Because these days it’s so easy to borrow money – with credit cards, store cards, loans and mortgages – it’s no surprise that it’s easy to get into financial problems.
Every day, thousands of people in the UK get into debt and often they don’t know what to do. There’s no shame in being in debt, and there’s no shame in being scared of being in debt either.
Repossession threats, debt collectors and bankruptcy orders are very real concerns to lots of people, making them worry and panic about what they’re going to do.
Getting a grip
The key is not to panic and try and get a grip of the debt before it gets out of control. Don’t bury your head in the sand. There’s a tonne of help out there but first of all, you have to accept there is a problem. Here are some tips:
- Contact the company you owe money to in advance. Don’t wait to contact them until you’ve missed the repayment deadline. They’ll be much more sympathetic if you warn them in advance that you’re not going to be able to pay them.
- Don’t take any nonsense from anyone. If you are being hassled unreasonably by someone you owe money to, or a debt collector employed by them, take the person’s name and report them. Just because you owe them money, doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to be treated politely and with respect.
- Sort out a sensible payment plan before things get any worse. Don’t just agree to a stupid, unrealistic plan just t get them off your back – you’ll just find yourself in the same situation later. They can’t make you repay more money if you don’t have it, so make sure you explain exactly what you can afford and when. Explain the reasons for your financial difficulties and then order to repay a regular sum that you can afford.
- Don’t leave things open ended by saying stuff like ‘things should pick up soon, so I’ll increase my payments if I can’. Be firm about what you can afford. The majority of creditors are fair and only expect realistic payments within your budget.
- If you receive official papers, don’t panic, but protect yourself. Make sure you know how much time you have to respond and what your rights are. Don’t ignore it. Talk to Citizens Advice Bureau. It’s free and they know what they’re talking about. They’ll try and help you avoid going to court if they can.
- Keep all documents and letters that are sent or given to you. Don’t throw them away. Don’t take their word for it – get any agreements in writing.
Instead of sitting there stressing out about your debts, talk it over with someone. If you’re a bit stuck and don’t know where to turn, give CALM a call; they’ll either put you in touch with people who can help you, or if you prefer they can just listen to what you’re going through.