Help is out there for debt management

Every year more and more people are declared bankrupt as the recession continues to bite into lower and middle income families. It’s a tough world out there and the ever present threat of redundancies, crippling hikes in food and energy prices, combined with the expense of petrol, schooling and childcare can push some people to the brink when it comes to their finances.
Families coping with any long term or chronic illness that affects the parent’s ability to work can have a devastating knock on effect, for example. Or for two parent families, the struggle to afford childcare so that both partners can work full time to meet financial debts can also be a seemingly insurmountable problem.
Every day around 90 people are made redundant, leaving unemployment levels ever rising. For those in work, the fact that wages are just not increasing enough to come close to matching inflation is also increasing the likelihood of getting into debt in the first place.
Sending a child to university can be utterly terrifying these days, with new graduates regularly coming out of university with an average degree and upwards of £20,000 of debt, only to find that the coveted jobs are thinner on the ground than ever and finding themselves forced into taking endless internships and making ends meet.
It’s vital to manage your household budget in the best way possible – and it is more possible to cut back on spending without radically changing your lifestyle than many people think.
RESEARCH – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Find out exactly what state your finances are in – study your bank statements and work out where all your debts lie. Consider taking debt management advice, either from your bank, or an independent body such as Citizens Advice or Debt Free Direct and work out what you owe, what the interest rates are and where you can and should consolidate debts. Avoid anywhere that promises fast money as their APR will always be through the roof and think sensibly and calmly about what you and your family can do to cut back.
MAKE A PLAN
Write down your incoming salary – and that of your partner or anyone else who brings money in. Write it all down. Then write down realistic and honest outgoings. Compare the two figures. If they don’t add up then you have to start cutting back. There are loads of ways to do this and the internet is awash with advice sites, tips, tricks and communities. Find a good forum where you feel comfortable and swap tips with other people in the same position as you.
BE SMART
Look at what you have and consider selling stuff you don’t need – if most people have a good look round a lot of sellable items can be found. Get onto eBay or Gumtree and start selling. Be proactive and positive. Check out sites like Freecycle for good quality furnishings, clothes, household items etc that just need a good home – it’s great for the environment as well as it cuts back on landfill. Keep your eyes peeled in charity and vintage shops, get creative when it comes to birthday presents and cut back on drinking and eating out. It may not sound that much fun but taking control outweighs the fun of a transient night out any day!

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