The Fixer: unsecured debt problems

I can't afford to pay off what I owe on credit cards and loans...

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Have you been left out of pocket due to poor service or sharp practice? Do you have a money problem that won't go away?

It can seem impossible to get a fair result when you are battling a financial issue alone. But never fear! The AOL Money Fixer is here to help.


Dear Fixer,
I am writing to you for help with my debt problems. I have debts of about £4,000 spread across several credit cards, and last year I took out a £5,000 personal loan to buy a car.

Paying them off each month wasn't a problem, until my boss cut back my hours at work last November.

I now earn about £300 less a month, and am having trouble meeting my loan repayments and paying off the necessary amount on my various credit cards as a result.

My wife doesn't know quite how bad things are as I don't want to worry her unnecessarily.

But the small amount of savings I had set aside is almost gone and it won't be long before I start having to miss payments. Can you help?

D Martin, Eastbourne

Dear Mr Martin,
The best advice I can give you is to act now rather than waiting until your situation gets worse.

You may, for example, be able to arrange a short-term payment holiday with your loan provider - as long as you call the company before you start missing your monthly payments.

Other steps you can take include reducing the amount you have to pay out each month by consolidating your credit card debts on to one single card, preferably one offering 0% on balance transfers.

You can find the best deals here - while there are also online tools available to help you work out for which cards you are likely to qualify as a customer.

After all, there's no point applying for lots of cards you are unlikely to get, especially as declined applications can damage your credit score.

As your financial situation is unlikely to change in the short term at least, it may also be worth talking to a debt charity such as StepChange.

It offers free advice and can help you to set up a free debt management plan if necessary.

This type of debt solution, which generally involves the interest charges on your debts being frozen while you pay them off an a manageable rate, will be noted on your credit file.

But it will have less of a negative impact, and be a lot less stressful, than missing lots of monthly debt payments.

The Fixer

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Whatever your financial problem, write to themoneyfixer@aim.com and The AOL Money Fixer will get on the case.

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