Dealing with the anguish of debt

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL.  File photo dated 8/11/07 of a woman holding her head in her hands. More than one in 10 people are now very concerned about the amount of money they owe, a survey showed today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday November 22, 2007. About 11% of people admitted they were very worried about how they would manage their debts, up from 7% three months ago, according to financial website MoneyExpert.com. At the same time one in four people said their borrowings through mortgages, loans and credit cards had increased during the past quarter, with 9% admitting their debt levels had soared by more than 10%. See PA Story MONEY debt. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire  / despair / worry / upset / ill / bereavement
PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. File photo dated 8/11/07 of a woman holding her head in her hands. More than one in 10 people are now very concerned about the amount of money they owe, a survey showed today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday November 22, 2007. About 11% of people admitted they were very worried about how they would manage their debts, up from 7% three months ago, according to financial website MoneyExpert.com. At the same time one in four people said their borrowings through mortgages, loans and credit cards had increased during the past quarter, with 9% admitting their debt levels had soared by more than 10%. See PA Story MONEY debt. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire / despair / worry / upset / ill / bereavement

Being in debt can be stressful, and it can be difficult to know what to do first, especially if you’re constantly getting letters and calls from the companies you owe money to.

You might be thinking about taking out a loan to pay back money you owe, but this can make the problem worse when there might be a better solution for you.

There’s no debt problem that’s unmanageable.

Becoming debt-free, however long it takes, can improve your credit rating and mean you can think about longer-term plans.

When you have more than one debt, you must make sure you’re dealing with the most important ones first.

Debts come in various forms, such as bank loans, pay day loans, credit cards and catalogues.

Some debts are known as ‘priority debts’ and they have the most serious consequences – like losing your house, being disconnected from your energy supply, getting a court fine or imprisonment.

These include rent and mortgage, council tax, court fines and benefit overpayments.

Before you offer an amount to your creditors, you need to know how much money you can afford to pay them.

It’s better to be realistic with your creditors and offer a small amount of money, rather than offering too much and struggling with your living costs.

Citizens Advice can help you work out what is affordable based on your circumstances.

Our qualified debt advice workers can help in a number of ways, such as helping you negotiate with your creditors and offer realistic amounts to reduce your debts.

They can also help to arrange Individual Voluntary Agreements, which set a reduced payment over a fixed length of time, as well as help you to apply for Debt Relief Orders, which are usually suited to people with a fairly low amount of debt and who have few assets.

And they can assist in applications for bankruptcy.

Addressing money issues can sometimes feel daunting and be off-putting, but the earlier you deal with them, the easier they are to deal with.

If you are in debt and need our help, you can access us in a variety of ways.

Text DEBT to 81400. Text charges apply and we’ll call you back within two working days from an unknown number.

Check our office opening times online at www.citizensadvicenorthumberland.org.uk/northumberland as offices vary.

You can call Northumberland Adviceline on 03444 111444, Monday to Friday, between 10am and 4pm.

And online help is available at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/help-with-debt/

Citizens Advice Northumberland is a registered charity, which helps people to resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing information and advice, and by campaigning for change.