Financial bovver needn't be the Ender the world

Eastenders' much-loved landlady Peggy Mitchell isn't the only one facing financial 'bovver' - everyday 2,750 County Court Judgments are issued in the UK and it is estimated that 8.2m British adults are in now serious debt.

Like Peggy, many people simply bury their head in the sand, hoping their problems will go away. In fact research by Credit Reference Agency Callcredit shows that upwards of 60% of UK consumers simply do not know how much they owe, while 15% openly admit to not having a clue!

A shocking proportion of those with debt problems are, like Peggy, over 60 - according to the Consumer Credit Counselling Service last year debt problems of this age group accelerated faster than any other and the organisation predicts that by the end of 2007 it will be helping more people over 60 than under 25.

So how can people best deal with debt and, perhaps more importantly, how can they avoid getting overburdened with debt in the first place? Mel Mitchley, debt expert at Callcredit offers some tips.

If you've 'done a Peggy' and are in financial difficulties:

  • Don't be a financial ostrich - take control of your finances and get a copy of your credit report. This will show you exactly how much you owe and to which lender
  • Once you know how much you owe, contact your lenders to work out a repayment plan
  • If you're struggling with repayments contact a debt advice service such as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service

To avoid getting into debt:

  • Work out a budget based on your income and fixed outgoings and stick to it
  • Before taking on additional debt ask yourself if you can afford the repayments
  • Take control of your finances by shopping around for the best credit deals and regularly checking your credit report