Managing finances can be difficult at the best of times, whether it’s paying the bills or trying to avoid future debt, we all have to consider both the immediate problem of where our money comes from as well as the longer term implications of a poor credit rating.
These concerns typically become much more prevalent during and after periods such as Christmas and New Year when we tend to become more reliant on credit, or feel pressure to spend money that we don’t necessarily have.
Despite the real hardship that can be caused, the good news is that no matter how impossible a situation may seem, there are always steps that can be taken to improve credit ratings, move closer to the black or avoid going into the red in the first place. The key to all of this is acknowledging the issue and taking control by seeking professional advice and planning for the future.
Where to start
If it becomes apparent that you can’t meet all of your financial obligations, it’s time to assess what your options are. The initial consideration must be the so called ‘priority debts’. These include things such as your mortgage or rent, gas and electricity, council tax or court orders. These take priority because of the consequences of failing to make payments; such as losing your home for repeatedly failing to make mortgage repayments.
Next to consider are the ‘non-priority debts’ which include things like, credit cards, hire purchase agreements or unsecured loans. Although these are still important, the consequences of missing the ‘priority’ payments tend to be much more serious.
Once you know what debts you have, it’s time to create a budget and debt management plan. If you are struggling with your finances, most creditors will allow you a short period during which they give you a break from payments, although this may not solve the problem, it can be a great help. The creditor will normally allow this breathing space on the condition that you seek specialist support. Use the time wisely, with the help of specialists it may be possible to freeze interest as well.
- Do stop borrowing money and reduce your spending on everything that is not essential.
- Do seek specialist advice immediately, Health Assured are available for support and information 24/7.
- Do contact Health Assured immediately if you have received court papers, are at risk of eviction or are expecting bailiffs.
- Do not ignore the problem, even if you feel it’s ‘not a real issue yet’.
- Do not take out further loans to cover the debt and avoid payday lenders at all costs.
- Do not go to debt help or loan consolidation companies. Most are out to make money and will cost you much more in the long run. There are trusted providers available, so seek advice as to where to turn.
There are a range of options available whether you’re severely in debt or just proactively trying to prevent a future problem. Whether it’s a benefit assessment to supplement your income, legal advice on managing the problem, financial advice or counselling support, Health Assured have a team of specialists available to assist with referrals to trusted, approved providers. The helpline is available 24/7 365 days a year so please do not hesitate to contact Health Assured when you need assistance.
Debt often affects those around us, if you have family or friends who don’t have access to an Employee Assistance Programme, they can contact StepChange Debt Charity directly on 0800 138 1111.