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Reduce debt to reduce stress: Debt reduction checklist

Money worries can weigh you down and make you feel ill.

A 2013 survey by charity debt counsellors Christians Against Poverty found that 42% of those seeking debt help had been prescribed medication by their GP to help them cope.

Use this checklist to help you curb your expenses and get in better financial health.

  • Cut up your credit cards. If you want to keep one, leave it at home.
  • Organise your financial records. Figure out how much you owe and to whom.
  • Budget by tracking what you spend this month and looking for unnecessary expenses you can cut next month.
  • Pay bills on time to avoid late charges.
  • Target debts that have the highest interest rates and fees. Pay them off first.
  • Pay credit card balances in full if you can. Next best thing: make more than the minimum payment.
  • Ask for a pay rise, offer to work overtime, or look for a second job. Use any extra income to lower debt.
  • Take unwanted stuff to a car boot sale or sell items you don't need online. Use whatever you make to pay bills.
  • If you're tempted by internet shopping or TV shopping channels, use parental controls to deny yourself access to them.
  • Start an emergency fund. Use that instead of a credit card for unexpected expenses.
  • Create a barter system. Swap items and services with friends and neighbours to cut expenses.
  • Look for low-cost entertainment: parks, movies from the library, picnics, instead of restaurant dinners.
  • Talk with your family. Get everyone onside with your debt-reduction plan.
  • Contact your creditors. Ask about negotiating a payment plan.
  • Consolidate higher-interest credit card balances to one with a lower interest rate.
  • If you live in England and regularly pay for prescriptions, consider buying a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). In general if you pay for more than 12 prescription items a year a PPC will save you money and you can pay for it over 10 months by direct debit. Prescriptions are free in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • Keep your eyes on the future prize! Paying off bills may not be fun now, but it will improve your life and help you achieve goals long term.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 18, 2015

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