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Starting a debt management plan (DMP) can be daunting, but there are practical things you can do to help make your life easier. There are also things you should avoid, to help things run more smoothly.
I spend most of my days talking to people on DMPs and helping them to deal with the unexpected costs that can crop up. If you follow these straightforward dos and don’ts it should make your life much easier!
5 ways to help your DMP run smoothly
- Try and hold your nerve with your creditors. A surprising number of the phone calls and letters you’ll receive early on are automated – things usually settle down quite quickly once your creditors see payments going through your DMP. It’s possible for creditors to take further action against you, and creditors don’t have to stop contacting you, but contact us so we can put your concerns into context.
- Stay on the ball. Some debts are sold to collection agencies – this isn’t a problem, but do let us know if it happens to you. Make sure all your debts are on the DMP, even if you think you can manage that catalogue payment or want to keep your overdraft “for emergencies”. Credit outside your DMP is against its terms and conditions.
- Accept that it takes time to settle down. Time and consistency are the best weapons you have; get your payments off the ground and commit to it and you’ll find that your creditors should calm down, as long as you have a budget to back you up. If they don’t, you may have grounds to complain.
- Keep in mind that things may change. We think our budgets are realistic but sometimes things come out of the blue. If you’ve had an unexpected change you can contact us and we’ll be able to help you adjust your budget.
- Be literal about your budget. Get organised, not just for this month but for next month, and the year ahead. Where there’s a monthly allocation for things on your budget, you should physically put money aside. I’d suggest putting it a folder or separate account, and keeping a record.
It may sound silly, but it could be the difference between you running a successful budget or not – it’ll be there when life throws you a curve ball! It also means that you’ll be able to see whether your budget is accurate, and review it if not.
5 things to avoid on your DMP
- Don’t panic! Nothing is as bad as it looks. The majority of problems can be resolved by remaining calm, keeping up to date with changes (especially reading our Debt News series of blogposts each month), and staying in contact with us. There’s a whole department dedicated to supporting you once you’re up and running – we know you’ll need it, and that’s why we’re here.
- Don’t pay creditors separately to the DMP payment, in the hope of keeping them quiet. This could suggest to the creditor that you’ll respond to pressure and that your budget is inaccurate if you can afford to pay extra ‘on the side’. It also might seem like you’re showing preference to the creditor in question.
- Please don’t push on if you feel things aren’t right. If you’re struggling, if you’re frightened, or if you lie in bed at night worrying, then please pick the phone up. We’re here to do more than just administer payments. We understand and we can help. Don’t beat yourself up over it either – a debt problem is nothing to be ashamed of.
- Resist searching the internet for answers to questions. Forums have their place (we regularly post on the MoneySavingExpert.com boards, for example), but when you’re already anxious about something, you need tailored advice! Give us a quick call; we won’t sugar-coat anything but we’ll know what, if anything, you need to do.
- It won’t come naturally, but try not to treat your DMP payment like any other priority bill. You need to focus on your budget. That way, you’ll know if the deposit is affordable. We do everything we can to make sure your budget is accurate. However if your quality of life is suffering as a result of your DMP payment, then your DMP isn’t doing its job properly – and again, you should call us for help. The real priority in all of this is you.
If you’ve got any other tips you’d like to suggest that might help people manage on a DMP then pop a comment in the box below.