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Debt

If debt is making you stressed or anxious, don’t ignore it, make a plan to manage it. Beginning to deal with your problem will help you feel more in control of your situation. 

Whether you’re already in debt or worried about getting into it, use our action plan to help.

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Take action on debt

Use our action plan to help ensure your debt doesn't get out of control. And if you're already finding it hard to pay your bills get support in setting up a debt management plan.

  • Read our guide to debt

    Your first step to sorting out your debt is to understand it. If you haven’t already, read our simple guide to debt.
  • Take a debt test

    Get a clear picture of your debt so that you can start taking steps to manage it.

    And if you’re worried about your finances but you’re not sure if you’re actually in debt, this test will help you find out. Take the StepChange 60-second debt test today. 

  • Track your spending

    Be honest with yourself about your spending habits. To do this you'll need to record every penny you spend over a set period of time; a week, a month. You decide.

    If you need help doing this, use our guide to tracking your spending. In it we give you practical advice to help.
  • Set and stick to a budget

    Take steps to make and stick to a budget.
     
    If you’re finding it hard to meet your basic living costs, making and sticking to a budget will help you balance your income and spending. Your budget will also help you identify where you can cut back and where you can save money on non-essentials.. Read our action plan on budgeting.
  • Control your spending

    Make a decision to work out the things you need to spend your money on versus the things you want to spend your money on.

    It can be easy to justify the little treats but when they become a habit its surprising how quickly they add up. Paying your rent or mortgage versus a quick coffee on the way to work, paying your gas and electricity bills versus an extra drink on a Friday night. Use our guide to managing your spending to get some useful ideas on ways to help.
  • Get independent advice

    Get independent advice from a reputable organisation like StepChange debt charity. They are very familiar with problem debt and will give you good advice on the steps you need to take.
     
    One option is to enter into a debt management solution. However, if your career is in banking, you might be worried that entering into a debt management solution could count against you. This may be true if you’re working in a regulated role, in which case it’s worth checking your contract or speaking to your line manager or HR first. Find out how to get help with debt.
  • Prioritise your debts

    Make a list of what you owe and prioritise the debts you need to deal with first.
     
    Priority debts will include your rent or mortgage, council tax, and utility bills. If you don’t pay these you risk losing your home, being taken to court or having your services cut off. To get help in deciding which debts to prioritise, see debt charity StepChange’s article which debts and bills to prioritise.
  • Try not to take on more debt

    Take a decision to avoid increasing your debt to pay off your debt.
     
    Taking on more debt can be tempting but be careful, short-term lenders like payday loan companies can increase not reduce your debt. If you’re still thinking about taking out a short term loan, this payday loan calculator from StepChange will give you an accurate assessment of just you how much you’d have to pay back.
  • Negotiate with your creditors

    If it's a challenge to pay your bills, you should negotiate with your creditors for a reduction in your payments.

    You can ask for this on a temporary basis, or try to negotiate a permanent reduction in what you pay each month. If you have a short-term problem, like a gap between jobs, which makes it hard for you to pay your debts, you could also ask your creditors for a payment holiday. To find out how, read this article from debt charity StepChange.

  • Get help from a foodbank

    If you're finding yourself cutting back on eating, contact your local foodbank. That's what they're there for.

    The foodbank team can tell you where to go to get a food voucher which entitles to you three days’ emergency food. At your local foodbank, volunteers will sit with you over a warm drink or a hot meal and should be able to give you advice or put you in touch with agencies who can help.

  • Look after your health

    Take steps to look after your wellbeing so your debt problems don’t overwhelm you.

    Being in debt can affect every part of our lives and that includes our mental and physical health. If you’re in debt, you could be losing sleep, feel helpless and alone.

    Make sure you get emotional support from your friends and family, this will help you manage your stress,putting you in a better place to manage your debt. Read this article from Money Aware to find out how.

Next steps

Use the actions you think will work for you. Click on the + sign to add the actions you have decided to take to your to-do list, then print it out or email it to yourself and start managing your debt.