It is a good idea to understand how your income and spending compare. This can help you stay in control of your finances. If your spending is higher than your income, you may need to think about making some changes.

This section can help you look at your spending and see where you can get support or make savings.

It is useful to divide your spending into:

  • essential items, such as your rent or mortgage payments, utility bills and food costs
  • non-essential items, such as holidays and going out.

You could use our online budget calculator to keep track of what you are spending. Writing it down may make it easier to see where you need help, or where you could make savings.

You can also call our financial guides for free on 0808 808 00 00 to discuss your options. They can refer you to other sources of help or information.

Rent or mortgage payments

Household costs

Energy bills

There may be ways to reduce how much you spend on energy bills. You could:

Macmillan and npower have a scheme called keep warm without the worry which could help you save on energy costs. You can also speak to one of our energy advisers by calling 0808 808 00 00.

Phone and broadband bills

You may be able to reduce what you spend on your phone and broadband bills. You could do the following:

  • Check if changing your phone tariff will save you money. You may be able to get a better deal with a different provider.
  • Most monthly mobile tariffs include a set number of minutes to UK landlines and mobiles. If you have a high number of mobile minutes, use your mobile phone instead of your landline for calls.
  • If you don’t use your mobile very often, consider switching from a monthly tariff to a pay-as-you-go phone. If you do this, you will need to set a strict limit for how much you spend a week or month. If you have a contract phone and you want to change or cancel your package, you need to speak to your mobile phone provider. There may be a minimum contract period and a penalty charge for cancelling.
  • Avoid calling expensive phone numbers. The website saynoto0870.com can help you find cheaper alternatives to expensive numbers. These numbers often begin with 0870 or 0845.
  • You can make phone calls over the internet on your mobile phone by using a free messaging app, such as WhatsApp®. Check the internet allowances and charges on your phone tariff before you do this. Or, make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi when you make a call.
  • If you have unlimited broadband, try making phone calls online. For example, Skype® is a free software program that lets you make free calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world. You can do this online or by using the Skype app. It also allows you to call landlines and mobile phones very cheaply. For details, visit skype.com
  • Check if you could save money on your broadband bill. Some providers offer bundles where you pay one price for broadband, home phone and TV channels. Compare these costs with the price of buying each one separately.
  • If you pay extra for TV channels, make a list of which ones you regularly watch and cancel the others.

Credit cards

If you use credit cards and don’t pay off your balance in full every month, you may be paying interest. You could transfer your balance to another card. Some of them offer 0% interest deals for a limited period. There may be a charge for doing this, so you’ll need to weigh up the savings against any possible charges.

To find the best credit card deals, you could use an online price comparison website such as moneysavingexpert.com or uswitch.com Many newspapers also include comparison tables in their personal finance pages, in print or online.

Debt repayments

If you have debts, getting them under control should be a priority. Try to keep up with repayments as much as possible. If this becomes difficult because your income drops or you have extra expenses, talk to your lenders as soon as you can.

When dealing with debts, it’s important to take the following steps:

  • Contact lenders early to discuss a solution and be honest with them. They may be willing to negotiate easier payments if you explain your situation.
  • Avoid taking on more debt.
  • Pay back the most urgent debts first. Urgent debts include mortgage or rent payments, council tax and utility bills.
  • If you have bought anything on hire purchase (a contract where you pay back the money over time) and you’re thinking of returning it, check the terms and conditions carefully. You may have to pay extra charges. There are different types of credit agreement which give you different rights if you wish to return the item.
  • Be careful about switching to a cheaper loan that is secured against your home. You could be at risk of losing your home if you don’t keep up the new repayments.

Our Macmillan Support Line teams can refer you directly to StepChange Debt Charity – call 0808 808 00 00. You can also contact Citizens Advice for free debt advice.

Childcare costs

You may need to arrange childcare while you attend appointments, have treatment or deal with any side effects you are experiencing. There are different ways to get help with these costs.

You may also be able to get help looking after children from:

  • family and friends
  • social services – contact your local council to find out more
  • tax credits or Universal Credit, depending on where you live
  • charities such as Home-Start
  • your employer, who may be able to arrange flexible working for you.


Prescription costs vary across the UK. You may be entitled to free or reduced prescriptions.

Travel and parking costs

Travel to and from hospital

If you find it difficult to use public transport, the hospital may be able to provide you with transport from your home to hospital.

You may be able to get refunds on your travel costs to hospital for treatment If you need someone to travel with you to hospital for medical reasons, you may be able to get a refund of their travel costs too.

Speak to your hospital for more information. Or call the NHS Help with Health Costs scheme on 0300 330 1341.

If you need to park at the hospital, parking policies vary across the UK. You should ask your hospital what their policy is, as you may be entitled to free or cheaper parking.

Concessionary bus pass

If you have difficulty walking, you may qualify for a concessionary bus pass. This will give you reduced price or free bus travel. The same pass can also be used on other local public transport.

You may also be able to get help towards the cost of taxis.

The Blue Badge scheme

If you have a severe mobility problem and can’t use public transport, you may qualify for a permit under the Blue Badge scheme. A Blue Badge lets you park without charge in certain areas.

Back to Planning your finances

Assessing your finances

Cancer can lead to extra expenses. By assessing your situation, you can plan ahead to meet your needs.

Maximise your income

Reviewing your savings, investments and income will help you plan your budget.

Inheritance tax

Inheritance tax is paid if your estate is worth more than £325,000 after your death. This includes property, money and possessions.