Having too much debt can keep you from reaching your financial goals. This is why you need to manage your money wisely to ensure that this does not happen.

But what if you are already drowning in debt? Are there any guidelines that you should follow to ensure that your debt is manageable?

Moneyshop asked two financial advisers about the dos and don’ts when you are overindebted.

Tanya Haffern, a wealth coach, recommends the following:

Do decrease your monthly expenses. Could you live somewhere cheaper? Or live closer to work to cut travel costs? Eat out less or not at all? Pack a lunch for work instead of grabbing a takeaway? 

Do stop buying clothes and furniture until you can afford to pay cash for them. Cut up all your clothing or store cards.

Do use a debit card. Credit cards allow and encourage you to overspend. Check with your bank because if you are charged to use your debit card, you need to negotiate with the bank to reduce the transaction fees or find a bank that offers lower transactions fees.

Do start a side-hustle to increase your income. Use all that income to reduce your debt before you start spoiling yourself with the latest fashions and gadgets.

Do make a list of your debts. Make sure you have prioritised your debts and arrange them as per their importance. Often, vehicle and bond payments top the list as these are two of the most important requirements for day-to-day life.

Every time you make your monthly payments, write down the smaller amount of debt now owed. As the debt starts to disappear, you will feel better.

Carla Oberholzer, a debt adviser from DebtSafe, says the following are some of the things you should not do when you have too much debt:

Do not take out more credit. Your credit score is already in the red, and the chances that you will qualify for an extra loan or a consolidation loan are scarce.

Do not spend too much on luxury items. During a dire financial situation, cut not only luxury items, but also luxury events such as dining out and other parties.

Remember, you still have your usual monthly budget to take care of. Study your bank statements and try to fish out those “spending leaks”, also known as luxuries. This will help you identify your spending habits and help you cut out unnecessary items.

Do not ignore your debt. The worst thing you can do if you ever end up in serious debt is to do nothing. Call your bank, call a debt counsellor, and take action. The National Credit Act is there to help you – use it.

You need to visit your financial planner and revise all your debts and current budget. Your banker will also be able to assist. And, in a very tough situation where you still receive an income and want to protect your assets such as your home or vehicle, you can consolidate your debt through debt counselling.

This article has been prepared for information purposes only and it does not constitute legal, financial, or medical advice. The publication, journalist, and companies or individuals providing commentary cannot be held liable in any way. Readers are advised to seek legal, financial, or medical advice where appropriate.