If you are in debt don’t panic, there are things that you can do. However it is important to do something as the problem won’t just go away.
Read our Step by Step Guide to Sorting out your Debts:
The first thing that you should do is make a list of all the people that you owe money to (creditors) and how much you owe them. If you disagree with the amount that a creditor says you owe then seek specialist advice. You then need to work out which debts to deal with first. Some debts have serious consequences if you do not pay them. These are known as priority debts and include:
• Rent arrears
• Council tax arrears
• Court fines
• Fuel arrears
• Income tax arrears
• Arrears of maintenance
Other debts such as credit cards, loans, benefit overpayments and catalogue debts are known as non-priority debts.
Next you need to work out a budget by listing all of the money that your household has coming in, as well as all of the expenses that you have. It is important to be honest and realistic about this – remember you may have to stick to it for some time. Using a budget sheet will help. Once you’ve completed a budget you will be able to see how much money you’ve got left to pay your debts.
A great way to work out your budget is with the Money Advice Service online budget planner
. This allows you to record all of your incomings and outgoings. It then analyses and adds up your figures and gives a breakdown of where your spending goes each month.
If you have no money left over and you do not think that your situation is likely to change in the near future you should seek specialist advice.
Once you know how much money you have left over, you should contact each of your priority creditors and try to come to an arrangement to pay them back. They may ask you to send them a copy of your budget sheet. You should ask for confirmation of the agreement in writing. Once you have made an arrangement with your priority creditors it is very important that you stick to it. Sample letters
are available from National Debtline.
If you have any money left over after your priority creditors have been paid, you can also contact your non-priority creditors to make offers to them as well. If you don’t have any money left you should seek advice.
Alternatively you can visit My Money Steps
for interactive advice online.
Besides making offers to your creditors, there are other options for dealing with your debts. These include Administration Orders, Individual Voluntary Arrangements and Bankruptcy. If you want further information about any of these options you should seek independent specialist advice.
Independent specialist advice on dealing with debt can be obtained from the following organisations:
Money Advice Service
0300 500 5000
Debt Advice Foundation
0800 987 5682