If you’re worried about your finances you should try StepChange Debt Charity’s 60 second debt check tool to find out if you need help. Alternatively you can use their free online debt remedy tool to go through a full debt advice session and receive your personal action plan.
Don’t ignore the problem or try to hide debts. It won’t go away and the longer you leave it, the worse it will get. There are many organisations that offer free debt advice.
Don’t borrow more money to pay off your debts without thinking carefully. Always get advice first.
Do get professional advice and get on your way to being debt free.
Do check whether your payments are covered by payment protection insurance, if you have lost your job, or are off work because of illness. Check your credit agreement or contact the insurance company/lender to find out more.
Do check you are claiming all the benefits and tax credits you are entitled to.
Do work out a personal budget. This identifies the money you have coming in, your outgoings and helps you to work out what you can afford to repay.
Do contact everyone you owe money to. Explain your difficulties and show them your personal budget. For sample letters, click here. If you make arrangements to pay some creditors but not others, you could run into difficulties again.
Do make sure you tackle priority debts first – for example, debts which could mean losing your home or having your gas or electricity cut off.
Do work out a reasonable offer to repay the money you owe. Don’t worry if it appears very small if that is really all you can afford. Creditors prefer you to pay a small amount regularly than make an offer you can’t keep.
Do ask to speak to somebody more senior who may be able to agree to what you want, if the first person you speak to is unhelpful. Don’t give up trying to reach an agreement even if creditors are difficult.
Do fill in the reply forms to court papers and let the court have all the facts. The court will use this information to decide if you owe the money and what instalments you should pay.
Do always go to court hearings. Take a copy of your personal budget with you. Don’t think that going to the court makes you a criminal; it’s not that kind of court, they will not send you to prison and there is no jury.
Do always keep copies of any letters or court forms you send or receive.
Priority debts are debts that can result in you losing your home, being sent to prison or losing essential goods and services. The priority of a debt is not determined by the amount of the debt, amount of arrears or the number of threatening letters you have received, but by the consequences of not paying.
All of the following debts should be considered as priorities:
Did you know?
Our MoneyWise Team can help - if you would like to speak to the team please call 01270 503575 or use the form below.