If you are worried about debts mounting up and cannot see a way forward, the important thing is not to let things slide but to tackle the situation. Help is available if you need it. The first step is to look at your finances as a whole. Work out how much money is coming in each month and what you must pay out. Once you have worked out your budget you can see how much money you have left over to pay off debts.

Some debts, like rent or a mortgage, energy bills or council tax are known as priority debts as they could lead to you losing your home or having your gas or electricity cut off. These debts must be dealt with first by negotiating a repayment plan. Remember not to agree to pay more than you can realistically pay.

Sometimes you may be pressured for payment on debts which are not the most urgent. You should resist trying to pay these first and wait and see what is available once the priority debts are settled. You can then contact everyone else you owe money to and negotiate a repayment in line with how much money is still available. Many people will be quite prepared to go through these steps themselves but you can go to the CAB for help.

There are other options when dealing with debt such as bankruptcy, taking out a debt relief order or an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). These options need to be discussed with an adviser.

The main message is that there is a way out of the misery of debt and getting your life back on track. You do not have to pay for debt advice. There are debt management companies around but they charge a fee. Make sure you use a free service such as CAB.

Anyone affected by debt or any other problem can contact the CAB at 1 Acland Rd Dorchester, call Dorset Adviceline on 0844 2451291 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk