10 Steps to get out of debt

Having a loan is a fun thing while it lasts. It can pay for a holiday, a mobile phone, or for some it gives breathing space so that they can pay for daily living expenses.

Yet nothing lasts forever and once you have used all your loan; you must pay it back. This creates panic in those that never had enough money to start with. The end position is worse than the starting position. Think about it, if a person is unable to make ends meet and considers taking a loan, how is the loan going to help them? As it may give 6 months of breathing space, but afterward, it starts to choke the life out of them as they must repay it. If they thought they struggled before they took the loan, they have no idea how much they will struggle after they take it. At this point a decision the person in debt must decide, whether they look for another loan or change their lifestyle. If they respond, “Get another loan”, all that will happen is that they will delay the inevitable, as unless they change the cycle it will at some point in the future result in being declined due to affordability. If they answer ‘I want to change my lifestyle’ then here are 10 things they can do immediately to improve their situation.

1) Humble yourself: That’s right, humble yourself, it’s ok to accept that you are struggling financially and there are many just like you. Without humility, the next steps will be of no effect as your pride will stop you from acting on them.

2) Get advice from a professional: If in the UK think about calling any of these numbers: National Debtline offers phone and webchat services in England and Wales. Telephone: 0808 808 4000 Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm Saturday, 9:30am to 1pm. Citizens Advice offers phone and webchat services. They also have advice centres in England, Wales and Scotland. Telephone (England): 0800 144 8848 Telephone (Wales): 0800 702 2020 Telephone (Scotland): 0800 028 1456 Webchat service Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm. PayPlan offers phone and webchat services. Telephone: 0800 280 2816 Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm Saturday, 9am to 3pm. Community Money Advice offers phone, email and face to face services in England, Wales and Scotland. Find a Community Money Advice centre in your area. StepChange Debt Charity offers phone and online services. Telephone: 0800 138 1111 Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm Saturday, 8am to 4pm. MoneyPlus Advice offers phone and email services. They also have an online debt advice service. Telephone: 0161 837 4754 Monday to Thursday, 8am to 8pm Friday, 8am to 4pm. Money Wellness offers phone services. Telephone: 0161 518 8282 Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm. Debt Advice Foundation offers phone and webchat services. Telephone: 0800 043 40 50 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

3) Own your position: It is important to own the position you are in, as until you do nothing will change. The reason I say this is because no one else will own your position. Once you own it you can do something about it.

4) Know what your expenses and income are: Do you know where you spend all your money each month? Most don’t. It is important to know where you spend, so start writing down everything you spend money on every month.

5) Start a budget: If you have not done step 4 then ignore step 5 as it will not make any sense to you. Once you know where you spend money and how much you spend, you can start to discipline yourself to spend less each month. Set a limit on groceries and the like.

6) Cut back on non-essential items: This is a difficult one but it is a must-do. If you have paid television you may need to cancel the subscription, if possible as every pound counts. This is especially important when you go shopping, how much of what you are purchasing do you really need?

7) Change your social events: There are so many things that cost very little money to do. Invite your friends to the local park and have a picnic rather than meeting them at a pub which will cost so much more. There are also so many free attractions for families, such as Free attractions in the UK: 20 top things to do in Britain for free (skyscanner.net), look to do these things rather than spending money.

8) Renegotiate terms: Speak to everyone you owe money to and renegotiate terms. Explain your position and see what they can do to help you. The earlier you do this the better. Remember the first principle ‘humble yourself’, this is not the time to allow your pride to get in the way. This may also include taking smaller contracts, such as a cheaper monthly mobile phone bill with less data.

9) Start saving: This may seem like a very strange thing to say, but it is very important. Start saving even if it is £1 pound a month. You need to start changing the mindset that you had before. The old mindset that said, “I need debt in order to live” and rather build the mindset “I need to save in order to live”. You will be surprised at how quickly the savings will grow.

10) Close accounts: When you start paying off debt the real temptation will be to use it again. This will just prolong the cycle of abuse. It is important to close the accounts you have paid off especially if you have an amplitude to use debt to purchase non-essential items. Much like the recovering alcoholic that has to stay away from a bar, you would need to close off the temptation completely.

There are also many, many other things that can be done, for those that have read these and want to add more please put them in the comments, I would love to hear what your views are on this.


Steven Jacobs: