Essential advice for staying debt free


Debt causes severe problems in the UK and those problems should never be underestimated. If you are experiencing serious debt issues, the first piece of advice is to talk to someone.

Although it can obviously be difficult to discuss it with family members, speaking to a professional organisation such as www.moneyadviceservice to get some free, unbiased advice and sharing the burden of debt will instantly make you feel a lot better.

You won't be alone. Figures included in this BBC report suggest that up to 9 million British people suffer from serious debt, and around three-quarters of them describe themselves as unhappy. Worries about owing money can cause stress, poor health, issues at work, and relationship breakdown.

The big problem with debt is that too few people actually seek help, preferring instead to struggle under the weight of it all by themselves, and once they are caught up in it, they have difficulty freeing themselves again. Because a shortage of money becomes a kind of vicious circle - borrowing becomes a necessity to get through daily life, and so the situation worsens. How can people avoid falling into the debt trap?


Come up with a realistic budget of what you need on a monthly basis, and force yourself to stick to it. Always have a firm idea of your monthly incomings and outgoings.

If you’re taking out any major loan, be certain of what it is secured against.

When bills arrive, try and pay them immediately to avoid them stacking up, leaving you with a large payment at the end of the month, or worse, important ones going missing.


One of the reasons so many people find it difficult to get out of debt is that they don’t have a clear idea of what money is going out, when, and to whom. If you have a lot of small debts all at different interest rates then it’s a good idea to try and consolidate them, usually with a loan or credit card. That way you then have only one payment, and one interest rate, to keep an eye on. Less surprises.


If you’re a homeowner then your first priority needs to be keeping hold of your home. Can you get mortgage protection in the event of redundancy or long-term illness? If you’re not able, then try to put together enough money to cover 3-4 months of mortgage payments and household bills so you’re covered should the worst happen.

Insurance to cover other big unexpected expenditure, such as to the home or car, is obviously an additional expense, but if you’re worried about that kind of thing then it can be a weight off your mind.

Cut Expenditure

There are a thousand tips available for reducing your household bills, but the main thing to remember is you must know what’s going out on a regular basis before you can manage it effectively. The most common tips, the ones that will make the biggest difference, and the first you ought to think about, include reducing your energy and water use (for instance washing lightly-soiled clothes at 30 degrees instead of 40; turning off lights when you leave a room, turning the thermostat down a notch); switching to own-brand groceries, and seeing if you can car share with someone at work.

Keep an eye out for upcoming sales, and use discount sites and vouchers where possible. Try to avoid any 'buy now, pay later' deals unless it’s for something you really need, as the debt arrives later, when you may be in a worse financial position, pushing you towards a problem.

For large expenditures, such as the annual family holiday, consider less expensive options. For instance you could try and holiday in the UK every few years or so, or taking a number of long weekends instead of a big trip, to try and save a bit of money.


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