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Tackling your debts

What's your best way out of debt?

Posted 16 January 2013

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How should you approach your debts? The actual amount of debt you're carrying isn't the only factor.

If you're in debt, figuring out the best way to deal with it isn't easy. You'll need to ask yourself a lot of questions, like:

• How much do I owe altogether?

• What kind of debts am I carrying?

• Can I afford my monthly payments?

• How long will it take to repay my debts in full?

• Could I afford to overpay my debts - and clear them more quickly?

So the actual amount of debt isn't the only issue. For one household, a £1,000 debt might be a serious obstacle that'll take many years to clear. Another household might be relaxed about a £10,000 debt, knowing they can afford the payments and it'll be gone by the end of 2015.

In other words, debt means different things to different people. That's why there's a variety of debt solutions - they're designed to help people in all kinds of situations.

 

If you're struggling to afford your payments

 

First of all, you're not alone. In England and Wales alone, Citizens Advice Bureaux recorded an average 8,465 new debt problems every working day in the 12 months leading up to June 2012. And Credit Action tells us that based on trends in Q3 last year, an average of 307 people are declared insolvent every day (which works out to one every 4 minutes 42 seconds).

Insolvency isn't the only answer to debt problems. As long as you don't leave it too late, you might be able to arrange an informal repayment plan with your unsecured lenders. This could help you afford your monthly payments again - and avoid insolvency. To find out which debt solution could help you tackle your debt problems, just fill in the debt solution finder below.

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Note: Making lower monthly payments can mean it takes you longer to get out of debt, and cost more in the long run.

If you're looking for a simpler approach to your debts

Sometimes, the total amount of debt isn't a problem, but the hassle of repaying multiple debts is. When you owe money to different creditors, it can be hard to stay on top of them and make sure you don't miss any payments. You might be able to simplify things if you consolidated your debts with a loan or a balance transfer credit card.

Note: Repaying debts more slowly can cost you more in interest - and if you secure any debts against your home, be aware that you could be putting your property at risk if you don't keep up with the repayments.

If you're making your payments - with room to spare

Making just the minimum monthly payments on a credit card might seem tempting, but it's something to avoid wherever possible. Since you're free to overpay your credit cards by as much as you want, you could save yourself a lot of money in interest - and clear your debt a lot faster - if you made a point of putting more money towards those debts every month.

 

Note: Make sure you pay everything you have to before you overpay anything: the consequences of missing payments can far outweigh the benefits of overpaying one of your debts.

 

If you'd like to talk to an expert about your situation and find out more about your options, just click here to contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

by Emily Bancroft

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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.