Bootcamp drill sergeant with whistle

Budget Bootcamp: Debt

Millions of us are falling into long-term debt because of coronavirus. It’s scary stuff but if we tackle it head on we can make life a little bit easier

Six million UK adults have fallen behind on bills during the pandemic. Those of us who were already struggling financially, have been hit the hardest.

Once we’re in the debt trap, it can take us years to get out. We need more help from the government but there are some things we can do ourselves.  This is where our budget bootcamp comes in.


Plan your budget every week. List your income and outgoings using the Budget Planner and try to make sure you don’t end up with a minus number. You can also download our free Spending Diary to keep a record of your outgoings.

Reduce your living costs – check out our bill busting tips here.

Take our Future Proof Finance Quiz to see if your money habits are getting you into trouble. You’ll also learn some quick wins for getting through the current crisis as well as longer-term goals.

Get help as soon as you realise you can’t make needs meet. Visit our Useful Contacts page for details.

If you have debts, pay off as much as you can afford each week, even if it’s a small amount. But don’t over-commit yourself. If you can’t keep up with the payments you will struggle to reach a new deal with lenders.

Understand how interest works – It’s the charge placed on top of what you borrow. The more you borrow, the more it costs you. Also the higher the percentage rate the more it costs you. Next time you see an ad for a payday loan or easy access credit, take note of the percentage. It could take you years to repay.

Pay off debts with the highest interest first eg credit cards or items bought on finance like a car. Also work out your ‘priority debts’. This includes rent arrears, council tax and energy bills. If you’re struggling to pay these it’s worth getting some advice. Citizens Advice have a page on this here.


Never borrow money from an unlicensed lender, even if it’s someone you know. They offer ready cash and there’s no paperwork but that also means they can ask you to pay whatever they like in future. If you get caught in this trap contact Stop Loan Sharks.

Don’t bury your head in the sand. There is free help available no matter how big or small your debt. You’ll feel better with someone on your side who can speak to lenders and even handle your payments for you.

Don’t be scared to pick up the phone to your lender as soon as you know you’re struggling. It’s in their interest to strike a deal with you.

Never borrow for anything you don’t absolutely need unless you are completely sure you can repay it on time – and preferably before the lender whacks interest on top.

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