Everyone gets into debt. It may be credit cards, student loans, personal loans, a mortgage, loans from friends, more credit cards,… Getting into too much debt can affect your life massively, it can bring horrible amounts of stress and anxiety, but there are various ways to help ease that pressure. Upwards of eight million people living in the UK miss bill payments regularly, so you’re not alone. Clearing your debts doesn’t have to be an anxiety-fuelled task; it can happen over time with a good plan after following some well-informed advice. Everyone will be in debt in their life; it’s just paying it back that can be the most stressful part that can also damage your credit score. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Add everything up and prioritise them
The most important step to paying off your debts is knowing exactly how much you owe, to whom, the time frame you have and if there are any interest rates. Grab a piece of paper and have a calculator on hand to write a list and add up the numbers. Does the result seem like a lot? Don’t worry, no matter the total, it’s still manageable. The important thing is that you now have it all laid out in front of you with all the information clear for you to see. Go through your list of debts and sort them into which ones are the most important. You’ll have more of a clear idea of which payments to put your savings towards first.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your lender
Repaying borrowed money can feel like an impossible task if you’re constantly struggling to make repayments, so let your lenders know you’re struggling with the debt. Many lenders will put you on a payment plan or even put your interest on hold if you fully explain your situation, but make sure to get back into contact with them when your circumstances change. Payment plans allow you to set an achievable amount that will go out on a monthly basis, lessening the stress of trying to get the money together to pay it off all in one.
Be smart about saving
While it’s not always possible to earn extra money through a second job, there are many things you can do to help you save more cash. Budgeting can be a huge help, especially if you’re in debt because of overspending. It can be difficult to begin with, but by planning your spends on a piece of paper by separating essential and non-essential items, you’ll be saving quite a lot in no time. If you’re finding it hard to budget, ask yourself whether you really need the item. If you could go the rest of the month without it, take it out of your shopping basket.
Have you thought about selling what you already own but don’t necessarily need? Whether it’s clothes, electronics or books, someone will buy it. Any unwanted items you want to sell, there’s a price for it. Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and even apps such as Depop are great places to sell your things quickly. Of course, there are larger possessions that could be sold if you’re in a greater deal of debt, such as a car or larger pieces of furniture. If you don’t need it, you can go without until you have the money to spare.
Are you owed anything?
Despite being the one in debt, there could be many ways you’re unknowingly owed debt yourself. Check if you’re eligible for marriage allowance. If you’re married and one of you is a basic-rate taxpayer while the other a non-taxpayer, you could be owed £250, if not more, from HMRC. It’s not a widely known allowance, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re able to claim. While you’re at it, it’s best to check your tax code too. You might have overpaid tax and could be due a refund. It’s really worth double checking.
Along these lines sits benefits. There has always been a stigma surrounding claiming benefits, but if you’re entitled to money that’s available from the government, then why wouldn’t you jump at the chance? Even if you’re working and don’t have children or any health issues, there could still possibly be benefits available for your situation. Edtitledto have a handy tool to calculate what you could be claiming.
Consider switching providers
It can be argued that switching household bill provider can be one of the easiest ways to save money. Use sites such as GoCompare to see where you can get the best deals to suit your needs. On average, households pay up to £300 more than they should be. Who wants that? If you find better deals for your energy and broadband, switching sites make it easy to swap your providers, meaning there’s no hassle with changing and you could potentially start saving money straight away.
As well as your main household bills, have you thought about getting a better deal on your mobile phone contract? It’s every salesperson’s worst nightmare to hear their customer is considering leaving, so give the company a call and see what they can do. More often than not, you’ll be able to nab yourself a cheaper contract with the same, if not a better plan. This tool can be applied to many things; car insurance, life insurance, and even credit cards – which leads us onto our next helpful tip…
Credit cards can be your friend – if you use them wisely
Giving yourself another debt to pay off by getting a credit card seems completely illogical, but think about getting a 0% interest money transfer deal to pay off one or multiple debts in one go. The benefit of this is if you’re paying off multiple debts using this method, all those bills will now come out in one go as you pay your card off. With money transfer credit cards, it can be tempting to withdraw it as cash. Don’t do this unless you want to be charged. Keep it clean with a simple bank transfer and as long as you’re in the 0% period, there will be no interest.
No matter what type of debt you’re in, the most important thing to remember is that there is a way out. It won’t happen overnight but with planning, budgeting, and following our advice, your debt-free future will be within arms reach in no time. If you’re seriously struggling to pay off your debts, there are several charities out there who can help tackle your payments. StepChange and National Debtline offer free advice across the UK.