Are you in financial trouble?

Getting into financial trouble can be scary, and can feel like a spiral that you can’t get out of. No matter how much debt you’re in, there’s always a way out. The Mix tells you how.

Financial trouble can be very stressful

Owing money and paying bills can be stressful

Jump to section:

  1. I’ve missed a repayment – what can I do?
  2. Things to avoid if you’re in debt
  3. Dealing with County Court Judgements (CCJ)
  4. I’m being threatened with bailiffs, what can I do?
  5. Getting help with financial trouble

 

I’ve missed a repayment – what can I do?

If you’re in financial trouble and have missed a repayment, try not to panic. It’s completely normal – whether it’s that you didn’t have enough money in your account, or a payment didn’t go through for another reason, it happens to everyone at some time.

It’s important to remain calm and not panic, so that you’re able to clearly think about how to fix the situation. If you don’t contact the people you owe the money to, this can start to impact your credit score, which can make future financial help such as credit cards, loans, mortgages difficult for you to get in the future.

If you’ve missed a repayment, you should:

  • Contact the business – this shows willing on your part that you are trying to fix the situation, and they might give you a little more time to make the payment
  • Agree a payment plan – they should help agree an affordable amount with you so you can pay the money off a set period of time
  • Get impartial debt advice – there are a number of places you can turn to for impartial financial advice, such as StepChange or Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Things to avoid if you’re in debt

If you’re getting letters or phone calls from the people you owe money to, it can be easy to panic and feel unable to do anything to rectify the situation. Alongside the things that you should do to get yourself out of financial trouble, there are certain things you should avoid, such as:

Borrowing money from friends and family

You may find yourself borrowing money from friends or family, saying it’s a temporary thing. On some level you doubt you’ll ever pay it back – particularly if you’re already in financial trouble when you ask them for financial support.

This can create tensions in your relationships and can be a difficult habit to break, so it’s best to avoid borrowing money from friends and family if you can help it.

Not opening bills

Sometimes, our brain’s natural response is to simply not do the things we find scary or that might upset us. If you owe money, you might be tempted to simply ignore the letters from the company you owe money to – but sadly, this won’t make the problem go away.

If you can’t pay all of that scary bill, you may be able to at least pay a little of it. Utilities providers often have reasonable repayment plans if you’re struggling. But you have to ask for help to qualify for these schemes. Avoiding contact with your creditors (the people you owe money to) isn’t a good tactic, and makes them suspect you won’t pay, rather than can’t pay. It won’t go away if you cover your eyes.

Agreeing to repayments you can’t afford

When you do contact your creditors, you might be overambitious and agree to pay back more than you can afford – but try to avoid this if you can. While it is important to agree a payment plan, it’s even more important that you’re able to look after your wellbeing.

For example, if you’re paying out 20% of your money every month on repayments, that means you’re going to feel the pinch. It’s a large proportion of your income, and you will genuinely feel like you’re struggling. One slip-up, and it will be hard to find the money for the next instalment. Make sure you’re not paying too much interest on your borrowing too.

Paying too little towards repayments

If you’re not paying enough towards your repayments, this can be a vulnerable situation. It means that you’re likely barely paying off the interest on your loan, so the actual debt isn’t being reduced at all.

Accounting for repayments against your earnings can be exhausting, and it can be even worse if you’re paying them off for a much longer period of time than you planned. When you speak to your creditors about a payment plan, they should talk you through how you can both agree to a sensible amount.

Dealing with County Court Judgements (CCJ)

Whoever you owe money to will eventually take steps to get it back. You could end up being taken to court, and if you have a county court judgement (CCJ) against you it will affect your credit rating for years, especially if you can’t settle the fine within 30 days.

You can avoid a CCJ by speaking to your creditor about why you’re unable to pay them, and letting them know that you do intend to repay them. It’s likely that they can either give you longer to pay them back, or freeze the interest while you work off the debt. Either way, by contacting them you’re less likely to end up with a CCJ.

I’m being threatened with bailiffs, what can I do?

You may also get a visit from the bailiffs (sometimes known as enforcement agents), who may take away enough of your personal possessions to sell to cover the cost of what you owe. Try not to panic if you do get a visit from a bailiff – they won’t kick your door down or threaten you.

If you have “hire-purchase” agreements, the creditors may simply take back your car or musical equipment, which could cause serious problems if you need those items for your job or education.
For more information about visits from bailiffs, see this article by Citizens Advice Bureau.

Getting help with financial trouble

If you’re having financial trouble, try to remember that there’s always a way out. The debt won’t hang over you forever, but you will need to take steps to sort it out. Unfortunately we might not be able to offer specific debt advice at The Mix, but we can give emotional support and guide you to the best places for expert advice if you give us a call on 0808 808 4994.

Next Steps

  • StepChange offers free advice on your debt problems, basing it round what's right for you. 0800 138 1111
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 30-May-2021