How to prepare for a DMP review

posted by in Living with debt

Review your budget

Time for a review

So your DMP has been ticking over nicely for a year now. Hopefully your creditors aren’t hounding you and you’re budgeting like a pro.

But we know that this isn’t always the case; kids grow older, bills go up and situations can change quite quickly.

This is why it’s important to review your situation regularly, or as and when things change.

We know how easy it is to look at your monthly surplus and work towards that, rather than budgeting for everything accurately. It’s easy to spend the car tax allowance on extra food but then what happens when it’s due? Something else has to give for you to be able to afford it.

This is why we’re here to help you prepare and maintain a sustainable budget. Rather than carrying on regardless we can look at your situation again, and more importantly there may even be other solutions that are now available to you.

In a review, we’ll typically;

  • discuss how you’re managing to live on a budget,
  • make any necessary changes to your budget, and
  • make sure that you and your family have enough money to live on.

How should you prepare?

It’s similar to how you prepared for your initial appointment with us. Rather than make changes to your current budget, you might find it more useful to start from scratch. This way you won’t be influenced by any old figures.

Income

We need to know how much income you receive. If it’s been a year since your last review it’s likely that this has changed even if you haven’t realised it.

Gather as much information as possible about your income;

  • This would include wage slips, benefit statements, pensions, a record of any board you receive from lodgers, and child maintenance
  • If you’re paid overtime or bonuses remember that it’s best not to include these in your monthly income if they’re not guaranteed
  • If your income fluctuates try to work out your average wage
  • Everything should be shown ‘per calendar month’ (we can work this out when you phone/log-on) to keep your budget consistent. There aren’t four weeks in every month so if it’s a weekly amount multiply it by 52 then divide by 12. We can help you to work this out

Outgoings

Again, it’s likely that your expenditure has changed since the last time you spoke to us. It could be that the gas bill has increased or you’re saving money on transport because you no longer have a car.

Remember that if you were previously paying towards arrears that have been cleared your monthly payment should have reduced.

We’ll ask you for your priority costs such as rent or mortgage and utility bills but also your everyday costs such as food shopping and travel.

To help you work out your everyday costs always check your bank statements and try writing down everything you buy over a month. Keeping your receipts can be useful as you can then add up the figures and work out an average monthly amount for everyday items.

Although the majority of bills are paid monthly you may also have costs that are less frequent such as your dentist visits and the car’s MOT. To budget for these, work out how much you would spend in a year and divide that by 12. This is the amount you need to budget for every month.

You may be able to reduce your spending on some costs such as gas and electricity. Our utility switching service provides an impartial service which compares the prices of household energy suppliers.

Creditors

If you’ve had any correspondence from your creditors with updated balances it’s useful to give us these too. It means that we can more accurately estimate your debt free date.

Don’t forget that if your debt is sold on to a collections company or your balance is incorrect, you can update us using your OnlineDMP (login required).

How often?

We ask you to complete a review of your budget at least once a year throughout the course of your plan.

However, changes in your personal circumstances are almost bound to happen at some time during the term of your DMP. These changes could be anything, such as:

  • Moving house
  • Losing or changing jobs
  • Needing to replace an essential household item
  • Increases in household bills
  • Unexpected expense
  • The members of your household change, for example, if you have a baby

If you do experience a change in your circumstances, whether it is a short term emergency or a long term situation, there’s no need to panic. Just get in touch with us and we can discuss the best way forward for you.

Pavan Gata-Aura is a qualified debt advisor with 6 years of experience. She enjoys spending time with her two children, fundraising for charities, has spent time volunteering in Africa and takes part in organised races.

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