How to Manage Debt

Being in debt can be a stressful and trying situation to face. Often as one debt is amassed subsequent debts are then entered into in order to pay off other financial commitments. This spiralling circle of debt is what causes financial breakdown and in the end it can be difficult to know where to turn. No matter how arduous the thought of combating debt may seem, it is essential to remember that there is no debt situation which cannot be remedied safely and in a controlled manner. There are a number of key techniques which can be used to manage debt, reducing it in a consistent and continual way until any and all required payments have been cleared.

Top Debt Management Tips

The hardest part of managing debt is knowing where to start. Sometimes there can be so much of it from so many different lenders that the task seems impossible. Thankfully, with some research and diligence, any debt can be tackled.

Some of the most effective approaches to debt management include:

  • State of Mind: The first step is to cultivate a positive frame of mind. This might seem difficult under the circumstances, but with the knowledge that any debt can be cleared safely, there should be a level of confidence in such efforts to reduce it. Denial is dangerous and should not be used as a comfort blanket. The only way to combat debt is to accept that it will take a long time, but knowing that each small step will bring the goal of being debt free that bit closer.
  • Creating a Budget: Anyone in debt needs to know their budget. This is the amount of money a person has available to deal with their debt situation each month. This should incorporate any income from an individual, their spouse, supplemental incomes and interest from any bank accounts accrued each year. By adding all of these totals together an individual has a budget figure for making any financial decisions including reducing debt.
  • Listing All Debts: One of the most effective techniques used against debt is list making. It might sound fairly undramatic, but lists allow for more organisation and a systematic approach to debt reduction. After creating a budget, the next list should involve listing all debt payments which need to be made each year. There will be two figures which will be needed for each debt: the minimum payment required and the total amount owed overall. These will be used in subsequent steps. By doing this, an individual should now have an idea of how much money they need to pay out each month in order to remain financially secure. Sometimes the amount owed will be more than is in a budget. If this is the case, then there are still financial actions which can be taken and will be discussed in subsequent steps below.
  • Making Sacrifices: Here, an individual should make two lists. One list is for necessities, everything which has to be paid each month. This includes all minimum debt payments, food, energy bills, rent, travel to work and any other outgoings which cannot be sacrificed. The second list is for everything else, known to be a luxury. This can include television packages, non-essential food and drink, hobbies – anything which can be sacrificed and is not required to live. When the necessities total is taken away from the available budget this provides an idea of how much money is left to pay off any debts. This will also provide a clearer picture of whether or not some luxuries can be maintained; however, it is always beneficial to clear debt as quickly as possible, so individuals should be strict within reason.

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  • Prioritising Debts: Looking at all debts, list them from most expensive to least expensive on a monthly basis. The most costly debt each month is the debt which should be prioritised above all others. For every debt, an individual should pay only the minimum amount required, which usually does not reduce the debt and simply pays off the interest. This might seem like a bad idea as those debts will not be reduced; however, any money left over from the budget should now be put towards the most expensive debt. This means that with each payment, that debt will be reduced quicker. Once this debt has been cleared, the money saved should then be put towards the second most expensive debt. This is called “stacking”, and it is a very effective way to systematically manage several debts at once.
  • Alternatives: Looking at the necessities and luxuries lists, it is more than likely that cheaper alternatives can be found. This is often the case with food shopping and other unavoidable expenses. By planning meals, buying in bulk, and using cheaper brands, a good amount of money can be saved which can then be put towards debt payments.
  • Debt Advice: If debts are still too difficult to handle, then it is best to consult a free debt advisor who will be able to renegotiate debts on an individual’s behalf, in order to reduce payments to a more manageable level. Other resources include conscientious debt collection agencies such as Wescot, who will do their best to find the appropriate solution for anyone in debt they have been instructed to speak with.

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Stay the Course

Debt management is all about consistency and organisation. It can be stressful, but any debt can be dealt with appropriately, either by the above methods or through contacting a reliable debt advisor. The main point to keep in mind is that every difficult journey starts with just one step. With discipline and hard work, anyone can become debt free in the long term, they just have to stay the course.

Wescot considers how frugal living can help reduce expenses

‘Frugal living’ is all about finding ways to keep waste to a minimum and keeping expenses as low as possible. An important part of it involves avoiding spending money for its own sake and about approaching decision making when it comes to buying goods and services in a restrained way. It can involve a smarter approach to shopping; about staying well informed on special offers and the best value services. On a practical level it can involve taking a long hard look at existing spending habits and looking for smart ways to improve those habits to make an existing budget stretch further.

All of this can be especially useful for anyone whose household expenditure tends to be higher than their income or who are struggling to repay household debts. Wescot is a member of the Credit Services Association and is committed to shaping best practice for the debt collection industry. A snapshot of the company is contained in online Wescot profiles. The company recognises the important role played by independent debt advisory bodies in helping consumers to deal with difficult financial situations – including ways to reduce the cost of living. Here, Wescot considers some of the ways in which outgoings can be reduced to help balance household budgets through frugal living.

Ways to reduce the cost of bills

With some services, there are so many different providers and price plans available, it can be difficult to identify the best deal. This is the case across a range of areas including car and household insurance, gas and electricity providers, credit cards, supermarkets, phone and broadband. With so much variation in costs, consumers may find that exactly the same service is available elsewhere for much cheaper. Price comparison websites are a very useful starting point when looking at essential services. They typically allow consumers to compare hundreds of different products to choose the best deals to meet an individual’s circumstances. In particular, there is often plenty of scope for savings to be made when it comes to broadband and mobile phones. Providers can sometimes be unhelpful when it comes to offering customers the right deals to suit their circumstances. As such, it pays to check phone bills regularly to make sure that call time, text allowance and data usage is not consistently above or a long way below the allowance included in the existing deal.

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Ways of living more frugally when it comes to food and drink

Smarter grocery shopping and considering carefully what to buy can go a long way in helping a household budget stretch further. It can bring health benefits too – as it often means avoiding those types of products that are both expensive and unhealthy. Opting for supermarket own-brand and basic ranges is often a very effective way of producing significant savings. What is more, as is often demonstrated in independent consumer testing, supermarket brands are often shown to be just as good – if not better than some of the better known general brands. It is also worth looking for supermarkets that offer good rewards schemes.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to food shopping is in ensuring that there is as little waste as possible so that perishables do not have to be thrown out before a family has the chance to use them. Drawing up a meal plan for the week should mean that a family buys only those things it needs and is not left with wasted food. This approach also means that it is easier to take advantage of the cost benefits that can be gained through buying in bulk. There is room here to be flexible – for example by taking advantage of special deals that supermarkets offer from time to time. It is important, however, not to be duped by special discounts such as buy-one-get-one-free offers. Remember that a deal is only a good one if it is for an item that is actually going to be used – not thrown away.

Ready meals may be convenient, but very often they are high in fat, sugar and salt. Buying the raw ingredients for a meal not only tends to be cheaper, it is usually tastier and healthier too. The tastiest meals do not necessarily require the most expensive raw ingredients either. For instance, instead of heading straight for prime fillets, look out for cheaper cuts of meat. When cooked slowly, these cuts can form the basis of an appetizing meal at low cost.

Frugal use of fuel

The rising cost of gas and electricity over recent times has meant that for many families, fuel bills make up a significant proportion of household budgets. Frugal use of fuel and simple adaptations to a home can help cut the cost of keeping a home warm. This can be as simple as turning down the heat by just a small amount; taking control of the thermostat and reducing room temperatures by as little as 1 degree C could have the effect of reducing heating bills by almost 10%. A large proportion of heat in a home tends to disperse through the roof. Installing roofing insulation or else bolstering existing insulation could result in significant yearly savings. Replacing an old boiler may involve a significant outlay, but the long term effects of greater efficiency may mean that that outlay is soon recouped in the form of much lower bills.

Various Sectors Turning to Wescot and Other Debt Collection Agencies

Over the past decade, the average UK citizen household debt has nearly doubled from £29,000 to over £54,000 today according to a Centre for Social Justice Report released in November of 2013. The same report revealed that home-related debts are creating over 5,000 homeless eveWescotry year and rising energy costs are placing even more pressure on families still abiding in either purchased or rental homes.

This present trend of indebtedness was triggered by the financial crisis that devastated the economy, jobs and industries across the UK in 2008. When the downfall occurred, millions of Brits were already deeply in debt due to loose spending and poor savings habits. Various banks and companies are increasingly handing over delinquent debts to debt collection agencies, but they aren’t the only ones.

Other Entities Seek Debt Collection Help

Besides banks and retail companies, other entities are joining the Pied Piper debt collection line of those who need assistance collecting sums in arrears. As rising energy costs strap home budgets, gas and electric companies are increasingly handing past due accounts to collection agencies such as Wescot. They aren’t the only ones, however, as companies providing water and sewage services are beginning to follow suit.

Universities are also beginning to seek help as well due to students falling delinquent on massive student loans. Recently, the University College Dublin, Ireland’s largest institution of higher education, turned over roughly €1 million in student debt to a collection agency.

It isn’t only private sectors feeling the pressure. UK’s Government also holds over £22 billion in public debt according to a statement made this past July by the Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts. Mismanagement of accounts, the failure to successfully retrieve monies owed and a failure to reduce borrowing have created a situation where the British Government is seeking collection help from other agencies.

Wescot services over 5 million accounts annually. Their successful approach to debt collection has made them one of the largest and most sought after agencies in the industry. Not only are client goals of debt recovery normally met and exceeded, but customers owing debts are more willing to participate in repayment programmes that are tailored to their individual economic circumstances. More information on Wescot and its successful debt collection strategies can be found by watching videos at the Wescot YouTube account.

Ways Wescot Is Reducing Mis-Traces

wescotMis-traces by collection agencies are a rather large problem that consume a great deal of time and money as well as infuriate those that are continuously bothered in the attempt to glean errant contact information leading to high numbers of complaints. But what can be done by those in the industry to significantly reduce recurring mistakes?

The Problem

Wescot and other debt collection agencies that are active members of the Credit Service Association (CSA, have experienced large volumes of data cleansing. Current figures reveal that upwards of 70% of newly loaded business requires cleansing when received. This reflects a 40% increase over figures produced in 2007 before the global economic crisis.

There are several reasons for the escalations in data cleanse requirements. Banks hit hard by the downturn were forced to make extreme adjustments in mortgage lending procedures. Loans allowing 110% of value have disappeared and offers providing interest-only have become extremely difficult to find.

These changes have led to more people losing homes, seeking rentals over purchases and living with family members instead of independently. This shuffling and destabilising of a once more stable customer base along with a continuously weakened economy has produced a challenge to debt collection companies like Wescot to locate goneaways.

Current strategies utilise a growing arsenal of smart-data systems for tracing customers which are actually just lead generators. Quite often, the data gleaned from such systems only works to compound the problem as erroneous debris is simply transferred from file to file.

The Solution

Companies where debt originates, as well as debt buyers and debt collection agencies to whom they turn, have had to make adjustments to meet these new trace challenges. Wescot quickly made such adjustments to strategies employing cleanse and trace methods and is one reason they are one of the largest UK companies in the industry today.

Wescot registers well over 250,000 new debts from its clients each month so better data trace and management tactics have to be employed. The solutions that have been found to be successful include combining traditional and electronic trace methods to increase contacts. Once contacts are made, agents take extra time to find out why customers are financially unable to make payments. These issues are taken into consideration and repayment plans are created that adhere to present circumstances.

Innovation, attention and flexibility have been a successful formula for Wescot.

Review of the Current Debt Collections Market

WescotThe financial atmosphere has changed considerably over the last decade or so and the evidence can be easily seen through current market data. Prior to 2007, services for debt collections were making strong strides in growth. This was largely due to loose banking procedures combined with unchecked consumer borrowing. Although debt was common during this period, economies were booming which allowed consumers to make payments and banks were extremely willing to allow outsourcing to collection agencies to recoup monies in arrears.

However, the bursting of the financial bubble in late 2007 and the subsequent devastating recession created an unfavourable economic environment that exists till this day and is only slightly improving. The nagging downturn has eroded incomes leaving many customers unable to pay debts. The banking industry has been forced to implement much stricter loan regulations and a large portion of individuals that can obtain loans are using them to cover past debts which continue to stagnate the economy.

Alteration of Debt Collection Procedures

Surprisingly, the market for debt collection services in the UK has remained fairly even since 2007 with statistics from the credit market combined with revenues from major companies revealing that collection agencies still hover in the area of £500 million. Although the value of debt collection cases has remained steady, the means by which debt collection agencies now locate and retrieve those debts has been significantly altered.

Traditionally, debt collection agents have relied on tracing methods that include phone calls, letters and visitations to pursue customer contact and extract due payment. These services were normally carried out on a fee-basis, but the rise in costs for new methods of retrieving debt has pressed agencies to rely heavily on commissions. Because more people are either being forced to frequently move or are choosing to move, collection agencies have had to radically adjust their methods to include more technologically advanced systems including tracing software, the use of email and mobile devices as well as spend more time understanding customer situations once contacts have been made.

Wescot was quick to recognise the economic and industry changes and make relative adjustments. For this reason, the company is considered to be one of the top debt collection performers in the UK and is consistently sought out for its cutting-edge services. Find Wescot location details and see how they can benefit your company with their revised debt collection services.

Wescot Delivers Collections in a Changing Economic Environment

Numerous radical changes have occurred since the economy was stricken by the 2008 financial crisis. Regulations have significantly altered compliance with UK consumers that have, on average, seen a decline in their disposable incomes. Such changes have created a challenge for DCAs and creditors assigned the task of retrieving debts in arrears and the need to make innovative adjustments in order to boost faltering attempts based on past methods.

WescotWhen the mortgage bubble burst in 2008, unsecured portfolio holders saw their settlement rates plunge across the board, save for a few examples. One example was Wescot, which made rapid adjustments to their contact and compliance procedures. The company’s fast thinking and innovative problem-solving efforts have paid off by showing marked improvements in recovery activity, running from benchmark figures in 2006 to performance figures gleaned at the end of 2013.

So, what are the driving factors that are leading to extremely high collection rates even though the economy continues to struggle? Of course, banks have been forced to radically improve their lending procedures which have played a key role. However, debt collection improvements are also a large part of the successful formula.

Performance Rises as 3-Month Break-ins Decline

Figures have revealed a steady trend in the debt collections environment in the past several years, despite other economic fluctuations. Within a 12 month period concluding at the end of 2013, Wescot found that a decline occurred in their break-in collections delivery with a slight recovery experienced in the final 6-month period.

However, while 3-month break-ins were in decline, figures also showed that collection performance improvements after stock payouts increased by nearly 20%. The entire scenario averaged out to more than a 15% increase in overall collections performance for the year.

The reasons for the decline in debt collection break-ins lie in short-term adjustments that eventually lead to long-term stability.

Contact Rates – The number of contacts made directly relate to collection delivery success. With constant changes and errors being made, data has to be constantly cleansed in order to make more contacts, properly tailor communications towards the customer and deliver those messages through the best means of communication.

Contact Conversion – In order to boost repayment conversion rates, steps need to be taken to tailor plans according to their circumstances. As this effort is made and accommodating options are supplied, customers tend to fulfil their agreements. However, more man-hours are required to speak with customers longer. Again, the initial investment is costly, but it produces long-term benefits for all involved.

Wescot has heavily invested in the fields of technology and data analysis resulting in debt delivery success. The company’s innovative approach to debt collection has made it an industry leader that big financial names recognise. See Experian signs deal with Wescot for a good example.

Mis-Tracing Problems and Solutions

WescotA significant increase in mis-traced customer data has led the collections industry trade assoication, Credit Service Association, to crack down on faulty methods of tracing such data and to provide solutions for improvement. The upsurge in data problems is partially due to the banking crisis that has seen extensive restructuring of practices in mortgage lending which has directly led to more people either living with relatives or seeking rentals. These ‘hidden’ customers can be extremely difficult to identify in order to verify faulty data or address collection processes. Relying on old tracing methods has led to growing numbers of mis-tracing incidents.

Repetitive Capturing of Lead Data by CRAs

Credit reference agencies (CRAs) have had the habit of correcting erroneous data without informing other CRAs of the updates. The problem with the antiquated system is that all those working at CRAs, as well as those relying on their records, can find it extremely difficult to recognise what data is current and what remains errant and thus data updates are often repeated.

Solution: CRAs have suggested creating a helpline between their offices that allows mis-traced data alerts to be shared and then corrected by all involved. This procedure of unified data correction will significantly reduce repeated mis-trace investigations and the subsequent confusion.

Non-verification of New Data

Yet another problem lies in organisations that load new addresses into their systems without utilising any form of verification process. This new data is often assumed to be correct, enters the main company account system and is then spread to multiple other sources. However, the addresses are quite often incorrect and can end up as a verified address change on the files of consumers.

Solution: Adherence to Credit Service Association (CSA) guidelines is being stressed which instructs those reporting address changes to do so only after acceptable steps have been taken to validate the data at their level.

Wescot is a leader in the debt collection industry and has arrived at that status because it adheres to strict regulations. This close attention to detail allows Wescot to be extremely successful at recovering debts that are held as outstanding. Wescot contact information will get you started on the road to debt recovery.

Wescot: Leading the Way for Compliance Standards

As the largest debt recovery service in the UK, Wescot leads the way across many areas of the market and most especially in compliance. Compliance is at the forefront of every Wescot procedure and in the current changing regulatory environment Wescot has not only developed unsurpassed compliance standards, but also helped in many cases to shape the new and stringent regulations. The high compliance standards at Wescot have been officially recognised both by Trading Standards and by the Lending Standards Board. wescotThe Wescot operations team is comprised of a large number of highly skilled individuals with strong backgrounds in both compliance and negotiation, helping bring each account to an achievable conclusion.

Compliance is built into every system and process at Wescot to ensure that all of the relevant regulations and guidelines are adhered to, that clients are protected and that each customer is treated fairly and provided with the appropriate solution to their debt. Each individual who works for Wescot and deals with the public is subject to strict and regular structured audits, and provided with continual training. Wescot requires all individuals working in areas where customer contact occurs to undergo an annual compliance test in order to ensure continues understanding and practice. As well as focusing on customer-centric solutions to debt, Wescot also actively promotes the free advice sector in order to provide customers with even more information regarding the best way to handle debt. Click here to find out more about Wescot or visit the website for information about where to go for free advice in debt issues.

As a company which actively engages with and listens to the needs of customers, Wescot has in place a stringent complaints procedure. With a mission to deliver a first-class service each and every time, Wescot takes complaints seriously and uses these as opportunities to improve upon future service wherever possible. The aim at Wescot is to reach problem resolution within a period of no more than eight weeks from receiving the initial complaint, with all account activity being suspended until resolution occurs. In only the most exceptional circumstances will the process take longer, in which case Wescot will inform the customer in writing with a date for resolution. Compliance not complaints is the Wescot ethos.

Wescot: Treating Customers Fairly

wescotTreating customers fairly (TCF) is a large part of the changes being made in the financial services industry as changes to the regulatory environment bring all institutions under one single governing body. In the wake of the banking crisis, a new and more customer-centric business model is emerging, with focus on increasing customer confidence in order to assist the recovery of the UK economy post-recession. Consumer confidence in financial institutions has noticeably dropped in recent years as households cope with the changes to their own personal financial circumstances with prudence and forethought. The average family discretionary income has risen by only £11 per week over a five year period, a far lower percentage rise than that of wage growth or interest rates. As a direct result of this consumers are reacting by decreasing their spending rather than increasing their borrowing.

The £11 per week rise in discretionary income per household equates to just 8% over five years. In terms of the mortgage market, a rise of just 25bps in the standard variable rate would immediately wipe out that 8% and a rise of more would equate to the average disposable income actually dropping to below March 2008 levels by a significant degree. Little wonder, then, that consumer confidence is at a low ebb. The backbone of any flourishing economy is the confidence of the individual members of society to consume. In a bid to increase consumer confidence financial institutions at every level are rapidly altering strategies, creating a far more compassionate banking world with focus on treating customers fairly.

The consolidation of all regulation of consumer lending and debt recovery into one single body has helped to drive real change, protecting the needs of consumers and over time increasing buying confidence. As the largest debt collection agencies operating within the UK today, Wescot is one company at the forefront of the changes. Wescot is not only proud to operate with compliance standards which are unsurpassed within the financial services industry but has in many cases helped to shape the changes in regulation. Consumers today find Wescot focusing primarily on reaching solutions which are beneficial to all parties involved and which treat customers fairly, taking into account personal circumstances and creating affordable and reasonable repayment plans which enable each customer to begin to get out of debt faster.

Wescot knows technology ought to be combined with communication skills to deliver best outcomes

For those individuals or organisations looking to outsource debt collection work, it is worth taking time to work out a list of priorities of what they want from a service provider. Value for money is likely to be top of the list (especially for those businesses that are still recovering from the effects of the economic downturn). Another item that ought to be high in any list of priorities is fair treatment of customers.

Those organisations unfamiliar with the workings of the debt collections niche may assume that fair treatment of customers is more to do with pure ethics and bears little or no relationship to achieving successful outcomes. In fact, as the leading UK debt collection agency Wescot demonstrates, fair treatment of customers tends to result in outcomes from which all parties benefit. This particular company has been at the forefront of best practice and has a proven track record when it comes to setting an example to other operators within this niche.

wescotUse of technological solutions has an important part to play in this particular sector, as Wescot is well aware. Many companies use ‘smart data’ tools in which databases are cross-referenced as a method of tracing customer with whom organisations have lost contact. These can be useful but they can also have their limitations. One issue is that the majority of operators in this field use similar types of credit reference agency lead-generation data tools. The same information and data sources tend to be accessed on multiple occasions. If part of that information happens to be incorrect, multiple mis-traces can happen. It can be all too easy to assume the data is valid when in fact it is not. One of the unfortunate consequences of this can be that third parties are contacted in error on multiple occasions by multiple organisations.

Wescot knows that technology, when used in isolation or when put to use by inexperienced staff can have its limitations. When it comes to tracing customers, the company uses effective validation technologies coupled with experienced staff. Once a likely trace has been established, the company also recognises the value of re-establishing meaningful contact with that customer. This provides the opportunity for outstanding issues between organisations and their customers to be resolved in a manner that is appropriate to the circumstances of the customer.