Having a certain amount of debt is pretty much normal these days – many people have a home loan, car finance and a couple of credit cards. Often we don’t even think about that being debt – it’s just the way we live. But it’s when we start to struggle to meet our repayments that the anxiety can set in – maybe we have lost our job or have some large, unexpected expenses we hadn’t planned for. Whatever the reason for getting into the situation it is only when we are struggling to make repayments that we actually feel we are “in debt”.
And nobody wants to be in this situation where our level of debt becomes a serious concern but, unfortunately, sometimes it happens even to those who are normally sensible with their money. The first thing to remember is not to panic because you can deal with debt in a number of fairly easy ways – but it will require some changes in your attitude to money.
As I always say the first thing is to make sure you make the most essential payments i.e. your mortgage or rent. It’s then a matter of prioritising your loans and other forms of debt and cutting right back on your spending and getting into that habit until your debt is under control. There is no point economising harshly for 3 months only to make a rash purchase that ups your credit card debt again and gets you back into the debt cycle all over again.
If you are having trouble stopping spending try to visualise how good it will feel to be debt free or try to visualise how bad it will feel to lose your home.
But remember if you find yourself with a level of debt that is causing you to lose sleep — you are not alone and there are ways to deal with it. Here are some of the ways that might work for you:
- Minimise your interest rates by taking advantage of interest free credit card deals
- Shift debt from a more expensive card to a cheaper card – even if there is no 0% deal it will still cut down your interest payments.
- Talk to your bank, loan provider or credit card company and ask for their help in reducing repayment amounts. You may be able to extend the period of a loan for instance.
- If you are paying for a loan for an item you don’t need then stop it – do you for example have more than one car in your household? Could you manage with just one. That is a quick and easy way to reduce your outgoings – and you might just get healthier in the process by walking everywhere – or at least to the bus stop.
- Consider debt consolidation if you have a large amount of debt (there is a usually a minimum that you can consolidate so this won’t be suitable if you have a relatively small amount of debt)