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In debt this January? You're not alone

Blue Monday (the 20th of January 2020) is likely to be our busiest day of the year for calls and enquiries about debt. The Money Advice Service expects someone to contact us about debt every 4 seconds during January. 

However, there’s no need for the start of 2020 to be all doom and gloom. A new year is a great time to make a new start on tackling those credit card and loan balances. 

Why this January? 

We all know that after the festive season we can feel a bit low on cash. The end of January can be a particularly difficult time to get through financially. Many workers will have been paid earlier than usual in December, so it’s a long wait until your January payslip. It’s also when you’ll get your December credit card statement, and will be faced with the outcome of your Christmas spending. 

January 2020 is set to be especially busy for our contact centre, as new rules around credit card repayments means that your minimum payments may go up. Interest rates on overdrafts have also changed for many customers recently, so it could be a good time to take action if your bank balance is in the red. 

During January last year the MAS contact centre received 3,500 debt related calls, and 26,000 visits were made to our free debt advice locator tool. As we expect this year to be even busier, we’ve got 20% more helpline staff on hand to answer your calls, emails, webchats and Whatsapp messages. 

You’re not alone.

Research shows that 9 million UK adults are over-indebted, that’s just over 1 in 6 of us. Being over-indebted doesn’t just mean that someone is in debt, it means that they are regularly behind on bills or are struggling to keep up with repayments. 

In debt? What should your next steps be?

MaPS offer the following top tips for tackling your money worries:

  • Open up to someone. Although it can be difficult, talking about money worries is often the first step towards getting help. Research has shown that people who talk about their finances feel less stressed or anxious and more in control.

  • Work out your debts. Write down everything that you owe. This might seem overwhelming but facing up to what you owe will help in the long run.

  • Pay off debts in the right order. Make sure to pay debts such as mortgage, rent and energy payments before secondary debts like overdrafts, personal loans and credit cards. 

  • Set a budget. A good way to understand how much you can afford to pay back each month is to write down what your income is and list all your expenditure. The budget planner on the Money Advice Service website can help you calculate this. 

  • Seek professional help if you are struggling with debt. You can use the debt advice locator tool to find a free debt adviser in your local area. You can also sign up to the New Year’s Money Check-Up Challenge to get regular money tips and reminders throughout January.

Why get debt help? 

It can seem scary to seek debt advice. You might think that your debts are too small, or your situation isn’t bad enough to need professional help. If you’re struggling to keep up with your monthly payments, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Debt advice should always be free, and the Money Advice Service works alongside the UK’s biggest debt charities to get people on a debt repayment plan that will work for their personal situation. Research from the Money and Pensions Service shows that after receiving debt advice 64% of people with outstanding payments have reduced or cleared their debts within 3 to 6 months of seeking help. 

Only a third of people who are over-indebted are getting help at the moment. This January, don’t be blue about your bank balance, get in touch and let us work together to get you started on your journey to becoming debt free. 

How can you get in touch? 

Check our contact us page for all of our phone numbers and opening hours. We’re also available to talk to over Whatsapp or free live Webchat

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