It’s no secret that many people in the UK struggle with debt. In fact, according to the Debt Advisory Centre, more than 8 million British adults were in problem debt in 2020. If you’re one of those people, you’re probably aware of the stress and anxiety that comes with falling behind on your payments. The good news is there are steps you can take to get out of debt and stay debt-free. In this guide, we’ll provide you with a few of the most effective strategies for managing your debt.
Create a Budget
Creating a budget is an essential step for managing your debts. An effective budget allows you to identify how much money you make and where you’re spending it. The first step is to add up all your sources of income, including your wages, benefits, any investments or other sources of money you receive (e.g. dividends, savings etc). After you’ve totaled your income, subtract any expenses you’re obliged to pay (e.g. rent, bills etc.). This will give you an estimate of how much money you have left for discretionary spending each month.
Once you’ve worked out your discretionary income, you can divide it between essentials (like rent, bills etc.), debts, and discretionary purchases like entertainment, eating out etc. By doing this you’ll get an approximate idea of how much money you need to set aside for your minimum debt repayments. This will help you identify which debts to prioritise and make sure you’ll have enough money for basic essentials.
Reach out to your lenders
If you’re struggling to make your minimum repayment, there are still options available to you. It’s important to contact your lenders as soon as you realise you’ll struggle with repayment. They could be willing to freeze interest on your account or arrange a payment plan. You may also be entitled to a debt relief order if your circumstances are particularly challenging.
If your lenders are unwilling to work with you, you could try to consolidate your existing debts into one loan. This can make it easier for you to handle the debt, and the lower interest rates mean you’ll pay less in the long run. You could also try debt counselling services, who can advise you further on your debt relief options.
Create a Debt Repayment Plan
Creating a debt repayment plan is a great way to make sure you’re making progress in managing your debt. A repayment plan outlines your approach to repaying debts, including:
- The order in which you’ll repay them
- How much you can realistically afford to pay each month
- Which debts you’ll prioritise
Before you create a repayment plan, it’s a good idea to total up your debts and work out how much you owe in total. It’s important to have a clear goal in mind and review your progress against it.
Once you know how much you owe, you can choose which debts you want to focus on paying off first. Generally, it’s best to start with the debt that has the highest interest rate as this will save you money in the long run. As you start to pay off your debts, it’s important to stay motivated by Celebrating small wins, like paying off a certain amount or achieving a milestone you’ve set yourself.
Staying motivated is essential when you’re tackling debt. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and give up. However, when you’re on a mission to become debt-free, it’s important to have a few strategies in place to help you stay on track.
Start by setting yourself realistic goals and reward yourself when you achieve them, even if it’s something as simple as a brisk walk or a luxurious cup of coffee. It’s also important to stay organized with your finances. Utilize budgeting software or a spreadsheet to keep track of your debts and develop a plan to pay them off as quickly as possible.
Seek Professional Advice
If you’re struggling to stay motivated or don’t know where to start with your debt, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice. There are a number of organizations, such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Money Advice Service, who can provide free and impartial advice on how to best manage your debts. They can also provide further information on how to get help from your creditors, and how to access debt relief options.
Debt can be a burden, but it doesn’t have to define you. With the right approach and strategies, you can get on top of your debts and start building a secure financial future. All it takes is a bit of organization and motivation and, of course, access to free financial advice from experts.