How to get out of the debt cycle in 2014

In recent years, the New Year has become as synonymous with money worries as it has with resolutions, fireworks and Jools Holland's Hootenanny. Christmas over-spend, a rush to book summer holidays and a long time between December's often earlier-than-average payday means that January can often be quite lean.

For the most unfortunate, however, this isn't something that is alleviated once February 1 rolls around. Instead, these financial woes perpetuate – making the notion of a debt cycle ring very true indeed. 

Getting out of this debt cycle can be incredibly difficult, an issue only compounded by poorly-timed setbacks, such as the washing machine breaking down just when light starts emerging at the tunnel's end. It is possible, though, and below are just a few examples of what can be done to help the process along.  

Take control 

Money worries keep people up at night, play on the mind, damage otherwise happy relationships and can even have health implications. As such, voluntarily sliding into more debt should simply not be a consideration. The notion of having to speculate to accumulate is one thing, but you need to have something with which to speculate in the first place. 

Instead, draw a line under the debt and use this as a very real marker, making a promise to never voluntarily take on more debt that will elevate this total even higher.  

Ask for help

Debt is certainly nothing new – and doesn't look set to be going anywhere soon. As such, there are plenty of opportunities to talk through the issues and get free, impartial advice. The staff at these agencies have plenty of experience in dealing with debt, so will not only provide helpful solutions, but do so in a compassionate, understanding and non-judgemental fashion. 

Budget

Go back through your weekly expenditure and work out what can be cut and where. It's not easy giving up treats – often many of them don't appear this way and seem more like must-haves – but there should still be areas where the fat can be trimmed. This can also translate into the weekly food shop, with branded goods swapped for more value alternatives or a few small treats forgone. 

Keep an eye on your account

In today's card-friendly world, it can be easy to lose track of spending, as money just comes and goes in a series of numbers – often without feeling like cash has actually changed hands. It may look a bit worse-for-wear at the beginning, but checking up on your bank account every day should help alleviate this and ensure no nasty surprises creep up to scotch everything.

Switch

It may take time and effort, but switching banks, energy suppliers or mobile provider could be a quick way to unlock tied up cash without having to cut back. Spend time poring over your accounts, as well as the offers available to new customers elsewhere. There should always be a deal to be done.

Of course, there is one rule that over-rides all of these, not to get into debt in the first place. Loans or credit that cannot be paid back in full should be avoided, as it can then be all too easy to stumble into the debt cycle. For those already inside it, however, the above may provide a way out.