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Survival Guide Keep on top of your finances

Survival Guide

No matter the size of your financial problems there are steps you can take to tackle them and the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Building Societies Association, Citizens Advice and Shelter have worked together to come up with ten tips to help struggling households get through the tough times.

1. Get talking

If you are worried about your finances, your first move should be to start talking: talk to your lender, talk to your partner and talk to a free, independent Debt Adviser. The earlier you tell your lender, the more options will be available to solve the problem.

Options that your lender may consider include: extending the terms of the mortgage, changing the type of mortgage, deferring interest payments for a short period and treating the arrears as part of the original debt.

2. Get advice

There are many organisations which offer free and independent money advice such as Citizens Advice, Shelter, National Debtline and the Step Change Debt Charity. Their Debt Advisers can assess your situation and devise the best course of action for you.

3. Plan ahead

If you are coming to the end of a fixed rate mortgage in the near future, start planning ahead for higher repayments and researching the best deals in the market now.

4. Don't bury your head in the sand

Ignoring your debt problems will only make them worse. Positive action will help you find ways to solve them.

5. Pay your priority debts first

A mortgage is a priority debt because, if you don't pay this, you could lose your home. Debt Advisers can help you plan your budget and pay your priority debts first.

6. Pay what you can each month

If you cannot afford your full monthly mortgage repayments, you should talk to your lender and still pay what you can afford.

7. Open all your post

Don't ignore letters or telephone calls from your lender; if you are not sure what they mean ask your lender or a Debt Adviser. Open all mail that is addressed 'to the occupiers'; if you are a tenant this is how the mortgage lender will contact you if the landlord has a payment problem.

8. Facing possession proceedings? Don't panic

Always attend the court hearings yourself. Court proceedings do not mean that you will automatically lose your home. The court process acts as a final check to make sure repossession is the last resort. Some courts have advice desks which can provide last minute assistance.

9. Don't abandon your property

If you are struggling with mortgage repayments you may be tempted to send the keys to your lender or abandon your property. Don't do this without advice. You can still be responsible for the debt on the property and may be pursued for it years later.

Sources of free advice include:

In order to view what advice is available, please click on the appropriate organisation to link through to their website: