Borrowing and debt advice

Are you finding it difficult to get out of the cycle of debt and struggling to make ends meet at the same time? You’ve probably heard about the ‘credit crunch’ which means some people are having a harder time than ever right now. The cost of living is rising and access to credit is being restricted. Consumers currently owe more than R1 trillion on home loans, cars, store and credit cards. Some struggle to keep up with their ongoing financial commitments and find themselves caught in a never ending debt trap.

While there’s no magic answer for everyone, we've provided some quick advice on borrowing, plus tips on managing and escaping debt .

1) Pull all the information you have together

First things first: gather all the information you can about what you owe, what you spend, what you earn and what you receive.  That includes details about everything that affects money going out or coming in, so don’t forget to include things like any overdrafts, store credit, and buy-now-pay-later deals.  Remember to account for birthdays, school meals and car costs. Make up a spreadsheet or budget sheet to help you to see everything at a glance. It might seem a lot and it may be tough, but the trick is to bite the bullet and not leave anything out. If you include everything it’ll be easier to find a way forward.

2) Understand what your essential costs are and prioritise them

Take a look at what you spend, and decide what’s essential and what you can do without. Essential expenditure is things like rent, mortgage, council tax, water charges and utilities.  Once you know what’s essential, you can prioritise that. Can you reduce your expenditure? We’d always suggest being realistic at this stage, so you know your plan is something you can maintain.

3) Deal with the emergencies

It can be hard to open those letters marked with red. But if you follow the first few tips, and know what you’re facing and what’s essential, you can tackle the real issues that can affect you and your essentials first, and make a plan for what comes next. Check for court paperwork especially. Do you have a court date for an eviction hearing, for example? There are time scales attached to this type of letter, and you must act within these time scales.

4) There are options

Depending on how much you owe and how much you earn, you do have options for how to deal with debt, and to get you through it. Re-do your budget sheet, see if you have any money left over to make an offer of payment. Don’t worry if you have nothing left over; there are still options to deal with your debts and you will get through it. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so you could do some research to see what your options might be and get advice from experts.

5) Get free, independent support and advice

If you need help to tackle any of these steps, you aren’t alone. Reach out for the information and support you need, and make sure it’s from a free and independent source that’s regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority - like your local Citizens Advice Bureau. That way you can get the information you need and be sure it’s in your best interests. Beware of companies who will charge you for advice.


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