Five ways to get out of debt

ARE you one of those swamped by debt? Here's five top tips to get it under control:

Here is five ways to get out of debt with Raewyn Fox, head of NZ's Federation of Family Budgeting Services.

1. Act now

If you are in a lot of debt and it's causing you problems or worries do something about it today - don't wait for it to get worse. Write it all down - your income, outgoings and commitments and don't forget the stuff you only pay for once a year. Add it all up and see if there is a surplus or a deficit. Fox says it will often show people are paying more out than they are earning. "You've got to figure out your situation before you can get out of it. Sometimes when you write stuff down the problem jumps out and hits you in the face."

2. Prioritise spending

Look at your spending and figure out what is a priority - what are your needs versus what are your wants. Negotiate with your partner on what you can do to haul your spending back into line. If you are in debt there are two ways to get out - increase your income or decrease your outgoings.

3. Maximise your income

Check your contract entitlements - are you being paid what you should be? If you have had a change in circumstances - such as a job loss - you may be entitled to help from the government such as working for families or an accommodation supplement. If it's too hard to work out by yourself get help.

If you have lost your job, check out your credit contracts - there may be a hardship clause in there which could allow you to put payments on hold for a couple of months or reduce your payments to ease the pressure.

4. Develop a plan

If you are struggling to make payments talk to your creditors about what you could pay, but be realistic and honest with yourself about what you can afford. "If you offer something and then can't keep it up it makes things worse. Once you have made an offer you have got to keep it up."

Fox says those who fail to keep up are unlikely to be able to renegotiate again in the future.

5. Track your progress

Keep an eye on your progress and set a goal of paying off a certain debt within a timeframe. Reward yourself when you get there.

Fox said the key was to have lots of little goals and not be too restrictive, otherwise it was likely people would just give up.

- NZ Herald

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