If you've got debts you can't handle, it can be scary to acknowledge them. But new figures from the Money Advice Service reveal getting free advice really can help. Close to two thirds (65%) of people who received regulated debt advice were repaying the money they owed or had repaid in full within three to six months.
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Free debt advice is widely available across the UK, providing a safe, independent space for people to address their money worries and learn some first steps to clearing their debts.
Some of the ways people improved their finances after seeking advice included regularly checking their income and expenses (89%), opening up their bills in the post (85%), planning to pay bills in priority order (86%) and keeping to a spending plan (84%).
Relieving the burden
Getting help with debts doesn't just begin the process of fixing finances. The Money Advice Service research also found it has a huge effect on wellbeing.
Almost three quarters (73%) of people who sought debt advice felt less stressed about dealing with their finances, and a similar number (69%) said their relationships improved. Two thirds (62%) were able to sleep better, and seven in ten (71%) were performing better at work.
Where to get free debt advice
Debt advisors won't judge you or make you feel bad for any decisions that caused the problems. Instead they'll suggest ways to deal with the debt, and offer advice on ways to better manage your money.
You can access free advice online, over the phone or face-to-face wherever you live in the UK. What you discuss will also be confidential. Our debt advice locator tool can help you find the right place for you.
Avoid fee charging debt management firms
You should be able to get the support you need to rebuild your finances and clear your debts from charities or free organisations, so avoid any company that wants to charge you a fee for the same services.
Options for clearing debts
When you talk to a debt advisor, they'll first see if you can manage your finances differently to find the money in order to make your repayments. If not, you might be able to agree an informal arrangement with the person or organisation you owe money to, and the debt advisors can take you through this.
Formal methods they might suggest include Debt Management Plans (where you repay debts at a rate you can afford), Debt Relief Orders (where debts are frozen for a year), Individual Voluntary Agreements (where you pay back what you can afford over a set time) or bankruptcy (which clears all debts).
Your exact options will vary whether you live in England in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.