Managing debt

When you first face up to your debt problems it’s easy to panic – there is almost certainly an emotional component to being in debt. Sometimes it helps to handle these feelings of panic, depression or paralysis by talking to someone. Vetlife Helpline could be a first port of call – talk to people who know the profession from the inside in complete confidence.

Debt crisis is defined by moneysavingexpert.com as “when you can’t afford to make even the minimum repayments on all debts or meet all necessary outgoings.”

Taking action

  1. Get organised – find, organise and file every single bit of paper which is relevant to your financial situation – bank statements, credit card statements, loan agreements etc.
  2. Draw up a budget. You can start by keeping track of what you spend every day just in a notebook on an an app like You Need A Budget or Goodbudget which puts your money into “pots” for your regular outgoings so your money is accounted for
  3. Seek help and advice. See the debt advice resources page which has a large number of links which include advice, online tools to organise and clarify your finances and further sources of help. It’s important to understand the difference between the advice, tools and debt counselling available from non-profit organisations and the “free” help offered by commercial organisations who are trying to sell you debt resolution. They are there to make a profit and, even if free up front, ultimately you will pay more
  4. Get emotional support, friends, Vetlife Helpline or Vetlife Health Support. You are not alone – plenty of other people have been in this position and got out of it
  5. If your debt is related to a mental health issue, moneysavingexpert.com have produced an excellent guide: Mental Health & Debt 2016 PDF
  6. Check your eligibility for benefits – don’t assume that you won’t be entitled to any support, employed or otherwise. Contact the relevant organisations (see the debt advice resources page) to see if you could be eligible for benefits
  7. Don’t forget that you may qualify for financial assistance from Vetlife Financial Support if you are a veterinary surgeon or a dependant of one.  Even if you don’t think you will qualify, it is worth contacting us to check if we will  fund professional debt and benefits advice for you

Business Debt

A veterinary practice is a small (and complex) business. There are many ways in which unmanaged debt can overtake vets who, tired from long hours spent in the business of animal welfare, can be tempted to neglect the financial aspects of their business. As a director of a limited company, you have legal obligations and if you allow your company finances to get out of control, you could be personally at risk. See the debt advice resources page for specifically business help and advice.