Falling into debt can be upsetting and stressful. You may feel as if the situation is out of control and your problems are spiralling, but debt is not something you have to tackle on your own. There are a whole host of free and independent services out there that can help you turn your financial troubles around. The right advice can set you on the way to managing your debt and controlling your money. In this article we list the best places to get free debt advice, the support that is available as well as the best time to reach out for help.
Where to go for free debt advice
It is important to go to the right place for debt help. You may see adverts for companies offering to reorganise your debt or help you manage your finances, but many of these services will cost money. If you are struggling with debt, the last thing you need is an extra bill.
The organisations that can really make a difference are charities that specialise in free debt advice. Below are some of the first names to reach out to if you are struggling with debt.
Citizens Advice – and Northern Ireland counterpart Advice NI – offers free advice on a variety of topics, including debt. A specialist local caseworker can talk you through your debt plan and help negotiate with creditors. They can also advise on your rights surrounding repossession and what support is available to help pay your energy bills.
You can obtain advice face-to-face from a Citizens Advice centre, over the phone, through an online chat service or via its expansive website, which includes detailed self-help guides.
Phone number: 0800 240 4420 (England and Wales), 0800 028 1456 (Scotland), 0800 915 4604 (Northern Ireland)
Email: [email protected] (Northern Ireland)
StepChange is a charity that offers free debt advice across the UK. You can talk to an advisor over the phone or use an online tool through the website to create a budget and a personalised debt action plan.
Phone number: 0800 138 1111
National Debtline offers free, specialist debt advice over the phone and via webchat. There is a range of self-help material on the website too, including a 24/7 digital advice tool. National Debtline can also send you a free self-help information pack.
If you are self-employed, you may be able to get more specialised help and advice from National Debtline's partner site Business Debtline.
Website: National Debtline
Phone number: 0808 808 4000
Debt Advice Foundation
Debt Advice Foundation has a free helpline and webchat service you can use to speak to an expert advisor. You could also fill out a callback form and an advisor will get in touch at your chosen time.
Website: Debt Advice Foundation
Phone number: 0800 043 40 50
How a free debt advice service can help you
A free debt advice service can set you up with a specialist debt advisor. They can then work with you to devise a budget to get to grips with your spending and a repayment plan to work at reducing your debt. Some advisors will show you how to reach out to your creditors to discuss restructuring your debt, while others will be able to speak to your lenders directly on your behalf.
The more open and honest you are about your spending and your debt, the more helpful your advisor can be. For example, you will likely be asked to share the specifics of your income and outgoings, personal circumstances and living arrangements. You may also need to provide details on your creditors, debt history and the demands you have been sent by lenders.
With this information, a debt advisor can teach you how to prioritise your debt. Not all debt is the same, so expert advice can make a big difference in making sure you are using your money in the right way.
Why should you get free debt advice?
Debt help charities are not motivated by making money from you or helping your creditors. These organisations exist to help people who are struggling to get out of debt. This means that you can feel safe in the knowledge that you will get honest, independent advice from experts who are looking out for your best interests.
In addition to being focused on finding a solution that works for you, free debt advice services have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make a material difference to your financial situation. There may be options available that you had not considered or alternative solutions that you didn't know existed. Specialist debt advisors will know which path to take to help steady your financial situation.
One of these options could be taking advantage of Breathing Space. This is a government scheme designed to help borrowers struggling with debt in England and Wales by freezing the interest and charges on your debt for two months. Read more in our article ‘What you need to know about the Breathing Space debt respite scheme’.
When should you reach out for free debt advice?
It can be difficult to know when to ask for help with debt. However, there is no benefit in waiting if you are regularly worrying about money or fear you may be unable to pay essential household bills.
If you are relying on credit – such as a credit card, overdraft or personal loan – to pay your rent, mortgage or energy bills, or just to get by, you should reach out to a free debt advice service.
Other signs that you are struggling to control your finances include missing debt repayments, avoiding creditors and lying to your friends and family about money.
It is also never too late to get in touch with a free debt advice service. A specialist can offer expert advice on topics such as repossession, cutting off gas and electricity, and bankruptcy. This means you can ensure your creditors are not acting unlawfully, as well as get help on prioritising urgent debt.
A free debt advice service could make a huge difference to your financial wellbeing and life in general, so do not be afraid to get in touch with one of the organisations on this page.