January is a tough month financially, especially for those suffering from debt worry after Christmas.
This month also brings us ‘Blue Monday’, January 21, which is recognised as the most depressing day of the year.
If you are struggling with mounting debt, don’t be tempted to borrow from a loan shark to tide you over until payday. Borrowing money this way can lead to misery, stress and threats of violence.
There are a range of charities and organisations that can provide you with support and advice if you’re drowning in debt and struggling to cope.
If your debts have spiralled out of control and the worry is keeping you up at night, there are easy steps you can take to help you get control of your finances.
The important thing to remember is you don’t need to struggle alone with your debt problems. It’s always best to talk things through with someone you trust or an experienced debt advisor.
A free debt advisor will give advice about better ways of managing your money and suggest ways of dealing with the debts.
The Money Advice Service ‘Debt Help Check’ tool will help you work out the best option to help you beat your money worries. It will also let you find free debt advice in your area.
Stepchange offers a free online advice tool, Debt Remedy, which can give you expert debt advice in 20 minutes. If you would rather speak to someone in person about your finances, you can drop-in to your local Citizens Advice office to speak to an adviser.
PayPlan also offer free Debt Management Plans and advice to help people who are struggling financially.
There are many risks attached to borrowing from a loan shark. Firstly you will pay far more in interest than you would through any legal borrowing. One man who borrowed £250 to buy a car ended up repaying over £90,000!
You might also be harassed or threatened if you fall behind on repayments on your loan. There have been reports of people being intimidated and attacked by loan sharks and one victim received threats to his family.
You might be pressured into borrowing more money to repay one loan with another, sending you into a spiral of debt that you can never repay.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has helped over 28,000 people to escape the jaws of loan sharks. If you have been affected by illegal money lending, contact the team in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk.
It might seem a bit early to start thinking about next Christmas but it will help ease the pressure later on. You can get yourself financially ready for the big day by saving a small amount each week in a bank account or credit union.
There are many advantages of joining a credit union: lower fees, better interest rates and secure savings.
Credit unions are not-for-profit businesses, owned by their members that provide affordable loans and a home for savings. They exist to benefit their community and offer a lifeline for people who have bad credit and can’t access ordinary bank products.
Credit unions also offer an ethical alternative to unscrupulous loan sharks who prey on the vulnerable.
Find your local credit union here.