When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Budgeting and financial management

Get advice if you are having money problems. It can be hard to ask for help, but there are lots of organisations who will help.

They won't judge you or make you feel bad. They are there to help you deal with your debt.

Contact Housing Rights if you owe money on your rent, mortgage or rates.

Listing your debts

A debt adviser will ask you to gather details of everyone you owe money to. This can include

  • housing bills (like rent, mortgage, rates, service charges and ground rent)

  • utilities (like electricity, gas, internet)

  • banks and credit union loans

  • online or payday loan companies

  • credit cards

  • store cards

  • buy now, pay later companies

  • doorstep lenders

  • loan sharks. 

These are your creditors. Have a look through your post and emails to find messages from your creditors. 

Financial statement or household budget

Your next step is to make a household budget or financial statement. This should be a realistic look at all your income and all your spending.

You need to be realistic. Don't say you only spend £40 a week on groceries if you really need to spend £70.

Stepchange has a template you can use and advice on how to make a good financial statement.

There are lots of free smartphone apps that keep track of your spending. These can help you stick to a budget.

Checking your income and spending

A debt adviser will check if there is anyway to improve your finances. This could mean

  • increasing your hours at work

  • checking if you can claim benefits

  • switching utilities to better deals

  • reducing what you spend on luxury items. 

The adviser needs to be sure your financial statement is something you can stick to for a long time. Once they are happy with this, they can work out how much extra income you have each month. This is called your "surplus" or "disposable income"

Making offers to your creditors

There are different ways to deal with debt. One of the things a debt adviser can help you with is working out how much to pay each creditor.

A debt adviser should help you work out which debts are the most important. You should focus on emergency and priority debts. These are any debts that could end up with you

  • losing your home (e.g. your rent, mortgage or rates)

  • having your utilities cut off

  • being taken to court

  • losing access to essential items or services (e.g. losing your car if you need it to work).

Other ways to deal with debt

A debt adviser can talk to you about other ways to deal with your debt. They can ask your creditors to

  • suspend interest and charges,

  • suspend recovery of the debt, 

  • accept token payments, or

  • write off the debts.