What is the Ostrich Syndrome? It is of course the burying of one’s head in the sand when facing an unpleasant situation. This might seem like an odd topic to discuss when considering your financial difficulties and possible insolvency but no consideration of someone’s situation is complete without mentioning it. Why? Simply because it is what many people do when they can no longer pay their bills.
It is a perfectly normal and very common reaction when faced with financial problems. You may find that you no longer open your mail when it arrives on the doormat. You might stop answering the knock at the door for fear it is a debt collector or bailiff. When the phone rings and you don’t recognise the number, or you have a “caller ID withheld” message on your phone screen, you don’t answer the phone. All these things show that you are burying your head in the sand in the vain hope that all the problems will eventually go away if ignored for long enough.
By adopting this course of action, the biggest problem is that you are prolonging and perpetuating your debt problems. Furthermore, the continuing uncertainty ensuing from doing nothing simply adds to the stress and worry of your personal financial problems. The questions will continue in your mind; “Who’s that on the phone?”. “Who’s knocking on my door, I’m not expecting anyone? Is it a debt collection agent? Is it a bailiff?”. “What course of action are my creditors going to take next?” “Are bailiffs going to come and strip my house of my furniture and possessions?” “Am I going to lose my home?”.
In addition to the ongoing uncertainty and resulting stress from doing nothing, another very important consequence is that you are not in control of the situation. Essentially, you are leaving yourself at the mercy and in the eventual control of others. If you don’t manage yourself and your own financial affairs then you can be sure that someone else will step in and do it for you eventually!
By now you will realise that burying your head in the sand and doing nothing is not a good choice when faced with personal debt problems. What then should you do? First of all, you must make the decision to TAKE ACTION.
Get professional debt advice
Once you have decided to tackle the situation head on and take responsibility and control of your debts yourself, you need to identify a good source of professional advice. A good advisor will examine ALL options and consider the advantages and pitfalls of all courses of action open to you. Remember, everyone’s individual situation is different and what may be right for one person will not necessarily be right for you. Your debt advisor needs to be fair and objective, and deliver advice that is relevant and tailored to your own individual set of circumstances.
Prepare an income and expenditure account
No matter what course of action you eventually end up taking, preparing an income and expenditure account is an essential exercise. Try and do it on your own before going to see an advisor. By doing it on your own you are focusing your mind on your financial position and will gain a greater awareness of your regular weekly and monthly outgoings. Use your bank statements to help identify regular payments and ensure you don’t miss any payments made quarterly or annually such as TV license and insurances.Time spent on this exercise is time well spent. The greater the care taken over preparing your income and expenditure acount, the more accurate it will be and the better informed you and your advisor will be about your financial circumstances. Always prepare it WITHOUT including payments to your creditors but include on-going bills such as council tax, gas, electric and water. Even if you owe your council and utility companies money you will still need to make provision for future on-going bills and services from these organisations. Armed with a well-prepared income and expenditure account, you are well set to resolve your debt problems once and for all.
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