How to sort out your debt, once and for all

With Jake Morrison from Wokingham Citizens Advice

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Wokingham Citizens Advice
Wokingham's Citizens Advice office in the snow

January is a busy time for Citizens Advice. In fact, our data colleagues at national Citizens Advice are able to predict the busiest time of year for debt advice – to the exact day.

In 2019, Tuesday, January 29 was the busiest day for debt advice, 24% above daily average. This year it was Monday, January 27.

There is a surge in demand for our debt advice towards the second half of January.

We know that dealing with debt can be hugely stressful and that Christmas is often an additional burden for anyone already in financial difficulty.

At Citizens Advice Wokingham we have six top tips 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.

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.

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.

We also have our council tax arrears project in place, working closely with the team at Wokingham Borough Council – so that we can support people to manage their debts and come up with a repayment plan if appropriate.

JAKE MORRISON

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