Are you struggling with debt? Seek advice, start afresh.

There has been lots of discussion in recent weeks on the outcome of the forthcoming referendum on the local economy; we’re not for getting into that discussion but we are seeing that risks of uncertainty in the UK economy, threats of family food bills rising and a DIY recession are sending shivers down many people’s spines.

For many across Northern Ireland, their reality is that the scars of the most recent recession live on. Whilst our local economy technically exited recession almost three years ago, many individuals and businesses are still feeling the pain of tight cash-flow, rising debts and feeling they have nowhere to turn.

Interest only mortgages, negative equity, credit card and store card debts mean that many individuals are left struggling to deal with historic debt, often at the expense of their own health and wellbeing.

If you or someone you know finds yourself in this situation, know that there is always a way through. In our experience over many years advising clients in nancial difficulty, we find that so many individuals and businesses suffer the stress in silence. Take advice, take action and get your life back on track.

We have 5 key actions for those struggling with debt:

Speak to someone, anyone. A problem shared is a problem halved. Confide in a friend, speak to Citizens Advice Bureau or seek professional advice. Very often professional advisors will offer a free initial consultation; take them up on the offer, make an appointment and take their advice.

List out what you own and what you owe. By setting out what property, savings, vehicles and other assets you own, alongside your debts (business and personal), you will gain a better understanding of what “the gap” is and you can then look at options for how to bridge this. For some, this exercise will be shocking, the extent of the gap may seem overwhelming; but once you have the size of the problem defined, from there you can look at the options for how to deal with it.

Understand the rights of your creditors. When you owe someone money, the stress of not knowing what they can and cannot do can be overpowering. The fear of answering the phone or opening the door in case it’s someone looking paid. Don’t ignore letters threatening legal actions. An Insolvency Practitioner or your solicitor can advise you on your rights and what rights your creditors have too.

Take “bar room” chat lightly. So-called experts come in many guises. Be careful to fully understand your own position and the options available to you. Just because the guy next door apparently did a deal with his creditors, held onto his house and still drives a sports car doesn’t necessarily mean you can too. Every situation’s different and by no means does one size fit all.

Believe in the future. For whatever reason you find yourself in debt, know that there will be better days ahead. For some, bankruptcy could bring that relief; for others an Individual Voluntary Arrangement or informal settlement with creditors may be possible. Regardless of your position, take advice and find a solution which works best for you. Remember, some of the world’s most successful people hit the rocks before making the big time.

Is now the time for you to wipe the slate and start afresh?

Gerard Gildernew is a licensed Insolvency Practitioner. For a free initial consultation, contact Gerard at 028 8772 4697.

Posted on June 3, 2016