Talk Money, Talk Pensions Week - Tips for managing money concerns

5 minute read time.

To mark Talk Money, Talk Pensions Week, Content Developer Azmina suggests ways of managing your finances when living with cancer.

Talk Money, Talk Pensions Week takes place from 18 to 22 November 2019. It is an annual event intended to get more people talking about their money and pensions, and to make the most of them.

The cost of cancer
Living with cancer can have a big impact on your finances. You may earn less if you need to stop working or reduce your hours. At the same time, you may spend more on everyday costs like heating, child care or travelling to medical appointments.

For this reason, planning and managing your day-to-day finances can become more important when you have cancer.

Tips to make money one less worry
Here are some tips for managing your money and pensions:

  • It is a good idea to work out how much money you have coming in and going out each week or month. Macmillan has an online budget calculator to help with this.

  • You can call Macmillan’s financial guides free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm). If your spending is higher than your income (the money you have coming in), they may be able to suggest ways of increasing your income and reducing your spending.

  • If you stop working or are earning less, you may be able to claim a tax refund from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Visit

  • You may be able to claim benefits payments if you cannot work or have a low income. This can also apply if you are elderly, struggling to meet your housing costs or have care or mobility needs.

  • You can call Macmillan’s welfare rights advisers free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm). They will check whether you are entitled to any benefits.

  • If you have savings set aside or investments, now may be a good time to use the money. Find out whether you can get extra income from any other sources first.

  • If you have protection, life or health insurance, you may be able to make a claim because you have cancer. You may receive a regular income or lump sum. This may affect what state benefits you can get.

  • If you have a personal or workplace pension, you may be able to retire and claim your pension early because of ill health. There are advantages and disadvantages to accessing your pension early, and this may affect any state benefits you can get.

When Cath was diagnosed with bowel cancer and had money worries, Macmillan gave her pension guidance. She explains:

  • You may be able to apply for a grant from local or national organisations. Macmillan Grants are small, usually one-off payments to help with the extra costs that cancer can cause. They are for people who have a low level of income and savings.

  • If you are worried about keeping up with your mortgage payments, contact your lender as soon as possible. They must look at ways to try and help. You may have an insurance policy that will pay your mortgage if you are off work or diagnosed with a life-threatening condition.

  • Check if you can save money on household bills, such as gas, electricity, water, phone and broadband. You may be able to switch to a cheaper supplier or get help from a special scheme.

  • Find out whether you can get help with health costs from the NHS Low Income Scheme.

    In England, prescriptions are free for anything related to cancer or its effects. You need to apply for a medical exemption certificate. If you are not having cancer-related treatment, you can get help to pay for prescriptions in some situations. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free for everyone.

    Your hospital may give you free or discounted car parking.

  • Borrowing money to pay off existing debts is not usually a good idea. Talk to a trained debt adviser about options for dealing with credit card bills or other debts. You can call the StepChange Debt Charity on 0800 138 1111.

Further information
For more information on managing your money and pensions, you can order free booklets from Macmillan’s financial guidance series at

You can also use our Directory of Information Materials for People Affected by Cancer. It has details of over 1,900 booklets, leaflets, books and audiovisual materials for people affected by cancer. It is regularly updated and you can use it to search for our resources and those from other organisations.


To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

Whatever cancer throws your way, we're right there with you. 

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in).

  • <p>Hi</p> <p>Just wanted to check the details about free prescriptions. I was told you don&rsquo;t get them for having cancer. You only get them if you&rsquo;re having treatment for it or if you have been left needing medication due to past treatment.</p> <p>x</p>
  • FormerMember
    <p>Dear <a class="internal-link view-user-profile" href="/members/mummyb">mummyb</a>, Thank you very much for your comment on our blog about pensions and finances. You are absolutely right in spotting that in England, prescriptions are free for anything related to cancer or its effects, and we will amend the blog to make that clearer. With kind wishes, Azmina</p>