So far, 2020 has brought with it many changes, opportunities and challenges. Our top priorities are quite rightly our health and checking in on loved ones – family, friends, neighbours and taking care of our own wellbeing. However, if your finances are suffering, or have been for a while, then don’t let them take a back seat.
In this blog, advisers in our helpline team have got together to answer the most frequently asked questions they have received over the last month and explain why people shouldn’t feel like they have to wait before getting free help.
I’m in debt – what help can I get right now?
Whether you were struggling before Coronavirus, or your situation has changed due to the lockdown, there really are options available! People who are worried about their finances can still seek help at this time, in fact, we would encourage them to do so sooner rather than later.
We’re speaking to so many people who can’t afford their payments right now but are expecting their situation to improve. There are different forms of debt solution – some formal and some informal. We’re able to look at repayment plans with a payment break at the beginning. Affordability is always at the top of our priority list, and if a debt solution is not sustainable then it would never be our recommendation.
While seeking advice can stop interest and charges from being placed on an account – one of the huge bonuses is the weight that it can take off your shoulders. So many people tell me they wish they had just picked up the phone sooner, rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul unnecessarily.
How can I maximise my income?
We always encourage people who get in touch to check that they are claiming everything that they are entitled to. You can use our free online benefits checker, which has been updated in line with the latest changes that have taken place in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
To help people to quickly and easily check they are receiving every penny of support available to them, we recommend people have a look as a price comparison site, like GoCompare. This helps people to see where they can save money on things like utilities, broadband, mobile and TV to cushion any income reduction.
I’m able to make payments, but should I take a holiday anyway?
If you can afford your commitments, then the best advice is to keep making payments, even at reduced levels. This will help you to avoid further financial impact further down the line.
If you can’t make payments then you should call a debt advice provider, or the organisations that you usually pay. The whole world is in this together and organisations will be sympathetic and remove barriers for you so that you can reduce or suspend payments.
What will happen at the end of my payment holiday?
For people who have entered a payment holiday, the hope is that affordability will have gotten ‘back to normal’ by sometime in June. But if this isn’t the case, or budgets were tight before, then you may find yourself in a long queue of people needing support from your bank.
By taking one of these holidays, you will still be charged interest for the time you’re not making payments, and this will be added to the total cost of what you’ve borrowed.
There are lots of people who are offering free advice and information during this time, so if you are worried, call and ask questions or keep up to date on our Coronavirus Hub, which is updated daily with the latest information.
Things are a little tight right now, how can I look after my financial wellbeing?
Whether you or someone in your household has been financially affected by lockdown, there are steps that you can take to look after your financial wellbeing, like completing a monthly budget, saving on bills and subscriptions, and knowing which debts you should be paying off first. We’ve put together some quick guides on financial wellbeing – and one specifically for people who have been Furloughed.
How can I get free advice if I’m worried about my repayments?
If you have multiple debts and are worried about how you are going to afford to make these payments, or if you’d like some budgeting advice, get in touch with one of our friendly advisers today.