Repaying your debts
Once you've recognised that you're in debt, you can begin to plan how you'll repay it. The easiest way is to organise your debts and then prioritise which are the most important.
Setting out your debts
The first stage to getting out of debt is to work out exactly how much you owe and who you owe it to. You can do this by taking a thorough look at your monthly bank statements and making a list of all your outgoings over the course of a typical month.
Prioritising your debts
The debts that you need to tackle first are the ones that have the most serious consequences if you miss a payment. If you don't address these debts as a priority, you could lose your belongings or be sent to prison by the courts. These types of debt include:
- rent payments - if you owe money to your landlord, you can be evicted from your home
- car payments - if you're over 18 and you bought a car using a loan or hire purchase agreement, the vehicle can be taken away if you do not meet your repayment schedule
Other debts are classed as non-priority. This means that although you cannot have things taken away from you, they can still be expensive due to interest payments and can give you a bad credit rating, which leads to problems applying for loans in the future. These include:
- credit cards
- bank charges and overdrafts
- money you owe to friends and family
Hopefully, your new budget will mean that you can allocate some money every month to meet your debt demands. But if you're still finding it difficult, talk to the companies that you owe money to.
It's important to do this as some lenders are willing to accept smaller monthly payments once they are aware of your particular circumstances.
Negotiating with creditors can be daunting and can take up a lot of time, so you may find that contacting a specialist adviser can make things a lot easier for you. You should make sure that any advice you get is free, independent and covers the whole range of possible solutions to your problems.
Your local Citizens' Advice bureau will be able to help with the majority of debt problems, or you may also want to contact a Money Advice Centre or local Law Centre. You can find a contact number for these in your local directory.
You may also want to contact the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000. The Debtline is open from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm on weekdays, and from 9.30 am to 1.00 pm on Saturdays.
As well as helping you overcome your debt problems, these organisations can advise you of your legal rights if you've been sent a court summons.
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