“A man who pays his bills on time is soon forgotten.”
I know that the heading for this post is way easier said than done, but my post below comes directly from my own experience of debt and how to manage it.
I’d lost my job and we only had one income coming in and we simply couldn’t pay the bills that we had due to that lack of income. I’d been going for interviews but just couldn’t secure a role. Being a hairs breath away from declaring bankruptcy is an awful place to be, together all the baggage that comes with it. So, trust me when I say I know what it’s like to lay awake night after night wondering how I’m doing to buy food and pay all the bills.
Read on and perhaps what I say may help you make a plan to recover from your debts.
Table of contents
- Be honest with yourself
- Don’t get scared by the numbers
- Who you gonna call?
- What should I expect from a debt advisor?
- But what happens if my creditors get in touch?
- Do I have to declare bankruptcy?
- Is this the best way to get out of debt?
- and finally…
Be honest with yourself
Firstly, let me say this – YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. Right with that out the way I’ll carry on!
Now, being honest with yourself is the hardest thing to do, but you must begin somewhere if you want to get your finances straight. Go through everything that you owe money on. It’ll be the usual credit cards, loans etc. but also think about the phone bills, amenities and of course the dreaded Council Tax that you may owe money on. These all add to and affect your credit score.
Don’t get scared by the numbers
When you’ve been honest with yourself, please please please don’t get scared by the numbers involved. They might well be eyewatering, but I suspect that you have been ignoring them so you didn’t have an idea of how they had mounted up. What you have to remember is that you’ve done the hard part – admitted them to yourself – now everything else relating to your debts will feel that little bit easier.
Who you gonna call?
Debt Busters! I sound flippant don’t I, but I’m not. I’ve been there I know what it’s like and sometimes you do need to remember that you will get through this and YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE!
Now, there are lots of debt advisers out there. Some you pay a small fee for each month, but there are charities that can help you. StepChange is the debt charity that I used, but it is your choice. A good source of advice comes from the Citizens Advice Bureau which is available online. Do your research. Look at communities online. Check out Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert pages for advice. By being prepared you are empowering yourself to get through this and get yourself financially sorted.
What should I expect from a debt advisor?
Don’t fret about speaking to a debt advisor/ charity. They aren’t there to judge you. They’re not going to say “well if you hadn’t done this or that you wouldn’t be in this mess.” They are there to help you and empower you on road to being debt free.
When you first make contact with a debt advisory company/ charity they will go through your finances with you. They will take into account what you need to live on and include things like personal care (i.e. haircuts etc.), paying for pets food and insurance, parking and commuting charges etc. and once all of those things have been met, the balance will go towards paying off your debts.
But what happens if my creditors get in touch?
When you go ahead with a debt advisor they will provide you with a client reference number, and this is your – literal – get out of jail free card. You will usually be advised to contact all your creditors and provide them with your client reference number so that when the debt advisor talks to your creditor on your behalf they will know that you are in a debt repayment programme.
Over time, and with certain creditors, you will find one of two things
a) Your debt will be sold on to another debt recovery company, but that shouldn’t affect any of your payment plans
b) You will be offered the chance to pay your debt off, in full, at a discounted rate than what you owe.
Do I have to declare bankruptcy?
This was the one thing that I panicked about more than ever. I couldn’t bare the thought of not being able to have a bank account or get a mortgage or loan after declaring bankruptcy. Rest assured when you talk to your debt advisor they will talk through the best options for you and your circumstances. But at the end of the day it is your decision. It might be that bankruptcy is the best option, but trust me you won’t be left hanging alone with no support. Debt advisors are trained and used to dealing with people just like you and me; and trust me when I say that they have heard it all and nothing will shock them.
Is this the best way to get out of debt?
I cannot advise you. What I can do is tell you my experience and what happened for me. The overriding thing for me was once I had admitted the debt to myself and then arranged a call with a debt advisor I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in about nine months I felt human again, and dare I say happy. It was like the proverbial weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Let me tell you it was the best night’s sleep I had had in a long time, the day I did something about my spiralling debt.
With the best will in the world, debt advisors aren’t magicians, they can only help you sort out your finances. If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or depressed have a chat to your GP. They are aware of the cost of living crisis and how it’s hitting people. They’ll be able to help you get through this tough time, and support you to come out smiling the other side.
Please feel free to contact me directly, I would love to hear from you. I can’t advise you, but I can tell you what worked for me.
This advice is aimed at the UK. However, there are similar debt advisors across the globe. The best thing to do if you feel you’re drowning in your debt is to reach out for help; there will always be someone to help you out.