1. Never ignore debt problems. They will not go away and the longer you leave them the worse they will get.

  2. Think carefully before borrowing money to pay off debts. It is seldom the right answer and can often make life worse for you even leading you to losing your home.

  3. Benefits and tax credits. Check you are claiming all the benefits and tax credits to which you are entitled.

  4. Income Tax. Are you sure that you have been given the correct tax code and so are not paying too much tax. If in doubt, contact your tax office.

  5. Budget. Work out a personal budget showing all your incomes and outgoings so that you can clearly see where you stand financially and plan ahead. Use our online tools to help you.

  6. Talk to your creditors. Get in touch with all your creditors straight away and explain your difficulties.

  7. Prioritise your debts. Make sure you tackle your important debts first – for instance debts that could mean you losing your home, the council taking you to court or having your gas or electricity cut off.

  8. Offers. Make a reasonable offer to repay the money based on what you can afford - you still have to live!

  9. Do not give up. Even if creditors are difficult do not give up trying to reach an agreement.

  10. Court papers and appearance. Fill in the reply forms to court papers in good time. Let the court have all the facts and keep copies of all correspondence. Always attend court hearings and take a copy of your budget with you.

  11. Get help. Call us on 01403 258040 to arrange an appointment or there are a number of free debt advice services [see our Links page], all of which could help you.