When you’re in debt, it can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. However, MABS are here to guide you through this difficult time and help you make a plan to tackle your debt. Step 1 of our 5-step plan will show you how to gather your financial information together to see your Full Financial Picture.
What is a Full Financial Picture?
A Full Financial Picture is an important starting point. You need all the details of your finances to make a plan. Your Full Financial Picture will show:
How much money you have:
- Coming in or expected to come into your household
- Going out or expected to go out over the year
- Remaining if anything
It can also show:
- How much you can afford to pay towards your debts if anything
- How much you owe and to which creditors
- How much you can afford to save
- Any assets you may have to generate an income or lump sum if possible
- How you can plan your future finances
The My Full Financial Picture tool will help you to record and add up all your figures and it will convert them into weekly, monthly or yearly amounts.
What do you need to complete a Full Financial Picture?
To complete a Full Financial Picture, you need recent copies of documents such as:
- Payslips or details of your social welfare payments
- Regular bills (electricity, gas, phone, internet, TV licence, bins)
- Bank statements
- Receipts for your weekly shop
- Details of your mortgage or rent repayments
- Contracts for any loans (mortgage details, personal loans, hire purchase (HP) or personal contract plan (PCP)
- Any letters, emails or court papers you have received from people you owe money to
If you manage your finances with a partner and share income and outgoings, you’ll need to include details of their income and spending too.
Your figures don’t have to be exact at this stage, some will have to be your best guess for now and you can always change them later.
How to complete a Full Financial Picture
There are five parts to completing your Full Financial Picture:
1. List your income
This will show all the money you have coming into your household including regular and irregular income. You can find accurate income information in your:
- Bank statements
- Social welfare receipts or a payment statement from mywelfare.ie
If your income is unpredictable, keep track for a while or look at past earnings to work out an average figure. For example:
Week 1 €300
Week 2 €250
Week 3 €350
Week 4 €280
Divide this total figure by 4 weeks, to get an average of €295 each week.
2. List your expenditure
This will show how you spend your money, including regular and irregular costs.
For example, you could think about what clothes and shoes you have bought recently to estimate a weekly or monthly amount. You may find it helpful to keep track of daily spending for a while. You can print the MABS spending diary (pdf) or download one of the many tracking apps available online.
Don’t include overdue bills, debts and arrears at this stage. For example, your mortgage payment would be an expenditure item, and would be included. But the full mortgage due and any mortgage arrears would be included in the next section.
Check you haven’t forgotten anything, but don’t be tempted to add in items you don’t normally spend on unless:
- You must pay them by law, like a TV licence
- It would help your financial security, like a life assurance policy
3. List your bills and debts
This will show all the money you owe. Make a list of all your overdue bills (arrears), and debts (which includes loans that are up to date). Include only the arrears for bills because you have entered the ongoing costs of normal bills in your spending list. Your bills and debts section might include:
- Mortgage arrears
- Rent arrears
- Unpaid utility bills (gas, electricity, phone, internet)
- Catalogue debt
- An up-to-date credit union loan
- Loans from family or friends
It might also include debts to the Government like:
- Unpaid TV licence or fine
- Unpaid court fines
- Social welfare overpayments
- Unpaid taxes like: Income tax or Local property tax
Bills and debts also include credit card debt and loan repayments like:
- Bank loans
- Moneylender loans
- Credit union loans
- Car loans
- Hire purchase (HP) or personal contract plans (PCP)
4. Record what you know about each debt
This will show how much you owe to each creditor, the monthly payments, total payments and total debt. You can then decide what debts you need to prioritise based on what stage the creditor is at in collecting the debt and based on what powers each creditor has.
It is also important to know who is collecting the debt if different from the original creditor, so you make contact with the right place. This could be a solicitor or a collection agent, or the debt could be sold to another creditor.
5. List your assets
List any assets you have and an estimate of their value. This will show what you may be able to sell or use to help with your debts.
Assets are things like a car, property, shares and savings.
You have now completed Step 1 and should have a clear picture of your finances. If you’ve got this far, well done. We know it’s a lot of work but this is the first and most important step on your path to getting your finances under control.
As you look at your completed Full Financial Picture, you may notice you have enough money to pay what you owe if you make some changes. If this is the case, see:
Try not to worry if there is more money going out than coming in, or things look worse than you thought when you see everything written down. No matter how big the problem looks, you can make a plan to tackle it one step at a time, and MABS is there to help you every step of the way.
Continue your journey
- Step 2 guides you through prioritising your debts and dealing with the most urgent first
- Step 3 guides you through options for increasing your income and making a money management plan
- Step 4 guides you through all your options for tackling debt
- Step 5 guides you through following your tackling debt plan
Get more help from MABS
If you get stuck along the way or just want some free and confidential advice and non-judgmental support contact MABS.
If you decide to contact MABS, it would be useful to have ready:
- Your Full Financial Picture
- Your questions
- Your most recent letters and emails
- Court documents from your creditors
- Any credit agreements (contracts – if you can find them).
You can also arrange to email your Full Financial Picture for an adviser to look at before your appointment if you wish. Even if you don’t have this information, still make the call and MABS will help.