So we are officially 100 days into the year already. How have your New Year's resolutions been? Have you managed to save all that money you were hoping to? Did you start the 52 week challenge but not find it a bit of a struggle? Perhaps you need a bit of a pep talk...
Are you at the point where you feel like you are drowning in debt? Maybe you have made some bad decisions along the way. Maybe you have just been very unlucky with your circumstances. Maybe you have had a gambling addiction that you are trying to recover from. Whatever your situation, there is plenty of debt advice on the web to keep you busy for a while.
The first question to ask is, can you afford your current repayments? If you can and it's just the fact that it will take a long time to pay off the debts, then that's great. You have everything under control but it sounds like you are just really keen to get out of debt as quickly as possible. Be patient. It's a long and arduous road but it will come. You could help yourself by looking at earning a second income to help pay off your debt sooner. Whether it's a part-time job in your spare time or a new project or business idea, if you're able to make any additional cash, it will seriously help out your situation.
On the other hand, if you are struggling to afford your current repayments and feel like you are drowning in debt, you may be in need of some specialist debt advice. The credit companies do care why you built up so much debt, however, they care far more about the ability to pay it off.
If you are in financial difficulty, the best thing to do is speak to your creditors and see if you can come to an arrangement to pay off your debt in smaller payments but over longer periods of time. If, however, you are already working with a debt management company like Churchwood Financial or Clear Start, it's best to also speak to them regarding your repayments. Ask them to run through an income and expenditure report with you to determine how much exactly you can afford to repay your creditors each month.
Whatever your situation, do not worry. More often than not, your creditors will be happy to help you if they are worried you won't be able to fulfil your repayment requirements.
When you are in debt and you realise that you really need to knuckle down and do something about it, the very first thing you need to do is set up a budget, or as many creditors will refer to it, an income and expenditure form.
Simply explained it is a list of your income and a list of your outgoings to determine how much you are overspending by and how much you can realistically afford to pay debts off with. If you aren't sure where to start, there are many online income and expenditure templates that you can use and if in doubt, speak to your creditors who will be able to provide you with a template or even run through one with you.
In your budget, it's important to get every detail down on paper. Every pound counts and you don't want to set yourself a monthly budget, if you have forgotten expenses that mean you will exceed your budget. From haircuts to household cleaning products, take everything into account.
Go through the list and work out how much you spend each month including your debt payments. If, by the time you have calculated it all, your outgoings are more than your income, you need to take a look back over the numbers and see if you can realistically cut down. It's no good saying you can cut things out, if in fact, you aren't able to and ultimately fall short at the end of the month and you probably cannot repay debt.
If you really can't see where else you can save the extra cash, it's time to look at your debts and how much you have left over at the end of the month to pay your creditors. Work this out and then divide up the remainder between your creditors, depending on the amount you owe each of them. So for example, if you have £100 left over to pay your creditors, but you have a £500 debt with Mr Lender and £1500 with Uncle Buck, you will need to split it into four parts of £25. £25 should be allocated to your Mr Lender loan whilst the remaining £75 should be allocated to Uncle Buck.
If you are failing to repay on time, it's important to have all this knowledge in advance of call your creditors to make an offer for a debt management plan. It will make the whole process easier but many creditors will have scare tactics to make you agree to pay back more than you can realistically afford. Please do not worry about this. Only pay back what you can actually afford. Once your creditors have gone through your income and expenditure forms with you, they will also realise that this is all you can afford to pay.
You may have to provide evidence of your income and outgoings so be very honest about your current financial position. Once you have agreed a debt repayment plan with your creditor, you can relax, knowing that they won't chase you for payment that you simply cannot afford.