Getting out of debt can be a big relief. But it’s not just the short-term effects of debt that can have an impact on your finances. Because of the impact on your credit rating, debt problems can affect your finances further down the line too, which means getting back on your feet once you’ve paid your debts off in full isn’t always as simple as you may have hoped.
Many approaches to dealing with debt problems – from debt management plans to bankruptcy – will affect your credit rating, and records will generally show up on your credit file for between three and six years. This could mean you have problems getting access to certain financial services, such as opening a bank account, or taking out further credit.
However, there are things that can help. Let’s look at some of the basic steps you could take to help you get back on your feet after being in debt.
Find a suitable bank account
Simply having a bank account is a great way to stay on top of your finances. When you’re applying for a bank account, though, banks and building societies could turn you down if you’ve had serious problems with debt in the past – for example, if you’ve been bankrupt.
However, many account providers also offer basic bank accounts, which offer many of the same services you’d get with a normal account – but are aimed at people who may have problems getting a standard current account.
Some basic bank accounts don’t require a credit check, and some could even help you to budget by separating the money you need for your essential living costs from your disposable income – which could give you peace of mind that you’re never spending more than you can safely afford.
On the other hand, basic bank accounts don’t tend to offer features like overdrafts or give much interest on your balance.
Everyone has different needs, so it’s important to take the time to compare what each basic bank account has to offer.
Plan a strict budget
Organising your finances so you can keep on top of the money you earn and manage how it’s all spent every month could really help you regain a solid financial foundation. Creating a carefully planned budget is one of the best ways of staying in control of your money – and avoiding further financial problems in the future.
Firstly, work out all the money you receive in your account on a regular monthly basis: including your salary and any benefits you receive. Secondly, work out all your essential outgoings every month – such as your rent/mortgage, food and utilities, as well as anything else your household regularly spends money on.
Then, if you subtract everything you spend from everything you earn, you’ll be left with your ‘discretionary’ income – in other words, spending money – some of which could be put into savings, if you wish. As long as you keep all your spending within this monthly amount, you should greatly reduce the likelihood of future money problems.
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