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January Advice Column

I’ve built up a bit of debt and I am panicking. Even though I cut back, Christmas was
expensive, my rent has gone up and my paycheque just doesn’t stretch as far as it
used to. I’m doing everything I can but it’s not enough – what can I do?

First of all, it’s important to know you’re not alone in finding things difficult and, crucially,
there’s support available.

It might feel overwhelming when you see all of your debts written down – but try not to worry,
the important thing is that you’re sorting them out.

If you’re behind on household bills, prioritise paying your rent or mortgage, plus energy bills
and Council Tax first. Not paying these bills has the most serious consequences. You should
speak to the person or company you owe money to, to see if there are any manageable
steps you can take to start reducing your debt.

Once you’ve got these debts under control, you should look at any other debts like credit
card or store card debts, payday loans or missed Buy Now Pay Later payments.

While you’re looking at the money going out, do remember to consider money that could be
coming in. It’s always worth checking if there are any benefits that you’re eligible for,
including support with your energy costs and living costs. There’s a benefits calculator,
advice on how to reduce living costs and information on other ways to increase your
income, on the Citizens Advice website.

There’s also emergency support that you may be able to access, such as a food bank or fuel
vouchers. You could also contact your local council to see if they can offer support.

We know that times are incredibly tough but please remember, you don’t have to face this
alone, do contact Citizens Advice to help you find a way forward.