Feeling overwhelmed by debt can be frightening – but there are ways to start taking back control.
1. GET THE BIGGER PICTURE
Facing up to debt fears is a brave step – one that can put you in a stronger position to get help to go the rest of the way. Take a deep breath, and then use the budget planner on page 4. of the Money Manual. Don’t forget to add any credit or other spending you’re committed to: add as much detail as you can.
Once you know how much you’ve got coming in and going out, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether debt is an issue (there may be other clues, too, such as stress or your general health). Be honest about your balance rather than beating yourself up!
3. BUILD A SUPPORT NETWORK
Family and friends can’t magic your debt away, but knowing they’re on your side – and getting things off your chest – can help. You may be able to get free, confidential support through your college, employer, church or GP, too, or you can call the Samaritans anonymously at any time on 116 123.
4. START SMALL
Debt, like clutter, can take years to accumulate, so there’s no five-minute fix – but don’t let setbacks discourage you! Start with small steps, such as finding ways to spend less, go without, or stretch your pennies further.
5. GET THE RIGHT ADVICE
It’s important to get expert, impartial advice when tackling problem debt, and especially before taking on more credit. Several charities offer free advice – try National Debtline (nationaldebtline.org, 0808 808 4000) or StepChange (stepchange.org, 0800 138 1111) for starters.
6. REWARD YOURSELF
Even small rewards for completing each step can keep you motivated. Be as creative as you like and enjoy the challenge of finding cheap treats and freebies – it’s all part of the money skills and resilience you’re building. There may be a long way to go, but you’ve already taken the hardest step: keep going!