Laura Whitcombe

Where to find free help for your money worries

Where to find free help for your money worries
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This week is one of the gloomiest of the year for people who work for themselves because they’ve had to settle up with the taxman. And it’s not just this week they feel the pain of self-employment, or just them who shoulder the burden. The financial impact of the way they work is taking its toll on their families all year round, according to research out today from Scottish Widows’ think tank.

It found that one in five people with a self-employed relative say their family member has more financial worries since becoming their own boss, while just as many say they are more stressed as a result of their career choice. Just over 10 per cent say self-employment puts the whole family under more stress as a result, with almost one in five reporting that their relative is always on call for work.

Of course, money worries aren’t unique to the self-employed - or anyone else who’s paid their self-assessment bill this week. Last month, MoneySuperMarket found that more than 11 million Britons say daily money worries are their main cause of stress and that 46 per cent of UK adults are frequently or occasionally worried about their finances. Women worry about money most (51 per cent compared to 40 per cent of men) and the young suffer more than older generations, with 58 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds stating they frequently or occasionally worry about the state of their finances, compared to 30 per cent of those aged 55 plus.

Financial stress made 37 per cent of those surveyed feel panicky, 33 per cent overwhelmed, 27 per cent exhausted and 24 per cent embarrassed. More than half said money worries had negatively affected other areas of their lives too, including health and relationships.

Analysis by the Money Advice Service – which this week has committed to funding 27 projects around the UK that will ultimately help people master their finances – reveals four out of ten adults are not in control of their finances.

Trying to fix your own money woes isn’t easy, especially when stress gets in the way. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of free financial help available. If you’re feeling the pressure and want to get your affairs sorted out, you just need to know where to look for assistance. Here’s a handy list of support on offer.

Money Advice Service, 0800 138 7777 (calls are free)

Whether you’ve got a debt problem, are facing redundancy or want some advice about your mortgage or how to claim benefits, the Money Advice Service can help. Its website is packed with information that can assist you with a wide range of financial matters and the freephone helpline offers one-on-one support.

Citizens Advice

Last year, 550,000 clients with 2.3 million debt problems were helped across local Citizens Advice Bureaux. Like the Money Advice Service, it offers a one-stop-shop for all aspects of financial affairs and if you need help in dealing with a company, Citizens Advice can get involved on your behalf. You can find your local branch by entering your postcode here.

Pension Wise, 0800 138 3944

The Government’s pension advice service can explain general questions about planning your retirement and point you in the direction of further assistance. You can book a free appointment with a pension specialist (face-to-face or by phone) who will be able to explain your pension options, how each option is taxed and advise you on any next steps to take.

The Open University, 0300 303 5303

You can improve your financial understanding by embarking on the Open University’s free You and Your Money course. The introductory course to personal finance take 12 hours of independent study and mainly covers debt and household finance.

Laura Whitcombe is knowledge and product editor at