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Free guide helps you make the most of your money

12:00am | & Lifestyle

If you’re retired and living on a fixed income, making sure you’ve enough money to cover your living costs is never far from your mind.

The prices of food, fuel and household bills seem to go up regularly, meaning there’s often little or nothing left over at the end of each week. After a lifetime of working and paying into the system, many pensioners struggle to cope, but they could be missing out on ways to maximise their income and cut their outgoings.

Help is at hand in an informative and easy-to-understand advice guide from leading UK charity Independent Age. Its free ‘Moneywise’ booklet sets out many ways in which older people can save money or boost their income by claiming benefits and discounts which are rightfully theirs, but which they may not know about.

The comprehensive guide comprises eight information-packed chapters on ways to reduce living costs and potentially boost your income, all making life a little easier. For example, many older people are missing out on Pension Credit – extra money for pensioners to bring their weekly income up to a minimum amount.

Latest figures suggest almost two out of five people who qualify for Pension Credit aren’t claiming it, yet it only takes one simple phone call to find out if you’re eligible. This isn’t ‘scrounging’ – it’s receiving a benefit that you’ve worked for and are entitled to. Even if you only receive a few pounds extra, receiving Pension Credit also means you’re entitled to other perks, such as free NHS dental treatment and help paying your Council Tax.

The Moneywise booklet explains how to enquire about Pension Credit, where to get information on other aspects of your State Pension and how you can contact Independent Age for a free benefits check to make sure you’re receiving everything you’re entitled to.

The guide also explains how to make sure you’re getting the best deal from utility providers and insurance companies, and what to do if you’re not. Switching providers is straightforward when you know how, and could save you hundreds of pounds. Some people have also lost track of old bank or building society accounts, private pensions or insurance policies, which could all have money sitting in them. The guide explains how and where to check.

Other chapters focus specifically on how to reduce your heating and fuel bills, health and care costs, housing and travel costs, taxes and ways to cope with emergency expenses. Again, you could be missing out on benefits, allowances or grants that you’re eligible for, simply by not knowing they exist.

Many older people care for someone else with a disability, such as a spouse or relative, without realising they are entitled to a benefit called Carer’s Allowance. Again, the Moneywise booklet sets out how to find out if you’re eligible and how to make a claim if you are. It ends with a tick-box checklist – a simple way to go through your finances step by step and identify areas where you could save money or boost your income, or both!

You can download the full Moneywise guide or find out how to order a free paper copy simply by clicking here. Alternatively, call the free Independent Age helpline on 0800 319 6789. The Moneywise booklet is just one of several helpful advice guides, factsheets and leaflets produced by Independent Age and covering all aspects of getting older. You can browse, download or order them by clicking here.

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