How does debt advice work

If you’re worried about money, you might be considering getting debt advice. However, we know that talking about money and facing up to your debt situation can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what to expect. StepChange answer some common questions to put you at ease if you think you need debt advice.

Will I be judged?

Lots of people worry about being judged if they’re in debt, or think that their situation is beyond help. The first and perhaps most important thing to remember is that debt advisors won’t judge you. No matter what the reasons are for being in debt or how much you owe, they’re there to listen, support you, and help you make a plan to move forward.

Hear from StepChange Debt Advisor Kirsty about her role and how she supports clients.

 

What happens when I get in touch?

If you choose to contact StepChange for debt advice, they can either help online or over the phone. Either way, they follow a simple, three-step process to help you deal with your financial situation.

1. Tell them about your finances

It’s important that you’re honest about your situation and have as much information as possible about your income, outgoings and debts, so that they can decide on the best way to help you.

2. Help to create a realistic monthly budget

Creating a budget is vital, as it will show you how much money you have left at the end of each month to pay towards your debts. This includes your everyday living costs such as bills, housing costs, food, and toiletries, as well as one-off or less frequent spending such as car repairs, vet bills or Christmas shopping.

3. An action plan to help you deal with your debt

The solutions suggested will depend on your individual circumstances, any assets such as a car or a house, and whether you have money left at the end of the month (a surplus budget) or your outgoings amount to more than your income (a deficit budget). It can also depend on where you live, as different types of debt solution are available in different parts of the UK. If you choose to embark on a debt solution, the team will support you for as long as you need.

What documents do I need?

We recommend collecting details about your living costs, and how much you currently pay towards any arrears, for costs like:

  • Housing and utility bills
  • Travel
  • Household services
  • Food and housekeeping
  • Living expenses.

You’ll be asked about your income, so make sure you have this information to hand. This includes your wages or salary, and remember to include any other income such as benefits, tax credits or a pension.

You’ll also need to know how much you owe. If you’re unsure about what you owe, you can contact the organisations you owe money to and ask for an up-to-date balance. Or, if you’re not sure who you owe money to, you can get a copy of your credit report from a credit reference agency. There’s also a guide to finding out what you owe on the StepChange website.

What’s next?

Now that you understand how debt advice works and what you’ll need to get started, it’s time to take the first step in taking back control of your finances. When you’re ready, you can visit www.stepchange.org or call the team on 0800 138 1111 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm) for free, impartial debt advice.

StepChange

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Other resources which you may find helpful:

Budgeting

Dealing with priority debts

Nine ways to save money when in debt