There are plenty of ways you can keep on top of your debts. Read on to find out more and what you can do if things start getting out of hand.
- Look closely at your debts. You may not realise how much you really owe.
- You can't stop spending altogether, so draw up a budget to monitor your outgoings and prevent further debts. Write it down and stick to it or you're going nowhere. Our budget planner can help with this.
- Give your debts a priority - rent or mortgage arrears and related insurances first, then council tax, followed by gas and electricity. Then see what's left over to pay others and work out a realistic debt management plan. Even if your repayments take years, it's better than letting the situation get worse.
Shop around for a good rate
- Find out what interest rate you're paying on loans, overdrafts, and store and credit cards. Pay off the most expensive first and close the account. Remember to keep up the minimum repayments on the cheaper debt(s).
- If possible, transfer the most expensive debt to one with a lower interest rate. Many card providers offer special deals or very low interest rates on balance transfers. Be realistic about the time it will take to pay off your debt and check the rate you'll pay when the balance transfer ends. You may find it easier to manage a loan where you pay off a fixed amount each month.
Consider debt consolidation loans
- Taking out a debt consolidation loan to absorb smaller, more expensive debts can be a good idea, as a single monthly repayment is tidier and more manageable. Just don't be tempted to start borrowing more on top.
- Interest rates on some debt consolidation loans can be high. You may find you end up paying more in the end. Always check.
- Missing payments on a debt consolidation loan could mean risking your home, if you are required to provide this as security.
Don't ignore it
- Don't ignore your debt problem. Your credit rating can be checked by all companies to see if you have a poor credit history, whether you want a mortgage or finance for a fridge.
- Missing repayments can seriously damage your ability to get credit in the future. You may end up unable to buy goods on credit or get a mortgage.
- Act fast. As soon as you think you may have a debt problem, contact your creditors (the people you owe money to) to negotiate or extend the term of your debts. They will usually be receptive.
- Ultimately, the alternative is bankruptcy. This usually means you’ll be unable to get credit for many years.
- It sounds obvious, but be disciplined and don't take on more debt or credit than you can afford.
- Shop around for the best deals and get rid of expensive cards. Remember that while you may be offered a cheaper headline rate, you may pay for it in fees and early repayment charges.
- You can get free advice from The Advice Guide from the
Citizens Advice Bureau
Consumer Credit Counselling Service
and Payplan - call them on 0800 917 7823.
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