Managing debtThe economic downturn, falling house prices and rising unemployment have placed the spotlight on the issue of debt and the importance of managing debt.
The following steps should help you to minimise debt problems:
- Avoid overspending
Avoid overspending on credit cards. If you use a credit card try to avoid paying interest on the card or use a card with a low rate of interest. Shop around for companies offering 0% interest on cards.
- Store cards
Avoid using store cards unless you are going to pay off the total amount outstanding each month as these generally have a high rate of interest.
- Prioritise debts
Always make sure that your priority debts are paid before other debts. Priority debts include mortgage or rent, rates, utility bills and hire purchase agreements.
- Low interest loans
If you have outstanding amounts on credit cards, car loans, hire purchase, catalogue payments or store cards it may be worth asking about a low interest loan from a bank, building society or credit union to cover them.
- State benefits
Check that you are claiming all state benefits that you are entitled to. Visit your local Social Security Office and make an appointment with an adviser to assess your entitlement.
- Budget plan
Draw up a budget plan to allow for planning your expenditure. Plan your shopping in advance to save money.
Free supportThe worst thing you can do is nothing. If you need help or advice about debt, the following organisations offer free support:
- Citizens Advice
Telephone: 028 9023 1120
- Independent advice centres
Telephone: 028 9064 5919
- Debt Action NI
Telephone: 0800 917 4607
- Housing Rights (for advice on mortgage debt)
Telephone: 028 9024 5640
- Consumer Council For advice on managing credit card debt
Telephone: 028 9067 2488
- Social Security Contact your local social security office for advice on benefit entitlements