January is usually a busy time for us at Citizens Advice Wiltshire. We’re expecting at least a dozen people to seek advice for debt concerns each and every day this month.
This will also be the same for local Citizens Advice across the country. Over the past three years one person sought help from Citizens Advice every 10 seconds on our busiest days for debt advice, including council tax arrears, rent arrears, credit card debt, and utility bill debt for water, gas and electric.
What to do if you’d like to sort out your debts
We offer free and independent advice and support to help you deal with your debts and get back on your feet.
To get you started here’s our top six tips to help you to sort out your debts:
Work out how much you owe - Make a list of whom you owe money to and add up how much you need to pay each month. If you don’t have your most recent statements, contact your creditor to find out what you owe. Read more on collecting information about your debts.
Prioritise your debts - Your rent or mortgage, energy and council tax are called priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. These should always be paid first. Separate these and work out how much you owe. More information to help you work out which debts to pay first.
Work out how much you can pay - Create a budget by adding up your essential living costs, such as food and housing, and taking these away from your income. Any money you have spare can be put towards your debts. Citizens Advice budgeting tool can help.
Paying urgent debts - You might have to contact priority creditors quickly in urgent situations, like if you are about to be evicted. Tell them you're seeking debt advice so you can find a way forward. You could try to pay them something if you can afford to.
Paying non-urgent debts - If you have any money left after paying priority debts, consider getting a free debt-management plan. You’ll make one monthly payment to the plan provider, who will handle paying your creditors. Or contact your creditors and offer them what you can afford to pay.
If you can’t pay your debts - If you’ve got little or no money spare to pay your priority debts seek advice from us straight away. There are lots of ways to get advice from us:
You can also find further information and advice on dealing with debt and managing money on the Citizens Advice website.
Published 10 January 2020
Further articles, advice and information you may find useful:
- Make a fresh start and get your finances heading in the right direction
- Online debt and money advice