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Budgeting for 2021!


Today’s Financial Friday is focused on the second step to being in control of your money this year….. Budgeting!

Here at ACDI, we always suggest using a budget as this is an easy way to see money coming in, money being paid out and what money is left. Using a budget is also beneficial when you are saving for something specific or trying to get rid of debt.

Top Tips:

  1. When making a budget, be honest with yourself! (Even budget in the daily coffee or cake!)
  2. Allow your budget to be flexible, don’t feel like any decisions you make are final, finances are constantly changing.
  3. Take time to really think about your money – most issues arise when you avoid taking action.
  4. Ask for help!

If you feel like you are ready to make a budget but may get overwhelmed, give one of our advisers a call on 07555060664 📞

To get started on creating your own free personalised online budget, follow the link below!

Budget Planner – Free online daily, monthly and yearly budget planning tool – Money Advice Service

Good Luck! 🤞


Start 2021 Off Right!


Happy New Year All, and welcome to our first installment of ACDI’s ‘Financial Fridays’.

This month I will be discussing how you can get one step ahead with your finances this year.

Step 1.

Do a credit check!

A credit score check is an easy way to see how banks or loan companies see you when you apply for a loan or mortgage. It is vital to see any money that is owed, and who it is owed to as this can allow you to budget each month how you will pay it back.

At ACDI use Clear Score, however there are many websites who do similar things.

ClearScore | Your Credit Score & Report, For Free, Forever

Follow the link above, create an account and start your credit check.


Good luck!!


Team ACDI 💰

A Festive Reminder


Hello All,

A few new grants have been released by the Scottish Government in the past few weeks to assist those in need over the festive season.

If your child is eligible for Free School Meals then you may be entitled to the new Winter Hardship Fund (£100 per child). Follow the link below for more information:


I hope that our blog this year have been helpful and we look forward to continuing these in the new year.

If you are feeling uneasy about the festive period this year, have a read at our wellbeing blog for helpful tips and tricks to having a happier healthier life.

Thank you all for reading our blog, have a very Merry Christmas and we will be back in 2021!

Take care,


Money Health Check


ACDI have teamed up with Money Advice Service to provide you with access to their fantastic resources to help you get in control of your money.

As a first step, we advise that you follow the link below to a Money Health Check. This identifies areas of your finances which may need more attention or assistance and you will then be given tailored advice for your specific situation.


If you are worried about your finances, give a member of our team a call.

Remember, the first step to fixing your issues is identifying them.

Best wishes,


How to Spot a Scam


Don’t let scammers catch you out this winter!

Scams are a bigger issue than ever now with most financial transactions taking place online. Keep your money and personal details safe online by being extra vigilant when receiving emails, pop ups or adverts. Here are a few tips to help you spot a fake:

  1. Check the logo – any genuine company will have a logo on their emails, so if you don’t see one be very careful. Some clever scammers use very similar logos in hopes of impersonating a brand, do a google search for the real logo to check the colours and shapes are correct.
  2. Don’t disclose bank details – If an email is asking you to send your account details, do not do it. If they are claiming to be a company you use, call the company direct and ask if they have sent the email.
  3. Check the email address – Always check the email address of the sender. Most large companies have their own email address domain, so if you see a “gmail”, “hotmail”, “yahoo” or other similar email address from a large company such as Tesco or Santander, it is probably a scam!
  4. Check the grammar – If the grammar or spelling is poor, this should ring alarm bells. Genuine emails will be checked thoroughly before being sent to you.
  5. Don’t click the link – If the email states that you MUST click the link provided, be wary of this. Clicking on a link can allow scammers access to your device which could in turn mean stealing your data. If you feel pushed into making a decision or taking an action, you may be the victim of a scam.

If you think you have received a scam email, phone the company that the email is from to check it is genuine, or if you do not recognise the brand or sender, delete the email straight away.


Stay safe and don’t fall into the traps!


Best wishes,


10 Steps to Christmas on a Budget!


Christmas on a budget doesn’t mean it needs to be any less special. See team ACDI’s tips and tricks to saving pennies this festive season!

Step 1

Secret Santa 🎅🏻 – Buying for all of your friends or colleagues really adds up! Why not cut the stress by putting all of the names of your friends into a bowl, and picking a name out each, this is the person you buy for. This is a great idea as everyone will get a gift and it can be tailored to a budget that suits you! £10 or £5 Secret Santa’s are a fun way to challenge your bargain hunting skills!!


Step 2

Lists ✏ –  Making a shopping list early is a great way to find savings as you have time to search for deals on specific products from different shops. For example, Tesco Clubcard users get up to half price off of selected food, gifts and even electronics. If you still aren’t finding the right deals, try swapping your branded products for own brand or slightly cheaper alternatives (as often these products are made in the same factory).

Follow the link to download a free printable meal plan and shopping list from “Mums Make Lists” blog:


Step 3

Small savings 💰 – Let the small change add up on the run up to the big day by skipping that shop bought coffee and bringing your own from home. Why not ditch the meal deal and take last night’s left over dinner for lunch? What easy swaps can you make?


Step 4

Virtual Christmas 📞 – Phone calls to relatives on christmas eat up your call credit (especially overseas)! Don’t get caught out this year, organise to have a web call with your relatives or friends via free online platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Fcebook Messenger or Whatsapp.


Step 5

DIY gift boxes box 📦 – Plastic wrapping paper is not only bad for the environment, it also is a waste and expense that can be avoided. Paint up an old box (shoe boxes are great), or cover in newpaper to give an eco friendly touch to your gifts! Remember to be gentle when unwrapping on the 25th and store the paper carefully to be used again next year!


Step 6

Electronic Christmas cards 📧 – You don’t have to pay postage this year, send your relatives an electronic card via email! Check out the link below for some free animated cards.



Step 7

Bring your own food 🥳 – Don’t take all of the stress of hosting! Ask your guests to bring their own food or drink to add to the spread, this will share the costs and you might even get to try something new!


Step 8

Sharing gifts 🎁 – Instead of buying gifts for each member or a household, why not buy a board game or movie for them to play or watch together?


Step 9

The gift of time 🕰 – Make memories by giving a relative or friend a “time voucher”. This could be “coffee and catch up”, “child free night”, “a picnic”. These vouchers can be redeemed throughout the year, often costing nothing but your time. Get creative and make the voucher yourself and package in your DIY gift box!


Step 10

Sentimental gifts 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦 – After all, Christmas time is about family and nothing is more special than a framed photo of your nearest and dearest or even a child or grandchild’s artwork. All you need is a cheap frame (or an old one painted up) and maybe some ribbon and extra decorations to stick on and you have a unique handmade gift ready to go under the tree.


We hope you find these tips and tricks helpful and would love to hear any that we have missed in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Team ACDI 🎄

Black Friday Sales


If you want to get ahead with your Christmas shopping, Friday 27th November 2020 is your day! In America, the Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday”, this is when most people would take a sick day from work to get a 4 day weekend! In more recent years it has spread worldwide as a day of sales in the most popular shops. (And a great opportunity to grab early Christmas deals!)

As Black Friday is only one day, I have a few tips to help you navigate it and secure a bargain!

Tips for Black Friday:

  1. Shop online as stores are stocking less this year.
  2. Have a list of things you would like to buy.
  3. Put things in your online basket/wish list beforehand and keep watching on 27th Nov.
  4. Sign up to mailing lists to get exclusive deals.
  5. Start early! (6am is when sites are quietest and less likely to crash)

A few shops such as Argos and Amazon have started their sale early so check them out.

The most anticipated Black Friday sales this year are from Very, Boots, AO, John Lewis and Currys/PC World.

Good luck!!


Plan Your Christmas Spend!


It may feel too early to say the “C” word, but if you want to have a stress free festive season planning early is the key!

Money Advice Service’s Christmas Money Planner helps you to see what money you have, what you can save and what you plan to spend allowing you to control the pennies instead of them controlling you!!

The Money Planner asks you what money you currently have set aside and what you will be able to save each day on the run up to Christmas. You are then asked to input your usual spend on presents, outfits, nights out, decorations etc. and the website calculates whether you will have enough money saved.

Follow the link to calculate your Christmas spend!



Kids are expensive! What could you be entitled to?


Are your children attending the new super-school? Are you struggling with dinner money and uniform costs?

You have come to the right place!

East Ayrshire Council have grants to help low income families with the costs of their school child’s food and clothing.

Free School Meals

All children from primary 1 to primary 3 are granted free school meals however afterwards you must apply and meet certain criteria.

If you are accepted for free school meals, a weekly allowance will be paid into your child’s ParentPay account. This will cover a standard two course meal daily.

You are eligible for free school meals if you currently claim any of the benefits listed below:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income based)
  • Universal Credit (take home pay is not more than £610 per month)
  • Child Tax Credit only – annual income less than £16,105
  • Working Tax Credit and Child Tax credit – annual income less than £7,330
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
Clothing Grant

If you meet the criteria shown below, you will be entitled to a once yearly payment of £120 per child to cover school clothing costs.

(If your child is intending to stay on after fourth year any award will not be paid until they return in August.)

You are eligible for a clothing grant if you currently claim any of the benefits listed below:

  • Income support
  • Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Universal Credit (take home pay is not more than £610 per month)
  • Working Tax Credit – annual income less than £15,276
  • Child Tax Credit only – annual income less than £16,105
  • Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit – annual income less than £7,330
  • Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction

For more information and to apply online for Free School Meals or a Clothing Grant visit:




*Source: east-ayrshire.gov.uk


Could you save pennies with a Railcard?


On 5th November, the Veteran Railcard Scheme will launch. If you have served for at least one day in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces (Regular or Reserve) or have been a Merchant Mariner who has seen duty on legally defined military operations, you may be eligible.

The Veterans Railcard grants you 30% off of your normal ticket price, allowing you to get from A to B at a fraction of the price.

The Veterans Railcard is on sale for an introductory price of  just £21 for one year, until 31 March 2021. That’s a saving of £9 on the normal retail price of £30.

A 3-year Railcard is also available for an introductory price of just £61, if purchased before 31 March 2021, instead of the normal retail price of £70.

Like our other Railcards, the Veterans Railcard offers savings of 1/3 on rail travel, whether your are visiting family and friends or simply enjoying a day out.

You can also nominate a companion to get 1/3 off when travelling with you and up to 4 children travelling with you get 60% off. – Veterans-railcard.co.uk

Think you’re entitled to the Veterans Railcard? Click the link to find out more and purchase yours!



Not eligible for this one? Here is a list of other railcards on offer:





Working From Home Tax Relief

Have you been forced to work from home due to the coronavirus? Are your electricity bills going through the roof?

You could be entitled to tax relief.

At the beginning of October, HMRC launched a new scheme which allows people who have had to work from home due to the Coronavirus to claim tax relief for the costs incurred while working from home (e.g. broadband costs, higher electricity and heating bills).

How much you are able to claim is explained below by UK Government:

“You can either claim tax relief on:

  • £6 a week from 6 April 2020 (for previous tax years the rate is £4 a week) – you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs
  • the exact amount of extra costs you’ve incurred above the weekly amount – you’ll need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts

You’ll get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).” – www.gov.uk

What you will need to apply:

  • Your National Insurance Number
  • A payslip, P60 or Passport

Follow the link to apply now: https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home

Any queries, please get in touch.

Take care,





Hello and welcome to Money Blog.

This blog will provide essential up-to-date information regarding benefits and money saving tips.

The team at ACDI are adapting to the “new normal” and using our online platforms more than ever to share information and help the local community with any issues that they are facing.

At the bottom of the blog, you will be given the option to send us a message – please feel free to use this to ask for advice or give us feedback.

Stay safe and take care,

Team ACDI 😊

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