Pay lasts until the 20th - how to close the gap.

Updated: 
Depressed manA new survey has revealed that on average we make it to the 20th of the month before our monthly pay runs out - leaving us to fall back on expensive debt to close the gap.

More than 42% struggle to make it to payday - 11% regularly and 31% occasionally. So what's going wrong and what can we do about it?

The survey, by insolvency trade body R3, reveals certain crunch points that push us over the edge into the red. Over a third (35%) said credit card repayments are a major factor in their failure to make it to payday. A quarter say it's spending on going out and entertainments that causes them problems, and one fifth cite other big ticket items, like paying off loans, the mortgage or buying large items.

There are, however, five steps to help put debts behind you and make it to payday.

1) Work out exactly where you are, what you owe, what you spend, and what everything costs you. This means opening alarming credit card bills and facing up to everything you spend.

2) Put your spending (Including debt repayments) down on a piece of paper or any number of the budget calculators you can find online, including this one. Don't forget to include big annual spends like holidays and Christmas, and put aside something each month for things like car and home repairs. For most people, this will reveal we are spending more than we are earning.

3) Revisit every item on the list and see if there's a clever way to do it more cheaply. Can you switch your credit card debts to 0% until they are cleared? Can you get cheaper utilities? Are you using all the minutes on your mobile phone deal?

4) Once the pain-free cuts are made, if you're still spending too much, you need to start cutting. Don't cut it unrealistically, but you may need to be fairly brutal. You might need to give up that weekly meal out in favour of cooking for your friends at home. You may have to forgo your fashion budget for one or two fashion items a season.

5) Finally, if you're still overspending, you need to consider the income part of the equation. Should you be pushing for a pay rise, or looking for a different job? Can you take on more work in the evenings and weekends? Can you make any money from your hobbies? Are you claiming all the benefits you are entitled to? The debt charity CCCS has an amazing benefits team which can check to see what you should be claiming, and will help you get what you should.

If you are still overspending, some drastic changes are in order. You may need to reconsider where you live, how you live, and every aspect of your life.

It may seem like a horrible upheaval, but it's far better than burying your head in the sand until you're bankrupt.

As R3's President Steven Law says: "Over the course of the last decade, personal insolvencies have increased by 350% and it is very worrying that over 40% of the British population are finding it a struggle financially to get through the month. This is a huge stress in itself and factors such as inflation associated with basic living costs and potential rises in interest rates will not make this monthly struggle any easier."

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