So… you already know how you feel (devastated, down, desperate) and learnt some techniques to fight off the panic that sets in any time a Direct Debit is due, the deadline for the rent/mortgage is coming up, someone knocks on your door, or generally you need to part with your money.
Positive thoughts, affirmations are good things, however, they won’t help you when it comes to paying.
What can you do when your account is pretty much empty and you still have bills left to pay, there are DDs bouncing back creating you bank charges, late payment fees, etc? What to do when you don’t know what to do?
There is no other way to solve a problem than to face it, identify it, ‘study’ it and create an action plan that will resolve the issue (no, hiding under the duvet/in the bottle/etc. does not work. Your aim is to clear the problem, make it vanish, disappear, and not ‘unsee’ it.)
Here’s a few things to do:
- Count. Count all your debts. Who do you owe and how much?
- Prioritize. Shelter, food, gas & electricity and transportation are the most important! You need to live somewhere where it is warm and relatively safe, you need to eat and you need to go to work (or to look for work). Don’t neglect these basic needs whether you live alone or with your family.
- Call. Call the supplier to see if there is a better tariff, if you can change your payment plan or lower your monthly cost. Call your council to arrange for a housing benefit if you are eligible or to ask for a DD setup for biweekly payments instead of paying the full council tax at one time. Call your mobile/broadband/TV & landline provider. Can you switch to pay as you go without cancellation fee? Can you downgrade your data allowance or minutes? Is it possible to downgrade to Freeview, get a better rate for calls or suspend the service temporarily?
- Check with other creditors. Is there anything they can offer? Lower monthly costs, unapplied charges, refund on previous charges? A 0% balance transfer if you have a credit card debt? If you owe money to friends, relatives, ask them if you can barter/do some work for them for free?
- Be polite. You are not due the above. It’s a courtesy if they offer any kind of help. Be polite but ask.
- Don’t be too proud.
- (Oh and shall I add freeze every unnecessary spending? Hope it goes without saying but now is not the time for magazines, manicure, birthday parties, outings. And yeah, your hair won’t grow out of the world if you miss one hairdresser appointment.)