Managing DebtIs your credit secretly preventing you from getting the job?
Poor-credit does not make someone a terrible person. Mistakes are made, emergencies come up, expenses begin to accrue; it can happen to anyone, especially if you have recently been fired or just experienced a layoff.
However, the effects of not so good credit can be extremely damaging to one's
professional life and personal finances. A low credit-score can mean the
difference between a good loan rate and the cold shoulder at the bank.
If you've ever applied
for a credit card, personal loan, insurance or a job, there's a file on you.
This file contains your life story -- where you live and work, how you pay your
bills, whether you've been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy. All this
information is compiled by a credit-reporting agency and assigned a score or
credit rating. These private agencies are enjoying huge growth by selling
personal information to all these companies.
Get advise from the Citizen's Advise Bureau. They may be able to help you directly, but can also tell you about free legal advise (roughly 30 minutes, which is enough to find out your problems and advise you where to go and the costs that you would incur).
If you have on going bills, hire purchase, mortgage and credit card debts you will have to plan how to manage these until you get full time employment again. Don't assume that you will get a job quickly. You have to plan now. This looses you nothing as even when returning back into the work place it may take you time to get re-established.
Work out you budget. List all your expenses over the last 12 months. Budget in rising utility bills. Estimate personal travel costs and separately what it was/might cost to go to work. If you have two cars in the family consider selling one, take it off the road (to claim back road tax and insurance) although maintaining a car off the road can lead to other problems when you want to get it in use again making selling it a better option.
Find out and apply for benefits. Although the rule of mortgages taken out after 1995 means that help on the interest charged does not start for 40 weeks it can not be back dated. Also, if the property is in two names then the other person will have to pay half of the interest of the mortgage or claim benefits themselves. It may be possible to apply for a joint claim, but their earnings have to be declared each week. Yes, it gets complex. You would get significantly more rent allowance than benefit to cover the mortgage interest. You may soon find that you can't cover the mortgage and have to sell, although making yourself homeless could result in getting no housing benefit. Get advise as soon as you can. Hopefully you will not need the help and get quickly back into work, however many people have found their new job also do the way of their last few - into redundancy.
Get your mortgage on to an interest only repayment. Write to your creditors, return your credit cards and get an agreement to pay off any balance, interest free, at a reduced rate that you can afford. Your budget will show what you can sensibly afford to pay. Keep them informed of any change. If you get work pay off more. It you return to work provide a new budget plan. You may find that at some stage you can pay off the remaining debts at a reduced rate particularly eliminating the late payment charges and interest incurred after you requested an agreement.
Credit card companies may apply a charging order on your property, where they are paid the amount owed and interest before you get any money from the sale of the property. They can also apply to the court to take any and nearly all processions in your home that are not recognised as needed to for living or pursuing work. So you may reasonably expect to keep the cooker and fridge and even a computer or a car, provided it is not significantly more expensive than a cheap second hand car if you can show that these are needed in order to secure work or for other reasons. If you have children under 16 then the court may rule that you can not be evicted until the youngest child is 16, particularly if you have shown ever effort to reduce expenses, to secure work and to make regular payments to creditors. You can still be made bankrupt. This not only affects your credit rating and prevents you from running your own business but could also prevent you from taking up many jobs.
You need financial and legal advise. The Citizen's Advice Bureau and Job Centre Plus should be able to help point you to the right organisation.
It is hardly surprising that loosing your job and getting into further debt
often results in a split in the family leading to devoice.
How to cope after job and financial losses
Here is some advice for dealing with anxiety and uncertainty after job and
financial losses. You may want to consider a volunteer opportunity. Volunteering
is a way to avoid isolation, develop skills and be part of a community. Network.
Don't retreat. Often when job seekers feel stressed, they isolate themselves.
Having a good social network is a coping mechanism. Not to mention that most
people find new jobs through a networking contact!
working in a downturn
dealing with debt
LoveMoney for tips on credit cards, finance and saving money
Motley Fool (US) (UK) for tips on finance, savings, mortgages, credit cards and how to save money
Last updated 8th March 2009