Debt can destroy. Lives can be ruined, families can be torn apart, homes can be lost and dreams can be crushed. And debt, if mismanaged, can lead to more debt.
But sometimes, debt is suddenly forced upon you and it may not be your fault.
A divorce, an accident, or tragically, the death of a loved one, can turn your world and finances upside down.
The key is to try to put emotion aside, and make a few changes and requests for information that will make your life easier in the long run, even if it seems impossible at the time. Solutions are out there.
Shared debts with a deceased partner
If you shared debts with a partner who has passed away, it is possible that the survivor may not be responsible for the outstanding debt, or that insurance may pay off the balance. Act quickly, or ask a loved one to act on your behalf (although youâ€™ll need to be present for any phone calls that are made) to verify this.
If you do need to pay the debt, then you might need to rearrange your finances start by contacting your bank or the lender and explain the situation. They may give you a month or twoâ€™s respite, they may change the term of lending to a longer period, or they may freeze the interest. For more information on dealing with debt in the event of death go to www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.
Only you know your finances and what you can do without. Again, a friend might be able to help with making the phone calls to gym, satellite and magazine subscription companies to cancel. If you can get a monitor installed to keep an eye on utility bills, then do so. If you canâ€™t make those payments, give the company a ring to see if you can change your schedule.
Online shopping can be cheaper and easier, car sharing can cut petrol costs, and although you might feel bad, ending direct debit payments to charity might save you a vital few pounds a month. None of these changes need last forever.
As well as devoting time to saving money you should try to make some as well. Instant fixes include renting out your parking space, trading in your books, mobile phone and CDs, and taking online surveys. There are more solutions at Save the Student, for people of all ages.
In desperation – ultra-frugal savings
Using hair as dental floss? Washing your clothes in the shower at the same time as yourself? Checking in lost property places for items that can be used? It might not sound too endearing, but for some people these fixes are a way of life,ereâ€™s an extreme example from the Daily Mail.
The toughest part might be explaining to your children that they have to go without for a month or two, especially as theyâ€™ve just lost their mum or dad. Promise that youâ€™ll treat them later in the year, and mean it.
Weâ€™ve already touched on the role friends can play with practicalities, but they can also lend a hand emotionally by rallying around you at a delicate time. The familiar promise of, ‘if thereâ€™s anything I can do, just ask’, means just that; if they can help temporarily with shopping costs, transporting kids to school and the like, theyâ€™ll do so. Ask them to keep an eye out for vouchers and offers in the newspapers as well. And finally, donâ€™t be shy of asking if you can spend the odd night staying with them for support.