Avoiding over-commitment

Bills are a fact of life. They only become a problem when your income can no longer meet the bills coming in. This is known as over-commitment. By budgeting, planning and being realistic about what you can afford you can avoid debt problems and make the most of your income.

Over-commitment

It is easy to become over-committed. Every time you sign up for a new service (such as cable TV or a mobile phone contract), buy something on hire purchase or add to a credit card debt, you increase your monthly commitments.

Before you sign up for a new service or a new credit commitment, make sure you can afford the payments. Create a budget sheet and keep it up-to-date, thinking about how you would make the payments if your income dropped.

Changes in circumstance

Another reason for over-commitment may be a change in personal circumstances that leads to a drop in income - for example, if you:

  • lost your job
  • became ill or had an accident that meant you had to stop work
  • separated from your partner

Any of these events could cause a drop in income and mean that you have to change your spending priorities. If something unexpected does happen, it's important to review your budget as soon as you can.

You should also check if you can increase your income through benefits or tax credits.

Budgeting

A personal budget can help you to plan ahead and make the most of your money. You'll need to:

  • identify your commitments - for example, mortgage, rent, bills
  • work out how much they cost
  • work out where the money comes from to pay for them
  • look at ways of reducing your spending - for example, you may be able to get better deals on your gas and electricity and your insurance
  • spread the cost by paying bills by Direct Debit - there are usually easy payment schemes for most regular bills such as TV Licence
  • stop paying for items that are no longer necessary

It's important to review your budget regularly, because your circumstances are likely to change.

Priorities and plans

By working out a budget you'll know how much money you have for essential living expenses (such as household bills, rent or mortgage and food) and how much you can afford to commit to other plans (such as buying a car, taking out a mortgage, going on holiday or saving for the future).

By prioritising your commitments you can make sure your basic needs are met and then you can decide what else you can afford, and what you may have to save for or do without.

Get the most from your money

By shopping around and negotiating - not just for goods and services but also for financial products such as loans and credit cards - you can make your money go further.

What to do if you're over-committed

If you are over-committed and have a debt problem, don't ignore the situation.

Signs you may have a problem include:

  • having rent or mortgage arrears
  • taking out new loans to pay off old ones
  • only paying the minimum amount on your credit card
  • going over your agreed overdraft limit at the bank
  • using a credit card for day-to-day purchases
  • ignoring letters from creditors

By listing and prioritising your debts, budgeting and talking to your creditors you can get the situation in hand.

Where to get help and advice

Several agencies offer free help and advice including:

 

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email:
rating@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about property valuation, email:
valuation@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about land registry, email:
CustomerInformation.LandRegistration@finance-ni.gov.uk

For mapping queries, email:
Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.