Escaping the Neverending Debt Spiral: Step-by-Step
According to the financial help charity The Money Charity, recent statistics show that the average UK debt figure per household stands at around £7000. This doesn’t even include mortgage statistics which raise the average level of debt to a staggering £56,000 per household!
What is the debt spiral?
When you have debt and limited cash flow, the options available for dealing with it is often limited. As interest increases those debts — and cash flow is reduced — it can quickly spiral out of control, as fewer and fewer options are available for paying off money owed. The more debt you accumulate, the more interest you’ll have to pay. It can be assumed the more debts you have, the lower your cash flow will be — and so begins a slippery downward spiral.
How did I get here?
There are numerous factors which tend to contribute to debt accumulation. It could be due to something as simple as frivolous overspending, or factors we have less control over. Dramatic changes in personal circumstances are often the cause of people finding themselves in a ton of debt. Examples of situations which could lead to this include divorce, illness, a family member passing and losing your job.
It’s clear to see that debt is a big problem and affects a massive number of people. But don’t stress too much — all forms of debt, no matter how large or small, can be managed. They key to managing your debt is being organised and starting now. The worst thing anyone can do with debt is ignore it as that terrifying interest continues to grow.
Make a move:
- Start now — the longer you put off dealing with your debts, the worse the situation will get. A good starting point is to sit down and write out all of your debts and available cash flow.
- When you’ve worked out your monthly income and outgoings, prioritise your debts by urgency and concentrate on paying the most urgent ones back first.
- Brush up on your maths! Work out how the interest rates on your existing debts will affect you in the future – what payments do you need to make and when?
- Budgeting for a month can be quite overwhelming, so break it down into a weekly allowance. If you know you’ll find it hard to keep track of your weekly spending on cards, draw out your allowance in cash at the beginning of the week and don’t use your card. Once the cash is gone, it’s gone.
- Don’t be afraid to speak to your bank – creditors often have debt management plans and solutions. They may be able to help you consolidate your debt into a more manageable payments.
- Look for better credit deals – you may be able to transfer your debt to a lower interest credit card with a 0% interest period. This will reduce the size of your payments significantly or delay them until your cash flow situation has improved.
- When looking at borrowing, ensure that the lender you choose has transparent interest rates, and terms and conditions with no hidden costs. If there’s something you don’t understand, find out about it or go elsewhere! Lenders have a responsibility to be upfront about how much you’ll pay back and when.
- Think about the future — if you plan correctly and tackle it head-on, you will eventually become debt-free. Don’t be tempted to run away or hide — your financial freedom in the long run will be worth budgeting for. Establish a savings plan for when you’re debt-free so as not to fall back into this ugly spiral.
For more help and advice check out the Money Advice Service and The Money Charity, for free, impartial advice.
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