Loans, credit cards, mortgage payments, bills – should you be worried about what you owe? This debt test will help you to find out how likely you are to have problems with your borrowing over the next year or so.

Just answer a few simple questions about you and your finances, and it will

  • tell you whether you should worry about how much you borrow;
  • give you some tips on how to avoid debt problems; and
  • help you to tackle your debts if you are in trouble.

All information provided is completely confidential - we won't see any of your information or pass it on to anyone else.  To take advantage of this service provided by the FSA, BBC and Experian please follow to the debt test.

Debt and Money Advice

With more and more people feeling the effects of the economic downturn we wanted to make sure that people in the district who want debt and money advice know exactly where to turn to.

Debt problems can affect anyone, not just people or families on low incomes.  There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of by asking for help in dealing with a problem.  Speaking with someone sooner rather than later will help you to manage your situation.  Debt issues have a major impact on people - their lives, their homes, family relationships and health including mental health.

People in serious debt are desperate to find a solution, and companies can profit from this by offering 'solutions' with high interest rates and hidden fees, and 'low monthly payments' disguise the fact that the original debt is left untouched for years and years.  This is why it is very important to seek impartial advice from organisations who can offer the best solution for you:

  • See the External Contacts listed on the right
  • The Debt Advice Foundation is a registered national debt advice and education charity offering free, confidential support and advice to anyone worried about loans, credit and debt.
  • The Norfolk County Council site impartially details a number of other organisations that are specially trained in providing guidance and support on financial management including housing and legal matters. 

Debt Prevention

There is no such thing as an unsolvable debt problem - it might not be easy or quick, but there is always a route.  Debts are urgent, they compound rapidly over time, and can speedily spiral into trouble. The earlier you take them on, the easier they are to deal with, and this Dealing with debt guide written by Martin Lewis on the Money Saving Expert website can help you do just that, step-by-step.

As debt is not just a finance issue, but one that feeds into all elements of your life, and the solutions are wide and varied; whether it is cutting interest costs, budgeting, challenging the legality of your debts, or simply where to find real one-on-one help.

Budgeting your finances

The problem is most budgets don't work; they only look at a month's spending and miss too much out. It may be weekly or, in the case of Christmas or Summer Holidays, annually; this leaves most budgets missing out a chunk of expenditure - and thus not adding up.

The Budget Planner is therefore designed so you can enter how often you buy certain items and, rather than the typical 20 categories of spending, has over 90 (many added due to users' suggestions) to ensure you don't miss anything.

  • Do I spend more than I earn? This can lead to major problems, as continued overspending leads to serious debt. The Budget Planner will definitively answer this question and give you a real assessment of your finances.
  • What can I afford to spend?  The most important thing is to prioritise your expenditure and stick within your means. You may discover that you are overspending, but by budgeting using the piggy bank technique you may be able to avoid it getting out of control.

For extra advice and tips on how to deal with the credit crunch, an excellent website is GMTV's regular Martin Lewis's site Money Saving Expert for specialist advice on debt, and for many other money saving techniques.