Thye first rule of coping with debts: Don’t panic

Pat Hutchinson MBE.
Pat Hutchinson MBE.

Q I’m behind on my energy bills, credit cards and rent and my phone is ringing constantly with people demanding money. The stress is getting me down and I don’t know how I’m going to pay what I owe. What can I do?

A The most important thing is not to panic. Remember that this is a common problem and help is freely available from Citizens Advice.

Dealing with debt is daunting and at times seems insurmountable, but it is better in the long run to tackle your debts rather than taking out more loans.

You first need to get a clear idea of who you owe money to: make a list of your creditors and then work out which debts you should prioritise.

The most important debts are those that would have the most serious consequences if you didn’t pay them. You should look to get rent and energy bills sorted first, so your home isn’t at risk and so that your heating and electricity keep running.

Once you know your priorities, you should try to get a clear idea of how much money you have spare. Make a list of all your income and spending.

Go through your spending line by line and think about any savings that you could make: can you cut any spending? Or switch your energy supplier?

We at Newtownabbey CAB can maximise your income by doing a benefit check to make sure you are not losing out on any extra income. Citizens Advice Bureaux can help work out costs and negotiate with your creditors, and may be able to help you get debt-free by looking at appropriate options available for you.

Don’t be tempted to pay for debt advice.

Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau – go to www.adviceguide.org.uk or call at: Newtownabbey Citizens Advice Bureaux Dunanney Centre, Rathmullan Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, BT37 9DQ. Telephone advice is available 9am – 4pm each day 028 90852271-Lunch 1:00 - 1:30pm, email advice is available on enewtownabbey@citizensadvice.co.uk