Homestays - young people

Beginner's guide to managing your money

Money Advice Service 

Good money management can mean many things - from living within your means to saving for short and long-term goals, to having a realistic plan to pay off your debts. Read on if you want to learn how to set up a budget, make the most of your money, pay off debts or start saving.

Budgeting tips

Make sure you include one-off expenses such as your car tax and Christmas presents in your budget - or tax and National Insurance if you're self-employed.

If you want to get on top of your finances, a budget is a really good way to start. It's just a record of money you have coming in (from things like your salary or wages, pensions or benefits) and payments that you make (such as your rent or mortgage, insurance and Council Tax as well as living expenses and regular and irregular spending).

A great way to work out your budget is with our online budget planner. This allows you to record all of your incomings and outgoings. It then analyses and adds up your figures and gives a breakdown of where your spending goes each month across the following broad categories:

  • Household bills 
  • Living costs 
  • Financial products 
  • Family and friends 
  • Travel 
  • Leisure

You have the option to save your budget planner results and return to update them at any time.

Alternatively you can set a budget up using a spreadsheet on your computer or just write it all down on a piece of paper. Your bank or building society may also give you access to an online budgeting tool which takes information directly from your transactions.

Checking where your money goes

If you're spending more each month than you are getting as income, the next step is to look more closely at where your money is going and where you can cut back. Even small amounts - for things such as magazines, sandwiches at lunchtime or takeaways - can add up.

Keep a spending diary - Top tip

Don't forget to cancel Direct Debits for subscriptions or policies you no longer want or need.

Keeping a spending diary is an effective way of seeing exactly what you spend your money on. Try making a note of what you spend for at least a month (including even small purchases). If you can do it for even longer, you'll get a fuller picture of what you spend your money on.

Paying off loans and credit cards

If you have loans or owe money on credit cards it usually makes sense to pay off the debt that charges the highest rate of interest first - it's the fastest way to clear your debts. Knowing this is useful if you have several different debts charging different rates of interest, such as:

  • Store cards, which normally charge the highest rates of interest 
  • Credit cards 
  • Personal loans from the bank, which normally charge a lower rate of interest than credit or store cards

It is important to make sure you don't break the terms of any of your agreements. So even if you're focusing on paying down another debt, you must pay at least the minimum on any credit cards and your monthly required payments on any loan agreements.

If you're overwhelmed by your debts

Often, the hardest part of paying off your debts is taking the first step. It's easy to feel overwhelmed if you know you're struggling financially. It's tempting to bury your head in the sand and ignore your bank statements and demands for payment, but it won't make the problem any better and could make it worse.

So, take a deep breath and open any letters you've been ignoring. Once you've done this, at least you'll know what you have to deal with and you can work out what you need to do next.

Getting help if debt problems become serious

If you've already missed credit card or loan payments or if you're behind with so-called 'priority debts' such as your rent or mortgage, energy bills, Council Tax, child support or court fines, take advice from a debt advice charity straight away.

Where to get free debt advice

If you're struggling with debt, it can be hard to know where to turn. But with lots of free, confidential help and advice services available across the UK, there's no need to use a fee-charging debt management company.

All of the services below are free, confidential and hold a standard accredited by the Money Advice Service.

Online services are secure and offer immediate, personalised help 24 hours a day.

Debt Advice Foundation - Debt Advice Foundation is a national debt advice and education charity offering free, confidential support and advice to anyone worried about debt.

National Debtline - My money steps - National Debtline offers free debt advice online through its My Money Steps tool and its web guides, fact sheets and sample letters.

Telephone services allow you to speak directly with an expert advisor and are usually open throughout the week as well as evenings and Saturdays.

Debt Advice Foundation
0800 622 61 51 

National Debtline - National Debtline has helped millions of people with their debts. They'll talk you through options and give clear advice on how to take back control.
0808 808 4000 

Face to Face

Carlisle and Eden Districts Citizens Advice Bureau 
5-6 Old Post Office Court
CA3 8LE 

Telephone: 01228 633900 

Citizens Advice Allerdale
Vulcans Lane
CA14 2BT 

Telephone: 01900 604 735 

Barrow-In-Furness Citizens Advice Bureau
Ramsden Hall Abbey Road
LA14 5QW 

Telephone: 01229 831 715 

South Lakes Citizens Advice Bureau
First Floor The Library
Ellerthwaite Road
LA23 2AJ 

Telephone:  015394 46464 


How to Prioritise your Debt

Action plan - How to make your money last all week

Budgeting tips when you're on a low income

Smart shopping: simple tips and tricks to save you money

Send us your favourite recipes or links so we can share with others. We will put in a feature on your favourite foods and recipes.

Cooking tips and ideas

Coming soon

If you fancy a challenge we will post some links here to some free to do courses which may be for fun to do, further your knowledge or to support you in areas of your lives.

Please feel free to feedback any courses you have found, or have done, which others may benefit from or like.

Look forward to the suggestions.

Barclays life skills

Open university

Introduction to Social Work

This short course will introduce you to the social work role and develop your understanding of some of the theory associated with social work practice.

When you have completed this course, you should be able to: 

  • identify why biography is important 
  • understand how identity and attachment theory contribute to social work practice 
  • recognise what qualities service users/carers value in social workers 
  • understand what values are integral to a professional social worker's identity 
  • know what it means to practice reflectively.

This short course will introduce you to the social work role and develop your understanding of some of the knowledge and theory associated with social work practice. You will begin by thinking about key ideas, values, the social work process and the skills needed for social work practice. You will then move on to looking at social work with individuals, exploring the importance of biography. Finally you will consider reflective practice. Reflective activities will enable you to apply learning from your own life and/or practice, as well as new learning from this course, to your current situation.

Duration 15 hours 

This free course is an adapted extract relevant to The Open University course K113 Foundations for social work practice.

Please note: This course does not provide a certificate.

Introductory online courses from The Open University.

Regardless of how effectively support is organised, from time to time emergencies can arise. It should be noted emergencies are rare and what is said in the following section should not give rise to any undue alarm. Homestays Advisers are not in a position themselves to provide direct support outside of office hours but this does not mean that you have to deal with emergencies unaided.

Cumbria County Council's Out of Hours Team can provide support and assistance to you and any young person under the age of 18 years. They can be contacted on 0333 240 1727 or you can also contact the police if you have concerns for yourself or an adult's safety 0845 330 0247 or 101.

Out of hours team is available for advice only to the Homestays providers to discuss the correct course of action if reassurance or guidance about what action to take is required in an emergency involving someone over the age of 18.

If a young person or Provider has behaved in a way that might involve criminal charges eg violence, criminal damage, disruptive or threatening behaviour etc you should take such precautions as are necessary for ensuring the wellbeing of everybody. You should inform the police immediately and arrange for them to deal with the situation.

In the event of a medical emergency eg finding a young person/Provider unconscious, then an ambulance should be called for admission to hospital. If there are concerns that the young person may be involved in criminal activities you should discuss this with your Homestays Adviser at the earliest opportunity. Cumbria Health On Call (CHOC) is also available if the young person/providers doctors is closed - CHOC Limited - Contact : 03000 247 247.

If there has been a confrontation, and circumstances permit, then resolution of the issues should be left until everyone has calmed down and support is available. It should be remembered that the immediate objective in an emergency is to take the heat out of the situation. Looking at what went wrong can wait until later, when these issues can be discussed calmly, perhaps with the support of a Homestays Advisor, or Leaving Care Worker present.

Childline can be contacted for support - If you are worried about anything, it could be something big or something small please contact them.

ChildLine is a free, confidential helpline for all children and young people in the UK. You can call at any time of night or day, and talk about any problem. Phone 0800 1111.

Your Voice Cumbria - Work with you to find a way to express the issues that are on your mind, especially when they are affecting your emotional and mental well-being.

NYAS - National Youth Advisory Service - NYAS offer information, advice, advocacy and legal representation to you. - Free online support, chat and forums - It's safe and anonymous.

Fearless - A place to give information about crime, safely and anonymously, online at

Safety Net - Safety Net offers support for children and young people regardless of gender or sexual orientation who have been raped, sexually abused, subject to sexual exploitation or who have suffered domestic abuse.