Feeling as though your money (or more specifically the amount you owe) is out of control can be a frightening and often isolating experience. You are certainly not alone if you fear you have become trapped in a cycle of debt, but continuing to ignore the situation will only make matters worse. With some good advice you can get back in the driver’s seat, create a budget and start tackling your debt today.
Make a difference
Taking that first step towards being in control of your debt will make you feel better, and over time you will be on the road to waving those financial demons goodbye. But even if you know you want to get back on top, the idea of figuring out how and where to start can seem terrifying.
Firstly it is important to note that as everyone’s situation is different and unique to them, there isn’t a one-size fits all approach to getting out of debt. As a result, the path each person will find most useful will be the one tailored to their individual circumstances. So it’s important you do your homework and start to consider what routes there are to help take some of the stress out of your life.
Don’t put it off, start tackling your debt today!
For some people, it is simply a matter of taking control of your spending by doing a realistic budget, making a commitment to only spend what you have and forming a plan to pay off your debts.
For others, more specialist help is needed. If making even minimum payments on your debts means that you are struggling to put food on the table or shoes on your kids’ feet, then you really do need some expert help. Free debt advice is available from StepChange and The National Debt Helpline who are both on hand to help you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Start defeating debt
Whether you feel you need specialist help, or just a little self-discipline to get back on top of things, here are a few key principles that everyone should bear in mind.
Acknowledge that debt may be a problem. Take a deep breath, look at your situation in all its gory detail, and be honest with yourself about any difficulties that your debts are causing. Don’t beat yourself up, but acknowledging why your debt has become a problem can also help you turn things around – maybe you have become frivolous with your spending, or you took out a loan without fully understanding the terms, or it could be that you borrowed out of genuine necessity when life took an unexpected turn.
Communicate your debt problem. Things that are hidden seem to gain a power of their own, bringing them out into the open isn’t easy, but it does remove some of the hold they have on you. Your family and friends will almost certainly have realised that something isn’t quite right – they will probably be relieved to know that it is something that can be fixed!
Start making changes immediately. Don’t put it off, start your plan today. Don’t get downhearted if you don’t get everything right straightaway – we all make mistakes, just stick with it and you’ll soon notice a big difference. It’s an old expression but ‘look after the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves’ has a lot of truth in it – a great way to start transforming your spending habits is by embracing small, simple cutbacks here and there. Would it be cheaper to get the bus instead of driving? Do you really need that coffee shop latte on your way to work? Could you spend less on groceries this week?
Reward yourself. It’s important to celebrate, not only when you’ve reached your final goal, but along the way as you eliminate each debt. Have fun with it. It can be amazingly satisfying to stop spending and gain control of your finances instead. Find free entertainment (available in your local newspaper or listings website) – make it a challenge to be frugal and save money!