Almost everyone experiences debt on some level throughout their life. For some, they know exactly how much debt they are in and how they plan to get out of it; but there are others in debt who try to not to think about how much they owe because they don’t know how to deal with it.
The most important thing to do when you are in any kind of debt is understand what you owe and when you owe it. Managing your money is the key to avoiding bad debt and understanding your circumstances is the first step
Tips and advice how to avoid problem debt
Prioritise your debt
Know what you owe and pay the most important debts first, like your mortgage and utility bills.
Make credit card payments on time
If you can, clear your balance every month as this will help you avoid interest charges and missed payment fees. It can also help boost your credit score!
Have an emergency fund
If you don’t have any savings, try starting to put money away every month (no matter how little) – so that when you are faced with large and unexpected costs, you can be a little more prepared. Mechanic fees and household goods breaking are usually the biggest culprits!
Learn to budget your monthly spend.
There are some great free tools out there to help you map out your income and expenditure and show your affordability. We think this one from Money Advice Service is really useful. If you can, print out a budget planner and stick it to your fridge so you always know how your monthly spend is going.
Don’t make any unnecessary purchases
This may seem obvious, but it is one of the biggest causes of debt and all those little purchases soon add up! Try only buying what you can afford, or only taking enough cash out with you to cover what you need.
Make shopping lists and stick to them
Those supermarkets sure know how to entice you with offers and product placement, making it hard to pass by. Try writing out a shopping list of what you need and stick to it, or go one better and do your shopping online.
Cancel memberships you don’t use
Unused gym memberships and magazine subscriptions are big culprits here – look at what you have signed up for and cancel anything that you don’t actually use. You would be surprised how much you could save by not paying for things you don’t need to!
Talk about money in your home
Have open and frank conversations with your partner/family about your financial situation, so that everyone is working to the same budget and not making unaffordable purchases.
Compare prices on big purchases
Comparison sites are hugely popular now, mostly because of how much money they can save the buyer. From car insurance to holidays to mortgages, do your research to make sure that you are getting the best price and value.
Know what benefits you are entitled to
Try using a benefit calculator to make sure that you are receiving all the help you are entitled to.