You and your money
These days the papers and TV are full of talk about the "credit crunch".
What does it all mean? The credit crunch is a global problem which has made banks and building societies less willing to lend money.
For consumers, it may make it harder to get financial products like mortgages, loans and credit cards – and they may cost us more.
Things are even tougher if you have a poor credit rating or have special needs.
Here are some simple tips to help you manage your money when times get tough.
First, review your budget.
The www.moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk website has a useful budget calculator to help you work out how much money you have available each month.
It only takes five minutes to complete and your answers are completely confidential – no one else sees them.
Check your credit rating with the credit reference agencies and get it corrected if it's wrong – a good credit history will improve your chances of getting credit.
Does your mortgage come to the end of its fixed rate this year?
If so, you might see a rise in your monthly interest charges.
Start planning early and ask your current lender what they are prepared to offer.
And shop around to find out what other deals are available.
Lenders are becoming stricter about lending money, so allow yourself plenty of time to consider options.
Finally, if you're already struggling with mortgage or loan repayments, talk to your lender without delay.
Try to arrange a payment plan to cover your situation.
You can also get free specialist debt advice from agencies like the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, National Debtline or Citizens Advice.