This edition of the Financial Capability Week guest blog comes from PayPlan, one of the UK’s largest providers of free debt advice and free debt management plans.
Being in debt can feel very isolating but it’s not uncommon.
Many of us will face some kind of financial hardship in our lifetime as our individual circumstances can often change.
Whether it’s coping with a loss of employment, an illness or a relationship breakdown, which can all put an extra strain on finances, it’s easy to fall on hard times.
But when does being in debt become a problem?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just your bank account that takes a knock when you start struggling financially.
As well as having a detrimental effect on your own wellbeing, debt can also have an impact on your home, family and relationships including tension and arguments with your partner, heightened fears over losing your job, reluctance to answer the door or phone and feelings of worthlessness, all of which can have a major impact on day-to-day living.
But it’s never too late to make some lifestyle changes and tackle your money worries head on.
Acknowledging your debt is the first step in dealing with it. It means you’ve admitted that you are struggling and would like to sort out a solution.
There are other steps that you can also take:
• Stop borrowing – if you want to get out of debt, you need to stop using debt to fund your lifestyle.
• Find out what you owe: To find out who you owe money to, start by pulling copies of your old statements from at least the last year including loan statements, utility bills and your bank statement. Make a list of all your creditors (everyone you made a payment to in the last year and what you owe).
• Cut expenditure where you can. Work out your income and expenditure and see where you can cut down on any unnecessary spending.
• Increase income: Are you getting all the income you can? Other than seeking extra employment, taking in a lodger and filling out surveys, have you made sure you’re claiming any benefit that you might be entitled to?
• Seek help: It’s always a good idea to seek independent advice from a specialist debt advisor or organisation like the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Money Advice Service who can take you through all of the options available and refer you for debt help if needed.
Getting out of debt is hard work and requires a great deal of support, time and effort but with these small steps, you are already making a good start on achieving a positive financial future.
For more information on PayPlan, visit them at www.payplan.com.