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How To Get Out Of Debt

Every year consumer debt in the UK increases and so more and more people are asking themselves the question how do I get out of debt?. At this point it may seem like an impossibility which is why this article provides some very sensible guidance to help you get your-self out of debt and the financial nightmare that you are presently in.

Currently interest rates are low due to the low state of the bank of England base rate. This has encouraged people to take on more and more credit in the belief that these debts are affordable. What this actually means is that at present even those people that think they can afford the repayments of credit may begin to struggle should interest rates begin to rise which is what they are predicted to do shortly according to leading experts in this field. If however, you are already struggling with your debts the situation is only likely to get worse.

Today is the time to begin to think about how you are going to get out of debt and build an action plan to reach your goal of making yourself ‘debt free’.
Congratulations! The very fact that you are reading this article means that you have made the first step to facing the problem and getting rid of your debt. Make no mistake your credit is your debt. You should begin to call it this as this will help you to realise your situation.

How bad is your debt situation?
The next step is to build a table of your current financial situation. List on the left hand side all your monthly incomings including your wages (after deductions like tax and national insurance), benefits, rent and any other income you have. Next on the right hand side list all your monthly outgoings apart from your debts. This should include your mortgage, rent, bills, food expenses, car or travel expenses, insurance, childcare and any other outgoings that you have. Now deduct your total outgoings from your total incomings and the figure that you have is your ‘maximum disposable income’ (MDI). Next write down all your debts and your monthly repayments. This may be scary but the sooner you face up to these and acknowledge these the sooner you can begin to do something about it. Now compare your total debt repayments to your maximum disposable income figure (MDI). You will find yourself in one of the following three situations;
1) Your MDI figure is more than your monthly debt repayments.

Should you find yourself in this situation you should consider increasing your debt repayments. Do not increase them to more than your MDI figure or you will be over committing yourself. However, by increasing your repayments you will pay off your debts sooner and so will pay less overall interest. This is far more cost effective that putting this extra money into a savings account.

2) Your monthly repayments exceed your MDI figure.
If you are in this situation you will be in a ‘state of increasing debt’. This is a worrying and scary place to be. You are probably struggling with your repayments which are likely to be causing you significant stress. If not, you are perhaps only at this stage realising the situation you are in. Don’t panic as this is the time when we will begin to recontroll your finances effectively. Often those in this situation resort to drawing cash on one credit card to make minimum payments on another. This is what we call ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. STOP! This is not effective management of your finances don’t kid yourself. In fact what you are doing is making the situation worse. Credit card companies charge high fees for withdrawing cash from cards. You are also paying interest on this money twice. You are therefore getting yourself in more debt and this will snowball your finances further out of control. Let’s have a look at how to turn this around.

3) The two figures are more or less the same.
Don’t for one moment congratulate yourself. You are in debt. You are just about managing to make your repayments. You need to ask yourself some of the following questions;
* Where is money going to come from to deal with emergencies? Your credit card is not the answer.
* How would you cope if interest rates rise? This will increase all your repayments.
* What would you do if child care costs rise.
* What would you do if your travel costs increase train, petrol and insurance prices?
Any of your outgoings could and probably will rise. Wages don’t tend to rise at the same level as rising interest rates. They mostly tend to get left behind with inflation. You could soon find your self in situation number 2. You are effectively walking a tipe rope and need to get yourself on safe ground.
Let’s have a look then at how you can improve your situation with the following guidance.
Guidance Increasing your income
* Ask for a pay rise. If you don’t ask you won’t get!
* Consider working more hours or doing regular overtime.
* Look for a promotion or to change jobs to higher paid employer.
* Look for a second job to supplement your income.
* Claim every state benefits as you can call the benefit enquiry line on 0800 88 22 00.
* Consider a lodger a great source of additional income to the household.
* Sell any unwanted items. This could be through a car boot sale or over the internet on or
Guidance Reducing your outgoings
* Reduce your food bill by buying stores own branded products instead of more expensive brands.
* Use supermarket vouchers and coupons and take part in their award schemes.
* Cut down on takeaways these are expensive and unnecessary.
* Take a packed lunch to work. This is far cheaper than buying lunch from the local sandwich shop every day.
* Give up smoking this will save you a small fortune.
* Cut down on child care costs by asking friends and family to help.
* Switch utility providers. Shop around for the cheapest deals on phones, electric, gas and water it costs nothing to change suppliers.
* Set up direct debits. This can gain you substantial discounts particularly with utility companies.
* Shop around for insurance you will be surprised at the savings you could make.
* Ask yourself ‘do you really need all the things listed on your outgoings list?’. Cancel things like gym memberships. It is a lot cheaper to pay for the facilities at your local authority leisure centre when and if you use them.

Guidance credit cards

There are two main credit reference agencies in the UK. These are Experian and Equifax. You can write to these and request to see a copy of your credit file. Under the Data Protection Act you can ask to see any information companies have on you at any time. These two agencies normally ask you to send a £2 cheque for administrative purposes with your request for the file. Go through your file carefully. If there is incorrect information on the file about you there is an appeal process you can follow to get this information removed. You can also ask that notes be entered on your file therefore giving explanations to issues that show on the file. Visit their websites for more information.
If you have exhausted the above advice and guidance and you are still struggling with debt you may find the following contacts useful;

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