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Tips for dealing with debt

How to review, manage and deal with your debt.

Don't ignore things

It may be tempting to ignore the situation and hope it goes away. But that can mean things gets worse rather than better.

Here’s why. Read this and then come back to this page.

Take control

Work out how much you owe

It may seem scary but this is the first step in taking control. Make a list of all the debts you owe. Note the amounts, any interest payable and when payments are due. This will help you to work out a plan.

Prioritise your debts

Debts from unpaid household bills such as rent / mortgage, Council Tax, utilities and TV Licence are more serious than unsecured loans, student loans and credit cards. Non-payment of some household bills can lead to the loss of your home, disconnection of essential services or, in some cases, imprisonment.

Pay your priority debts first (rent, Council Tax and utilities) before paying
your consumer debts.

Then pay them off in order of priority. If you owe rent, Council Tax or utility bills, pay these before consumer debts.

Woman working from home at her dining room table

Reduce your costs 

Work out your budget

Build up a clear picture of your income and outgoings. Use a budget planner to work out the money you have and where it needs to be spent. Try to be as accurate as possible. This will tell you how much you’ve got which can be used to pay off your debts.

Reduce outgoings

Do you have regular outgoings which could be reduced or cancelled? For example, you might shop round for cheaper deals on insurance, utilities or travel. Or cancel gym membership, subscriptions or non-essential spending. Go through your bank statement to find out if there are any direct debits you have forgotten about.

Reduce the cost of debt

Review your debts and work to pay off the one(s) with higher interest rates first.

Person on their phone

Increase your income

Maximise income

Are there ways you can increase your income? Are you entitled to any support through benefits? Use our benefits calculator to find out. Could you take on more work or find a better paid job? Could you rent out a spare room?

But don’t borrow more

If you’re struggling to repay what you already owe, further borrowing will only make things harder, so try to avoid further borrowing.

Women talking on a sofa

We can help

We offer a free, impartial, confidential Money Advice Service. Our advisers can talk through your situation and offer advice and support.

Template letters

Use these National Debtline template letters to manage your debt. You can personalise these and send them to creditors at different stages of the process to clear your debt.

Hold action on your account – this is a request to pause proceedings while you get some advice.

Pro-rata offers – ask your creditors to accept pro-rata payments on your debts.

Token payment or no offer of payment – ask your creditors to accept a token payment or no payment on your debts.

Freeze interest – this letter is for when a creditor refuses to freeze interest on your account.

Full and final settlement offer – use this letter to help you negotiate a full and final settlement offer with a creditor. This is a type of offer where you can ask the creditor to accept part of the payment you owe and write off the rest.

Woman reading letters

How we can help and support you

Debt solutions

If you’re facing serious debt problems, we can help you navigate the options open to you.

Help with money

Information and practical support to help you with money issues including JaneBot and our benefits calculator.

Debt and mental health

How money worries and mental health are connected.

Anna’s story
I cannot express to you what that money meant to me at that time. It meant I could put food on the table for my kids. It’s as simple as that. To have a charity like this, just for us civil servants… it’s incredible. To everyone who donates, know that you’ve helped me get my kids through the toughest time of their lives. And mine. Thank you.
Anna's story

What to do in a crisis

Charity for Civil Servants is not a crisis support charity. If you are in an emergency situation, here are some organisations that can help.

Got a question?

If you are not sure what you need or have question, contact us.

Related pages

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Caring and finances

Information about managing debt, benefits, Power of Attorney and financial support if you’re a carer for someone.

Gambling and addiction

Sources of help and support if gambling or addictions are becoming harmful.

Debt and mental health

How money worries and mental health are connected.

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