Hints and tips for managing your money
Tackle high priority bills
Make sure that your priority bills are paid. These include housing costs, secured loans, utilities and Council Tax. You may be under pressure from other people you owe money to, but keeping the roof over your head and having enough money to pay for heating and food is more important.
Let other creditors know
Contact your other creditors and let them know that you are having difficulties if you think you are going to be unable to pay your ongoing instalments or payments. Hopefully, most of your creditors will be sympathetic to your problems and if you are unable to pay due to loss of employment or ill health, you may be able to make a claim on your payment protection insurance. If the people you owe money to refuse to listen to you or you feel you are being treated unfairly, you can make a complaint to the company.
Items on hire purchase
If you have a car, or a household item such as a washing machine on hire purchase (check your credit agreement as there is a difference between hire purchase and credit) then you must try and keep up the payments on this, as the company can repossess the item if you default on payments. Always seek legal or money advice if a company does try and repossess any item however.
Do you pay the minimum payment to your credit cards and store cards? Borrowing on cards can be expensive if not cleared in full each month and the interest you are paying to these companies would be better used in your own household budget. You may want to consider checking if a loan to consolidate your debts might be cheaper, but do look at how much you will pay overall and compare it to the cost of paying your credit card payments. Read useful information from the Money advice service which has loan and credit card calculators. Do make sure that you can make the repayments to the loan though. Too many people miscalculate how much they can pay on a monthly basis and end up with a loan and more credit card debt that they can't repay. If you are finding that you need to use a credit card or overdraft to meet household or travel costs , and these debts are creeping up, then you may need to seek advice or assistance to help you get things back on track.
Payment protection insurance
Check if you are paying for any payment protection insurance on any of your credit commitments. Payment protection is a very good thing to have in case of illness or unemployment, but sometimes people may be paying for insurance that won't actually protect them. This may be because of your age, current long term illness or self employment, so check out the terms and conditions of this insurance and make a decision. The Financial Ombudsman Services also has very useful information on this topic and deals with complaints about payment protection insurance and other financial products.
Mental health guidelines
If you, or someone you live with or support, experiences mental ill health, there are guidelines setting out how creditors should behave if they are collecting arrears.