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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Organising your finances

It's hard to know where to start organising your finances, especially if this is the first time you've tried to work out a household budget

Help with budgeting

There are lots of advice agencies in Northern Ireland that can help you manage your debts.  These agencies don't charge for this service.  There are also private companies that will offer to help you sort out your debt problems, but these companies will normally charge a fee. 

You can also use handy online budgeting tools to work out your income and your spending.  You can keep a spending diary, to make sure you stick to your budget.  If you've got a smartphone you can download free budgeting apps to help you keep track of what you're spending every day and take photos of receipts so you remember to add these into your spending log.  

When you're budgeting it's important to convert amounts properly. If you get paid weekly and you want to work out how much you earn each month, you can't just multiply your weekly salary by 4.  Multiple by 52 then divide by 12 to get your accurate monthly income. 

Keep your lender informed

If you are getting advice from a specialist debt adviser or an independent advice agency, let your lender know. An adviser may be able to negotiate with the lender on your behalf. Lenders do not generally want to repossess your home, especially if you can show that you are taking action and are genuinely trying to come up with a reasonable solution to your debt problem.

While you’re organising your finances, ask if your lender will freeze the interest on your arrears, as well as any fees and charges for late payments. This won't be a permanent arrangement; if the lender agrees to freezing interest and charges, this will be only until you’re in a position to make an offer based on your financial statement.

If your landlord rushes to repossess your home and is not making any effort to allow you to repay your arrears in a reasonable manner, the lender may be in breach of the Pre-Action Protocol, an agreed set of steps that lenders have to follow before they can take a borrower to court. Get help from an adviser if you feel your lender has started legal action too quickly.