Alan Bennett, South West chair of insolvency trade body R3 and Partner at Ashfords LLP, advises people on how to identify, assess and tackle money issues which may have arisen over the Christmas period, so they can avoid a debt hangover in 2016.

Recent research by R3 found that 31% of people in the South West are worried about their current level of debt. Credit card repayments are the main cause of concern for those with debt worries, followed by an overdraft and mortgage repayments.

Encouragingly however, 94% say that they are unlikely to seek a ‘payday’ or other short term, high interest loan.

Alan Bennett comments: “Pressure to spend is intensified at Christmas and it can have a long-term impact of supposedly short-term borrowing.

“There are a number of measures that people facing debt problems can take to try to avoid or alleviate it, but they need to be prepared to face up to their situation and take swift, decisive action.”

Alan’s top tips for managing a debt hangover:

  • Don’t ignore the issue. Accept that your spending could get out of control – acting now can save a lot of pain later on. 
  • Ask for help. There are a number of bodies which provide financial advice, free of charge – from an initial consultation with a licensed insolvency practitioner to the National Debtline, Citizens Advice Bureau, or the Insolvency Service Helpline.
  • Work out the combined total of everything you owe and prioritise the payment of your debts. Identify your essential financial commitments and cut down on luxuries. 
  • Be completely transparent by providing full details of your financial situation to your creditors and advisor. 
  • Don’t use your credit card or ‘payday’ loans to plug the gaps in your day-to-day finances and spend sensibly. Try to resist temptations if you know you can’t afford them.

Alan Bennett concludes: “Anyone facing financial difficulties, at any time of the year, should seek advice as soon as possible from a qualified advisor. This should help ensure a stress free 2016.”