Advice Column: Debt Top Tips

Thursday 29th February 2024

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on top tips for dealing with debt.

With the new financial year starting in April, I thought that now would be a good time to try and get on top of my financial situation. I have some debts too. Where should I start?

It is an excellent idea to review your finances at the start of the new financial year, particularly when people’s financial situations change due to things such as annual council tax bills, or pay rates.

In 2023 we helped with over 2,000 money and debt problems. Follow our top tips to help get your finances in order:


  1. Work out how much you owe – Make a list of who you owe money to and add up how much you need to pay each month. If you don’t have your most recent statements, contact your creditors to find out what you owe.
  2. Prioritise your debts – Your rent or mortgage, energy and council tax are called priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. These should always be paid first. Separate these and work out how much you owe.
  3. Work out how much you can pay – Create a budget by adding up your essential living costs, such as food and housing, and taking away these from your income. Any money you have spare can be put towards paying your debts. There is a budgeting tool on the Citizens Advice website which can help with this.
  4. Paying urgent debts – You may have several priority debts and can’t pay them all. Contact all your creditors to find out if you can negotiate on how much you pay, or when you pay them. Always firstly pay any priority creditors who are taking action against you.
  5. Paying non-urgent debts – If you have any money left after paying priority debts, consider getting a free debt-management plan. You’ll make one monthly payment to the plan provider, who will handle paying your creditors. Or contact your creditors and offer them what you can afford to pay.
  6. If you can’t pay your debts – If you’ve got little or no money spare to pay your priority debts seek advice straight away.

Our website – – has lots of help and advice on how to review your financial situation to improve your financial security.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit