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It seems that many people's borrowing habits are rapidly spiralling out of control and could be leading towards, if they haven't already, what has been described as a 'personal debt crisis'. It's hardly a recent development; this problem has been building for many years.

Further indications of the escalating personal debt crisis are there for all to see in recent figures on personal debt: it would appear that this is not a problem that shows any sign of slowing down.

Don't despair though, on a personal level bad debt is not inevitable and with a slightly more money savvy, disciplined approach to managing your money you should be able to keep things under control. Here are some simple ideas to help you avoid debts spiralling.

If you haven't got the money don't spend it

It might sound obvious but if you stick to this one simple rule then there's really no reason why debt should become a serious problem.

Be disciplined with debt repayments

If you're efficient at paying off outstanding debt before it has a chance to accumulate serious amounts of interest then you should stay well on top of your debts. Of course, if we're talking credit cards the most effective measure is to pay off your debt in full every month but, realistically, this might not be feasible for everyone. Keep in mind that minimum payments, the smallest monthly amount you can pay without being charged, might seem convenient but won't get you any closer to eliminating your debt because the minimum payment will decrease in line with your balance. If you can't afford to pay off your debt in full set your monthly payment at a fixed monthly amount rather than fall in line with the minimum payment system - remember it's designed by banks to keep you permanently in debt.

Transfer your balance

An easy method of stopping your credit card debt spiralling out of control is by transferring your balance to a 0% card. There are loads out there, just look for the longest 0% balance transfer period. You can keep up to date with these things by consulting an online comparison site. The one thing to remember if you're doing this is not to use this card to buy anything. The likelihood is that it won't have a purchase rate that is anything like as competitive as the balance transfer rate.

Don't take out a store card

These are generally sold by tempting shoppers with short term store discounts, don't fall for it! Whatever the discount the store offers you on the day, remember, it won't be as a gesture of goodwill. Nearly all store cards carry a vastly inflated rate of interest and they rely on you paying off the balance in full straight away.

Make sure you can afford your loan

If you're taking out a loan be careful not to overstretch your finances. Look carefully at your monthly income and outgoings and asses realistically what you can afford to pay each month. As long as you budget carefully and don't borrow more than you can comfortably afford to pay back then there no reason not to consider an unsecured loan. In fact with rates historically low at the moment now could be a good time to borrow. You would be well advised however to first check one of our loan calculators. This should give you a good idea of what you'd be paying every month.

Do you really need it?

It's easy to spend a little extra on clothes, food and drink and presents. However, if you make a list of what you need and stick to it, you're likely to save yourself more money this way than if you went out impulse shopping.

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Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2021.