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Tackling your debts

Achieving your financial goals

Posted 27 April 2016

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Working towards a debt-free future? Find out how to get there and stay focussed along the way.

If you’re struggling with debt, your main financial goal is probably going to be clearing those debts and creating a financially stress-free future. So, it’s important that you know about the help available if you want to achieve this.

The good news is that it is possible to gain freedom from problem debt, no matter how bad it has become. 

How do I achieve my goal?

When it comes to getting debt-free, there are different routes you can take. Which one is right for you depends entirely on your situation. 

You could try to find ways to increase your income so that you have more money available to put towards your debts. Asking for more hours at your current job or taking on a part-time role may give you the cash you need to keep up with your debt repayments.

It’s always worth contacting your creditors to tell them you’re having difficulties. In some cases, they may be able to put an arrangement in place that could help you, for instance, by allowing you to take a payment holiday or by freezing interest and charges. 

 Alternatively, a debt solution might be the right answer for you. These are plans that aim to make it easier for you to repay your debts, or in some cases wipe some debt off or suspend your payments. 

How do I know which route is right?

So how do you figure out which way forward will work best for you? Well, an in-depth understanding of how much you’ve got coming in and going out each month will help. 

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Picking up a few extra hours at work may mean you can afford all your repayments. On the other hand, maybe that option isn’t available to you. Or perhaps the amount you owe means you simply can’t afford to keep up with the repayments even with some extra money coming in and you should be looking at a debt solution. 

We are always on-hand to help you find the right route to your goal. If you contact us using any of the options on the left, one of our experienced money advisors will have an in-depth chat with you about your situation. We’ll be able to tell you whether a debt solution is necessary and which one would be best. There’s also free and impartial advice available from the Money Advice Service

How do I stay focussed on my goal of becoming debt-free?

Achieving your goal of becoming debt-free will take discipline and focus over the long term, so let’s look at some strategies that might help. 

Talking. You don’t have to talk to friends and family about your debt worries, but sharing the burden of your money troubles can help – even if it's just with your money advisor.

Remember why. Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Think of a future free of letters and calls from creditors and where you have more money to spend on your family and the things you’re really passionate about in life. 

Celebrate the little things. Becoming debt-free is a huge achievement but it’s made up of little achievements along the way. Once you’ve got expert advice and you know what you’re going to do to become debt-free, create some sort of system to keep track of those little achievements. 

You could keep a debt-free diary, or create a spreadsheet to record the positive steps you’re taking, like sticking to your budget each month, crossing months of the calendar or lowering the balance that you owe. Every time you achieve something, make a note of it to encourage yourself and track your progress. 

Look after yourself. When you’re dealing with debt, you may find that other aspects of your life are negatively affected, like relationships at home, your ability to sleep or overall health. When your debts are having an impact on these things, it can make it even harder to stay motivated and positive. 

If you’re worried about the effect that problem debt has had on your physical or mental health, make an appointment to chat it through with your GP. This NHS page is very helpful and you can also check out our Tips on getting a better night’s sleep.

While you’re working on your goal, don’t forget to look after yourself and try not to allow worry or financial regret to hinder your progress.

Keep going because it is possible 

Read this comment from someone who was struggling with debt, took advice and is now completing their debt management plan - taken from Review Centre:

My spiral of finances started to go down hill back in 2013, I tried to manage juggling payments to my creditors but it got to the stage when I was receiving letters, phone calls from them demanding money. It was starting to make me ill. […] This evening I rung up to find out my balance and am now in the final process of closing my plan down , FINALLY DEBT FREE 2015.

 

We hope we’ve convinced you that no matter how bad the problem has become, if you get the right advice and stay focussed you can achieve your goal of becoming debt-free. 

Make sure you give yourself the best chance of achieving your goal by putting a plan in place and reaching out for the help you need.

 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.