Being in debt is one thing, staying on top of your debt and all the things going on when you have your own Debt Management Plan is another. Staying organised is important or you will quickly find yourself losing control of both your finances and your well being.
On a personal level I did take a break for a few months and set up a Debt Management Plan with StepChange. It was good and I can recommend them in case you are wondering. However I soon resumed the responsibility of managing my partners and my own debt and as it stands we have 25 different creditors. That’s quite a lot. It’s good fun…
I find it quite easy to stay organised, perhaps because in general I am just like that. However here are some of the key things to remember: -
- Each creditor expects a payment.
- Keep track of your balance and payments on a monthly basis.
- File away or scan any letters you receive from your creditors. You may need them one day.
Sounds simple enough. However with debt comes change. Every now and then a debt will move to another debt collector. This is a bit of pain because you start over with the new creditor. This is what you normally do when this happens: -
- Send the Creditor an Offer of Repayment.
- Send the Creditor an Income and Expenditure Form.
- Ask the Creditor how you can make payment.
- Set up the payment.
I recently wrote a post about this very thing. It looks at what to do when a debt is transferred. Have a read if you like.
Keeping Track of things
It is definitely worth keeping track of things. A simple spreadsheet will do. I have a spreadsheet set up with the following information on it: -
- Creditor Name.
- Debt Collection Agency.
- Account Reference.
- Balance Before Payment.
- Monthly Payment Amount.
- Balance After Payment.
- Notes (A record of if I have spoke to a creditor).
- Payment Method. (How the debt is paid, for example direct debit or standing order).
I then repeat this spreadsheet each month, using the balance from the previous spreadsheet for the balance before payment section. That way I can keep track of a debt throughout its life, until it is settled.
Double Check Everything
Every six months or so I call my creditors and ask them what the balance is. Using the spreadsheet above I then compare what they say I owe to what I think I owe. You will be surprised how many times I find a payment has gone astray. This is usually rectified after a short amount of time. The key thing here is to double check everything. Good record keeping using something like a spreadsheet means you can work out what might have gone wrong.
Some more Debt Management Tips
Here are some other tips to help you keep on top of your Debt Management Plan: -
- Set all your payments to leave around the same date shortly after you get paid.
- Set reminders on your phone, in the Google Calendar or wherever you like to remind you when a debt is up for review.
- Check with your creditors that the balance they have matches yours.
- Keep a record of all contact with your creditors.
- Scan in any fan mail you receive from your Debt Collectors. (Believe me there will be a lot) File it somewhere if you don’t have a scanner.
If you are struggling with Debt please don’t. Visit the Debt Help section on this blog to find a list of organisations who can help you with your debt problems.