Financial Advice Available from MABS

Picture: MABS

Picture: MABS

Every season brings with it expense. Whether its summer entertainment, back to school or Christmas, these occasions can stretch the weekly budget to breaking point. Many of us are just getting by without the added pressure of unforeseen events making the likelihood of being tipped into debt when they occur, very high.

MABS, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service is a free, confidential, independent, non-judgmental and non-profit-making service for people in debt or at risk of debt. The trained staff members that are employed at MABS centers endeavor to facilitate low-income families to develop the knowledge and skills they need to avoid getting into debt. They help to identify and access sources of credit tailored to the needs of the target group. They address changes at policy level where implementation will affect poverty at local level.

NewsFour recently spoke to Lorraine Waters, from the Dublin South East office, who pinpointed some of the main focus areas into easily understandable headings. Identifying income sources can include investigating all claims that you may be missing such as Family Income supplement and Living Alone Allowance. Lorraine stressed that the service is not limited to those on welfare and that the client base has changed dramatically in line with the ups and downs of the economic climate. Those on waged income have been faced with challenges such as negative equity on property and a range of social and financial backgrounds use this service as the same budgeting principles apply to all.

MABS provide a free spending diary to keep track of outgoings such as housekeeping, utilities and clothing. With the budget in front of you it is then easy to identify the areas where spending can be cut back. Useful tips include looking at energy efficiency, interest rates and shopping around for insurance. Entertainment spending needs to be monitored however they do not recommend cutting out a social life completely.

Finally it is very important to prioritise debt. Mortgage arrears and energy bills are top priority and emphases is placed on keeping a line of communication open with creditors so that agreement can be reached. The view is that there is no point in clearing the credit card if there is nowhere to live.

MABS wants to make the wider community aware that the service is there for them. Since moving to the current premises the visual presence is not as strong, but the service is thriving and the doors are open to all.

The office is located at 26 to 28 Lombard St. Dublin 2

The helpline 0761072000 operates from Monday to Friday 9.00am to 8.00pm

By Maria Shields O’Kelly