What to do if you’re in financial trouble.

Few things are more stressful in life than struggling with money matters. Financial stress can happen to anyone. A few unexpected bills, the loss of your job, or an illness or injury that prevents you from working – these can quickly turn your life upside down, leaving you strapped for cash, and potentially unable to pay bills or debts.

What matters is that you take early action to get back on track financially and tap into any support that’s available.

Here are nine tips to consider if you’re experiencing financial trouble.

1. Pick up the phone – talk to lenders.

Act fast to contact your bank, lenders and service providers (like your phone or power company) to let them know the situation. Many will negotiate a payment plan that is manageable for you.

It’s important to do this before you miss a repayment or bill. Simply skipping a payment could leave a black mark on your personal credit file, making it harder to get a loan in the future.

2. Draw up a budget.

A budget lets you see how much money is coming in, and how much is going out in regular household expenses. This way, you can clearly see where your money is going, so you know where you can cut back on spending to help make ends meet.

Use our Budget Planner calculator.

3. Focus on needs rather than wants.

Rebuilding your financial wellbeing may call for a few lifestyle changes that let you reduce personal outgoings and save money. This could mean selling the second car or downsizing to a more affordable home. These are not easy decisions to make, but concentrating your spending on needs rather than wants can help you regain financial control sooner.

4. Check if you’re eligible for financial support.

If you’re struggling for cash, contact Centrelink. You could be eligible for income support payments or other types of financial assistance depending on your situation.

5. Speak with a financial counsellor.

If you need help contacting creditors, drafting a budget, or juggling multiple debts, free financial counselling is available with trained professionals. It can help you get back on track financially. Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to get started.

6. Resist the urge to take on more debt.

A payday loan can seem like a quick fix if you’re struggling financially. But taking on more debt could just make a tough time even more difficult.

7. Watch for promises of quick solutions.

When money problems weigh you down, it can be tempting to reach out for what seems like a fast solution like payday loans. There are also plenty of companies that advertise services to fix debt problems – for a fee. However, be very careful about selecting this option. There is no silver bullet to get out of debt fast, and you could end up owing even more money for a service that does very little to improve your situation.

8. Look after your mental wellbeing.

Financial hardship can be very challenging, and it’s important to take care of your personal wellbeing. Organisations like Beyond Blue (1300 22 46 36), Lifeline (13 11 44). Specific to injured veterans and their families there is Bravery Trust (1800 272 837). These services can provide valuable emotional support when you need it.

9. Give yourself time.

Just as getting into money troubles can take time, it may also take a while to get on top of serious money issues. But it can be done. With persistence and commitment, it is possible to turn the corner and get your finances back under control.

If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, you can count on our Member Care team to talk you through the many options available. Call us on 1800 033 139, or visit your local branch to find out more.

Got questions? We have the answers. See our FAQs.

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