‘’An estimated 6 million people have fallen behind on their household bills as a result of coronavirus.’’ – Citizen Advice

According to a report by Citizen Advice, ‘’3.9 million people have also fallen behind on either their credit card or overdraft repayments. This includes 3 million people who have fallen behind on their household bills at the same time.’’

StepChange stated that debt charities are doubling the demand for services due to the increase in unemployment as Covid-19 and lockdown measures triggered an increase in job losses and reduce working hours.

“We were already dealing with a debt crisis, but Covid has so far added another four million people and counting to the number who are going to need help finding their way back to financial health.’’ – Phil Andrew, chief executive of StepChange

There are things you can do if you’re struggling to pay your bills or credit cards repayments. 

Follow the below steps to try to take control of your debts:

Getting Started

Start making small steps. In order to understand your financial situation make a list of all your credit cards, store credits, mortgage repayments or loans. Look at your interest rates. Are they high? Can you make a balance transfer?

Note: Find out what is a balance transfer and how does it work here.

Read more: ‘Getting the best credit deal’

Budget

If you don’t have an accurate household budget, it’s time to create one. This will help you to determine how much disposable income you have each month and how much loan or credit repayment you can make. 

Want Vs Need

When we decide to incur debts, we usually convince ourselves that we deserve and have the ability to repay the debts over time. For example, we are more likely to buy a nice holiday abroad knowing we can make small repayments on a credit card. It’s more affordable this way and we also get what we want on an emotional level.

For those who are able to make payments, this may be great.

However, once others realise how much money must be repaid and how long it will take, they may suffer ‘’buyer’s remorse’’. That’s when debt began to create pressure and a strong sense of regret.

Spending Habits

In trying to create a social status, many people have developed a facade backed by large amounts of debt. Some believe that they will gain greater social recognition if their perceived wealth increases.

In fact, ‘’Three in 10 people spend more than they earn’’ Revealed

Brits are most likely to spend their disposable income on:

  • Eating out
  • Holidays
  • Clothes
  • Entertainment trips, such as to the cinema
  • A hobby
  • Books
  • Nights out in the pub/ clubbing

In reality, ‘’The average British adult has just £276 of disposable income each month – less than £10 a day, a study has found.’’ 

When it comes to spending what habits have you formed? Do you follow a spending plan?

Do you spend less than you earn in a month? Are you able to save each month?

It might be a good idea to switch your regular takeaways to a home cooking in order to get some extra pennies and pay your bills or loans faster.

Saving Or Paying Off Debt

It’s important to strike a balance between saving and paying off debts. Potentially, you might be paying a higher interest than you should but having enough savings to cover sudden expenses will free you from the debt cycle. It’s smart to keep at least one month’s living expenses just in case of any emergencies. 

Saving regular, small amounts is often more effective than saving larger amounts now and again. This also lets you budget your spending from week to week more effectively. Every bit can make a difference.

Talking To Your Partner About Money

Your personal debt belongs to you but it might be worth getting to know your partner financial situation next. Many couples trapped in problem debt experience profound pressures on their relationships.

‘One in seven (14%) adults have hidden debt from a partner – and half of these are still hiding it.’

Read more about this here.

If you’re feeling emotional distress by a debt problem, remember to get help. 

Where You Can Get Help

Samaritans – Charity aimed at providing emotional support, struggling to cope.

Step Change – Debt charity operating across the United Kingdom.

Toucan – Online platform which offers a unique online experience for couples, includes a module on talking about money.

Check what help you can get if you can’t afford to pay bills because of coronavirus (COVID-19) here.  

Have a look here if you can get help with your living costs.

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