Keep track of your budget

MABS can help you keep track of your spending and your bills and help you deal with debt if you run into trouble.

LIFE is what happens while you’re busy making plans, and whether it’s the loss of a job, the death of a family provider or the arrival of serious illness, change will and does happen to all of us.

If you find yourself in serious financial difficulty, struggling to manage a budget or simply suffering from anxiety about your present or future situation, where can you turn for help?

We’re blessed in Ireland to have The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) a free, confidential, independent and non-judgmental service for people in debt, or in danger of getting into debt.

Whether you have received a solicitor’s letter from your creditors, let your mortgage payments slip, or are concerned about keeping the electricity on over Christmas, MABS should be your first stop if you cannot face the challenge alone or determine the best course of action. The service is for everyone.

With loans, school fees, negative equity, marital breakdown and the increase in living cost across the board, even someone on an apparently lofty salary can find themselves fending off the all too real spectre of bankruptcy from one month to the next.

Getting to grips with money or clawing your way out of debt is not a passive experience, you must be fully prepared to develop some clarity and get involved down to the nearest cent in resolving the problems.

The service has an excellent online presence and offices in every county, and one element works with the other.

Using their Budget Tool at www.mabs.ie. you have the chance to prepare for your meeting with a MABS advisor, entering data on your personal situation that will help the MABS representative get a running start to help you and your family.

Once you’re on your way out of debt it’s vital that you stick to your side of the agreement with your creditors as set up by MABS and carefully manage the money that you do have coming in.

Some of us can find our own way out of the miasma of money worries, and there’s a full MABS Self Help Guide that includes the Budget Tool. Here you can also find out more about recognising primary and secondary debts and follow a proven method of approach to open lines of communication with your creditors.

This includes templates of letters to let your creditors know you are having financial problems and a critically important Letter of Offer, to find a compromise payment.

I’ve given both here if you want to just write or type the letter out rather than download the Word version at www.mabs.ie.

A two-week MABS Budget Diary will provide you with an accurate snap shot of where money has to be spent or where it is haemorrhaging unnecessarily.

If your IT skills are up to it, you can also download a Microsoft Excel version of the Personal Budget Sheets to balance income against expenditure and demystify the week by week micro-economics of transport, household goods, repairs and other bills influencing your situation.

The recent survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions Irish League showed that more than 1.8m people have only €100 disposable income a month.

Every household needs and should have a surplus at the end of the month for unplanned expenses, and for most of us €100 is not going to cut it if we blow out a car tyre and two of the children have a school trip.

Interestingly, the same survey revealed that 50% of bank account holders are unaware of what their bank is charging to operate their current account.

Follow the MABS Self Help Guide online or contact your local MABS office directly at 0761-07-2000.

Email: helpline@mabs.ie. For mortgage arrears, go to the sister website www.keepingyourhome.ie for comprehensive information on the services and entitlements available.

TWO USEFUL SAMPLE LETTERS FOR CREDITORS

(1). Sample letter to contact creditors

(MS-Word template available at MABS at www.mabs.ie).

Address

Date

Re

Account No.

Dear ----______________

I am writing to you regarding the above account to inform you that I am currently experiencing financial difficulties and am trying to resolve them.

I am at present assessing my full financial situation, using MABS self-help guides, and working out how much I can pay each of my creditors taking into account all of my living expenses and commitments.

While I am doing this, it would be of immense help to me if you would put a hold on any action being taken to recover this debt and if you would suspend any interest and other charges currently being added to this account.

I will contact you again within two weeks with my proposal.

May I take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your co-operation.

Yours sincerely

(2). Sample Letter of Offer

(MS-Word template available at MABS at www.mabs.ie)

Re

Account No.

Dear ----______________

Further to our recent correspondence, I am writing to advise you that I have now completed a full assessment of my current financial situation taking into account all of my living expenses and commitments.

In my efforts to address my situation I have used MABS self-help guides to work out affordable proposals.

As a result I am now putting forward an offer of €_________ per week/month as being realistic in my current circumstances. If my circumstances change and I can increase this offer I will contact you immediately.

In the meantime, I hope this proposal will be acceptable to you. I would be grateful if you would suspend any interest and other charges being added to the account to help me resolve my difficulties as soon as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely


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