Managing and getting out of debt

Struggling with debt can be an extremely stressful experience. Especially, if you’re borrowing just to meet everyday living expenses such as bills and rent. It’s a common response to avoid dealing with the problem and try putting it out of your mind.  But the problem doesn’t go away, and as overwhelming as it might seem, there is always a way to solve a debt problem.  

Acknowledge the problem
The first step is to be honest with yourself about the situation and acknowledge that debt has become a problem.  Try not to beat yourself up as this will only add to your anxiety. Talk to family and friends and get support from those around you. But most importantly get advice from an independent and free debt advice agency

Get Advice
It’s important to find out as much information as possible about the problem so you can decide the best action to take. The more knowledge you have the more in control of the situation you will start to feel. But be careful, there are a lot of debt management companies out there who will try to take advantage and make a profit out of dealing with the debts, when an independent debt advisor will do this for free. 

If you are a tenant of a Housing Association your landlord will probably have a specialist debt advice service.  Contact your landlord and ask for their Debt Advice or Financial Inclusion team.

Have a look at the links below for trustworthy advice services:

National Debt Line
Money Advice Service
Manchester CAB
Debt Advice Foundation
Payplan

It might seem like there is nowhere to turn, or you think that the problem is too big to manage. No matter how big your debts are or how far things have gone, there are still options so don't give up. This link shows just a brief summary of some of the options that can be taken for serious debts.


Take action now  

Unfortunately, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and can make the problem much worse.

Think before you borrow more
When you’re struggling with money, the obvious solution can seem like borrowing more.  But this is often not a good strategy to deal with the problem, even though when you need money now it can seem like a good idea. 

The ones to avoid

Payday loans - Payday loans can be very easy to get and seem like a short term fix to a problem.  However, payday loan companies frequently do not carry out proper affordability checks and millions of people have got behind with payments.  The industry has been widely criticized for pressuring people to borrow more when they can’t make repayments.  This starts a spiral of debt and lenders commonly use aggressive tactics to reclaim the money owed.

High-cost furniture stores - Many of the people who we work with at Mind Your Money have got into debt by buying from stores which offer household goods at a high cost. Their products typically cost loads more than products from other high street shops. Weekly payments can seem easy but you can be tied into paying them for a very long time. If you get behind with payments, interest and charges are added on. If you still struggle to make payments, eventually they will take the product back.

Door-step lending - Doorstep lenders are licensed lending companies such as Greenwoods, Provident, Eccles Finance, and Shopacheck. They sometimes offer high street vouchers, household and electrical goods as well as money but their interest rates, charges and repayment levels can be extremely high. They make borrowing sound easy as they will call to your house each week for payments and often don’t carry out credit reference checks or ensure that the repayments are affordable.

People often get into a cycle of debt with doorstep lenders as they take on another loan when they cannot keep up the repayments on their existing one, Extra costs and interest is then charged so the debt can soon spiral out of control.

If you do need to get credit, try and research your choices so you know you’re making a safe decision and what the true cost will be.

To find out more about local lenders and the cost of borrowing visit - www.lenderscompared.org.uk

Loan sharks - A ‘loan shark’ is someone who illegally lends money and rarely give any paperwork or show you how much you will end up repaying. If payments are missed they often use intimidation and violence to get money. There is help out there - please contact the Illegal Money Lending team 24/7 on 0300 555 2222. The service is confidential and you will not be put at risk by contacting them


What’s the alternative?

The Welfare Provision Scheme
Loans - There is no longer a Social Fund to apply for a Community Care Grant or Crisis Loan. This has been replaced with the Manchester City Council Welfare Provision Scheme. You can apply for a loan between £50-100 if you’re in financial crisis. You need to apply for the loan on-line, and it’s a good idea to get an advice worker or support worker to help. 

Furniture - The Welfare Provision Scheme also provides some furniture such as white goods. Click here to see if you are eligible.

Fuel - The scheme also has grants for £30-£50 for help towards gas and electric costs

Credit Union
The Credit Union offers low cost loans to its’ members. You need to join and start saving with them before you can borrow money. Click here or call 0161 231 5222 to find your local branch. Click here or call 0161 448 0200 to contact South Manchester Credit Union.

Food Banks
Food banks provide food to people in financial crisis.  To find your local food bank please check our Resources section for full details. Most Food Banks will only help people that have been referred by some kind of support or advice worker. Housing providers will have a member of staff that is able to refer you so it is worth contacting them if you need help.  

Furniture Projects
Furniture projects provide items free or at a low cost.
The Mustard Tree - 0161 228 7331
The Wesley -  0161 226 9051
Tree of Life - 0161 489 7018

Charity Shops
Many charity shops also now have second hand furniture and sometimes even white goods at very low prices.