It is easy to borrow money these days - and even easier to get into debt. Don't give up if you are having trouble managing your debts. There are always options available to you and people that can help you.
Tips to managing debt.
- Act fast – if you know you will struggle to make a payment, inform the person/company straight away. This will control the debt and stop it from getting bigger.
- Seek Help - There is nothing to be ashamed of. You will not be the first nor the last student who is having debt issues. Speak to professionals within the university such as tutors, the student union or the money adviser who can help guide and advise on how to manage your debts better. You can also speak to external professionals like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Step Change or the National Debtline. NatWest Bank have recently produced a debt calculator to help get you started.
- Pay in instalments - Many organisations understand that students can have issues with payments and fall into debt; Hence why they are flexible with setting up direct debit repayments of small amounts. They feel happier knowing they will get what is owed to them eventually, rather than not getting it at all.
- Know your balance – its easy to continue to spend money without knowing the actually amount of money in your account. Online banking is a great way to keep track of your incomings and outgoings. If you find you need a credit card, look online for the best deals with the lowest interest rates. Be careful with credit, though, and always have a plan to repay it.
- Prioritise - Some debts are more important than others, so sort out any which could have serious consequences, such as not paying your rent, which could put you on the streets.
- Spend money wisely- Avoid impulse buying. It's easy to spend quickly, but much harder to pay off any debts you build up. It can take months or years to pay off an overdraft or credit card, or even longer if you have store cards or a loan as well. With careful budgeting you can avoid creating a difficult debt situation for yourself. Do a budget plan; having a budget plan will help you have a better understanding of your incomings, outgoings and what's left over, should mean you won't end up with huge bills you can't pay.
- Manage any debts you already have - If you do run into problems, try to lower your outgoings. Figure out what you can do without so you can make savings. Don't get another loan – you might just end up paying more interest. Instead, set up a realistic payment plan so you won't have to worry about it and you can focus on your studies instead.
- Dealing with personal finance issues is one of the most valuable lessons you'll learn as a student. So if you get into trouble, deal with it and learn from the experience. You'll put yourself in a stronger position to manage your financial health in your post-student life ahead.