Managing debt: Tips and support


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If you’re worried about personal debt, you’re not alone. StepChange, the UK’s biggest debt charity, supported someone new every three minutes in 2023, a 10% increase compared to the year before.

With nearly half of British households feeling the effect of the increased cost of living, it’s no surprise that a quarter of people looking for advice from StepChange said that this was the reason they were in debt. 

In this week’s blog we’re looking at the impact that debt can have on your life, how you can manage it, and where you can find support. 

The impact of debt

There’s no doubt that finding yourself in debt is stressful, especially if you feel like it’s mounting up. Left unchecked, financial stress can cause poor mental health and result in coping mechanisms like problem drinking and drug use. There’s a very real risk of this then starting a vicious cycle of financial and health issues.

Debt can also cause relationship problems, either due to hiding debt from each other or because of the mistrust and blame that can build up over time. Sadly this can lead to complete relationship breakdowns.

In some cases, these financial, wellbeing, and relationship issues can escalate, leading to some people being evicted or having to leave their homes

Top tips for managing debt

You might be feeling hopeless in the face of debt. But there are things you can do to take back control of your situation. 

Make a list of your debts

It’s really common to feel overwhelmed by debt, especially if it’s from different sources (e.g. credit cards, pay day loans, etc). One of the first things you can do to help you feel more control is to make a list of all your debt, including how much you owe, who you owe it to (the ‘creditors’), and any reference numbers.

You might not want to see it written down like this but it’s a really important first step to know exactly what you’re dealing with. 

Make a plan

Once you have a clear idea of what you owe, you can start to plan how you will pay it off. You might be able to ask to reduce your payments for non-priority debts like any from credit cards or catalogues. You could also write to your creditors to ask them to stop adding interest, so your debt doesn’t get any bigger. 

Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to get a debt management plan or apply for a debt relief plan. But it’s important to get all the facts before you take steps like this, as they might affect things like your credit rating or what kind of work you can do. 

Always seek advice in relation to this issue, as that way you’ll have the peace of mind that the steps you’re taking are the right ones. You’ll find more information around where to seek support at the end of this blog. 

Reduce your spending

This might sound obvious, and it can be easier said than done. But there are steps you might be able to take to save some money and ease the pressure while you’re managing your debt. You might be eligible for a discount on your council tax, for example. 

You might also want to consider confiding in someone that you trust, so that they can help to motivate you and support your plans to reduce your debt. 

Increase your income

There are options that could be available to you to help you increase your income. For example, you might be able to claim benefits if you’re looking for work, disabled, or caring for a loved one. You might also be able to get support from your local council such as vouchers for essentials like food of fuel. 

Getting support

You don’t have to manage your debt alone. There are charities and other organisations out there who can offer advice and support.

  • Citizens Advice: The Citizens Advice website has lots of helpful information about managing debt, and you can contact your local branch for personal advice.
  • StepChange: StepChange is the UK’s largest debt charity. They can give you advice and signpost towards further support. 
  • National Debtline: National Debtline provides free and impartial advice on their helpline. Their number is 0808 808 4000.
  • Mental Health & Money Advice: The Mental Health & Money Advice website can help you to manage and improve your financial and mental health.

In the face of the cost of living crisis, more and more people are struggling with debt and facing homelessness. This can happen to anyone, and on our website you can find information and advice about housing in both Leeds and Bradford.

If you’re able, we’d love you to support Simon on the Streets so that we can keep being there for people who are facing homelessness in Leeds and Bradford. Take a look to learn more about fundraising and other ways to give

Further reading

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