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Dealing with Debt Stress: How to get back up when you are down

Debt stress can manifest into serious physical, mental and emotional issues. Many people struggling with financial hardship are also dealing with depression and anxiety. The anguish caused by debt stress branches out into your family and home life, your workplace and your social circles.

To tackle your debt stress head on, you need to deal with each issue at a time. You need to reduce your debt and then you can reduce your stress.

Reduce your Debt

Get to know your debt

Up until now you have probably been completely ignoring your debt. Out of sight out of mind right? While it might seem incredibly overwhelming to sit down and stare your debt in the face, it is a crucial part of overcoming your debt stress. Let’s get organised. You’ll need:

  • a piece of paper or a notebook
  • a pen
  • your wallet or purse
  • recent bank statements and bills
  • a computer to check internet banking and emails

Now you can get an idea of your debt situation.

  1. On your piece of paper, start to write down all the debts you can remember. These include personal loans, credit cards, interest-free store credit and even any overdue bills with services you can no longer use. For example, you might have an overdue phone bill and your phone service has been cut off.
  2. Once you have written down all the debts you can remember, it’s time to search for the forgotten debts. Go through your wallet for credit cards, look through your statements and go through your internet banking for any direct debits you have missed.
  3. Now you have a good idea of who your creditors are, you need to figure out how much you owe. Write the amount, or the best guess you have, down next to each creditor.

This is your total debt. Now you know how much you owe and to who, you can create an action plan to make your repayments as best you can and start to manage your finances.

Call your Creditors

Many financial institutions offer hardship arrangements. If you are in debt stress and struggling to make repayments, you can ask your financial institution for some leeway. Sometimes your creditor will freeze or reduce the interest payments for a few months to help you get back on track. They might also extend the payment deadlines, giving you more time to get your money together.

Create a budget

Debt stress can spiral out of control because money drives so much of our lives. You need money to pay rent, buy food, keep clean and presentable, get to and from your job and everything in between. These necessities should come first.

There is a simple way to figure out how much money you need for everyday essentials. Anything left over can go towards your debts.

  1. On another piece of paper, write down your income, then underneath, write down all your essential living expenses. These include groceries, rent/mortgage, petrol, water bills, power bills, allowance for clothes, school fees and anything else you provide for your family.
  2. If any of these expenses are quarterly, like your power bill, divide the expense to match your income. So if you are paid weekly, divide it by thirteen.
  3. Add all of your expenses together. This total is how much money you need to afford your everyday living. Take these expenses away from your income and anything you have left over can go towards your debts.

You might find from this exercise that you don’t have any money left after your everyday expenses are paid to put towards your debt. Don’t panic, there are debt relief solutions available to help you pay your debt in a more affordable way, like a Part 9 Debt Agreement.

Find a Debt Relief Solution to pay off your debt

You are now positioned to deal with your debt once and for all. Things like a Debtstroyer Agreement and a Part 9 Debt Agreement can permanently reduce your debt, freeze your interest and give you time to repay your debts in conditions that suit you.

As soon as you employ our services we go in to act on your behalf. The harassing phone calls will cease, the creditors will get off your back and your debt repayments will be reduced to an affordable regular repayment.  If you wish to discuss your options with Debt Rescue call right now on 1800 00 3328.

Reduce your Stress

While you are dealing with your debt, it is important to reduce the stress it is creating in other areas of your life. You can try one, some or all of the following methods to reduce debt stress in your life. You know what works for you so do what feels right.

Talk to someone

We receive calls from hundreds of Aussies each day seeking help with their debts. As we speak to our clients and get to know their debt situation, certain patterns keep popping up. One thing we see over and over again is people keeping their debt from their partners. Debt has a certain stigma attached to it and those who are struggling with their finances tend to do so in silence. Embarrassment, depression and shame tend to dominate people’s emotions when it comes to debt, but in actual fact, having a friend you can talk to about your situation can help improve your stress and keep on track to financial recovery.

No two cases of debt are the same and no one knows what is best for your safety and peace of mind better than you. If you feel as though you can’t tell your spouse, family members, a friend or coworker about your situation, perhaps you can reach out to a free financial counselling service. As well as offering free advice on how you can manage your debt situation, they can point you in the right direction if you are struggling emotionally, mentally or physically from your debt stress.

Go for a walk

Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and help you get a more restful night sleep. You don’t need to go to the gym or even break a sweat, simply walking around the block each day can help you relax, reduce your stress and it might even help you sleep a little better.

Allow for luxury

When you are doing your budget (from the advice above) write in $10-15 a week for discretionary spending (or what you know you can afford). This might be a coffee on the way to work, a present for a friend, a new shirt, anything you like. By allowing for it in your budget, you won’t feel as though you are failing or deviating from your path if you come across an unexpected expense. Sometimes coffee is the only thing to get you through a rough day, so why not enjoy it without having to stress about paying for it.

Don’t add to the problem

Now is the time to reset your brain, your habits and your money management skills. Don’t commit to any more debt.   There is no room for a quick fix solution here. Taking out a payday loan or applying for a credit card is only going to add to your debt. If you can’t afford your debt now, you won’t be able to afford it, plus interest, in a few weeks time. If you are in desperate need of money for an emergency, you might be able to apply for a NILS Loan.


Everything is going to be ok. Tens of thousands of Australians are in a debt position just like you. There are a number of services and products available to help you get control of your finances, crawl out of this hole and enjoy your life again. It might feel as though there is no way out, but the solution is just a phone call away. If it ever seems like the debt stress is too much, stop, take a deep breath and take action! Nothing is out of your control.

Debt stress is a very serious issue and if you feel as though your financial situation is having a detrimental effect on your health, you need to seek help straight away. There are a number of free counselling services you can call to get help for depression and anxiety as well as free financial counsellors to help guide you through your debt. If you want to speak to someone about your anxiety and depression, you can call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on  1300 22 4636.

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