If you have spent numerous nights lying awake in bed, worrying about the shrinking available balance of your overdraft, the charges your credit card brings or whether or not you are too old to be asking your parents for help, then you are not alone. The word ‘debt’ raises a number of negative connotations and emotions within even the most collected of people and we all know that debt stress is highly damaging for your emotional and physical health.
With this in mind, it is best to see the bigger picture and to eliminate any stresses. You can deal with your financial situation and live a life that is debt free, it just may take some time and compromising. Paying the minimum amount on your credit card may alleviate some of your worries, but it is just the minimum and that balance isn’t going to get smaller. So, what can you do to ensure that your future pay days aren’t full of dread?
Why are you here?
First of all, figure out how you got yourself into this situation in the first place. Perhaps there is a pattern of behaviour that is repeating itself that you can locate and stop it from continuing to happen. Do you pay the minimum on pay day and then continue to dip further into your credit card towards the end of the month? If so, then address why this is and work on how you can change it, as you will only get yourself further in the red otherwise. Even just acknowledging where you have gone wrong in the past is enough to make you feel more confident in yourself to know where you can make it right in the future.
It cannot be stressed enough how actually noting down and organising what you owe can help you gain clarity and begin the process of paying off your debts. This is about feeling in control, which is something that can often be taken away from you when you are dealing with debt stress. But once you have everything set out, you can establish goals and come up with solutions. Gradually you will see your financial status return to something you are much more comfortable with.
Most, if not all, banks now have internet and mobile banking which you can access 24/7. This means that you can constantly be on top of your finances. Use your online statements to see where you could save a bit of money: if coffee shops appear more often than they should, then perhaps invest in a home espresso maker. It’s not just banks that use mobile apps either: phone bills can also be tracked easily and it’s just a fantastic way to make sure you know when payments are due.
Budgeting links in with being in control of your finances and it is such an important thing to start doing when you are dealing with debt stress. Print out a budget sheet (there are loads of templates online) and start filling it in. Don’t leave anything out – make sure that each monthly incoming and outgoing is correct and see what you can put towards paying off your debts. Prioritise what you actually need to spend for the month and you will automatically feel better for not wasting anything that could be used in a more important manner. There are also some handy phone apps that can help you budget, which are again a fantastic way of keeping abreast of your finances.
If you still feel as though there is no way out of your situation, do not be afraid to ask for help. The Citizens Advice Bureau have lots of information and can offer help in dealing with debts and creditors. It may seem very daunting, but it is much better to ask for help than to continue living with debt stress.