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The tail end of January is always a particularly painful time of year for anybody who is having trouble with debt. December is an expensive month, and early paydays often mean people have gone for five or six weeks without pay.

Now, as January paycheques are hitting banks accounts, it’s a good time to take stock of your situation and see if you are managing your debt in the best possible way.

While as a law firm, we don’t deal with debt advice directly, we frequently see the devastating impact that it can have on families and individuals, and we are often visited in our legal walk-in centre in Darlington by people with debt problems.

It can feel intimidating and daunting, but debt problems can be addressed if you get the right advice and commit to paying it off regularly and dependably.

Don’t hide from the problem

Hiding from your debt problem is a bad idea on a lot of levels. Not only will the debt not go away by itself, but you will cause yourself a huge amount of mental anguish, not to mention sleepless nights, by not addressing your debt.

Nothing is worth damaging your health for, so tackle the problem head on. New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep, so let’s not call it a resolution, but make it your aim for the next couple of months to get on top of your debt. We promise you’ll feel better.

Seek professional advice

If you come to see us at our walk-in centre, we’ll try our best to guide you in the right direction. However, there are a host of organisations set up to help people dealing with debt and you might want to consider going there first. Don’t be ashamed about talking to them – you can guarantee they’ll have helped people in much worse situations than yours.

Plus, once you can start talking about your problem, you’ll find it is far less scary.

Some of the following may be worth a look as a starting point. The Government-run Money Advice Service is excellent and completely impartial, and the charity StepChange is also useful.

You might also want to consider a debt management company such as PayPlan or National Debtline’s My Money Steps – but be sure to check that any organisation of this kind is not charging you for its services.

Try not to pile debt onto more debt

Sadly, we still live in a society where debt is easy to acquire. It is sometimes easier to open a credit card account than it is to open a savings account, which shows we, as a country, might have things slightly backwards.

However, try to ignore them temptation of more debt – even if it does seem like the easiest option. Always avoid payday lenders, loan sharks and expensive credit cards – they are there to make money, not to help you.

Control your spending

This may seem like an obvious point, especially in our ‘have it now’ culture, but really think about what you need and don’t need. Try not to buy anything unnecessary while you are paying off your debt.

Your happiness is more important, and we promise that shaking off your debt will make you happier than anything you can by in a shop!