Monday, September 17, 2007

Good advice about debt and credit

Yes, it is from the Scottish Sunday Herald, but Tackling debt must start with some real home truths has some good advice transcending borders:

If you are struggling to cope with your debts, there are several ways to get your finances under control.

The first rule is not to ignore the problem - it won't go away. You need to face up to your debts and discuss the situation with your family.

Next, draw up a budget and honestly assess your incomings and outgoings. It will help you get things straight and could be useful if you have to negotiate with creditors. Ask yourself whether you can cut down on spending, or cut the cost of your debt. You might, for example, be able to find a cheaper mortgage or a credit card with a lower interest rate.

Some people consolidate their debts into one loan that runs for 10 or 15 years. The longer term brings the monthly payments down, but you will pay more in total interest, which could make the situation worse. Experts also warn of the risks of taking out a bigger mortgage to pay off debts or arranging a separate loan secured against your house. If you fall into arrears, you could lose your home.

Try to prioritise your debts. Boden Wilks said: "You know when a debt is a priority because you will lose something if you don't pay it. So, pay your mortgage, rent and essential household bills." Finally, contact creditors if you are struggling to meet commitments.