Struggling with debt is something that many people experience. Some are able to employ effective tactics to get themselves to financial freedom while others are not so fortunate.
The difference between the two is that the former group of people did their research and sought debt advice from the correct sources.
In this post, I’ll be detailing some methods that you can employ in your everyday life to make your debt easier to manage as well as giving you information about practices to keep yourself out of debt.
Managed Debt vs Problem Debt
As I mentioned earlier, an astounding majority of Brits find themselves in debt every year.
That being said, a lot of the individuals that are in debt have actually planned it out.
Sometimes, going into debt can be a financial tool for you to fund purchases that you wouldn’t be able to, otherwise. Of course, you’ll have to plan out your repayments to ensure you can afford it in the long run.
For example, mortgage loans allow people to buy a house of their own. Without mortgages, very few people would be able to afford their own house.
Thus, while debts can definitely help you out, they can quickly become a problem if not kept in check.
So, the first thing you have to do is identify whether the debt you have is a problem or if it’s manageable.
If your total debts add up to more than what you earn in a single year, you’re unsure of where or why you have certain debts and you’re struggling to pay them back, then you have what is called “problem debt”.
On the other hand, if you have debt repayments that you can easily manage each month, they don’t exceed your annual income and you have complete details of where those debts came from, then you have “managed debt”.
The purpose of this post is to help you turn your problem debt into managed debt. You can do this in a number of ways such as by reducing the amount of money you owe, increasing your income, etc. Let us look at some ways to help you achieve this.
Identifying Your Debts
If you’re not entirely sure about what debts you have and which creditors you need to make payments to, this can be especially troublesome.
Creditors could be making moves to take legal action against you and you may not even be aware of it.
Thus, to take control of your debts, you’ll first need to identify all of them.
A good way to get started with this is to request a copy of your credit file. Your credit file is a record of your financial dealings over the past six years. It contains information about your credit cards, bank accounts and loans.
Once you have all your debts identified, you’ll need to calculate whether or not you can manage them without the help of a debt solution or not.
For this, first, you’ll have to calculate your spare income. You can calculate your spare (also known as surplus or disposable) income by subtracting your essential monthly living costs from your regular income.
This will give you the amount that you can spare to give towards your debts.
Depending on this amount, you will have to determine whether you can manage to pay your debts on your own or if you’re going to need the help of a debt solution.
If you can afford to make payments on your own, you’re going to have to prioritise your debts so you can distribute your payments effectively.
You can choose to do this on your own your can get free debt advice from a debt charity regarding this process as well.
It’s important that you pay priority debts first. These are debts that have many dire consequences for you if you miss a payment to them or are late with your payment. Examples of priority debts include mortgage payments, rent arrears, council tax debt, etc.
Once you’ve attended to priority debts, it may get confusing ordering unsecured debts in terms of priority.
For unsecured debts, you should always prioritise the debt with the highest interest rate. Always ensure that the repayment with the highest interest rate gets paid off first as this will enable you to save a lot of money that you would have otherwise paid as interest.
Opting for Debt Solutions and Seeking Debt Advice
If your debt repayments are not manageable with the income you have, then you’re going to have to choose from debt solutions that are available to you.
There are a number of debt solutions to choose from in the UK but it’s important to do your research thoroughly before making a decision.
This is because different debt solutions are aimed at people with different financial circumstances.
For example, an IVA is a great solution for a person who wants to protect his/her assets. For a person like that, bankruptcy would not be an ideal solution as that would mean that their assets would be seized.
Hence, it’s important to do your research thoroughly and seek the appropriate debt help so you can make an informed decision about which debt solution to go for.
Furthermore, if you’re seeking debt advice, ensure that it’s from an organisation that does not charge you for their services.
If you’re already having financial problems, it makes no sense to seek debt advice from an agency that would charge you for it.
You can get free debt advice from a number of different independent charities operating in the UK. Not only will they give you advice but they will also help you set up whatever solution you decide to go for.
Addressing your debt can become much easier when you seek debt help both online as well as from debt professionals.
Whatever decision you make about how to pay back the money you owe, just ensure that you’ve assessed your finances thoroughly beforehand and sought help and advice from the proper sources.