It’s almost impossible to go through life without owing money and most people have debt of some sort. You may have been managing your debt until something like sickness, loss of income, a new baby or the loss of a loved one upset the balance of your financial life and led to unexpected debt.
MABS are here to help you through this difficult time with information and you can follow our 5–step tackling debt path. You could be debt free sooner than you thought.
How multiple debts can affect you
If you’ve got lots of different debts and you’re struggling to keep up with repayments, it can become a huge problem. You can feel helpless and stressed or angry and frustrated. It may be tempting to ignore the problem and hope it will go away, but this is the worst thing you can do. If debt is left to spiral out of control, it has the potential to cost you more and affect you for years to come. To get on top of problem debt, the most important thing is to get started.
How to recognise debt problems
People who are in debt often try not to think about the growing problem, hoping it will just go away. If you let debts build up, they can spiral out of control very quickly. Look through this list and see how many early warning signs are true for you:
- I can’t sleep because of money worries.
- I think about money every day.
- I’m scared to open my bills.
- I’m scared to answer the door.
- I have to choose between food and heating.
I have money problems
- I can’t pay my bills.
- I can’t make my money stretch over the week.
- I’m still paying off Christmas.
- I have no savings or rainy-day fund.
I have credit problems
- I use credit to pay for day-to-day spending.
- Service providers are calling and threatening to cut me off.
- I’m behind on my mortgage and in arrears.
- I’m using one debt to pay another, ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.
- My cards are maxed out.
- I can’t borrow money unless it’s from moneylenders.
If this sounds like you and you can relate to these worries, there are a few things you can do right now as a starting point.
Avoid borrowing more to cover debts
The tighter money gets, the more you may be tempted to use your credit card or take out a loan to make ends meet, pay bills or catch up with repayments that are overdue. However, borrowing more will make the situation worse as you are just building more debt.
If you’re thinking about borrowing more money, take a close look at how it would affect:
- Your existing debt repayments
- Your budget
- Your ability to save for the future
If you must borrow:
- Always consider an unsecured loan
- Try to avoid high-cost loans like moneylending loans, credit cards or an unauthorised overdraft
- Only borrow what you need
- Explore a credit union loan or the It Makes Sense loan (if you are on social welfare)
Before you sign up for another loan, read our page before you borrow. It will explain various credit options and some things to consider before you borrow.
What you can do yourself
Once you’ve recognised that you’re in debt, there is a lot you can do to address the problem. In some cases, you might be able to come to an agreement with your creditor by talking with them. They may be willing to give you more time to pay off your debts or work out your situation or agree to reschedule debts. In other cases, you may have to consider more formal debt solutions. The easiest way to get started is to follow our 5–step tackling debt path where your options and next steps are explained.
Get more help
The most important thing to remember is that there’s free and confidential, advice and support available from MABS to get you back on track. MABS advisers work with people who have all types of personal debt, and many of our clients have multiple types of debt. We look at each client’s situation as a whole, and look to find the best solution that is tailor–made for you. Contact MABS or read more about how MABS can help.
Using other support services
If your debt problems are affecting your mental health, contact The Samaritans on their 24–hour helpline. Their trained staff provide help and support.