, for life’s unexpected events. By preparing now, you can ensure that those tough financial moments are a little easier to deal with when they do arrive…

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Insure for What You Can

These days we have insurance for everything from a broken phone to pet illnesses and even life insurance that will only pay out once we die. If you’re serious about planning for life’s unexpected events, financially at least, it’s a good idea to take out as many insurance policies for as many of the biog issues that are likely to affect you as possible. That way, when the worst happens, you won’t have to worry about the financial side of things at all.

Start an Emergency Fund

Sure, payday loans are available to many people at a push, but when those financial emergencies come around unexpectedly, it’s a never a bad idea to have a pile of money set aside to deal with them. That’s where the humble emergency fund comes in. Basically, an emergency fund is simply an amount of money that you set aside and do not touch until a serious financial emergency comes along – things like job loss, huge vet’s bills or a period of illness. Thus, emergency funds only work when you put money aside regularly and leave it untouched until it is really needed.

Stay Out of Debt

It may not always be possible, but the more you can do to stay out of debt the better Not being in debt means you will have more money available to deal with life’s emergencies and one less thing to deal with. Debt is the source of so much stress that it is worth staying out of it, or if you already have debts, looking at ways to minimise them as soon as possible. If that’s something you are struggling with, there are people who can help you.

Have a Backup Budget

Creating a backup budget, that you can fall back on when your life doesn’t go as expected is a really good idea. It will help you to immediately identify the expenses you can cut back on so that you can free up some much-needed cash and get back on financial track as soon as possible when things get tough. Make that plan now when you’re in a good place and thinking clearly, and you can spring into action right away.

Make a Will

None of us likes to think about dying, but the fact is we will all die one day and when that happens, we don’t want to leave a financial mess behind us. That’s why every adult should make a will as soon as possible. Then, if the worst does happen, those who are left behind will know exactly what is expected of them and where the money will be going.

Plan now and cope better when those unexpected life events show up! 

What You Should do to Prepare Before Buying a Home

Before you begin the process of buying a new home, it makes sense to think about what you’re doing and what you’re getting into. It’s a long process and planning ahead and doing as much preparation work as possible will certainly pay off for you. It’s always going to be a challenge, but it’ll be more manageable if you prepare properly.

We’re going to discuss some of the things you might want to think about and put into place when preparing to buy a new home. There are many approaches that can be taken but we’ll cover the things that matter most as you prepare to make a real estate purchase.

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Save More Than Enough Money Than You Think You’ll Need

Before you even begin the process of buying a new home, you should save plenty of money and be sure that you have enough set aside to cover the costs of the move. Of course, the deposit is the most important lump sum, but there are other costs and expenses associated with moving and buying a place that you’ll need to take into account too. That’s why it’s important to always save more than enough money than you think you’ll need.

Get Your Finances in Order Generally

Getting your finances in order and ensuring you understand your financial situation inside out is essential when you’re about to buy a home. You want to know for sure that you have enough money to cover all of the main costs, but you’ll always want to be clear about how much this will cost and that you’ll have access to money when you need it. Having access to liquid money might be necessary, so start planning ahead.

Be Specific About What You Want From a New Home

When choosing a home to buy, you should try to be as clear as you can be about what you’re actually looking for, as well as what you’re not. Be specific and don’t leave it to chance when it comes to finding the one that’s right for you. You should have a list of priorities already in place before you even set about the process of browsing the options on the market.

Get to Know the Area You Want to Move To

It’s a good idea to get to know the area that you’re interested in moving into. That way, you can get a feel for the place and how your lifestyle might work here. And you’ll also get to know a bit more about the local property market as well, and that’ll definitely be useful to you later. Places like the Perth Hub are location specific and resources like this can be really helpful when you start your search for a home in a particular place. 

Get the Right Professional Assistance

Getting the right assistance from professionals who really know what they’re doing will be important as well. A good estate agent will make your life so much easier and there are all kinds of other professionals such as reliable movers that you will need to seek out and find as you prepare to make this move. Don’t think you can go it all alone because it’s far too difficult when you try that. 

Have a Clearout

As you prepare to move house, it makes a lot of sense to take the opportunity to clear out your home. There’s no sense in keeping hold of things that you don’t really need, especially as it’ll just make the physical process of moving more difficult than it’s already going to be. Throw away or sell on things that are of no interest to you now and that you don’t see any need to keep hold of.

Clean Up in Advance

It’s always expected that the seller cleans the home before they move out and hand the keys over to the new owner. This is something that you should start to do way ahead of time, so if you want the actual moving day to be less stressful, you should think about how you can plan ahead and start cleaning up the home well ahead of time.

Buying a home and making a move means a lot of stress and hard work. It’s never easy and it’s rarely smooth sailing when it comes to buying a place and moving into it. However, if you prepare properly and go through the steps we’ve discussed above, the transition into your new place will be as smooth as it can be.