Guide to dealing with debts
There are various options that exist to help you deal with your debt problems.:-
- Work out how much you owe, who to, and how much you need to pay each month
- Identify your most urgent debts. Rent or mortgage, energy and council tax are called priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you do not pay them, and so they should be paid first
- Calculate how much you can cover in debt repayments. Create a budget by adding up your essential living costs like food and housing, and taking these away from any income such as your wage or benefits you receive
- See how you could boost your income, primarily by checking what benefits you are entitled to, and whether you are eligible for a council tax reduction or a lower tariff on your broadband or TV package
- If you think you cannot pay your debts or are finding dealing with them overwhelming, seek support straightaway. You are not alone and there is help available. A trained debt adviser can talk you through the options available- Link to Citizens Advice Bureau (C.A.B.) – Debt solutions – Citizens Advice
Work out your budget
Use this link to the C.A.B. budgeting tool to help you understand:
DEBT + MENTAL HEALTH
While you’re five times more likely to have debt crisis if you have mental health problems, debit crisis can create stress and mental health challenges.
Being in financial debt can be devastating. Watching the debt grow can make you feel more anxious, frustrated and stressed. It’s a situation where you’re always trying to catch up financially or you might just ignore the bills and avoid sorting it out.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STRESS AND DEBT
There may be major life changes where we lose job or lose a loved one. Equally we might lend money to family or friends which isn’t returned. We may become ill and don’t have the same income we previously had.
If you are stressed over a long period of time you may stop seeing people, find it hard to concentrate, find it hard to communicate or just find it too much to think about money and bills. You can easily get into debt from just ignoring paperwork and bills.
We are more likely to have less money in these situations. We may need to buy a necessary item like a washing machine and then we can’t get by without borrowing money and debt mounts up. Then banks and loan companies encourage us to take out a loan or credit card and the debt increases.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF DEBT-RELATED STRESS?
Being in debt can create a sense of feeling hopeless, embarrassed that things are out of control and guilty about the situation. Overall, the situation can make us feel anxious and depressed.
Specialist Advice Services
Free, confidential and impartial debt advice service. Citizens Advice staff get specialist training on how to deal with clients with mental health problems. If you disclose mental health problems early, it will help advisors to help you.
Link: Visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
As well as a full debt help service, StepChange provides extra support to vulnerable people, including those with mental health issues, for example, help completing forms or with benefits checks.
Link: Tel: 0800 138 1111
MONEY SAVING EXPERT
Offers a useful free guide booklet to mental health and debt.
A charity that provides a place for people who are wondering where to talk about their debt problems. It offers helpful advice on the relationship between money and mental health.
CHRISTIANS AGAINST POVERTY
Debt counselling agency that specialises in helping those who are emotionally struggling. The religious focus is why they do it, not how they do it.
Link: Tel: 0800 328 0006
Other Help for People with Debts
Food banks are community organisations that can help if you can’t afford the food you need.
You’ll usually need to get a referral to a food bank before you can use it. This includes all food banks run by the Trussell Trust.
You can get a referral for yourself and any family members you live with – including your partner.
You might be able to use some food banks without a referral – for example, if it’s run by a church. Contact your local food bank to see if you need a referral.
Getting a referral
You can ask Citizens Advice to refer you to a food bank. They’ll usually make an appointment for you to discuss your situation with an adviser first.
The adviser will ask you some questions to check you’re eligible for the food bank. If you’re eligible, they’ll give you a voucher for your nearest food bank.
They can also check if you should be getting any benefits you’re not currently claiming and tell you about other local help you could get. The adviser can give you advice about budgeting and any debts you have.
Going to a food bank
When an organisation refers you to a food bank, they’ll give you a voucher and tell you where the food bank is. Check if the voucher is only valid on a specific day – you can ask the person who refers you.
If the food bank is run by the Trussell Trust you can check the address on the Trussell Trust website.
The food bank will give you a food parcel. Your parcel will usually contain enough food for 3 days. The food bank might also be able to give you essential toiletries, like toothpaste or deodorant.
When you visit the food bank, let them know if you have any allergies or dietary requirements – they should be able to help you.
The food bank might be able to deliver your food parcel if:
- you live in a rural area and can’t afford to travel
- you’re sick or disabled and can’t travel
Contact the food bank to check if they can deliver.
If the food bank is run by a church or other religious group, they’ll still help you if you’re not religious or from a different religion.