Start with making a list of everything you owe and all your outgoings and income to get a clearer picture of what you owe. You could get advice about the best way to sort out payment plans that are affordable. Make a plan and stick to it. It will feel much better when you can go shopping, knowing what you can afford.
There are always ways to get back on track. If you’re stuck and struggling, ask for help. Start with us at One Parent Families Scotland. It won’t go away if you ignore it, and it can put you and your children under a lot of pressure.
Most people use credit and lots of us are in debt. It’s not something to be ashamed of. You’ve not let anyone down and it doesn’t make you a bad parent.
Many single parents worry about doing the wrong thing. That’s when it’s good to find out as much as you can, to know your rights, and to get support when you need it. It’s better if you can manage debt rather than the other way around.
Feeling more in control
When you’re paying money back, work out what to pay and in what order:
Who will do most damage (charge most interest)?
What’s a priority debt/lesser priority?
Is it possible to get any of your payments cut down a little so you can afford to pay them?
If you can’t afford to pay everyone, look at who will wait to get their money. So, for example, you might pay rent arrears before paying a loan.
Once you know how much you have left after you pay off all the things you need to pay for, you can decide who gets what.
For example, you could pay each of them a token payment each month until you get back on your feet, if you have the money to do that. Or you may need to get them all to accept a new reduced payment that you can afford to pay over a longer period.
If you can, at least make a minimum payment, until you can get free advice from a money adviser (like Citizens Advice at the link below). A money adviser will help you sort everything out and may be able to put a hold on things to help you get sorted.
If you do manage to get a payment reduced, could you put a little of the money you’ve saved away? Say into a credit union?
Take a look at our Budget and debt planner on our main website. This is a help guide to help you to do a weekly budget which you can use when contacting your creditors.
When you’re really worried about something, it’s tempting to ignore it and hope it will go away. It rarely does.
Try to think about what will make you feel better. Is there something that would take away some of the worry?
Knowing as much as you can about your situation, and making a plan about what to do can help you feel less worried.
Is there anything that you need to find out, or know more about? Having information and facts can make you feel more in control.
Who could you speak to? You’re not alone. Lots of other single parents are going through the same thing. It’s not something to be ashamed of. You can get on top of whatever is going on.
Speaking to other parents is great but it’s a better idea to talk to a money adviser who can look at things objectively and who is trained to help you get the best result for your circumstances. If you had toothache, you’d go to the dentist or if washing machine wasn’t working properly, you’d get a repair person out. So, if your finances aren’t working for you, ask for advice rather than thinking that you have to fix it all yourself. Our advisers can talk through your options with you on our Lone Parent Helpline and webchat. Just call 0808 801 0323.
Loans and savings
Everyone borrows money (buys credit). A mortgage is credit.
But shop around before you borrow anything because some deals are much better and safer than others. And there are different kinds of lenders too.
Be very careful not to get involved with payday lenders or ‘loan sharks’ (illegal money lenders).
Borrowing money off friends and family isn’t a great idea as it can cause problems if you can’t pay the money back and they need or want it back.
If you’re shopping online be wary of ‘buy now, pay later’ deals which are often offered at the checkout. The terms may not be all that they seem. These sorts of loans affect your credit rating.
Learn as much as you can about interest rates and how interest is charged before you sign on any dotted lines.
Ask exactly how much any credit will cost in total. If they won’t tell you don’t use them. By law, a company has to tell you the total cost of credit. They often quote the terms of the credit as an example. But when you see exactly how much it’s going to cost you, it gives you a better idea, and you can then decide what’s best for you.
Think about using a credit union for loans and savings. These are for everyone including those who can’t get ordinary bank products. There may be one in your area or workplace.
Use your common sense. If anything seems too good to be true, it is.
If you desperately need money for essentials, remember there are trusted organisations that can advise you and tell you about grants and other crisis support. Our advisers can talk through your options with you on our Lone Parent Helpline and webchat. Just call 0808 801 0323.
You can search for grants that are available to apply for in your area at Turn2Us.
You can check your credit score for free by joining Credit Club. This is useful for checking what’s on your file, missed payments, if there are errors, and for improving your score. Monthly reports can alert you to fraud.
If you owe money to a loan shark (an illegal money lender), you can report this in confidence to Trading Standards Scotland on 0800 074 0878, or online at www.tsscot.co.uk.
You may not want other people to know that you’ve been searching for information or help from OPFS.
When browsing the internet whether on a mobile phone, tablet or computer, you leave a ‘history’ trail of pages and sites you’ve visited.
It’s impossible to completely avoid being tracked online but if you’re worried about someone knowing which sites you’ve been looking at, there are some things you can do to help cover your tracks.
If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer, try keeping another document or website open in a new tab or window while browsing. If someone comes in the room and you don’t want them to see what you’re looking at, you can quickly switch to another window or tab.
Deleting browsing history
You can delete the history of websites you’ve visited, but it’s important to know that if you delete your browsing history, someone else using the same device may notice.
If you share a tablet, mobile phone, laptop or computer with someone, they might notice that passwords or website addresses have disappeared from their history.
Find out how to remove your browsing history and other data from some of the most commonly used browsers: