How to deal with debt

Man with debt worries

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Nine million people are suffering mental health problems, like stress and depression, because of debt and other money worries.

That's according to research by the Money Advice Service. Debt can leave you feeling isolated and helpless but there are measures you can take to relieve the pressure.

Here are five steps you can take to improve your finances and personal wellbeing.

1. Identify the problem

Take time to identify the cause of the problem.

You may have mounting debts or concerns about being able to make rental or mortgage payments.

This could be the result of a change in your personal circumstances, for example separation from a partner or redundancy.

2. Make a list of all your creditors

Work out which debts are the most urgent. Some debts are more pressing than others because the consequences of not paying them can be more serious.

You won't be sent to prison for non-payment of debts, but you could face a court order so it's best to take action.

3. Speak to your lender

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Don't delay to speak to your creditor such as your bank, credit card company or building society.

They may be able to help but can only do so if you talk to them.

Your lender could consider freezing any outstanding charges or offer you a payment holiday until you are able to get repaying again.

Alternatively, they might agree to rearrange your payment schedule, perhaps so you can pay off less each month, but over a longer period.

4. Make a plan

Whether your creditor is willing to help or not, you should work out a budget plan so you can get your finances back on track. The Money Advice Service has a tool which can help.

If you can't see a way to pay off what you owe, speak to a specialist debt adviser, who will be able to help you work out the best thing to do in your situation.

Let your creditors know that you are getting advice and will be in touch with them as soon as you've found the best solution.

5. Where to get help

Cutting the costs

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You could seek confidential, independent and free debt advice from organisations such as Citizens Advice, National Debtline and StepChange Debt Charity. They can also provide free debt management plans.

If you are concerned that debt worries are causing a detrimental effect to your health, you should speak to your doctor without delay.

You are far from being alone. The Mental Health Foundation, estimates one in five of us feels anxious often, or all of the time. Almost half put this down to money worries.

6. Take action now

You may not feel up to any of the above, but any positive action you take will make you feel better.

The money worries tool (from The Money Advice Service and NHS) can help you get started if financial problems are causing you stress or ill health.

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