Taking Control of Your Finances
Taking Control of Your Finances
We all know the importance of paying your rent or mortgage on time, but what about expenses that are less clear-cut? When it comes to tackling debt, what are your priorities: your TV licence or your credit cards? Your overdraft fees or benefit overpayments? It may surprise you to know that in these two scenarios, your TV license and benefit overpayment arrears qualify as priority debt.
You may not be familiar with the term, but understanding it — and knowing what to do when debt becomes a problem — is a big part of staying ahead of your money worries.
Understanding priority debt first
Priority debt is debt that can result in the loss of property or, in extreme circumstances, homelessness or criminal prosecution. In other words, priority debts might not come with the heftiest price tag (or the highest interest rate) but neglecting to deal with them carries the biggest consequences.
Priority debts include:
- Rent and mortgage arrears
- Council Tax
- Utility bills, including gas, water and electric
- Child maintenance payments
- Benefit overpayment
- TV licence
- Tax and National Insurance
This isn’t to say that non-priority debts like overdraft fees, credit card bills or personal loans aren’t important — they can still result in your creditors taking legal action against you.
No matter what kind of debt you find yourself in, it’s important to deal with it before it affects your living situation and mental health.
While debt can quickly become overwhelming, especially when credit card or payday loan companies come knocking, it won’t go away on its own, so stay as open and as communicative as possible so you can deal with the issue head on.
Where can I turn?
While it can be tempting to avoid the problem, you should never ignore priority creditors. The good news is that no matter how much debt you find yourself in, help is available. Here are some of steps you can take to deal with your debt:
- Understand your money
- Setting a clear and defined budget based on your finances is easier than you think. Write down your weekly expenses on paper or use the Money and Pension Service Money Health Check to get a clear picture of your finances in black-and-white. Once you’ve established your baseline, it will be more manageable to develop a ‘get-out-of-debt’ strategy
- Pinch your pennies
- One of the most important steps towards relieving debt is to close the gap between how much you make and how much you spend. By making small adjustments in your everyday shopping behaviours, like switching over to cashback sites to save money on your regular purchases, you can make great strides in reducing your overall expenditures.
- Reach out to Ben
- If you’re struggling and don’t know where to turn, Ben can help you get your financial life back on track. No matter how bad your situation seems, there is always hope and Ben is always here for you.
- Don’t suffer in silence
- With people in the UK owing over £7.5 billion in credit card bills alone, it can be helpful to remember that you’re not the only one with problem debt. If you’re cracking under the pressure, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Opening up to your spouse, partner or friends can help lighten the load and give those close to you a clearer picture of where you stand. If your money troubles are affecting your work performance, talk with your manager or HR officer.
Whatever you’re going through, our free and confidential support can help you get back on track. You can contact us via online chat or call our free, confidential helpline.
Ben’s helpline (Open Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm)
08081 311 333
For online chat, visit www.ben.org.uk and click on the speech bubble icon in the top right corner of any web page.
Or contact the Jaguar Land Rover Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
The FREE and CONFIDENTIAL helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Call 0800 015 5630
Or visit eap-carefirst.com and enter: