Debt warning signs and where to get help
Last reviewed on 30 January 2017
Debt warning signs
If you’re struggling to meet the repayments on your debts, you may be heading for trouble. The sooner you spot the warning signs and get debt advice, the sooner you can tackle the problems and get your finances back on track.
There are several signs which could mean you are heading for trouble. These include:
- borrowing to meet the repayments on a loan or credit card
- only making the minimum payment on your credit card each month
- taking on new borrowing to pay off old debts
- falling behind with payments on loans
- using money earmarked for other essentials, such as food or your annual tax bill, to pay off debts.
What to do if you're in debt
If you're having difficulty paying your bills or keeping up with loan repayments, check if you have any other resources which you can use. This could be savings or money from an emergency fund. Another option is to borrow from relatives to help tide you over.
If you're unable to come up with the cash speak to your lender or the company you owe money to. You may be able to come to some arrangement with them to reduce or take a holiday from your repayments until your finances improve.
Your lender will probably want some proof that you are genuinely having difficulty rather than just spending your money elsewhere. A good way to show this is to draw up a budget of your monthly income and outgoings.
You can use your budget to work out how much you can afford to pay your creditors each month as well as using it to negotiate with them.
Help with debt
If you would like further help on how to approach and negotiate with your creditors there are several organisations which offer free, independent advice. These organisations are listed below.
- Citizens Advice Bureau - or see your local phone book for your nearest branch.
- National Debtline on 0808 808 4000
- StepChange debt charity on 0800 138 1111
- PayPlan on 0800 280 2816 (mobile calls may be cheaper on 020 7760 8980).
- Money Advice Scotland on 0141 572 0237
Debt management companies offer a similar service. While the advice they offer is often free you have to pay for them to negotiate with your creditors. These organisations won't do more for you than the organisations listed above and will cost you money you could otherwise use to reduce your debts.