Debt charity director reveals the top tips for managing credit card debt
The cost-of-living crisis has seen a rise in credit card debt. That’s why we caught up with Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange Debt Charity to find out how to stop getting into an expensive borrowing cycle.
From a rise in energy bills to food bills going up and mortgage rates increasing, the cost of living crisis has impacted us all.
It can seem so easy to apply for a credit card as a temporary way to try to make ends meet when finances are tight, but then find it can often lead to being in an expensive borrowing spiral once the 0% interest promotional rates end.
Credit card debt is the most common type of debt among clients of StepChange Debt Charity. That’s why this Debt Awareness Week, we caught up with Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange Debt Charity to find out his top tips for dealing with credit card debt and where to go for support.
CREATE A BUDGET
Whether you have credit card debt or another type of debt that you’re having difficulty managing, the first step will always be to create a budget. This is a great way to get a clear picture of your finances and take back control.
- Start by writing down your income, that’s all the money you have coming in each month from wages, pension, to benefits or payments you might receive from a partner or family member.
- Next, look at your outgoings, think about everything from food to travel and subscriptions to clothing.
Then you can deduct the total amount you spend each month from your monthly income. If you’ve got any money left over after you’ve paid for everything you have a budget surplus,
LOOK FOR SAVINGS
Once you’ve worked out how much money you’ve got coming in and how much you’re spending, you’ll spot areas where you could make savings. Maybe you could cancel a subscription you no longer use, switch to a cheaper supermarket for your food shop, or switch your broadband provider to get a cheaper deal.
MAXIMISE YOUR INCOME
It’s also important to identify any ways you could bring in some extra cash. This might be by using cashback websites or selling unwanted clothes and household items in online marketplaces. It’s also worth checking to see if you’re getting all the help you’re entitled to from the Government. Use StepChange’s benefits calculator tool to find out whether you might be entitled to support.
TRY TO AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO USE SHORT-TERM, HIGH COST CREDIT
If you’re struggling financially and looking for a quick way to get money, it may seem tempting to turn to short-term, high-cost credit or options to buy now, pay later. However, it’s vital to pause and think about whether you’ll be able to make the repayments, as well as any interest and fees. If you’re already experiencing financial difficulty, using further credit may only exacerbate debt problems and in this situation, you could benefit from getting free and impartial debt advice.
LET YOUR PROVIDER KNOW YOU’RE STRUGGLING
If these tips aren’t enough to clear your credit card debt, don’t panic. However, it is important to let your provider know as early as possible, as they have a duty to help you get back on track or negotiate an affordable repayment plan.
GET FREE AND IMPARTIAL DEBT ADVICE
If you have wider debt worries, don’t suffer in silence. A reputable charity like StepChange can offer free and impartial debt advice, tailored to your circumstances. From budgeting tips to information on benefits and StepChange’s online debt advice tool, there’s a wealth of information on how we can help.
To start your journey to becoming debt free, visit StepChange Debt Charity’s website